Job And The Afterlife  Sheol-Part Six The Geography Of Sheol

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible)

Quotation For Contemplation 

““For there are partial corrections (padeiai) which are called chastisements (kolasis), which many of us who have been in transgression incur by falling away from the Lord’s people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish (timoria), for punishment is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised collectively and individually” (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VI, ii, Pedag. 1, 8; on 1 John ii, 2).

Introduction 

In our studies of the Book of Job and the Afterlife, we have learned that Sheol is the world of the dead. While not all souls go to this realm at death (Revelation 20:11-14), most of the dead end up in this realm.  

We also have learned that this realm is a place of consciousness, and a place where the dead are reunited together.

It is also important to reemphasize that the Bible teaches Hades is a temporary abode, which will come to an end at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus.  

In this lesson, we will learn more about what the Bible teaches about this realm of Sheol. Specifically, we will learn specifically how Hades is divided up.  

The Old Testament Teaching Regarding The Divisions Of Sheol

The Scriptures of the Old Testament imply that there were (at least) two different regions of Sheol.  

One is identified as a place for the saved, and is generally referenced as a place of rest and reunion with God and loved ones who have died before.  

The other is seen as a place for the wicked, and is a place of misery and suffering.  

“Fourth, there are hints in the Old Testament that sheol has different regions. Both the wicked and the righteous are said to go to sheol. Jacob went into sheol, but so did rebellious people, such as Korah and Dathan. This explains why there is a “lower region.” The Lord says, “For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains” (Deuteronomy 32: 22 NASB). The reason there are two different realms in sheol is best explained by remembering that sheol has two different kinds of inhabitants. “This is the way of those who are foolish…. As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall rule over them in the morning, and their form shall be for Sheol to consume so that they have no habitation. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me” (Psalm 49: 13–15 NASB). Other Old Testament passages make a similar contrast (Job 24: 19; Psalms 9: 17; 16: 10; 31: 17; 55: 15). Perhaps one of the clearest expressions of immortality in the Old Testament comes from the book of Daniel. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12: 2). Daniel not only believed that there were two classes of people who would live either in bliss or contempt, but that their bodies would also arise someday. This is an explicit reference to the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the body. The Old Testament makes a sharp distinction between the wicked and the righteous, with the clear implication that they have separate destinies in the afterlife. Though this division of sheol is not expressly stated, later rabbis clearly taught that sheol has two compartments.” (Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 33-34 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers) 

The New Testament Teaching Regarding The Divisions Of Sheol

The New Testament teaches that the realm of Hades (I.e. Sheol) is divided at least into two compartments.  

The most comprehensive passage which discusses this is from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 16:19-31-19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.

20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,

21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then 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.’

25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,

28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’

29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’

30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

The account of Lazarus and the rich man is very likely a parable.

Notice that we are told earlier in the text that Jesus taught in parables (Luke 15:3), and He introduces each of these parables with the phrase “there was a certain man” (Luke 15:11; 16:1), which is the same basic phrase he uses to introduce the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19).
 
If, however, the account is a parable, it is the only one where Jesus actually used a personal name (Lazarus).  

Furthermore, whether the story is a parable or not, we need to remember that it is still portraying facts are based in reality. This was, in fact, the purpose of teaching in parables!  

“There must have been many among the orthodox Jews who regarded this new departure as sensationalism; but Jesus was wise enough to know when new methods were necessary and adventurous enough to use them. It would be well if his Church was equally wise and equally adventurous. This new departure needed a new method; and the new method Jesus chose was to speak to the people in parables. A parable is literally something thrown beside something else; that is to say, it is basically a comparison. It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Something on earth is compared with something in heaven, that the heavenly truth may be better grasped in light of the earthly illustration.”. (William Barclay, Insights: Parables-What The Bible Tells Us About Jesus’ Stories, 115-121 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England: Saint Andrew Press)

Notice some of the things which Jesus here teaches us about the compartments of Hades.  

