Monday, March 23, 2009

Who will raise the children from the dead?

A plane has crashed in Montana, and seven children are thought to have died. Children die every day in accidents, due to abuse, neglect, illness, disease, starvation, and deliberately through aborting the pre-born.

But every time something like this happens, when tiny innocent children lose their lives early through mishap, I wait to see when someone will step forth to raise them from the dead.

Why not? Many people claim to be Jesus Christ reincarnated. I wait for one of them, such as Joseph Kony, to step forward and demonstrate that spirit of Jesus, and raise a child from the smashed dead. Only Jesus could do that; he even raised Lazarus from the dead and fully restored him after he had lain decomposing for four days dead. But why do I only see from the "reincarnated" Jesus claimants more death and misery, instead of even one good raising from the dead of a small child?

Or what about our friends over in Scientology, one of those with the highest "OT" levels, which I guess from what I hear makes them godlike and impervious to harm. Could not one of them come out and do what Jesus alone could do?

Maybe Oprah could raise a child from the dead. I am not being mean or disrespectful; I am asking an honest question since she claims to promote truths about spirituality, including mastery of "The Secret." If "The Secret" gives anything that anyone wants, would not anyone who is kind wish to raise a small child from the dead and restore him or her to the family?

Pope Benedict XVI chastised those in Africa who believe in witchcraft and who do dreadful things to those they accuse of being witches or, if they are believing they are witches themselves, do dreadful things. So called witches and witch believers hunt living children for their body parts; is that not the opposite of raising a child from the dead, restoring them to healthy and complete body, and their family?

So those who know "secrets," have achieved "mastery" and "enlightment," or are one of the many "reincarnated Jesus' around," where have you been and why have you not at least matched what Jesus did? Hmm.

We know that even the good physicians of modern times cannot prevent death of a child if death is inevitable, and I sure don't see any modern doctors raising children from the dead. So is medicine superior to the real Jesus Christ, who he was, and who he remains in heaven, or not?

Being broke I can't pay any of you to raise a child from the dead, but of course I know with your "Christ consciousness" you would not charge anyone money for that anyway, would you?

I myself cannot raise a child from the dead, even though I know "how Jesus did it," through God. I'm so battered I can't even sweep a fever away from a child, even though I once could. Ah well.

What happens to humanity and to the real world when there are more false prophets than there are "civilians?" We may be finding out. Even the bats who protect humans from insects are dying by the millions, and people are too blind to see that disaster unfolding.

And you wonder why there are so many problems that seem unsolvable. At least, some of you wonder, while the rest fiddle while Rome burns (and I don't mean the Catholic Church; look the expression up, it is something the Emperor Nero is alleged to have done, and then he blamed the fire on Christians and burned them too).

I do not think the world can be saved, as in restored to where it should have been. Much of the world might be salvagable, but every day that is wasted is like one hundred years of woe.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Selected Bible readings for today

Sirach 9:12

Rejoice not at a proud man's success;
remember he will not reach death unpunished.

Sirach 12:9

When a man is successful even his enemy is friendly;
in adversity even his friend disappears.

Sirach 13:1

He who touches pitch blackens his hand;
he who associates with an impious man learns his ways.

Sirach 14:1-2

Happy the man whose mouth brings him no grief,
who is not stung by remorse for sin.

Happy the man whose conscience does not reproach him,
who has not lost hope.

Ezekiel 36:8-11

As for you, mountains of Israel, you shall grow branches and bear fruit for my people Israel, for they shall soon return. See, I come to you, it is to you that I turn; you will be tilled and sown, and I will settle crowds of men upon you, the whole house of Israel; cities shall be repeopled, and ruins rebuilt. I will settle crowds of men and beasts upon you, to multiply and be fruitful. I will repeople you as in the past, and be more generous to you than in the beginning; thus you shall know that I am the Lord.

Vampire "entertainment" etc not harmless

“Vampire” literature and other entertainment of this theme is not innocent escapism.

For years there has been a huge supply and thus growing appetite (pun intended) for vampire themed entertainment, especially books, but obviously pushed also on TV and via the movies. For years, too, I have been very concerned about this, since it is not just innocent imaginary escapism. Again, far from being a prude who is against edgy themes, I am warning of a very serious crime that takes place (in addition to the rotting of the minds of those who read this trash, of course).

There are many cultists who drink blood or use it in ceremony or “protective amulet” purposes, and the popularization of vampire literature acts as their “cover.” Deep inside they know that what they are doing is wrong, so by pushing it in the entertainment industry they rationalize that they are being “open” and “honest” that they exist. It’s a kind of technicality mentality, where they substitute a symbol for what is the actual truth and thus feel they are not lying or committing a crime.

By the way, astute readers of my series on “hell, demons and sin” can now recognize each occurrence of sin. First is having the foolish thought that drinking blood is ever an acceptable thing and having that occult belief. The second sin is looking at other humans, again, still in the mind, as being potential cult blood suppliers. The third individual sin is to identify potential useful sources of special blood, such as based on the potential victim’s astrology chart. The fourth individual sin is to actually obtain the blood directly or to induce someone else to sin and to obtain the blood on your behalf. The fifth individual sin is each and every possession of someone else’s blood and each and every “usage” of it. Thus dozens of individual sins are committed with each occurrence of the thought, planning, belief system and execution and usage of another person’s blood for occult purposes.

Blood using cultists have connections in hospitals and other medical care facilities, and are also eager supporters of blood drives. I wish I was joking but I am not. They thus are able to identify people that they think have special blood for their occult purposes, based on the person’s astrology chart, name and other characteristics that make these folks think that the person is someone particular from a so called bogus “past life,” etc. They then “sample” from legitimate blood collection processes. As you can guess, I’m a favorite source. Being someone with long experience in knowing what is normal procedure and what is not, I recognized a long time ago that a tremendous amount of my blood was being drawn relative to the medical procedure’s needs. I put two and two together and thus figured out what was going on when I was doing my undercover exploration of New Age and other beliefs, since they kept being directed to my attention (back when people thought I was a moron who just didn’t realize that the world was filled with ‘aliens,’ ‘reincarnated or old souls,’ ‘indigo children,’ and the pagan pantheon of so called gods and idols). One of the primary people I encountered had a professional connection in the hematology functions of health care and it was not too long for me to figure out the connection. They are obsessed with Mars/Ares (blood, so called god of war, etc) so even Stevie Wonder could have seen this one for what it is and yes indeed, even with my modest IQ, I figured it out.

They like to schedule blood drives and so forth on astrologically significant times, too. They are nothing if not attentive to detail. Ironically, they count blood drives as some of their “good deeds” and being “loving of neighbor” and “charitable,” since, like I said, they have a technicality approach to everything, including their totally sinful and doomed false view of divinity and the cosmos. God frowns on all of this, you know, the real God.

So parents, don’t encourage your kids to be fascinated with vampire culture because you are not only allowing them to waste their minds and souls on bogus and even sinful crap, but you are also enabling an industry that, partly consciously and partly unconsciously, thinks it is providing cover for some really awful witchcraft and occult activities. And for any readers who still have these dreadful mindsets I’m just going to tell you one thing. There simply is no truth to any of what you are doing. If you think you have “seen results” it has only been because of natural reasons, not because of your blood usage or consumption. Don’t send yourselves to eternal damnation for something that is totally bogus in the first place. No one has spiritually significant blood, including me.

Whether you are a Catholic, or even a Christian (nominally, obviously, if you believe in and practice this outrageous activity), this Lent would be a really good time to stop not only the activities but the thoughts associated with vampirism and occult attitudes toward blood, and if you are a Catholic this ought to be high on your Confession list.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

(5) Understanding hell, demons and sin

Back to the Qur’an inventory of mentions and explanations or descriptions of hell:

17:97 And whomsoever Allah guides, he is the follower of the right way, and whomsoever He causes to err, you shall not find for him guardians besides Him; and We will gather them together on the day of resurrection on their faces, blind and dumb and deaf; their abode is hell; whenever it becomes allayed We will add to their burning.

This is an example of Gabriel speaking about God in the first half of the sentence, and then shifting into being God’s voice (we can identify that when the imperial we is used) in the second half. Gabriel is explaining that God is the guide of both those who believe and are righteous, and that he is the defacto guide of those who disbelieve and err, simply because there is no one else but God. So those who believe in false gods still have not found any other “guardians besides” God. God remains the guardian and guide of those who err, sending them opportunities to convert and repent, and eventually guiding them to fall into chastisement through their own consequences of their unrighteous actions.

Then in the shift to hearing God’s own words God states that incorrigible unrighteous, unjust and unbelieving sinners will be gathered as a group on the final day, where they lose their earthly senses as the reality that what they have ignored from God they will now lose in truth in all ways, and then they are cast into hell. God understands how bluntly that humans need to be spoke to, which is why he adds that even if it feels like the pain of hell lessens or is even imagined to be bearable, he will turn up the heat. This does not mean that hell is ever bearable, even though of course it must be since one is stuck there and must endure the unendurable forever. God is using an imagery that he knows will drive home the point that one can never “adjust” to being in hell.

I want to show you the next sentence even though it is not another mention of hell because it is very informative about God.

17:98 This is their retribution because they disbelieved in Our communications and said: What! When we shall have become bones and decayed particles, shall we then indeed be raised up into a new creation!

See, God is explaining that those people who go to hell are punished because they do not believe in the good news of God’s realm of heaven, of the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, and the new life that believers receive after death and after the end of time. Disbelievers do not believe in God, in his power to judge, and thus by implication, they therefore do not believe the good news either, of life in paradise for the righteous. So God is voicing here with some sarcasm but lots of experience how such pagan, sinning or unbelieving humans scoff at God’s delivery into paradise from death the righteous and instead believe in their own nihilistic or fantasy cosmos, or just that death is the end and that is that, and there is no judgment, accounting, new life for the righteous, or punishment for the unjust.

