Grateful to have this guest post up on Ken Wytsma's blog (adapted from chapter 2 of The Skeletons in God's Closet).
We are the ones, not God, who unleash the destructive power of hell in the world.
Many people think of hell as a place God creates to torture sinners. But in the biblical story, we are the authors of hell’s fury. On massive structural levels like sex-trafficking and genocide . . . on intimate, personal levels like pride, lust, rage and greed . . . the wildfire of our sin sets God’s good earth aflame.
Let’s take a quick look at hell as a destructive power.
A Destructive Power
Fire is used as a metaphor in Scripture for the damaging nature of our sin. There are other ways fire is used (I explore these more fully in my new book), but this is a good place to start. Isaiah says that “wickedness burns like a fire,” unleashing destruction in the community like the burning down of a forest. (Isaiah 9:18)
The community is like a forest; sin is like a fire.
Hosea says the hearts of wicked rulers burn “like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir.” As they plot their wicked plans for the community, “their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven.” (Hosea 7:4-7) And the community is reduced to ashes.
Our red-hot sin leaves a trail of devastation in its wake.
In a passage that is particularly illuminating for our purposes here…