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Are people in hell before Judgment Day? The answer is, yes. There are biblical reasons why we know that people are tormented in hell before Judgment Day.
When a person dies in their sins, they exist separated from God and from all good. To be separated from God and all good is torment! They are immediately sent to Hades just as the rich man was in Luke 16.
James 1:17 states that all good comes from God. Fresh air, sunshine, beauty, comfort and peace are not from mother nature. They are from Father God. When God prepared hell, He withdrew His goodness, or His presence. When God is removed from the situation, all the good goes with Him and only evil exists.
Jesus made us aware that people in the current hell, or Hades, are in torment. The fires of hell represent the wrath of God. The rich man Jesus referred to in Luke 16 said he was in torment in the flame, and wanted just one drop of water to cool his tongue. He was concerned for his five brothers and didn’t want them to come to that place. He said, “to this place of torment.”
Being sent to the current hell (Hades) is similar to a person committing a crime and being sent to a local jail. They await a trial before they are sent to the state prison, just as those in hell are waiting to be sent to the lake of fire. To die doesn’t mean we cease to exist. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) so we are eternal beings and we will live forever.
As for the Judgment, it takes place in the future. It will be after the thousand-year period coming on the earth, which follows the Tribulation period. Until then, people remain in the current hell called, Hades. This is a temporary place. Hades, along with the people in it, are delivered up at “The Great White Throne Judgment” and then cast into the lake of fire.
In essence, there are two hells. Only the future hell called “Gehenna” or “the lake of fire” is eternal, and is described in the book of Revelation. Jesus used the word Gehenna 11 times when He referred to hell. The future hell (the lake of fire) is currently unoccupied. The first occupants will be the beast and the false prophet. This will be at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. One thousand years later, “The Great White Throne Judgment” will occur where Satan and his demons, all those in Hades who rejected Christ and Hades itself are cast into the lake of fire. This is referred to as the second death. The beast and the false prophet, who were people, are still there burning after the thousand years.
Make no mistake. If you die today, and you have not received forgiveness for your sins through Jesus Christ, you will go directly to Hades. You will suffer punishment, separation from God and all His good, be consumed by extreme thirst and fear and experience the burning fire of hell.
I encourage you, while you have the opportunity, to think about where you might spend your eternity.
Bill Wiese is the author of New York Times best selling book, “23 Minutes In Hell,” the story of his life-changing visit to hell in 1998. Bill has since authored six additional book titles, and continues to share his experience around the world. He and his wife Annette founded Soul Choice Ministries in late 2006 and have dedicated their lives to reaching the unsaved. For more information about Bill Wiese and Soul Choice Ministries please visit us at: https://soulchoiceministries.org/. You can find more of Bill’s teachings at: https://www.youtube.com/user/BillWieseTV.