18:29 And say: the truth is from your Lord, so let him who please believe, and let him who please disbelieve, surely We have prepared for the iniquitous a fire, the curtains of which shall encompass them about; and if they cry for water, they shall be given water like molten brass which will scald their faces; evil the drink and ill the resting-place.

The Qur’an explains, as we have seen previously, that the liquid of hell is molten rock with no water in it. The Bible agrees because St. John the Apostle and Evangelist saw the “lake of fire” into which hell is cast in his heavenly vision of the end of times in Revelation. This passage reiterates that humans have “free choice” to do what they “please,” but that they must be aware that hell is already in existence, and the disbelieving and unrighteous will be cast into it, and that very graphic description follows, in God’s voice.

20:74 Whoever comes to his Lord (being) guilty, for him is surely hell; he shall not die therein, nor shall he live.

Gabriel explains that the guilty in hell are neither completely dead, and thus at peace, nor are they fully alive, as then they would be in eternal life in heaven. Instead they retain enough awareness to be eternally punished.

Whenever there is one of these grim mentions of hell, the Qur’an almost always has a contrast of what the righteous can expect, and this is no exception, as the next passage is this, as an example.

20:75-76 And whoever comes to Him a believer (and) he has done good deeds indeed, these it is who shall have the high ranks. The gardens of perpetuity, beneath which rivers flow, to abide therein; and this is the reward of him who has purified himself.

Notice the just and the true believers who achieve the gardens of heaven are described as being “purified.” This is another example where the Bible, most closely followed by Catholics in this regard, and the Qur’an describe those in God’s presence as having been purified (even though they are already righteous) in some way. Catholics view it as a process performed by God called purgatory as they interpret scripture in that regard. Muslims understand purification as something that is a result of following God’s instructions in certain things such as the washing of the hands and feet before prayer (and the Qur’an says that if no water is available that sand will do, that it will also purify.) I point this out so you can see that there is enormous agreement in scriptures in concepts such as a process, even if that process differs in method and interpretation, of purification.

21:29 And whoever of them should say: Surely I am a god besides Him, such a one do We recompense with hell; thus do We recompense the unjust.

That one speaks specifically of those who equate themselves with God by being idolaters or claiming that they have some divinity, power sharing or equivalence with God.

21:98, 100 Surely you and what you worship besides Allah are the firewood of hell; to it you shall come. For them therein shall be groaning and therein they shall not hear.

22:19-21 These are two adversaries who dispute about their Lord; then (as to) those who disbelieve, for them are cut out garments of fire; boiling water shall be poured over their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies and (their) skins as well. And for them are whips of iron. Whenever they will desire to go forth from it, from grief, they shall be turned back into it, and taste the chastisement of burning.

Remember this is not prophecy but a chilling (no pun intended) reporting of what occurs for those already in hell. The demonic forces contained in hell are pretty much free to do whatever horror they wish upon the damned who reside there.

23:103-108 And as for him whose good deeds are light, these are they who shall have lost their souls, abiding in hell. [By “light” here means few in number or of little real generosity]. The fire shall scorch their faces, and they therein shall be in severe affliction. Were not My communications recited to you? But you used to reject them. They shall say: O our Lord! our adversity overcame us and we were an erring people: O our Lord! Take us out of it; then if we return (to evil) surely we shall be unjust. He shall say: Go away into it and speak not to Me.

25:11-12 But they reject the hour, and We have prepared a burning fire for him who rejects the hour. When it comes into their sight from a distant place, they shall hear its vehement raging and roaring.

Obedience and belief in God cannot be “delayed” or scheduled at the time that the person “feels like” finally acknowledging God: those who reject the “now” of God’s rightful respect will see for themselves hell.

25:65-66 And they who say: O our Lord! turn away from us the punishment of hell, surely the punishment thereof is a lasting evil. Surely it is an evil abode and (evil) place to stay.

This is part of a passage that explains that those whose goodness and worship of God match their ardor in asking to be spared hell will be saved, however those who continue evil, particularly also calling upon other gods to save them, will be cast into hell.

29:54-55 They ask you to hasten on the chastisement, and most surely hell encompasses the unbelievers. On the day when the chastisement shall cover them from above them, and from beneath their feet; and He shall say: Taste what you did.

This is about unbelievers who demand from the prophets before Mohammed (such as Moses), “proof” of God’s punishment before they will repent and believe; this is why they are in a way “asking for chastisement,” which then they will not like when they receive it.

32:13-144 And if We had pleased we would have given to every soul its guidance, but the word (which had gone forth) from Me was just: I will certainly fill hell with the jinn and men together. So taste, because you neglected the meeting of this day of yours; surely We forsake you; and taste the abiding chastisement for what you did.

This passage means that God could have forced every soul to believe by imposing “guidance” upon everyone, but his justice is to give free choice to humans (his “word,” to give free choice, is “just”). Thus those who choose to be against God will be in hell with the demons.

32:20 And as for those who transgress, their abode is the fire, whenever they desire to go forth from it they shall be brought back into it, and it will be said to them: Taste the chastisement of the fire which you called a lie.

Those who deny the existence of hell and of the deeds that will place them there will taste the chastisement of the fire of hell in person, and each time they try to evade punishment in hell they will be reminded that they did not believe in hell.

Many more citations about hell in the Qur’an!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

(4)Understanding hell/sin. also Jesus love, miracles

Here is an interlude to speak about Jesus some more, before returning to the Qur'an discussion regarding hell, demons and sin. It’s not really a departure from the topic because I’m picking up on a related tangent that I had made in a previous post of this series regarding Jesus. I commented that even if one is not genuinely of the faith, I could not understand how anyone could not be overwhelmed with love for Jesus, the Jesus that he truly was and is. My point was that even if one did not embrace religion at all, or Christianity, I do not understand how simply understanding that Jesus performed thousands of cures of people who were the lowest of the low in that society: the crippled, the lame, the blind, those with bleeding or other medical ailments, those with mental illnesses (considered to be possessed by demons and totally shunned), those possessed by rare but genuine demons, and actually raising some from the dead.

I want to talk some more about this topic because in a way, understanding why I am baffled that people resist loving Jesus (even scorning or mocking him or, at best, caricaturing him as a well meaning “social worker” or “community organizer”). And trust me: I don’t want people loving Jesus because they think he was the prototype hippie, though that, of course, is one step better than nothing, LOL. But that would be a totally inaccurate picture and thus not a worthy basis for genuine love. Anyone who has been studying what I have been writing here sees that Jesus was anything but a laid back fellow shooting the breeze about love with fellow travelers. His very dire admonishments and explanations about hell and sin are unmistakably commanding, authoritative and not squishy. No, rather, I do not understand how people do not understand him as he actually was (and is described in black and white print in every language to clearly understand by those who were with him personally). And so the exercise I alluded to regarding his miracles, which is how can people not love him even if that is the only part that they understand and “believe in” is worth further exploration here.

Start by trying to imagine what one day would have been like as one of Jesus’ followers, what it would have been like to be with him. First of all, you would be with someone that you could ask any question of regarding God and receive the immediate and truthful answer about who God is, his plans, and what God is “really like.” Jesus didn’t have to pause, run a few astrology charts, furrow his brow in “meditation” and try to “divine” the answer to those questions. That is for phonies who do not know. Jesus was the only person to walk as a human on earth, who was with God completely, is of God completely, knows God totally, and serves God totally. The non-human examples are the angels, who also know God totally and dwell with him, but angels are in harmony with God’s will and serve him accordingly, they are not of God’s divine personhood as Jesus was and is. Thus angels would not be able to answer some questions, if God did not will that they have that information, the way Jesus could and did. When Jesus did not know something (such as when God will end humanity at the end of time), he said so, explaining that only God knows that fact. However, everything else Jesus knows and thus any disciple could ask him anything about God at any time. Imagine what that would have been like.

Now, the disciples would have all been God fearing believers as pious Jews in the first place, but as human beings, imagine the reassurances they felt at hearing Jesus describe God and answer their questions so matter of factly and with full authority. Jesus disciples would have furrowed their brows only in trying to understand the more difficult things that Jesus was explaining, not in worry or doubt about the existence of God and heaven them selves. So that alone should help you to understand why those who were with him loved him so much, while those who previously had the “answer man” authority hated him. The priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, those who taught that the poor were poor, the sick were sick, the injured were injured, and the dead were dead due to their own failings and sin, were used to generations of thinking they and only they had “all the answers.” How very much it shocked and frightened them when they discovered that no, not only didn’t they have the answers but that they were “outed” by Jesus as being in error and religious hypocrites. But my point is that for those who genuinely love God, as the simple, average people did, who then were open to listening to Jesus, they had an overflowing of love for him, which is why crowds followed him everywhere.

But the exercise I want to focus on is to imagine how one would feel total love for Jesus based on only one aspect of his ministry, which was the miraculous curing of the sick, the injured, the deranged, and even raising some from the dead. Here is what modern people must understand, which is what everyone around Jesus, and subsequent generations, fully understood. While Jesus was given by God the authority and the power to perform miracles, Jesus made his own decisions regarding the use of that power. In other words, Jesus could have “just done a few miracles to prove who he really was” and left it at that. But while the Gospels report in specifics such a number of miracles, the Gospels also report that Jesus would essentially set up shop in a region or a village and cure everyone who was sick or wounded who was brought to him. Jesus would often cure everyone of every ailment who came to him from an entire village. Imagine what that would have been like, for a disciple, to be with Jesus, to be part of his ministry, and to watch Jesus elect to spend many hours and days from his precious life curing each and every person who came to him in need.

