“He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12).
Unquenchable fire cannot be put out. However, when it has burned everything up, it goes out. For example, (Jeremiah 17:27) warns that if God’s people were not faithful, He would kindle a fire in Jerusalem that “shall not be quenched.” And the Scriptures declare that this prophecy has already been fulfilled. “They burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire. … To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah.” (2 Chronicles 36:19, 21). That fire could not be put out until it had consumed everything; then it went out. It is not burning today, even though the Bible calls it “unquenchable.”
The fires of hell will, indeed, go out “There shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47:14). After sin, sinners, and everything on earth is destroyed, the fire will go out. It will not burn throughout the ages. An eternal hell of torment would make it impossible to ever get rid of sin. God’s plan is to isolate sin and destroy it, not perpetuate it. Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.”
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, … are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7). We can see in this verse that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with everlasting fire as an example of hell, but those cities are not still burning. They were turned into ashes (2 Peter 2:6), which is what eternal fire does. It is eternal in its consequences.
In His service,
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