Hell: The Terror of Darkness

 
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Series Title: Hell

Sermon 2/2

Introduction:
  • “It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,It lies behind stars and under hills, And empty holes it fills,It comes first and follows after, Ends life, kills laughter.”
  • Today we are going to finish our conversation about eternity without God, what happens to those who choose to live without God in control of their lives. Well the Bible can be vague about how death works, it’s really clear about what happens to us when we die. We either spend eternity with God, or without him.
  • Last week we talked about fire. That an eternity without God is like being burned and destroyed for our sins. It means standing up to the full wrath of god on our own human power. An eternity without God is one of torment based on our own wicked natures.
  • This week, we are going to talk about Darkness. Eternity without God is like being cast into the darkest of places with no light or hope.
  • It makes sense that the Bible uses darkness as a metaphor for eternity without God, everyone at some point in their lives is afraid of the dark. In the dark, we don’t know what dangers are out there. In the dark, we loose control.
  • Fun Fact: My wife is still kinda freaked out by the dark. If I turn of the lights in the basement while she’s still in there I’ll get yelled at to turn them back on every time.
  • With these metaphors of Fire and Darkness the bible is trying to explain the unexplainable. They are like the different facets of a diamond. All true, yet none of them the complete reality. We don’t know what eternity without God will look like but we do know what it will be like.
Section 1: Darkness for our Children
  • So our new metaphor, Darkness, is another favourite word of Jesus throughout the Gospel of Matthew. To best understand the use of Darkness we are going to keep coming back to one passage Matthew 22:1-14
  • The story starts by explaining that a king invited people to a banquet, yet the chosen people ignored the king and even killed his messangers! So the king decided to ignore the chosen and invite everyone, the good and the bad. From he lowest beggar to the nobles that weren’t invited. The interesting part is at v. 11
  • “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

  • So whats going on here? Why would the The king, who supposed to represent God, throw this man out for not wearing the right cloths? What is Jesus trying to say.
  • Well, if you look at the other times that “Outer Darkness” is used within the book of Matthew, you’ll begin to see a pattern. The Outer Darkness Metaphor is reserved for those who think they should be apart of God’s kingdom
  • “And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • Jesus is trying to say that eternity with God is not hereditary. It doesn’t matter if you think you deserve to be in God’s kingdom, what matters is living in submission to him.
  • In the story, the guest who wore the wrong clothes knew he was being offensive to God, yet he thought he could get away with it. He was noble, he was chosen, he was prophesied over, obviously God would overlook his dress?
  • Not so. Jesus is saying that an eternity without God is for all who don’t live in submission to God. Being chosen, being born into the right family doesn’t mean anything. It’s our choices as individuals which define our paths. Coming to church with our parents, doing what were told isn’t enough. Simply going through the motions because you must means you’ll be cast out into the darkness.
Section 2: Darkness from Egypt
  • But the Outer Darkness is even more then that. This metaphor goes all the way back to the story of Moses. Most of us have probably hear about him before right? At that time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt so God sent Moses to release His people. Yet the Pharaoh refused and God sent ten plagues. The Ninth plague, Darkness
  • “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.” 22 So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days. 23 During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved. But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.
  • Here we see the true meaning of darkness, darkness is a form of Chaos. It’s a returning back to a world were God does not support men. Without light given by god men can not function
  • Remember, back then people were virtually immobilized by the darkness of night unless the night was cloudless and the moon relatively full. We can be active at night because our homes and places of work can be cheaply illumined; instead the ancient peoples closed up their cities at night,177 barred their courtyard gates, and locked their house doors. People roaming in the nighttime were assumed to be criminals and, typically, in fact were. We feel relatively safe during the night, even away from home, with various means of communication to call for help readily available; they were at the mercy of common thieves and bandits when away from home at night,179 and unless well-armed and in large groups, they were easy prey for those who used the nighttime as cover for evil. They understood that the darkness was essentially chaotic, a kind of enemy of the safe and the good; we may think of it as just another phase of the day.181 They considered confinement in darkness a grave punishment from God, even a sort of sometimes purposeful force183 and associated it with death
  • By sending darkness God was showing the Egyptians what a world without his sustaining spirit was like. It was a world without safety, without order.
  • So the Outer Darkness is a form of this. Being thrown into the Outer Darkness of an Eternity without God means to be as far away from God’s sustaining power as you can be.
  • We talked about this idea just a few weeks ago. That there are places where heaven and earth meet. There are places were God is more present, where he is easier to see. Where things are safer and better. The people that make up the church are supposed to be that place.
  • The Outer Darkness is the opposite. It’s the furthest someone can be from God without ceasing to exist. It’s a place that causes depression and physiological stress. The outer Darkness is a foreign place where we exist without the feeling of safety It’s the unimaginable terror that Stephen king describes here: “And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there…”
Section 3: Weeping and Gnashing
  • The last piece of the Outer Darkness is simple, Weeping and Gnashing of teeth. This is an old proverb that is tied to every instance of Outer Darkness. Weeping refers to a load expression of grief by those who have been cast out. The Outer Darkness is so terrifying that they simply can not hold back their anguish. It’s the sound that comes with being finally rejected. The king of rejection that you feel when someone that mean’s the world to you gives up on you. Like being rejected by family or a spouse.
  • And the Gnashing of teeth? Well that simply is a symbol of anger of vexation due to this final rejection. It’s hate at being cast out into this darkness
  • Remember that the out darkness metaphor is specifically for those who think they deserve to be in God’s kingdom based on their families. These son’s and daughters think they are responding with faith yet their lives don’t reflect it and the commitment of their families is no substitute. So their failure is shown up by Outsiders. By the gentiles of Jesus’ time.
  • This happens today all the time today. In church’s around the world people have come to thing that they can rest on the faith’s of their parents. That if we simply go through the motion, come to church, get baptized, don’t swear. That we will go to heaven.
  • But that isn’t the case. Everyone needs to live in submission to God on their own. Just because someone grows up in the church doesn’t mean their saved. We can’t let the next generation grow up thinking that. I don’t what to see them cast out. Salvation is not guarantied by being born into the church family.
Conclusion

  • So what do we do with this. Fire and Darkness, an eternity without God, is coming for those we love. It’s coming for our town and for our country. Yet we can still fight it. It can still bring people to Jesus. We can still bring people into the Kingdom of God. The King’s doors are still open.
  • Yet there is something more. Something important. We are going to play a really quick game. I’m going to give you thirty seconds. I want you to try and remember three sermons that brought you built up your faith in the beginning. Nothing from recent history, unless you’e only just been saved. 3 sermons that brought you into the kingdom.
  • Now, I’m going to give you thirty seconds to think of three people who changed your faith. Who brought you into a relationship with Jesus.
  • It’s a lot easier to remember the people who shaped us right? In 2 Cor. 4 Paul it’s talking to the church of Corinth, explaining what his ministry is like. Why he fights so hard for the church of Corinth
  • 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. “
  • That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. “
  • I realized something this past week. Something obvious. There is a generation who encouraged us to faith. There are people who’s hard work in the midst of pain brought us eternal life. Who helped us to avoid the Fire and Darkness we had set ourselves on.
  • My challenge to you is this. If those people who shaped your faith are still around, find some way to thank them. Thank them for standing up to pain for our sake. We need to be that for a new generation of believers. We need to remember the work they did in our lives.
  • Those role models of faith, those people you saw Christ in, does your life reflect them? If they saw your life laid out before them would they be proud or ashamed? Have we held the faith, or are there areas where we have lost our first love?

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