Incredibly, over time, can you imagine how the disciples were no longer totally stunned as Jesus would, in an “average work day,” restore sight to the blind, straighten limbs as if they were never crippled, restore sanity to the raving, cast out a demon who would acknowledge the identity and authority of Jesus? I mean, think what it would have been like to be Peter, glancing over once in a while and thinking, “Ah, well, there is Jesus, restoring sight to another blind person!” As if it was just another day at the office. But see, it wasn’t like that, because while the disciples would of course become used to the miracles and no longer be astonished, they didn’t just sit around. Jesus mandated that they go forth and perform miracles themselves, through his authority. The Gospels give details of some of their specific efforts to perform miracles, where they were successful and where they were not. So again, imagine the love that these disciples felt for Jesus as they witnessed him 1) have the full authority and love of God to perform these miracles 2) elect to spend precious days from what was clearly going to be a very short ministry on earth before he is crucified doing such miraculous healings and cures and 3) give them, ordinary men, the power to do the same in his name through the authority of God.

I do not understand how a single person in modern times cannot be swept away with love and admiration for Jesus just based on what I have explained to you, and what is clearly stated in the Bible, regarding the miraculous cures of his ministry alone, say nothing of the rest.

See, that is the problem with the human weakness of pride and sin, which work hand in hand. Pride and sin block understand and love.

Jesus performed his cures right in the open, even in the local synagogues and Temple itself. Anyone and everyone could see it, and the ordinary people saw and loved him, not only in gratitude if they or a family member was cured, but in awe that this was how he was spending his authority, rather than acting the big authority as did the Pharisees and others. Yes, Jesus preached and taught, but he taught with the kindness of his deeds too, at a time when even talking to someone poor, sick or injured was viewed as “agreeing with whatever sinfulness filled that wretch so that he or she had these bad things happen to them.” See, the religious people thought that beggars, the poor, the sickly, the diseased, the injured and even who have early deaths had “deserved” what they got because they or their family were “sinners.” Thus they would view anyone who even talked to such people as consorting with sinners and thus condoning it. How far they had fallen from what God taught about alms and charity! These people were more concerned with what money was left in the Temple than what went to the poor, who they viewed as poor because they or their families were sinners. You need to fully understand that to understand the shock wave that Jesus wading in among the poor, the sick, the injured, and the diseased in order to cure them caused among both the people, who loved him, and the powers that be, who feared and despised him. All of this could have been different if the Pharisees and others rejected their pride. This is why the Bible warns of how pride leads to just about all sin.

Imagine if the Pharisees and other religious authorities, instead of worrying about their erroneous status, were humbly open to correction and thought to themselves, “Wait a minute. He is performing these miracles and refuting what we always believed. Could we be wrong? Let us at least learn more.” In fact, several of them did, coming to Jesus in private to learn more, and they came to believe in him in secret. But it had to remain secret because the vast majority of the religious authorities did not want to see how they had warped and strayed from God’s true doctrine, and how Jesus had come with severe exposure of their error and hypocrisy. We have seen in previous blogging how rather than marvel at his cures they resorted to even arguing that Jesus was “breaking the law” by performing cures, such as restoring a man’s sight, on the Sabbath!

This is why I want people to regain their own ability to read the Gospels and understand Jesus and love him as he actually was, rather than marginalize him or caricaturize him. It is only then that one can feel the love for Jesus that not only he deserves but YOU deserve to feel because that is, after all, why he came here at God’s behest and ministered out in the open. Each child should be raised to understand who Jesus was and what he did, and explaining the miracles of curing the sick is something that every young child can well understand. That is how each generation comes to know and fall in love with Jesus again, as God intended. Loving Jesus is a gift that God gave humanity, and it is so sad to see that increasingly in times when people supposedly seek love they reject even the facts which when understood would cause many to receive the gift of love, of knowing that someone loved people so much as Jesus did that he elected to perform these cures.

Look into your hearts and think about, “Why would someone know these facts about Jesus and his miracles and not love him?” What would be the barriers? Here we are speaking just of the miracles, not of the entirety of dogma, so the answer that “Well, I don’t believe in all of the doctrine” would not be a sufficient answer to why one would not be filled with love for Jesus just by contemplating what he chose to do regarding the thousands of miraculous cures. So if one believes the facts of what happened with the miracles, and one understands the context (that this was dangerous and socially outrageous to do in the eyes of the religious authorities, and Jesus took that risk everyday anyway), why would one not feel a rush of understanding and love?

Deadness and hardness of heart toward life in general would be one reason. Part of the problem with the overwhelming artificiality of modern life is that people have lost some of their fundamental sense of genuine feeling. There are many who are so deadened in their heart that they cannot easily experience love, even of Jesus. That is one of the grave crises of modern times, where if you cannot love Jesus, how can you love and not abuse a child? Or abuse one’s self out of self loathing and despair, as so many do? In a way I think contemplating these miracles of Jesus and trying to role play feeling the love that those around him would have felt can break through some of the ice and deadness of heart that people feel toward everyone today, including themselves. This is one reason I offer this meditation on the love of the disciples and the people for Jesus as expressed through understanding his election to perform many miraculous cures.

Another reason that one might still resist feeling love for Jesus even if one understands what he chose to do regarding the miracles is pride. Again, it is a modern crisis that many people, when faced with something very good that someone else has done, are jealous, envious or dismissive. I mean, it’s laughable but I can hear people thinking, “Well, shoot, I could have done those miraculous cures too if I had been the Son of God!” With one sweep of pride they totally dismiss the greatest kindness and love that ever lived, simply by saying, “Well, it could have been me.” Well, duh, no, it could not have been you, but that is what the temptation of pride tells people everyday.

The third reason and the one most pertinent to our previous discussions is that one will not allow one’s self to love something better and good because then one might have to give up sin and bad behavior. That is the heart of the point about teaching you about identifying, resisting and becoming “dead to sin,” as St Paul put it, using this very exercise. What does it tell you if you are having this thought process: “Well, Jesus sure is wonderful and worthy of love. I get that. But if I allow myself to love him for his miracles, then I have to start thinking about if everything else he said and did is true. And then I might have to give up some of my sinful ways and bad behaviors.”

Sin blocks love, and the desire to keep sinning (even the mentality of “leaving one’s options open to make a ‘personal choice’ to sin) blocks truth and understanding. You know what it is like? It is like buying a beautiful sleek performance car, and really enjoying looking at it, but you refuse to open the door because then you have to get in and drive it. How logical is that, to have a great car but never drive it, while others would swoon to have that car? That is the “logic” which is the illogic of sin. The temptation to keep on sinning or, at the very least, to live a hedonistic and selfish life, prevents many people from accepting any part of or all of the love that God offers “no strings attached” just by understanding what Jesus did and who he was. Loving Jesus and accepting his authority does not cause some mechanical arm to fall from the sky and force you to church and prevent you from doing the sinful things you may or may not enjoy doing. Loving Jesus is a genuinely free gift. The worst sinner in the world can touch that gift of loving Jesus, assuming he or she genuinely comprehends the facts of what Jesus did, in this case, the generosity of his many miraculous cures. Of course there comes the time when there is the corundum, the problem, of loving and believing Jesus, and then comparing how one is living one’s life with what Jesus said and what God expects.

This is why people cannot preach the Gospel based on “love, love, love” all by itself. While I offer you this exercise as a way to 1) discover for the first time your love of Jesus, 2) reconnect and refresh again the ardor of love you once felt for Jesus, 3) break through the deadness of heart of modern times and 4) reduce your exposure to pride and prideful thinking, this exercise cannot by and of itself 5) bring those committed to sin to repent and convert. Why? Because only the other half of reality, the recognition of the awful and dreadful unbearable torment of hell as consequence for sin can break through the barrier of a person who has committed his or her life to sin.

When Jesus cured people he would often say, “Go your way and sin no more.” Why would he say that if he understood what people of the times did not, which is that physical and mental infirmities were not caused by sin? Because Jesus knows that everyone is a dreadful sinner, and when he gave someone a miraculous cure, he was giving them a second chance at a better life. So even if a blind man was blinded through, of course, illness or accident, and not sin, Jesus would cure that man of blindness and tell him to sin no more. Jesus did not mean that the blindness was caused by sin. Jesus meant “This cure is your personal wakeup call that all people sin, and I know you do, and God most certainly knows, and so you should use the opportunity of this cure to stop sinning.”

If one of the disciples had asked Jesus (and they never would have because this is a modern mentality, not the mentality of the traditional religious Jew) “Why is it wrong to sin, is it because it is not nice and it hurts people?” Jesus would of course reply, “Sin offends God and the unrepentant sinner goes to eternal torment in hell.” If people are to have an accurate understanding of the divine cosmos and of God, they must understand that unrepentant and continuous sin results in the sinner going to hell. The fact that sin hurts other people is a symptom of sin, not the core “reason not to do sin.” Jesus covered that thinking in the Eleventh Commandment that he gave in the New Covenant, which is to love one’s neighbor as one’s self (and then he explained through the Good Samaritan that neighbor can mean a stranger in need, not one’s literal neighbor). So Jesus gave at God’s behest to people the Commandment that recognizes that sin hurts other people and is wrong, and that not only should one not hurt other people through sin, but one should proactively love and promote love of others, in the good behavior, golden rule, fullness of charity of heart sense. But, see, it’s not like Jesus said, “And if you break the eleventh commandment, and hurt someone due to sin, that is why sin is bad.” No… Jesus is simply articulating that all paths of sin lead to the potential of damnation in hell because sin is living against God’s will, and God’s will includes that people should not harm one another and should instead have charitable and “neighborly” love.

This is why hard core sinners need to understand both the free gift of loving Jesus as he really was, but also that Jesus spent a lot of his time explaining the actual structure of life and the cosmos under God, which includes the certainty of hell.

When I say hard core sinners, unfortunately I do not just mean the mass murderers and the incorrigible criminals. That is the point in my first commentary in this series which is that much behavior that is accepted, engaged in, widespread and promoted today is sinful and that many “ordinary” people incur hundreds of sins a week, unrecognizing and unrepentant. The more this modern society goes on the more I only see hard core sinners, as each child grows up enmeshed in the structures of what has become a sinful economy, a sinful lifestyle, a sinful mentality and a sinful fantasy life. Now I am not speaking as a prudish church lady, far from it. You have to think back to the five types of sins that the Bible identifies that I listed for you in the first post of this series. It is the spitefulness, the foolish thoughts, the manipulation of others, unrighteous thoughts and deeds, and lack of justice that fuels the tremendous volume of sins that occur every day and every hour in this society. I will give you an example so that our understanding is more in harmony.

