The Worm That Never Dies
Before we get into the worm that never dies, let's have a quick look at the word forever. Forever means forever right? Actually, in the Bible it doesn't always mean a literal eternity. We have three occasions where the word 'forever' is associated with hell fire in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 14:11 ...'And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.'
Revelation 19:3 ...'And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.'
Revelation 20:10 ...'And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.'
One thing we need to remember with Revelation is that it is full of symbolism. Even the verses above contain prophetic symbols, ie. 'the beast' and the whore of Babylon. No one doubts that these are symbolic, so what about the word forever? Now if we take the above verses to mean a literal burning in hell fire forever, then we have a problem! Notice what it says in Revelation 20:9 ...'And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.' ... 'They' in this verse are the lost. Now the meaning of the word 'devour' is to consume, to completely destroy. Do you see the problem we have with taking the word forever to be a literal burning in hell fire for eternity? Think about it, as it says in verse 9 above, the lost are on earth when fire comes down out of heaven and destroys them.
If you read Isaiah 34:8-10, you will see that hell is ON EARTH and Isaiah says that the smoke rises up forever. This is the same language as spoken in Revelation 14:11. But we know from 2 Peter 3:13 that God is going to renew the earth for the saints. Therefore "hell on earth" is not going to last for a literal eternity. It will last for "an age" UNTIL the lost are "BURNED UP". And the fires will not be quenched UNTIL they have "consumed" the wicked and the wicked have "perished".
Now notice three important verses in sequence. The last two verses of Revelation 20 and the first verse of Revelation 21:
Revelation 20:14-15 ...'And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'
Revelation 21:1 ...'And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.'
Did you see what has happened here? Everyone who was not in the book of life, were cast into the lake of fire (remember the lake of fire is on earth) and they die the second death. Then, the heaven and earth are made NEW. Do you know what that means? It means that the lost are completely destroyed, they are no more, because the first heaven and the first earth (where the lost were devoured) have passed away! They are no more! Friend, this is the amazing Bible truth of God's Word. Jesus, our loving Saviour is not going to torture the lost for eternity. And if you want more proof, look at what God says further on in Revelation 21:4 ...'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.' ... No more pain, for the former things have passed away! The lost are no more! Praise God!
Let's look at some other 'forever' words in the Bible:
1 Samuel 1:22 ...'But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever.' ... Hannah pledged to God that she would take her infant son Samuel, to serve in the temple at Shiloh, where he would abide 'forever'. Now no one would take this to mean that Samuel would abide in the temple for a literal eternity. Hannah herself interpreted what she meant by forever ... 1 Samuel 1:28 ...'Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.' ... Forever meant 'for as long as he lives'.
Jonah 2:6 ...'I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever.' ... Jonah is describing being swallowed by the whale. He says he was down there 'forever'. How long was he there? 3 days!!
Exodus 21:5-6 ...'And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.' ... How could the servant serve his master forever? What about when the servant dies? Does he still continue to serve him? No, forever means, for as long as that person is still alive, until death.
So the word 'forever' in certain circumstances means, as Strong's describes it; 'A period of time' or 'An unbroken age'. The fire from God to burn the lost and those who receive the mark of the beast will be for an 'unbroken age' because no one will be able to put the fire out. It will keep burning until it has done it's job of devouring the lost and they 'perish', 'burn up' and are 'devoured'. The effect of the fire is eternal, ie. the lost are destroyed forever!
The Word of God clearly states that the 'wages of sin is death', not eternal burning in hell fire, but DEATH!
What About the Worm That Never Dies?
Those who hold on to the eternal hell fire teaching, quote the verse where Jesus says the worm that dieth not to back up their claim. But in light of all the evidence we have gathered so far, what does this verse really mean?
Mark 9:43-44 .....'And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.'
Let's first compare the above with the verse in Isaiah 66:24 ...'And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.' ... This is just what Jesus said. But notice how Isaiah applied this scene to the 'carcasses' of the lost that God's people will look upon at the end. The righteous will see the dead bodies of the lost, and the worm will eat away at the dead bodies UNTIL there is no more. Think about what Jesus said in Mark above. It would be better to lose one part of your body and enter heaven, than for your whole body to be cast into hell fire, where you would be devoured and eaten up by the worm.
NOTE: How can a worm chew away on someone's "soul"??
Are we now going to say that there will be actual worms chewing on the bodies of the lost for eternity? Many of those who believe in this eternal hell fire believe that it is the soul of the person that is in hell for eternity. Well, how are the worms going to eat someone's soul? When you really think about this, you can see how absurd this eternal hell fire teaching really is.
In Bible days, outside Jerusalem, there was a dump where the carcasses of dead animals and criminals ended up. Worms continually crawled there eating up the rotting flesh. Jesus used this imagery, quoting Isaiah, to illustrate the fate of the lost. But, it's DEAD bodies, not eternal torment being described.
- Steve Wohlberg
Life or Death
Friend, there are two options ... John 3:16 ...'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not PERISH, but have EVERLASTING LIFE.'
Perish or everlasting life! The Word of God could not be any clearer on this. 'The wages of sin is death', not everlasting life in hell fire.
Nahum 1:2,6,9 ...'God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.' ... The new Heaven and earth must be a place of peace and happiness, with no evil. If this is to happen, then the wicked, including satan, must be wiped out and come to an end.
Friend, this is the truth of God's Word in the Bible. Hell fire will burn the wicked, there is no disputing that fact. But, the fire will destroy them and they shall be no more. Sin cannot be allowed to carry on in the new heaven and earth, it has to be completely wiped out. God will make an utter end of sin and the wicked. The worms will eat away at the DEAD bodies of the lost UNTIL there is nothing left. This is the Bible truth about the worm that never dies.
To continue with this Bible study about hell fire, see what happens at death.