First, Hades is divided into two sections.  

Second, one compartment of Hades is designated as Paradise. This was a phrase used by the Greeks to designate a beautiful garden where one enjoyed bliss and tranquility. There is thus therefore indication that Paradise is a place of peace, pleasure and reunion for God’s people in this realm.  

Third, the other compartment referenced by Jesus is a place of “torments.” The Greek word used here is basanos, and has a very interesting meaning.  

“Let’s take a closer look at Revelation 20: 10. In this passage it is speaking of the fate of the beast and the false prophet, but if you compare it to Revelation 14: 11, it uses similar language to describe the fate of anyone who “takes the mark of the beast.” “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire (pur) and brimstone (theion) where the beast and the false prophet are also. And they will be tormented (basanizo) day and night forever and ever (literally, ‘into the ages of the ages’).” As mentioned, pur is the Greek word for fire (Strong’s #4442). Throughout the Bible it conveys burning away impurities and once again, it’s the word from which all forms of the English word “pure” and “purify” originate. According to Strong’s Concordance #2303, theion, the Greek word for brimstone is defined as, “divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease.” Notice that brimstone (theion) shares the same root word as “God” (Theos). Next, the Greek word for torment in the verse above is basanizo. According to Strong’s #928, the primary meaning of basanizo is “to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.” Basanizo comes from the root word, “basanos,” which is defined by Strong’s #931 as: “A touchstone. Originally, a black, silicon-based stone used as ‘a touchstone’ to test the purity of precious metals (like silver and gold). See 928 (basanízō). In the papyri,* basanos also means, ‘touchstone,’ ‘test’ (so P Oxy I. 58.25, ad 288). #931 (basanos) was originally (from oriental origin) a touchstone; a ‘Lydian stone’ used for testing gold because pure gold rubbed on it left a peculiar mark. Then [basanos] was used for examination by torture. Sickness was often regarded as ‘torture’ (WP, 1, 37).” 23 ____________________________ [* The papyri are ancient Greek Koine texts discovered around the turn of the 20th century, and were records used in matters of everyday business. These texts were critical in understanding the use and definition of certain Greek words that had been little understood, guessed at, and mistranslated in Scriptural context for many centuries.] So what exactly is a “touchstone”? Webster defines it as: “A stone by which metals are examined; a black, smooth, glossy stone; any test or criterion by which the qualities of a thing are tried; as money, the touchstone of common honesty.” If you go to strongsnumbers.com/ greek/ 931. htm, you find all the information above about the touchstone, testing purity, and the papyri, and sickness being regarded as torture (perhaps a better word is “testing”)—and that’s it—but then toward the bottom, you find the final, authoritative, “conclusive definition” by the Strong’s people: “A touchstone (a dark stone used in testing metals), hence examination by torture; torture.” Certainly we see a bit of spin being added into the mix, if you ask me. And if we put all three of those more literal meanings together (and throw out the dubious insertion of torture), we begin to get a distinctly different feel than endless torture taking place in Revelation. Can you see how things get misconstrued and distorted to the untrained eye? The Greek word that was translated as “tormented,” not only has nothing to do with eternal conscious torment like we think of torment today (burning to a crisp in hell for all eternity), but it is actually a process that tests purity. It seems clear to me that verses like Revelation 20: 10 suggest more of a refining and purifying process going on in people’s lives….Frequently throughout Scripture, God compares the purifying process in us to that of silver or gold being refined in fire, burning away the dross and impurities. With regard to people, fire typically is used for the ultimate good of the one being put through it: Isaiah 48: 10: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Ps. 66: 10–12: “For you tried us O God. You set us on fire as silver is set to the fire… we went through fire and water; but you led us unto respite” (Septuagint). Zech. 13: 9: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.” The more I study, the more I find Scripture that teaches of fire being a purifying agent, not a punishing, utter destroying agent. In both of the following verses where the word “pure” and “purified” occurs, the Greek (Septuagint) word is “puroo.” The Greek definition of puroo is “to burn with fire.” Daniel 11: 35: “Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure (‘ burn with fire’) until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.” Daniel 12: 10: “Many will be purged, purified (‘ burned with fire’) and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.””. (Julie Ferwerda, Raising Hell: Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire, 64-67 (Kindle Edition); Lander, WY; Vagabond Group). 