I have spent my life thus far going “Oh, oh” whenever I see a shift that is toward the sinful and away from the good. I can still remember the moment I had that “Oh, oh” regarding a type of commercial advertisements, back in the 1980’s. There was a sudden flurry of advertisements for various food products that are “so good” and “so tasty” that the consumer hides them from the rest of his or her family. The consumer was usually a woman, the wife, girlfriend, or mother. It would show the consumer savoring the product and then upon hearing the arrival of a family member, hide the food and deny having it. I had, and still today as I recall it, a dreadful “Oh, oh” in the pit of my stomach, as that represented a terrible sinful shift in mentality. It is not ironic, edgy or “cute.” It became the commercialization of competition for food among family members and loved ones, something that no human had ever even thought of even in jest previously. Think about that. If you ran that commercial in Biblical times they would have been horrified and stoned you right on the spot. It is unthinkable to make food a competitive, especially in a hedonistic sense, resource in a family, and it certainly made every woman who appeared in those commercials ugly, no matter how thin or beautified she was. In Victorian times, in the times of Charles Dickens, no one hid food from each other in the house. Sometimes hard decisions had to be made. The one egg might go to the head of the household for breakfast instead of the hungry child because the head of the household had to go out and earn some wage in back breaking labor. But never in all of human history, in any culture or any generation would anyone have laughed or found a food hiding family commercial witty. It would have been viewed as horrific. Like I said, in Jerusalem you would have been stoned on the spot for such a display. In Rome too, unless you were in with the depraved Emperors where anything goes, I guess. But I am joking about that because seriously, it is against the very soul of humanity and of God for food hiding and competition to take place in a family and among loved ones.

And so what have we seen? A breakdown of the natural priorities and attitudes toward each other, in this case manifested by food in those commercials, and that watershed landmark commercial example is just one of the many drops in the bucket of the slide into a mindset of sinfulness that has rotted out much of basic humanity. Just in the past months in the United States there have been several cases of horrific child abuse where children are tied up or chained in their homes and deprived of food by their so called caregivers, often unto death. Do an Internet search and you will find horrific examples, including one where a little girl was singled out not to receive any water at all by her mother, and was abused if she was found even licking the moisture off of a window. Now sure, some of you will say, through your guilty consciences, “Well, those are crazy people, and there have always been abusers.” But look at it in the pattern of the breakdown of attitudes toward food in general, including diabetes and obesity, and how parents don’t even know how to give babies and young children milk, but give them soda pop and endless fruit juice, and you start to see the bigger picture. Extreme abuse occurs as eruptions out of what has become a distorted “norm.”

Let me repeat that. If you went back in time to Biblical Jerusalem you would see that yes, there are crazy people who abuse children, but there were different checks and balances than there are today. For one there were lots of strong men who would swiftly avenge an abused child or woman in their family. For two the types of abuse sprung out of what is the societal norm. For example, a father might beat his son for being lazy and not working in the field because the norm was that everyone, even young children, had to labor so that all could survive. Such a beating would be considered child abuse today. However, you would never find an instance of a parent manipulating for insane or power control reasons the food that a family member ate. Again, a woman who did that would be stoned on the spot. Crazy stuff tends to follow the societal pattern of normal behavior, and then erupts as a shocking and hideous distortion.

I know this is a lengthy digression and worthy of much more in separate treatment, but I needed to give you an example of how invisible and acceptable sinful thoughts and behaviors have become and are indeed even admired and marketed. There is absolutely no reason to market a food product in such a way except pride in one’s own cleverness and participating in the destruction of moral balance, fiber and perspective. So when I rant about the high levels of sin, it will help you to use the example I gave you as a yardstick of what I mean, rather than imagine that I’m making a point about the “usual” topics such as sex or abortion. I’m not in this case at all. I am speaking of the terrible crushing weight of sin on the world today that is generated by millions of occurrences of the types of sins that are not the classic Ten Commandment breakers (though obviously the neglect of God as expressed in the first two Commandments fuel the breakdown through sin of everything else).

Every individual is walking around with an incredible weight of unrecognized participatory sin. If you could see it through my eyes, and I sure hope this particular blogging helps, it is terrifying to the maximum. Long ago I had to give up mourning that many people I know have put themselves on the path to hell and, worse, urge others to join them, even forcing them to join them through their power as money lenders, as bosses, as power brokers, as advertisers, as politicians, as celebrities, and as merchandisers. As I gave in this one out of many examples, one is not only forced to sin (by thought and temptation) whenever one views a sinful program, movie or commercial, one is indoctrinated to admire the sinful posture that is used to promote the entertainment or advertisement. The worst examples are, of course, looking at youth in lustful ways.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was sent by God to Fatima to warn about these very things. There are two things one must really understand about what was said and done in Fatima. The first is that Mary gave the children a few second glimpse of the reality of the horror of hell. This is because God saw (being all knowing of course), that modern society was beginning to disbelieve in the reality of the horror of hell. It does not take a genius, especially as we go through the Biblical and Qur’an explanations of hell, to comprehend the message that God is making when he sends Mary (armed with a solar miracle, of course, to prove her given authority), the gentle virgin, to show hell to small gentle children. He didn’t send Michael with a sword to scream at humans, since that is not his way. He sent the mother of Jesus who shows the horror through the concern of a mother to little children, children who are not yet older cynics who try to rationalize away even a miracle.

Second, Mary warned that a great many people will go to hell due to lust. Again, one must understand that lust is not used as code word for extra sex. Lust is the craving and coveting of the things of the flesh, idolizing them and putting them over God, if one even takes notice or heed of God at all. People focus too much on trying to be “prophets” (and “profits”) to try to interpret details of Lucy’s visions of Mary and what was revealed rather than heeding the two crucial points that were made: the reality of hell and that many-think millions-are going to hell due to the societal crisis of lustful sinfulness. Why Mary and why Fatima? Think about it. Have we not been examining how much Gabriel has articulated in the Qur’an the inevitability and the horrors of hell for sinners, the unjust and unbelievers? God does not talk in “code” with secret phonetic meanings and so forth; he talks in terms of family names on those rare occasions. Fatima is a pointer to God and Jesus, of course, but also a nod to the Qur’an of Gabriel, since Fatima was the name of the Prophet’s daughter. Mary reveals a glimpse of hell to the children, and there are over eighty mentions of the reality of hell in the Qur’an. Figure it out. You don’t need secret numbers, codes, astrology, phonetics or “Freudian slips” or “meaningful coincidences.” You only need to read the Bible or the Qur’an, believe and repent.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

(3) Understanding hell, demons, and sin

Part III

Here I will direct your attention and comment upon mentions and descriptions of hell in the Qur’an. Paperback versions of the Qur’an, one of which I am using, number around 420 pages of text, a fraction of the length of the Bible. Yet the Qur’an has about eighty mentions of hell. This ought to tell you something.

To put this into context, let’s address the most common argument, which is that religious authorities “make up the idea of hell” in order to “scare” and “control the people.” Um, OK, but here is the problem. There were no religious authorities and indeed there were no Muslims at all, since Islam did not exist, when the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was given and transcribed the Qur’an! What “people” would he have been trying to “scare” and “control” into “good behavior?”

Likewise, remember the Psalm citation by King David regarding the risk of people and cities going to hell. King David was “already in charge” and he was penning the Psalms as his own adoration to God put to music. He was not ranting about hell in order to “scare” or “control” people who were already the most pious and God-fearing people on earth, under his rulership! I mean, if you use a little common sense when you hear these things and look at the FACTS, you will not be so easily mislead into fatal error. It is also easier to deal with idiots who attack the faith with such accusations by calmly making note of the facts and that their facts are wrong. The MOST mentions of hell are in the Qur’an, which will be the scripture for a religion that does not even yet exist, the second most mentions of hell are by Jesus and the Apostles, who seek no rulership or control whatsoever, and the fewest mentions of hell are in the Old Testament, where it’s presence is simply understood, feared, taken for granted and not a fundamental decision point in either individual or the collective faith of the Israelites. People believed because God was there, working among them, through the prophets, in person, not because leaders “scared” the poor peasants with “made up” tales of hell. You don’t have to be a PhD or a research genius. Simply take the scriptures, look at the index, mark down the number of mentions, then correspond the number of mentions to the time in history, and you can see for yourself what I have just done here.

It is therefore logical to wonder why would there be so many mentions of hell in the Qur’an. First of all you must read the references to understand what categories they fall into. Like the Bible, the Qur’an is a mixture of explanation of how things are, and admonishments and exhortations for good behavior. In other words, not every mention of hell is done so in order to be menacing but, rather, is the way that the configuration of the God created universe and how it works is explained to the faithful. So many of the mentions of hell are not so much to scare the listener or the reader, but to be somewhat “tour guide” in describing what it is like.

Remember too that the Qur’an is not like the Gospel, which is an evangelizing type of scripture that seeks to convert the reader. The Qur’an assumes that the reader IS a believer and a Muslim. So the Qur’an has even less reason than the Biblical authors to “scare” people into believing since the Qur’an assumes the believers are the readers and studiers of the Qur’an! In fact, much of the Qur’an descriptions of hell (as you will see when I cite and comment on them) are of a “tsk, tsk, look what happens to those unbelievers who are in hell,” rather than being used to “scare” believers into good behavior. You have to use some common sense and discernment to place these simple but misunderstood theological concepts in place in your minds.

