Revelation 14:9-11

“And a third angel followed them, saying in a great voice, If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead, or in his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. And those worshiping the beast and its image have no rest night and day, even if anyone receives the mark of its name.”

We saw in the verse above in the traditionalist verse list, that 2 Thessalonians 1:9 could not have been a picture of eternity. And we have the same situation here. This is actually describing the same earthly scene when Christ returns to set up his kingdom. The first thing to note is that this tormenting that occurs happens in the presence of the Lamb and the holy angels.  If 14:10-11 is a description of eternity in hell, then we have a very big problem, because I always thought the Lamb (Jesus), and the holy angels would be with us in heaven.  Secondly, to believe that this is a reference to all who failed to put their trust in God is to deny the plain language of Scripture that tells us that this is specifically a judgment on those who took the mark of the beast and worshiped him during the tribulation.  Thirdly, three verses later in 14:13, it says: “Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Lord from now on”.  If 14:10-11 are a description of eternal hell, then we have entered eternity at that point in Scripture, and who else could die in the Lord?  No one could.  These verses are very clearly a description of the judgment coming on the lost that inhabit the earth at the second coming, not a description of eternity in any sense.  We are just not to that point yet in chapter fourteen of Revelation.

As for the smoke of their torment rising day and night, forever and ever, and them having no rest day or night, I have a couple of comments.  First, I think we have to understand that the “forever and ever” is somewhat figurative language, for the reason already mentioned – that this process of tormenting is occurring in the presence of Jesus and the holy angels(this is certain when you look at the Greek) and this is not what they will be doing for all eternity (“forever and ever” as we tend to understand it these days).  Also, there are other places in Scripture where the word “forever” and the phrase “forever and ever” indicate something that goes until completion or as long as is possible, not to eternity. Also, the Greek phrase being translated as “forever and ever” can be translated as “to the end of the age”. This return of Christ happens at the very end of this current age, and the last moments of the destruction of those who rejected God’s salvation in this life will be the last moments of this very age. So the smoke of their torment will literally go until the end of the age.

Regarding the lack of rest “day and night” mentioned in verse 11, if this is a picture of eternity as traditionalists claim, we’d have to assume this is figurative (since there will not be any night in eternity, being that this current heavens and earth will have been destroyed by fire). Or we can take it literally as referring to something that happens while we still have “day and night”.  I choose to take this literally.  I believe, just as the verse says, that there will be no rest day or night for those who have taken the mark of the beast, while they are being tormented by fire and brimstone from the heavens.  Also, I don’t think we should assume that any one individual will be able to withstand much of this torment before their physical death occurs.  I believe that the “those” in verse 11 means that collectively there will be no rest day or night for the masses of people who are being tormented, until they are all ultimately consumed, not that any individual is going to be subjected to some type of lengthy, merciless torture.  Overall, this passage has absolutely nothing to do with hell or eternity, except that any picture of the earthly destruction of the physical bodies of those who reject Christ is ultimately a picture of how one day, at final judgment, their soul will be destroyed in the lake of fire as well.