From this, it appears that God’s design in the “torment” of Hades is to purify and bring sinners to repentance.  

We see similarity here between Hades and Jesus’ teaching regarding Hell (Gehenna). The Lord referred to the place of final judgment as a place of everlasting “punishment” (kolasis- Matthew 25:46). The meaning of this word testifies to the purpose of God in creating Hell:

 “The word by which our Lord describes punishment is the word kolasin , which is thus defined: “Chastisement, punishment.” “The trimming of the luxuriant branches of a tree or vine to improve it and make it fruitful.” “The act of clipping or pruning— restriction, restraint, reproof, check, chastisement.” “The kind of punishment which tends to the improvement of the criminal is what the Greek philosopher called kolasis or chastisement.” “Pruning, checking, punishment, chastisement, correction.” “Do we want to know what was uppermost in the minds of those who formed the word for punishment? The Latin poena or punio , to punish, the root pu in Sanscrit, which means to cleanse, to purify, tells us that the Latin derivation was originally formed, not to express mere striking or torture, but cleansing. correcting, delivering from the stain of sin.” 4 That it had this meaning in Greek usage, see Plato: “For the natural or accidental evils of others no one gets angry, or admonishes, or teaches, or punishes ( kolazei ) them, but we pity those afflicted with such misfortune for if, O Socrates, if you will consider what is the design of punishing ( kolazein ) the wicked, this of itself will show you that men think virtue something that may be acquired; for no one punishes ( kolazei ) the wicked, looking to the past only simply for the wrong he has done— that is, no one does this thing who does not act like a wild beast; desiring only revenge, without thought. Hence, he who seeks to punish ( kolazein ) with reason does not punish for the sake of the past wrong deed, but for the sake of the future, that neither the man himself who is punished may do wrong again, nor any other who has seen him chastised. And he who entertains this thought must believe that virtue may be taught, and he punishes ( kolazei ) for the purpose of deterring from wickedness?” 5 (J.W. Hanson, Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine Of The Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years (and showing the influence of Greek Mythology and pagan philosophy on Christian Doctrine), 612-622 (Kindle Edition); Boston and Chicago; Universalist Publishing House)

Third, notice that there is a great gulf fixed between Abraham and the rich man (Luke 16:26). This gulf prevented persons from traveling back and forth between the two sections of Hades.  

The Non-Canonical Books And Their Teaching About Sheol

As we have learned in previous lessons, there were books written by the people of God which were not inspired.

Yet even though these books are not inspired, the Bible Prophets and Apostles encourage people to read and study them. Indeed, several Bible Books specifically mention these non-canonical works and point out that much of what they say and teach is true.

These facts teach us about the need to be willing to study books outside the Bible in order to better understand what is in the Bible.  

“The study of scripture is a lifelong venture. Many times our search for deeper understanding of the holy book leads to questions beyond the Bible itself. As we encounter references to social conditions, cultural practices, and even other writings mentioned within the scriptures we are called to investigate and expand our knowledge in order to fully appreciate the context, knowledge base, and cultural significance of what is being taught. Thus, to fully understand the Bible, we are necessarily drawn to sources outside the Bible. These sources add to the historical, social, or theological understanding of Biblical times. As our view becomes more macrocosmic, we see the panoramic setting and further understand the full truth within the scriptures….Books and writings can fall under various categories such as civil records and laws, historical documents, or spiritual writings. A city or state census is not inspired, but it could add insight into certain areas of life. Spiritual writings which are directly quoted in the Bible serve as insights into the beliefs of the writer or what was considered acceptable by society at the time.” (Joseph B. Lumpkin, The Books of Enoch: A Complete Volume Containing 1 Enoch (The Ethiopic Book of Enoch) 2 Enoch (The Slavonic Secrets of Enoch) 3 Enoch (The Hebrew Book of Enoch), 107-127 (Kindle Edition); Blountsville, AL; Fifth Estate Publishers)