Another thing to recall, which a lot of Christians do not understand about Islam, is that the Qur’an is revelation that is given by God to the Prophet (PBUH) through the archangel Gabriel, the very same angel who in the Annunciation appears to Mary to proclaim that she will be the mother of Jesus Christ. So not to oversimplify but you need to understand that basically the Qur’an is God’s revelation spoken through an angel and thus has an “angel’s perspective.” God sends angels, instead of appearing him self, when he wants the perspective of the angel to predominate. This does not mean that angels modify God’s messages at all; in fact they are the most reliable of messengers, of course, since God speaks through them. When I say God speaks through them I do not mean angels are an amplifier of God’s voice. What I mean is that each angel is in individual but totally harmonious accord with what God wants to say and how he wants to say it: that is why a particular angel is selected by God and sent in the first place!

Thus, think about what it might mean that the gentle and joyful archangel Gabriel, who announces the coming of the Messiah to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her subsequent pregnancy, is six hundred years later the deliverer of extremely robust, even militant, revelation to the Prophet, giving birth to Islam. Of all the angels that God could have selected, why would God have selected Gabriel to be the one to reveal to Mohammad? One cannot always, or even often, understand God’s will, but it is essential to notice these facts or one misses entirely a profound piece of understanding God.

This also puts lie to those who would accuse the Prophet of just making up scriptures and that it is not divine revelation. If the Prophet were seeking to start a religious empire and “impress” potential followers, he would have fictionalized a visit by a more militant angel, such as Michael, who provides revelation or, more likely, he’d make up a new angel, an Islam angel, new to the scene, just for Islam. Instead, can we not wonder and marvel how honored the Prophet was to have the same angel who Annunciated to Mary be the one to reveal to him, but how he must have been a bit surprised by that selection too, in the very beginning?

The reason is that Islam was not a new or “made up” religion but the reuniting of the branch of the family of Abraham with knowledge of the one true God and their own shared past in the faith history documented in the Old Testament. Much of the Qur’an is explaining to these Arabic people how they are descended in biological and faith lineage from Abraham too. So one can be safe to surmise that God selected Gabriel because as the one who Announced to Mary the coming of Jesus, titling her “full of grace” and awaiting her “fiat,” her agreement to bear the Messiah, that Gabriel is the angel most harmonious with the voice God wished to use in reuniting these children of Abraham back into knowledge of him.

Thus the Qur’an, and specifically the mentions of hell, is a very robust scripture, in places quite militant, that at first blush worries some Christians. However, Christians need to understand two things. One is that Jesus himself was quite militant, as we have seen in the previous posts on this subject of hell, demons and sin. It is a myth that Jesus just tiptoed through the tulips throwing daisies around and preaching “love” and “let it all hang out.” Jesus delivered the first Biblical descriptions of hell and stark dire warnings of the consequences of sin and damnation regularly and consistently throughout his preaching and teaching. As we saw in the previous posts the Apostles learned about hell and the reality of the many ways that sin results in people being damned to hell directly from Jesus himself. Likewise, it is a mistake to think that Gabriel, because of the joy of the Annunciation, is somehow the “fluffy” angel, all sweetness and light. Just as Jesus was not sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, neither is Gabriel, the one who Announced God’s selection and preparation of Mary to be the mother of Jesus.

So now that you see this it is very logical that the archangel Gabriel, being an angel who has great power and first hand knowledge of all things of heaven, earth, and hell, should provide a great deal of information regarding hell in the course of revealing the Qur’an. Gabriel can be thought of as the faith family’s historian, who “was there” at all the big events. He’s the angel who is selected by God when God needs to “tell it like it is.” And so, far from being a “scary” scripture, the Qur’an has what modern journalists would call a great deal of “color commentary.” Gabriel, in expression of God’s will, takes the time to provide further, more detailed information about hell. The Qur’an is adorned with “additional” information provided by Gabriel on a number of topics, including even Jesus himself. One particularly fascinating “extra” that Gabriel reveals in the Qur’an, just through one casual mention, is the existence of atoms.

This helps you to see that when God selects an angel to represent him, one that is not God himself in angel form, he is selecting someone who is in total harmony with what God wants said, of course, but he is also selecting a particular voice and a particular perspective for the benefit of the listener. Imagine what the Qur’an would read like if God had sent Michael to do the dictating and the revelation. People would be shaking in their boots, a hundred times more than they would in reading the Qur’an as it is delivered by Gabriel, as robust as THAT is. Either would represent perfection of information and God’s will, but it is God’s will to select the angel who provides the tone and the relationship, and the areas of emphasis that God understands is the best for the hearer and the faith.

Can you see now why the Qur’an is so poetic and punctuated by frequent short phrases of praise of God? That is a hallmark of how angels really “speak.” Angels rarely speak without punctuating all that they say with praise of God. Angels are like the person who loves another person so much that they punctuate every sentence they say to the other person with “by the way, I love you” tacked on to the end, except angels continually shout the praise and glory of God, since that is their fundamental nature. This is why the Qur’an is so obviously written in the vocal intonation of an angel, and most specifically Gabriel.

I’m going to be a little tongue in cheek but very serious here. Imagine if it were the archangel Michael who was selected by God to deliver the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet. There would be that punctuation of praise for God just as with Gabriel, but Mohammad would probably have had to duck for cover as the walls shake every time that Michael would shout praise of God into Mohammad’s head! I also can easily imagine that every other sentence of scripture would contain “Get down on your knees NOW!” Ha. And if Michael dictated the Qur’an to the Prophet there would be much less of the tender moments describing baby Jesus and the virtue of Mary. No, one could imagine that Michael would be much more emphasizing of the suffering of both Jesus and Mary and punctuated with “get down on your knees NOW,” in his Christian color commentary sections of the Qur’an. Both a Qur’an delivered by Michael and a Qur’an delivered by Gabriel would be the word of God, effective and true for the faith, but they would have different intonations representing the different aspects of God’s will that each represent. If you think the Qur’an is short in length and somewhat terse now, imagine what the version delivered by the Michael archangel would be if God had willed it!

Understanding this, then, one must have very sober consideration of how the archangel Gabriel would be the one to reveal a Qur’an that has more than eighty mentions of hell. There ought to be a thoughtful silence right around now in each reader’s mind, as he or she absorbs that if the angel of the Annunciation delivers over eighty mentions of hell, how dire and vital that information about the reality of hell is for everyone. The Qur’an is delivered six hundred years after Jesus Christ and hell is mentioned even more than by Jesus himself, not less. Clearly the need to understand the reality of hell only grows with time and so called “human progress,” not less.

2:24 But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.

This is the first mention of hell in the Qur’an, already on the second page of scripture. Can you not hear Gabriel’s voice when you read this? The “it” refers to serving God and believing his prophets. Is it not crystal clear that this first mention of hell is phrased by someone who has seen it with his own eyes? The very first mention of hell contains the stark visual that in hell a fire burns that has as its fuel both the bodies of the unbelievers who are damned there, but also the melting stone around it. This is not just an admonishment phrase; this is an eyewitness descriptive phrase. If you ever wondered what real “angel speak” is like, that is one of the best examples. Gabriel in one short terse sentence says that if one does not believe and serve God and, further, one will never change one’s ways to do so in the future, then be warned of going to the place that is prepared for those types of people, where the people and the stones burn as fuel to the fire. Gabriel is describing a both a progression of human choice of believing and describing the visuals of a place where one ends up if the wrong choice is made.

If that is not stark and chilling enough in its factual eyewitness simplicity for you, read the second mention of hell:

2:206 And when it is said to him, guard against (the punishment) of Allah; pride carries him off to sin; therefore hell is sufficient for him; and certainly it is an evil resting place.

Here Gabriel once again describes first a progression of human behavior, and then the consequence in an “eyewitness” way. In this citation it is described that the person in this example, when told to beware of being punished by God, ignores the warning because of his own pride and certainty that he can do whatever he wants, including to commence or continue to sin. So Gabriel observes that a typical person who ends up in hell first hears the warning, is filled with pride, and therefore through his pride ignores the warning and pride then leads him to sin. Notice the coolness of the phrasing “hell is sufficient for him.” Angels like Gabriel do not rant because they are detached, having seen millions of souls be saved, and millions of souls be damned. Gabriel is very cool and dry, stating what he has seen many times, and thus you can easily hear his voice as he calmly gives to the Prophet the assessment that “hell is sufficient” and “certainly it is an evil resting place.”

3:12 Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place.

3:103 And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it; thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way.

3:131 And guard yourselves against the fire which has been prepared for the unbelievers.

3:151 We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and their abode is the fire; and evil is the abode of the unjust.

This warning about hell is directed toward those who establish false religions and speak as false prophets in supposedly God’s name, but do not in fact have any legitimacy or authority from God. An unbeliever is either someone who does not believe in God at all or who believes in false gods.

3:191 Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire.

Again, this is a marvelous, complex example of hearing God’s instruction through the voice of an angel. First Gabriel paints the image of how humans through all times, while standing, sitting, or lying in repose, spend time thinking about how the heavens and earth are created. Again you cannot miss the sense of seeing generations of humans pondering creation as seen firsthand by Gabriel. Gabriel then exclaims glory to God (since that’s what angels do since they understand and are immersed in the glory and grandeur of full knowledge of God’s greatest and goodness.) Gabriel then takes on the voice of what a human should say to God when he or she ponders creation, which is to offer glory and plead for salvation from the punishment of hell. What a richness of verse that one could have extended meditation upon, tutored directly by the angel Gabriel through his eyes.

3:192 Our Lord! Surely whomsoever Thou makest enter the fire, him Thou hast indeed brought to disgrace, and three shall be no helpers for the unjust.

3:197 A brief enjoyment! Then their abode is hell, and evil is the resting-place.

This is a pithy observation indeed; the sinner and unbeliever may have a grand life, but it is enjoyed in a hurry and then gone when one finds one’s self in hell for eternity.

