by John R. Rice
“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 Lamb: 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.”—Rev. 14:10,11.The immediate context shows that God is speaking of Christ-rejecting sinners who, in the Great Tribulation time, side in with the Antichrist.
We are told that everyone who takes the mark of the Beast is past all pardon. Those who trusted Christ and are saved will refuse to take the mark of the Antichrist. We are not here interested in the Antichrist, for those who reject Christ in the future Great Tribulation will go to the same Hell as all other Christ-rejecting sinners. There is no special, hand-tailored Hell for a few. This is the doom of every sinner who dies without Christ.
First, it is obvious by this tragic Scripture that the wrath of God at last will put a sinner in the torments of Hell. Oh, flee from the wrath of God! Seek God’s mercy and escape His wrath. The wrath of God burns now on all Christ-rejecting sinners and will at last be poured out like wine unmixed into the cup of God’s holy indignation against sinners! The poor lost sinner “shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
There are wicked people, infidels in bishops’ robes, ministers of Satan who appear as angels of light who say that the God of the Old Testament was a dirty bully, that any God who would punish sin is their devil.
Such blasphemers, often from pulpits, pour out their scorn on the Psalms that threaten judgment on sinners. They call all preaching about Hell and judgment “negative preaching.” They hate the God of judgment. But He is the God of the Bible. The God of love is the God of wrath. The God of mercy is the God of judgment. The Saviour who said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you,” is the Saviour who will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
God’s wrath has long been mixed with mercy. But one day it will be poured out into the cup of His indignation without any mixture, without any palliation, without any dilution.
“Tormented with fire and brimstone”? Yes. Do not ask me how sinners escape annihilation in the torment of eternal fire.
I do not understand how the three Hebrew children walked in the fiery furnace and had no smell of smoke on their garments. I cannot ride in a passenger train where others smoke without having the smell in my clothes.
I do not understand how these Hebrew children in the fire had not a hair singed but only their bonds were burned.
It seems quite clear God can make fire do anything He wants it to do. God can make fire torment the damned in Hell without bodies being oxidized and turned to ashes and without the souls ceasing to be. I do not understand it, but where God said fire so many, many times in talking about Hell, dare I say less?
This passage is so terrible that I wonder men can eat and sleep when they read it. Do you realize that people are tormented day and night in Hell? Do you realize that one man, about whom Jesus told, for two thousand years or more has been begging for just a drop of water to cool his tongue and has found none?
I do not pretend to know all the torment in Hell. But this I know: sin brings torment, and those in Hell will still be sinners. I know that sin brings disease and pain to bodies. I know that sin brings torment to the conscience. I know that sin brings the scourge of lost opportunities, and deep will be the lament of soul for every man and woman in Hell who has a memory. But I would be less than honest as a preacher of the Gospel if I did not remind every reader that there is unceasing torment for soul and body in Hell.
There is a sadder note yet in these verses. I do not pretend to understand it, but the Scripture plainly declares that those tormented in Hell will be “in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
I do not think for a moment that Christ will gloat over their sufferings, nor will angels. It must mean that Hell is not left to itself. Those in Hell are not forgotten. They suffer on, but it is the deliberate decree of God who knows their continuing sin, who knows their ever-burning rebellion against Him.
After a man has been in Hell for a million years, the Lord Jesus and the holy angels will be there to see that there is not an ounce of pain more than is deserved, that each sinner gets not one hair’s breadth of punishment less than is right.
It may mean too that those in Hell with be forever reminded of the joy they might have had, of the mercy which was offered freely, and of the glorious happiness across the eternal gulf separating them from Heaven. I do not understand all of this, but it is sad with an infinite sadness of eternal damnation.
Yet another word we see in this sad saying. “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…”
How real God makes Hell! It is like some eternal concentration camp where restless, tormented prisoners mark upon the walls of their cells the passing days and nights and long for the release that never comes.
The smoke of torment ascends up forever and ever—the torment continues. The torment of the day comes, and those there will cry, “Oh, that it were night!” And the night of tormenting conscience, the memory of lost opportunities, the pain of pres-ent sin, the shame of present punishment will make the night as the day.
One of the blessed things we have in Jesus is rest: “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” But there is no rest for the wicked in Hell, no rest day nor night.
This is the Word of God. We are not to argue with it. Does it seem unreasonable? Then your reason is not sanctified by a surrendered will and the light of the Holy Spirit.
Whether this God whose sayings we have quoted is the God you would like to have or not, He is the God you must meet. You may love Him or hate Him, but you must deal with this God who tells us that the wicked will be tormented in Hell forever!
Oh, thank God that all these sad sayings are counterbalanced by precious promises! One who has not trusted Christ shall not see life, and the wrath of God abides on him; but the same verse says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). You may trust Christ today and have life instead of the wrath of God.
Jesus said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” So it was with those to whom Jesus spake. So it is with many today. But you may come. Oh, I hope you will! Some would not come because their deeds were evil, and they hated the light. But if you will turn your heart away from your sins and come to Jesus, your sins will be forgiven in a moment, and Christ, the Light of the world, will make your whole heart glad.
It is true that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and His pleadings were scorned. He said, “How often would I…and ye would not!” But you can say, “I will.” “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” is the blessed promise of Revelation 22:17.
It is true that those who depend on baptism, on church membership, on confirmation, on good deeds are deceived. They are religious, perhaps, but lost. But you may depend upon Christ Himself, depend upon the blood He shed for you and risk His promises. Other dependencies fail, but He is sure! Take Him today and be saved.
Two of the sad sayings mentioned above referred to Hell. But the Bible tells also about Heaven, and God wants you there. You need not go to Hell. Today you may turn to Jesus and trust Him and be saved. Will you do it?
Now I appeal to your will. I appeal to your conscience. I appeal to your good sense. Will you today turn from your sins? Will you today give up your will to Christ? Will you here and now decide this question and accept Christ as your Saviour, depending on Him for forgiveness? If you will, then today the peace of God will come into your heart, your sins will all be forgiven, and I will meet you in Heaven.