A Rat On Fire

Written by an anonymous author.

While living on my farm, tree clippings, garden refuse and weeds would be stacked onto a pile for burning in the fall. The pile grew quite large as summer progressed. When the time came to burn it, I started multiple fires around its base in case a rattlesnake might be under the pile.

Within a few minutes the flames roared into a fiery furnace, forcing me to step back from its intense heat. As I watched it burn, all of a sudden a large rat ran out. His eyes were burned so badly that his pupils were cloudy blue. He was totally blind. The rodent’s singed hair was still smoking.

Filled with compassion for its horrible state, I grabbed a shovel and ended its misery. As I buried the rat, questions burned in my mind:

  1. Am I more compassionate than God?
  2. Does He keep the unsaved soul alive in an eternal burning holocaust as some claim, torturing them forever?
  3. Or, does God destroy them in a literal fire for a brief period of time according to their sinful works?

This incident kindled my search for the Biblical truth about how the unsaved die. I found answers to my questions in God’s Word, the Bible:

Did Jesus die the penalty of sin “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)? The answer is yes!

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:21-25

In the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, did Jesus begin to experience death? If so, from what? Was it mental anguish?

 “Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38). See also Mark 14:32.

Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:39-44

In the Garden He was arrested. Taken to Jerusalem he was mistreated, beaten and scorned, then illegally tried by the Sanhedrin and condemned by Pilate, a Roman governor. He came to save but received the death sentence in return. He was lifted up between heaven and earth through his crucifixion.

What did Jesus experience mentally on the cross? Was it a literal fire since He was dying the consequences of sin, a rightful penalty? What is the rightful penalty for sin? Could it possibly be separation from the Source of life?

“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” Matthew 27:45-46

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ Mark 15:34

What did Jesus give up on the cross?

Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Matthew 27:50

In Luke 23:46 it states:

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.'” Having said this, He breathed His last.

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30

Was Jesus truly dead?

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. John 19:31-35

It was the custom of the Romans to spear the heart with a spear to assure the criminal was dead. The mixture of blood and water clearly indicated Jesus died of a ruptured heart caused by extreme mental anguish.

Did Jesus suffer in a literal fire while still alive or His dead body burned? No! God intervened so His Beloved Son’s body did not see corruption. Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus to give it a proper burial. See Acts 2:22-39:Acts 13:26-39; Matthew 7:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:38-42.

If the unsaved do not burn while alive or die by a literal fire, what causes their death?

And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like stubble. Exodus 15:7. Note: Stubble is dead.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalms 1:6 

They are utterly consumed with terrors. Psalms 73:19

They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 16:4 Again, note: Carcasses are dead.

After they are dead, what happens?

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be…. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.… But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. Note: Lambs were slain before their fat was consumed. Psalms 37:9-22

For the LORD loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever….Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shall see it. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. Psalms 37:28, 34-38

As the whirlwind passes, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation…The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity. The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth. Proverbs 10:5, 28-30

Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. Their own way have I recompensed upon their heads,’ saith the Lord God. Ezekiel 22:31

What consumes their dead bodies?

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Isaiah 66:24 Note: Carcasses are dead.

For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the Lord of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:7

We have the biblical answers. All evidence of sin on this planet will be purified by a literal fire after the end of sin and sinners.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Revelation 21:1

For those who desire additional information, according to the following references mental anguish caused Christ’s death. It too will cause the death of the unsaved.

How cruel for the disciples to permit sleep to close their eyes, and slumber to chain their senses, while their divine Lord was enduring such inexpressible mental anguish! 2 Testimonies for the Church, page 205, paragraph 3

Never before had the Saviour visited the spot with his heart so full of sorrow. It was not bodily suffering from which the Son of God shrank, and which wrung from his lips in the presence of his disciples these mournful words: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” “Tarry ye here,” said he, “and watch with me.” He was bowed to the earth with mental anguish, and in an agony he prayed to his Heavenly Father. He felt the iniquity of sin, and the wrath of God against the violators of His Holy Law. Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879 par. 2

Christ was amazed with the horror of darkness which enclosed him. The temptations of Satan were almost overpowering. These words, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” were borne upon the sympathizing air, to his disciples, in tones of startling agony. The sins of a lost world were upon him, and a sense of his Father’s anger in consequence of sin was crushing him. Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879

But it was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross that caused the death of Jesus. That cry, uttered “with a loud voice” (Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46), at the moment of death, the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart. His heart was broken by mental anguish. He was slain by the sin of the world. Desire of Ages, page 772, paragraph 2.

After all has been done that God could do to save men, if they show by their lives that they slight Jesus’ offered mercy, death will be their portion, and it will be dearly purchased. It will be a dreadful death; for they will have to feel the agony that Christ felt upon the cross to purchase for them the redemption which they have refused. And they will then realize what they have lost–eternal life and the immortal inheritance. 1 Testimonies for the Church, page 124.

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