4:56 (As for) those who disbelieve in Our communications, We shall make them enter fire; so oft as their skins are thoroughly burned. We will change them for other skins, that they may taste the chastisement; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Here Gabriel is clearly articulating God’s own words. How do we know this? We know because there is the use of what is called the “imperial we.” When the “imperial we” is used it does not mean multiple people, but it means that the divinity or the king speaks with authority for all. When a human king says “We” he means himself, but he has a multitude of authority. When God is speaking his own precise words in the Qur’an, he often uses the imperial we. Notice that this is a grimmer description of the crispy fried reality of those in hell. It is not Gabriel’s dry and detached perspective; it is a hint of the wrath of God in his own words. This is also factual information that is confirmed in the Bible that the bodies of those in hell are not destroyed, but are tormented and burned over and over unceasingly.

4:121 These are they whose abode is hell, and they shall not find any refuge from it.

The “these” in this citation are those who listen to the temptations sent by Satan and his minions.

7:18 He said: Get out of this (state), despised, driven away; whoever of them will follow you, I will certainly fill hell with you all.

This is part of the telling of the story of the fall of the disobedient angels and the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

7:38 He will say: Enter into fire among the nations that have passed away before you among jinn and men; whenever a nation shall enter, it shall curse its sister, until when they have all come up with one another into it; the last of them shall say with regard to the foremost of them: Our Lord! These led us astray, therefore give them a double chastisement of the fire. He will say: Every one shall have double but you do not know.

There are two important points to be made here, both of which are confirmed in the Bible. The first is that entire nations can and do go to hell, as King David states in Psalms, discussed in previous blogging here. Nations that structure themselves to be unbelievers and sinners drag themselves and all who follow them in a slide into hell as a group. So that is the first important point to understand. The second is that there are no friends and allies in hell. Each sinner nation will blame other nations that they used as the role model and thus they both end up in hell. Even in the dreadful punishment of hell the damned do not pray for mercy but haggle over demanding that those who “got them there” get “double” extra punishment. God observes that they already are all receiving the most severe punishment without discrimination. Hell: the equal opportunity and egalitarian pit of eternal suffering and fire.

7:179 And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear; they are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; thee are the heedless ones.

Jinn is the Islamic expression for demonic influences. This passage requires careful understanding and we know this is God speaking using very precise words. When God says that he (imperial we) created hell for many of the jinn and men, God does not mean that specific people are created predestined to hell. It means that God in his all knowing of course realizes from birth and in advance all that a person will decide, and thus that many people, despite being offered chances to be saved, will turn them down and end up in hell. Just because God “knows” in advance who will do what and will be saved or not does not mean that he creates them predestined nor does he cease to offer them opportunities to be saved. By listing those people’s hearts, eyes and ears, God is using an imagery of the specific ways that he sends spiritual help to try to appeal to their hearts, to open their eyes, or to hear what they need to hear to be saved, but they are too heedless and persist in error to recognize the help or to accept and believe it. So if you read this passage too fast you might think this is a “predestined to be damned” statement while the opposite is true. It is a statement that even when God knows what people will do he continues to send messages to those people’s hearts, eyes and ears, but they do not accept those messages.

9:81 Those who were left behind were glad on account of their sitting behind Allah’s Apostle and they were averse from striving in Allah’s way with their property and their persons, and said: Do not go forth in the heat. Say: The fire of hell is much severe in heat. Would that they understand (it).

This is actually an example of hell being mentioned kind of in a rueful joking way among the Prophet’s travelers. They are speaking of the actual heat of battle and travel, and then make kind of a rueful joke about hell being a really hot place, so stop complaining about the daytime heat and get on with the Prophet’s work.

10:52 Then it shall be said to those who were unjust: Taste abiding chastisement; you are not requited except for what you have earned.

Like the Bible it is emphasized that those who are unjust in general, not just breaking a specific law of God or being an unbeliever per se, will earn hell in return (requited) for their unjustness.

14:16-17 Hell is before him and he shall be given to drink of festering water. He will drink it little by little and will not be able to swallow it agreeably, and death will come to him from every quarter, but he shall not die; and there shall be vehement chastisement before him.

There is no water per se in hell but only the festering fluid of the burning fire and brimstone, which people in hell will actually try to drink to quench their thirst. If only all of you truly realized how horrifying hell is.

14:28-30 Have you not seen those who have changed Allah’s favor for ungratefulness and made their people to alight into the abode of perdition; (Into) hell? They shall enter into it and an evil place it is to settle in. And they set up equals with Allah that they may lead (people) astray from His path. Say: Enjoy yourselves, for surely your return is to the fire.

This passage asks if the reader has not noticed people who receive great favor from God, only to return ingratitude back to God instead of thanks. These people will end up in hell. To give an example this passage describes those who receive blessings from God but who then ascribe those blessings to idols, false gods or their own power, and persuade others to likewise believe that blessings come not from God but from idols or themselves. That dry voice of Gabriel returns here with pithy and somewhat sardonic “Enjoy yourselves, for surely your return is to the fire.” By return he means that everyone born comes from God, since he creates the soul, but the good return to God in heaven, while the bad “return” not to God but to hell. “Return” means the dispensation of the soul, not that the soul was in hell previously and is “going back there.”

15:43-44 And surely Hell is the promised place of them all. It has seven gates; for each gate there shall be a separate party of them.

This is part of the dialogue between God and Satan after Satan tempted Adam and Eve into sin, and Satan refused to bow and honor the sacredness of God’s creation of man. So God tells Satan that even though he, Satan, refuses to honor humans, that he, Satan, does not have rulership over humans except for those who he, Satan, persuades to follow him. God then states that those who follow Satan will end up in hell as that is the “promised” place of those who deviate from God and follow Satan.

God then mentions that there are seven gates to hell. Notice that the fact that hell has gates is confirmed in the Bible as Jesus Christ also states that when he promises Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Why are there multiple gates? They represent the different ways that people find their way to hell through different patterns of sin and wickedness. For example some enter hell through their lack of belief and their work to destroy the faith of others, while others enter hell due to performing evil deeds such as murder. So the fact there are multiple gates to hell is just a way to understand that there are well understood patterns of behavior that differ among people but bring them to the same place.

The Qur’an quotes God as saying there are specifically seven gates. Notice too that this same passage uses a familiar Biblical phrase “promised” as in the Promised Land but in this sense the “promised land” is hell for those who follow Satan. Likewise the fact that there are seven gates to hell indicates that hell uses what is considered a divine number, seven, in its obverse. In other words, we see in both the Bible and the Qur’an that Satan and his minions imitate earthly and heavenly concepts. The number seven in both Judeo-Christian and Arabic culture tends to represent divine goodness. Thus God points out that hell has seven gates, in oppositional counterpoint to the goodness of the gates of heaven.

16:29 Therefore enter the gates of hell, to abide therein; so certainly evil is the dwelling place of the proud.

Once again the point that excessive pride is a most certain way to find one’s home in hell.

There is much more very useful information and very “meaty” perspective regarding hell in the remaining chapters, which we can look at in future postings on this subject.

(2) Understanding hell, demons, and sin

Part II
Do you want to spend the rest of eternity, after you die, in hell, where in addition to eternal unbearable torment the only substance of the surroundings is the blackened burning stain of each individual sin ever committed by all previous human beings? That is what hell is “like” and the traditional pious believers understood that very well. I cannot begin to tell you how many people, immense crowds, of the modern generations who have perished are shocked and horrified to find them selves in hell, and that it is as unbearably full of eternal torment, just as the “fire and brimstone” preachers had always said.

You might say, “Well, where in the Bible does it say that all of the sins of humans, those both forgiven and those who are not, are part of the torment of the furnishings of hell?” It’s funny that many who do not believe, or have only partial or cynical belief, are the first to ask for the “Bible quote,” even as they ignore most of the rest of the Bible’s fullness of teachings. Well, in the previous section of this series I cited scripture to indicate the immensely wide range of bad human behavior, including foolish thoughts, which are considered sins. I have also cited from scripture that not only individuals but entire nations who are unrepentant of sin go to hell. That is an enormous amount of people who “qualify” for hell. So even if you do not believe in the “physics” of what I described to you of the presence of all sins in hell (and I will present more information on that regard), understand what the ancients did and pious ancestors as recently as the past few generations ago, MANY people go to hell and they truck all of those stains of sin right along with them, obviously. So every despot, his or her middlemen and women, and even the underlings (such as prison camp guards) through all of human history are there in hell, bringing along their individual litany of sins. They are the furnishings of hell, and do you want to be there with them? As I pointed out there are many human behaviors, such as not helping a specific person in need (as opposed to selected “good causes”) that are considered “normal” today, that merit hell. It’s not just the baby molesters who go to hell. As I cited in my previous post about this subject those who have foolish thoughts, who defame faith in others, who are unjust in any way (and that includes mean gossip), who are unrighteous (thus behaving in ‘bad’ ways that are beyond breaking one of the Commandments) and those who are supposedly believers but who go about their lives with only partial belief are ALL accumulating huge tolls of daily sin.

There is a gigantic spectrum of sin that people engage in today that they either don’t realize is sin or they ignore that it is. They also don’t realize that each instance “counts,” rather than being a behavior trait. I mentioned before that posting something spiteful and mean on the Internet is a sin, not an “art form” or “acting out,” and that each and every instance “counts” as a separate sin. The “statistics” of routine sin accumulation in most people in modern society today is truly appalling and I expect that since so many are of partial genuine belief and thus do not repent, many will go to hell. People of recent times who have not studied and understood what I described about the certainty of hell and the broad spectrum of behaviors that are individual sins have kidded themselves into thinking that hell is only the place that “really bad people like mass murderers or child molesters go.” The unrepentant mean bitch in the office has a very good chance of ending up in hell right next to the torturer at Auschwitz. Jesus himself made that very clear.