Examples of how the Bible alludes to non-Bible books may be found in regards to the books of Jasher and Enoch.  

Joshua 10:13-So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

Jasher 88:63-64-“…and Joshua said in the sight of all the people, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley of Ajalon, until the nation shall have revenged itself upon its enemies… And the sun stood still in the midst of the heavens, and it stood still six and thirty moments, and the moon also stood still and hastened not to go down a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened to the voice of man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”

2 Samuel 1:18-and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher:

Jasher 56:9-“…only teach thy sons the use of the bow and all weapons of war, in order that they may fight the battles of their brother who will rule over his enemies.”

2 Timothy 3:8-Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;

Jasher 79:27, 36-“And when they had gone Pharaoh sent for Balaam the magician and to Jannes and Jambres his sons, and to all the magicians and conjurors and counsellors which belonged to the king, and they all came and sat before the king… And Aaron hastened and threw the rod out of his hand before Pharaoh and before his servants, and the rod turned into a serpent.”

In these references in the Bible, students were encouraged to go back and study these books in order to better understand appreciate what is written in the Word of God.  

The same is true with the writing known as the book of Enoch. There are several references in the Bible to the book of Enoch.

Here are a few examples: 

Isaiah 9:14-Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel, Palm branch and bulrush in one day.

Enoch 103:11-We hoped to be the head and not the tail…

Jude 14-15-14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,

15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Enoch 1:9–Behold, he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.

Matthew 5:5-Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

ENOCH 6:9 The elect shall possess light, joy, and peace; and they shall inherit the earth.

Hebrews 4:12-13-For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Revelation 4:11-You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Revelation 17:14-These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

ENOCH 9:3 … Then they said to their Lord, the King, Thou art Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings. The throne of thy glory is for ever and ever, and for ever and ever is thy name sanctified and glorified. Thou art blessed and glorified. 4 Thou hast made all things; thou possessest power over all things; and all things are open and manifest before thee. Thou beholdest all things, and nothing can be concealed from thee.

We also see the Book of Enoch being referenced in Ezekiel and in Revelation. In the book of Ezekiel, Heaven is described as a great mountain of God adorned with fiery stones (Ezekiel 28:14). The book of Enoch uses the same words to describe Heaven(book of Enoch 18:1-9; 24-25). Many of the same stones are also identified in Enoch, and are then alluded to in Revelation as being in Heaven (Revelation 21).  

One particularly interesting allusion to the book of Enoch is found in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 9:35-And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

The Greek phrase translated in the NKJV as “beloved Son” is ho eklelegmenos, or literally, “the Elect One.” When we consider that this phrase is a personal title for the Messiah that occurs more than sixteen times in the book of Enoch, then we begin to see that God Himself gives credence to this book.  

“Another remarkable bit of evidence for the early Christians’ acceptance of the Book of Enoch was for many years buried under the King James Bible’s mistranslation of Luke 9:35, describing the transfiguration of Christ: “And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” Apparently the translator here wished to make this verse agree with a similar verse in Matthew and Mark. But Luke’s verse in the original Greek reads: “This is my Son, the Elect One.[34] Hear him.” The “Elect One” is a most significant term in the Book of Enoch. If the book was indeed known to the apostles, with its abundant descriptions of the Elect One who should “sit upon a throne of glory” and the Elect One who should “dwell in the midst of them,” (En. 54:3–4) then great scriptural authenticity is accorded to the Book of Enoch when the “voice out of the cloud” tells the apostles, “This is my Son, the Elect One”—the one promised in the Book of Enoch.” (Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Fallen Angels And The Origin Of Evil, 400-405 (Kindle Edition); Gardiner, Montana; Summit University Press) 

With this in mind, consider what the Book of Enoch teaches us regarding the divisions in Sheol.  