Matthew 25:41-46
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.’ Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, ‘Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.’ And those shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Many think these words of Jesus are a warning that is “met” or “satisfied” if one engages in some sort of charity work. That is simply not true. Jesus is stating very clearly that you are to help the least of who are in need among you, that you personally encounter, not the abstract of selective social work and charity. The next citing is probably one of my top five in most frequency that I find I must cite to people through these teachings in order to make this abundantly clear. It is the story of the poor man Lazarus (not the one of the raising from the dead miracle) who is in heaven while a rich man is in hell because he ignored that one specific poor and suffering man, who died, right outside the city gate. You can reread my previous commentary on this scripture where I describe that the rich man in hell, by virtue of being in one of Jesus parables (though this is not a parable but an actual event, since Jesus uses a specific name, so this Lazarus, the rich man and his brothers indeed existed), would have been considered a “good man” (a Jewish believer who attends Temple and so forth) and thus is astonished to find himself in hell for neglecting one specific poor man.

Luke 16:19-25
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at this gate full of sores. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried:

And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried, and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame.’

But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.’

The rich man then asks that his five brothers who are still alive be warned (obviously it has dawned on the rich man that his entire family was living this way, thinking they are pious and generous but bound for hell due to their neglect of specific people who need them). Abraham explains that Moses and the prophets were the warning, and that no further warnings will be given, and that it is on their own heads that the scripture was not believed.

Jesus thus provides a specific description of hell, and also a very specific warning of how it is not general “good deeds” or “believing” that merits heaven, but that even the least person who needs YOU specifically should not be neglected.

As an aside, to make this even more relevant to contemporary dangerous error in understanding what Jesus has said, both “conservatives” and “liberals” totally misunderstand the previous two citations by Jesus. Liberals think they are “covered” by being big social or art program donors, who participate in “good deeds,” especially their favorite, which is to dole out food to the “locals” on Thanksgiving or other times in the soup kitchen. Celebrities visit sick children in hospitals (if they are ‘modest’ they don’t allow their photographs to be taken). Other liberals figure that if they fight for social justice or have a crusade regarding an area such as Darfur, that they are “covered” in having “found Jesus in the needy.” The story of Lazarus shows how totally bogus that notion is. And conservatives are cruel and just cannot be listened to when they self righteously repeat that charity is an “individual matter” and that the Bible “says so.” Again, that is just as outrageous as the liberal view, even though it is from the totally different slant. Remember, in “Biblical times” people did not earn “paychecks” or “capital gains,” have “tax deductions for charitable purposes,” and thus decide, based on “how well they are doing and how generous they can be” to “donate as an individual” to “worthy causes.” In Biblical times the religious authorities WERE the government regarding charitable giving. God mandates in the scripture, for example, that a certain portion of food fields be left unharvested so that the poor can eat. A farmer would leave his food for whoever needed it, not the “individual choice” that he “deemed” was “worthy” and “in his budget” “out of the kindness of his or her heart.” Jesus himself ate from those fields where the food was left for the poor to glean for themselves.

While people have always been wicked and prone to sin, prior to the industrial revolution, and I guess the so called intellectual “Enlightenment” before it is also to blame, people simply did not engage in the huge categories of sin widespread, routine, unthinking sin that they have since. These sins of individual, community and institutionalized neglect of the needy simply did not occur, to say nothing of being codified and rationalized away, on the grand scale as they occur today, among the Biblical people in Biblical times, that liberals and conservatives are so fond of quoting without understanding.

Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus here designates Peter the leader of the church that will be built, which is the Catholic Church, by giving Peter the keys. Jesus also uses an interesting description of the powers of hell that many of commented on and even used in art, but I think many do not understand his use of the term “gates” of hell.

Hell has gates, and it also has a road, which Jesus references in a separate citation, where he warns that the road to hell is very wide and easy to travel. Gates are by definition a device to control traffic, both entering and exiting a place. We know that once someone is in hell, whether a human who is sent to hell or a fallen angel, they cannot leave hell (except for Satan, who roams at will for now). Therefore the gates of hell obviously cannot prevail against the church by sending the damned outward. So why would Jesus use an imagery that evokes hell’s gates somehow besieging the church? That is where my discussion of hell being the sin “repository” for all individual occurrences of sin helps in this theological understanding. While neither the damned nor their sins can “leave” hell, there is a miasma, the dark draw of previous sins and despair that seeps into the minds of those who are open to such influence. In other words, those who are sensitive or partial toward sin “feel” the tempting tug of the despair and evil nihilism of hell. When these people, to use a modern term, “open a channel” in their souls toward hell, they allow the seepage of the knowledge of hell, but without its cautionary power, into their hearts and minds. If enough of it collects there that is what is known as a devil or a demon.

So what Jesus means is that the Church itself, as a body, will never succumb to allowing the despair and nihilism of hell to seep into it. That does not mean that the Church never errs or sins, either through individuals or collectively. What it means is that Jesus has promised that the Church founded by Peter will never be demonized or otherwise tainted by the miasma, the seepage from hell. The Church may struggle, the Church may, and will, being of humans, err, individuals may commit great sin and go to hell, but the Church itself will never have its doctrine or its soul sullied by the temptations, despair and nihilism of hell. Jesus has not only promised that, but it is exactly the Gospel of Jesus that comprises the “earmuffs,” the “repellent” to any such seepage. The liturgy of the Church, its Creed and its sacraments are “temptation free.”

We all know people who are just incorruptible, not because they are of high nobility, but because they are “simple” people who do not crave the things at all by which others are tempted. My stepfather was an example of such a person and they used to be very common, but no longer. To use a saying, temptation to sin was like water flowing off of a duck; it just doesn’t adhere or stick, and that is what he is like. In fact, such people do not even “notice” temptation because it simply does not register with them. That is what Jesus is stating is the Church that he founded under Peter as a whole. The Church itself, the liturgy, the Creed, the Gospel that he has given it, and the sacraments are as a whole incorruptible as they are totally dead to the temptation of the gates of hell, to paraphrase what Paul said about individual Christians having to be “dead to sin.” Jesus has promised that the Church itself is dead to the gates of hell. There is no two way street of temptation or demonic influence between the Church and the gates of hell. The Church, even if everyone is killed, leaving just the Pope and a few priests and faithful, which pray God will never happen, in and of itself will never fall to the gates of hell since it simply is immune and dead to the temptation of despair that emanates to the vulnerable from hell. Humans have the power to kill members of the Church, to tempt individuals into sin and corruption, and to destroy or marginalize the Church’s presence. But HELL does not have that power over the Church. I am astonished that people do not understand that today. They used to.

Jesus has given no other institution or powers that promise or his specific protection against the power that emanates through the gates of hell. This is not to say that only the Church members “belong to the right Church” or “can be saved.” What I am explaining is that only the Church under the pontiff, the heirs of Peter, has the promise from Jesus that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Prevail means not only the sense of having a victory but of even a meaningful struggle. In other words, hell may “think” that it is throwing a great demonic attack against the Church, but its effect is not even noticed, as if a child is throwing water balloons against a brick wall. The Church in and of itself is like having Teflon, that stick free surface, whereby the temptations of despair and evil nihilism emitted through the gates of hell have absolutely no point on which to stick or to penetrate. Again, I am not speaking of individual humans and their temptation, or even organization mistakes by the hierarchy, but I am speaking of the heir of Peter, the liturgy, the Creed and the sacraments of the Church, which are and always will be untouched and impenetrable by that which is emitted by the gates of hell.

This leads us back to what Paul has said in Timothy, cited previously, that the Gospel of Jesus is protection against the worsening condition of mankind. It also helps to develop Paul’s analogy of the righteous Christian man furnishing with perfection his interior self according to God’s doctrine. The Church itself, faithful to the doctrine of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ, cannot ever be ‘furnished’ or ‘occupied’ as a whole by anything that is from the gates of hell.

Matthew 5:29-30
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that they whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast if from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body be cast into hell.

When Jesus says “offend thee” he means that it is through use of that sensory organ or limb that one is tempted to sin. That is made clear in the previous line, Matthew 5:28, where Jesus uses the example of the sin of adultery that even wishing to be adulterous in one’s mind but not acting on it is the same as having committed the actual sin. So Jesus is saying that hell is so terrible that it is better (in theory, he’s not actually wanting people to self mutilate, but making a serious point) to pull out one’s own eye than use one’s vision to allow sinful thoughts as a result! Not even doing the sin, but having the thought of it! Does that sound like “hippie” Jesus who is peddled as being a soft touch by moderns who are totally ignorant? Jesus is the one who brought specific, clear and dire warning of the dreadful and real nature of hell and the vast numbers of people who are in peril of ending up there quite easily.

You must understand that the Gospels are just encapsulation of what Jesus would have spent hours and days preaching about, and in casual conversation with the disciples. If so many mentions of hell are preserved in the Gospels, do you not understand that the Apostles and disciples would have heard the same thing explained by Jesus many, many times? No fools they.

2 Peter 2:4-9
For if God spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemning them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly;
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds);
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.

That, my friends, is a “fire and brimstone” preaching by the first Pope, St. Peter. Yes, the same St. Peter who people like to describe as just a fisherman, who denied Christ three times, but there you have it… a lot happens after Jesus gives St. Peter the keys. This Second Epistle General of Peter was written around the year 66 AD, over thirty years after Jesus Christ had resurrected and ascended into heaven. And around thirty years after that Epistle, long after St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred, St. John, the last living Apostle, witnessed with his own eyes the Revelation of the Apocalypse, and thus is able to testify in the first hand about hell.

Revelation 1:18
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

That is Jesus who is speaking to John.

Revelation 14:10
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lord.

This is what an angel is stating will happen to those who follow the beast. This is the origin of the phrase a “fire and brimstone” sermon. Notice that just as Jesus described that Abraham could see into hell and observe the rich man’s torments, those who are idolaters and the sinners who follow the beast will be observed in their torments in hell by the holy angels and the Lord himself. Blasphemers, for example, can look forward to not only an eternity of hell, but also having the angels and the object of their blasphemy, the Lord, looking down on them in wrath and scorn as the damned suffer forever in hell. There are “No private suites in hell.”

Revelation 20:14
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

This is what John observes. I mention this because it should clear up another modern misunderstanding. Some people think, despite Jesus speaking of the reality of hell, that hell doesn’t “really happen” until the final judgment at the end of times. However, if you read Revelation 20 with a well informed background in all the New Testament references to hell, you understand that hell itself, which always exists as a place of individual punishment, no longer has a ‘purpose’ once there is no human life left. So hell is cast into a second hell, the lake of fire, which is the post-apocalyptic repose of the damned. John is observing that at the final days the dead are raised and judged a second time, along with the living who are the remnants of human life on earth. So, for example, a blasphemer who died long ago and was cast into hell upon his or her death would be given their body back, judged a second time, and then cast back into hell, which once filled to completion of the final judgment, is itself cast into the final hell of the lake of fire. I encourage everyone to avoid meriting hell in the here and now, as there is no second chance out of hell, there is only the second hell that is the final repository after all human life has passed and there is no further need for adding additional damned souls after their judgment since human life no longer exists.

So John sees with his own eyes the reality of hell, and also what happens to hell after the Apocalypse.

Now that you have seen the progression of the Old Testament affirming that hell is very real and terrible, the teachings in the New Testament regarding the many types of sin and the ease with which people go to hell, plus affirmation that hell exists by Jesus, to the first hand witnessing of St. John, you can go back and read further mentions of hell by Jesus in the gospel and have a grip that this is not abstract concepts but real and dire risk that many face and indeed incur.

Mathew 3:12
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew is recording what St John the Baptist prophesied that Christ will come and will have the power to gather the righteous and cast the unrepentant sinners (the “chaff”) into hell.

Matthew 10:15
Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Here Jesus is sending his apostles out to preach and do miracles. He gives them instruction and adds that they should not be discouraged by places that reject the Gospel, but to shake the dust of that place off of their feet and move on. He then alludes to hell, saying that those who hear but reject God’s will and doctrine will be treated in hell far worse than those who died bodily death when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in fire. Notice that as I cited King David in Psalms before that, yes, entire cities place themselves in peril of being cast into hell.

Matthew 13:41-43
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. ‘Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.’

Jesus is again explaining that many people will be cast into hell because they do things that offend, they do iniquity, and they are not like the righteous. I cannot overemphasize that hell is not “just” for the “really evil people” who “break a Commandment.” Hell needs to be understood as the place where the unjust and unrighteous go, who offend God, who neglect and harm others, and who live lives that are without faith, even if with their lips they proclaim a faith. That is a LOT of people and Jesus continually warned about this grim reality, and the Apostles and disciples carried on that warning, particularly after John witnessed it himself in Revelation.

You will notice, and this is why it is important to study the Bible and progression of its themes in bulk, as a whole, and not piecemeal, that sin and hell are consequences of human actions and free choices. Humans decide to succumb to temptation, sin, repeatedly sin, spread sin, tempt others to sin also, deny that it is sin, deny that there are consequences, and ignore many warnings by prophets and the safeguards of the Church, who then go to hell. There is very little evidence of the common misguided affectations that “the devil made me do it” or that “demons and evil spirits attach themselves to people and force them to sin.” That was perfectly understood in most of the previous generations for thousands of years of study and obeying God’s revelation. But somehow in recent times people have invented excuses of Satan or demons, evil spirits, “aliens” or whatever other garbage they make up, who are the “real reason” that things “happen” to people and why they “behave” that way. When one reads the entire Bible one sees that that fiction is yet another temptation to sin, which is to declare one’s self as knowing more or better than the prophets of God who have gone before and revelation is closed and completed, and make up fictional reasons to sin.

People who then want to make up excuses for their own lots in life and their own behavior that is sinful and against God, in both the large ways and the small ways, as have been described above of neglect of doing good, fish for a few lines of scripture that they then deface into “proof” that “evil spirits,” “demons,” “angels,” and “aliens” are “really” to blame. When one reads the Bible as a whole, one is restored into sanity, as one reads page after page of God making himself known, and people leading ordinary free will lives of free will choices, and inevitably reaping the rewards or consequences of a righteous or an unrighteous life. No aliens or demons are running around controlling people. Modern society has totally lost its grip on reality and seems unable to even read the very prosaic and even mundane human happenings of page after page of scripture and understand that that IS reality.

In the entire Bible there is something like ten mentions of demons. Several of those mentions are using that name to denigrate and defame the false gods of the heathens (in three places in the Old Testament). In fact, only one instance of a demon possessing anyone (King Saul) is mentioned during the entire thousands of years of the Old Testament (1 Samuel 16). Doesn’t that tell you something? In all that happens during the Biblical Times from Creation until several hundred years before Christ, there is only one mention of a demon being responsible for someone’s sin? I mean, duh. If demons and evil spirits were running around as an active force, would not the Old Testament be loaded with examples and cautions?

In fact the most mention of demons comes about as a result of six miraculous cures by casting out of demons from men and a woman by Jesus Christ. Again, think about it. Jesus Christ performed thousands of cures during his public ministry, which we know because the Gospels report that he kind of ‘set up shop’ in an area and would cure everyone in a village or region who came to him for help. The Gospel authors recorded those miracles that were 1) particularly outstanding, such as the raising of the dead and the casting out of demons and 2) were illustrative of Jesus’ God given authority and power. Thus those that Jesus raised from the dead and those that were cured of various ailments caused by demonic possession are selected for particular reporting in the Gospel. It is a fact that incredible miracles that people would fall over in a faint to witness today, such as curing the blind, restoring limbs and the ability to use them, restoring hearing, removing diseases such as leprosy, were so common when Jesus ministered that they are just mentioned as him being busy at work, so to speak. Imagine a time when curing the blind was just as easy and unsurprising as Jesus being at work. That is how it was.

As an aside, this is one of the things that most pains and puzzles me, why more people do not love Jesus today. Jesus was not only about going to the cross and bringing the New Covenant, even though that was his mission. His ministry was day after day to cure the suffering and the ailing with incredible miracles, one after the other, any one of which if witnessed today would be a sensation. What kind of man, this Son of God, would use his ability to perform miracles to focus on healing the sick, and even raising from the dead the only son of a poor widow? How in the world can modern people today mock or marginalize Jesus, and not be overwhelmed with love for him, just on the kindness of what he chose to do with his miraculous God given abilities alone? Remember that he was curing people who, no matter what their disease or injury were viewed as having “deserved” what they had gotten because surely they or their family must be tainted and have somehow sinned. Not only was Jesus kindness and mercy and healing of God personified in human form, but he corrected that despicable error of the times that blamed the disabled, the sick, the injured, the wounded, and even the dead for their own afflictions and demises. How in the world, if you believe nothing else but that, can you not love Jesus with your whole heart and give him that respect? I think I will never understand this about these modern times.

So the six miraculous casting out of demons by Jesus have to be understood as being mentioned because of their particular profundity (such as raising the dead) and not at all representative of the majority of the human condition at any time in its history. These are six casting out of demons out of thousands of other miraculous cures, mentioned because they legitimize that Jesus has power over Satan and his influences. In fact, the demons recognize who Jesus is and his authority before Jesus even spoke a word. This is why there is this frequency of mention, as none of the Gospel authors would miss the gravity of those types of cures and would certainly record them. The purpose of the Gospel is not to fill out Jesus’ work time hourly activity report or to inventory or prioritize through the written record. The Gospels were written when people who witnessed Jesus could not travel to all places and verbally attest as fast as interest and need for a record of what happened grew. Thus the Gospels are written to transmit in writing what the disciples witnessed in person and then in turn would speak of in person to others. Just as God gave Jesus his miraculous powers and authority in order to demonstrate his authenticity and to strengthen the faith of all who witnessed and then believed, so too the Gospel authors selected those best examples of the God-given authority of Jesus. The raising of the dead, the casting out of demons, and the confrontations with the hypocritical religious authorities of the time are the life examples that are most demonstrative of how Jesus had the legitimate authority of God and acted on God’s behalf at all times.

Luke 4:33-36
And in the synagogue there was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
And Jesus rebuked him, saying “Hold thy peace and come out of him.” And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, “What a word is this! For with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.”

When Jesus cured the blind man the religious authorities were not amazed at this miraculous cure, but annoyed. However, when Jesus not only cast out demons but the demons recognize him as being the Holy One of God, those in the synagogue who witnessed are flabbergasted and awed. This is what you must understand about Biblical times, which were a time of great faith in God. They could be amazed yet still take in stride (and the hypocrites worry about their power) when Jesus does something incredibly miraculous as restoring sight to the blind. But it is when the demons themselves not only must obey Jesus but attest to his authentic identity and authority that people are stunned and realize that the Messiah is among them.

That is how you must understand authentic and rare evil spirits and demonic possession, as being manifestations of that miasma of sin in hell that will rarely but sometimes do attach themselves into someone open to such influence. We are not speaking of mental disorders that ancient people did not understand as being an illness of the brain and instead thought that was possession by demons or evil spirits. We are speaking of the rare (count them, six times encountered by Jesus in all his many miracles of curing) times that the collective despair and evil nihilism of hell extends its reach to latch into a person’s mind and soul. The vast majority of events in the Bible has absolutely nothing to do with demons or evil spirits and is 99.9 percent about the potentially sinful actions of human beings in their ordinary lives.

So how does one “recognize” a genuine evil spirit or demon? If there is a genuine evil spirit or demon it acknowledges God and Jesus Christ. We see that often they recognize Jesus and God’s presence before the other surrounding humans do. A human behavior that denies God and Jesus Christ is NOT, I repeat, NOT authentically demonic. The authentic and rare demons are the swiftest and totally truthful witness to the reality, authority and power of God and of Jesus Christ. Everything else that people try to blame on so called “evil spirits” or demons are the results of mental illness, having a god complex, or sinfully trying to excuse human depravity and weakness of behavior, often to “cash in” on those who can be persuaded that evil spirits roam and can be “cured” via cold hard cash. Gosh, what a surprise.

I hope that you have found this helpful. Remember, hell is real and dreadful beyond all imagining, and it is surprisingly easy to find one’s self there when it is your time.

To be continued in a Part 3.