Enoch 22-From there I went to another place, and he showed me in the west a great and high mountain chain and of hard rocks and four beautiful places . 2 Beneath them were [ three] deep, wide, and very smooth places , as smooth as if it were rolled over, and deep and dark to look upon . 3 Then Raphael , one of the holy angels who was with me, answered, and said unto me: “ These beautiful places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits , the souls of the dead , should assemble in them . [MMM] 4 And these places have been made to receive them till the day of their judgment and till their appointed period (this period is long ), till the great judgment comes upon them. ” 5 I saw the spirits of the children of men who had died , and their voices went forth to heaven and made suit. 6 I asked the angel Raphael who was with me, and said unto him, “ Whose spirit is that one whose voice goes forth and makes suit to heaven? ” 7 And he answered me saying , “ This is the spirit which went forth from Abel, whom his brother Cain murdered [NNN] , and he makes his suit against him till his seed is destroyed from the face of the earth, and his seed is annihilated from amongst the seed of men. ” 8 Then I asked regarding him and all the hollow places , “ Why is one separated from the other? ” 9 He answered and said unto me , “ These three places [OOO] have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated. In this way , the spirits of the righteous are separated, in which there is the bright spring of water and a light about it . 10 One place was made for sinners when they die , and are buried in the earth and judgment has not been passed on them in their lifetime. 11 Here their spirits will be set apart in this great affliction till the great Day of Judgment and punishment and torment of revilers forever, and retribution for their spirits, and there He will bind them forever . 12 This place was made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who cry out concerning their destruction, when they were killed in the days of the sinners. 13 This was made for the spirits of men who were not righteous , but sinners, who were complete in crimes, and they will be with criminals like themselves; but their spirits will not be slain in the Day of Judgment nor will they be rai sed from there . ” 14 Then I blessed the Lord of glory and said, “ Blessed be my Lord, the Lord of Righteousness, who rules forever.” (Ken Johnson, The Ancient Book Of Enoch, 37-39 (Kindle Edition))

Thus, the book of Enoch teaches that one of the purposes of Hades is to bring about redemption of the lost (at least in one of the “compartments” of Sheol).

It also teaches us that Sheol is a temporary dwelling place, as the Bible teaches (Psalm 16:10; 49:15; 86:13; 89:48; Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58).

Conclusion 

The Old and New Testaments teach us a great deal about the realm of Sheol.  

It is divided into (at least) two sections: a place for the redeemed, and a place for the unredeemed.  

Paradise (the realm of the redeemed) is defined as a place of beauty, tranquility, and joy for God’s people. Here they will also be reunited with loved ones who have gone on before.  

The other section (the place for the unredeemed) is a place of suffering. This suffering is designed to try and bring the persons therein to repentance.  

The extra-biblical books which the Bible encourages people to study teach the same primary facts about Sheol that the Scriptures do.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Study Questions 
What are some passages from the Bible which reference the book of Jasher? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Please list some evidences from the Old Testament that Sheol is divided up into different compartments._______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are some indicators that the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable? __________________________________________________________________________________

If the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable, what is different from it than from any other parable of Jesus? ________________________________

What is the purpose behind the “torment” of Hades? ___________________________________________________________________

What title is applied to Jesus over sixteen times in the book of Enoch, and is used by God in referring to Jesus (Luke 9:35)?  ___________________________________________________________
For Prayer Partners 

Discuss the similarities between the purposes of “torment” and “punishment” in Hades and Gehenna.  

Are there any indicators that the people in either of these realms will one day repent?  

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