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Isaiah 66:4 – Fires That Are Not Quenched

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Isaiah 66:24 — They shall go forth, and look on the dead bodies of the men who have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh.

Although sheol is not mentioned in this verse, many refer to this verse as proof of conscious suffering after death. However, one has to read such an idea into what is said, for such a thought is not expressed in the verse. The verse is speaking of fleshly corpses, human bodies, not of some alleged immortal sentiency being alive and suffering for all eternity.

The context shows that this is speaking of the age to come (Mark 10:30; Hebrews 2:5; 6:5) — the new heaven and new earth, in which righteousness to dwell and when the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the earth. (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:9; 2 Peter 3:13) At that time, the dead will be judged by the opened books — the revealing of truths at that time, and their works in response to what is written in those opened books. (Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12) The destruction spoken of in Isaiah 66:24 parallels Revelation 20:9, which speaks of the fire (of God’s jealousy — Deuteronomy 4:24; 6:15; 29:20; Psalm 79:5; Ezekiel 23:25; 36:5; 38:19; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8) coming down out of heaven to destroy those who follow Satan after the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign and judgment over the earth. The rest of the people of the earth at that time — the meek who inherit the earth, and live forever upon the earth (Psalm 37:9-11,29; Matthew 5:5) — will all worship Yahweh and will look upon the carcasses of those killed.* The worms are used as a picture of destruction; for they eat the carcasses of the dead. The worms will not be killed so as to prevent the destruction. The fire of God’s jealousy will not be stopped. The destruction produced by this fire is eternal, for those destroyed at that time will never come out of that destruction. There will be no more sacrifice for sin. (Hebrews 10:26) Their works will stand as a touchstone of abomination to all for all eternity. — See Revelation 20:10.
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*See our study on “Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

The prophet is evidently alluding to the fires in the valley of Hinnom. (See our studies on Gehenna) What was thrown into the valley would be either destroyed by the worms or the fire. Although Isaiah does not specifically name this valley, he describes it; and we should notice that he speaks, not as many might expect, of billions alive in flames and torture, but of the carcasses of those who transgressed against Yahweh, who are thus represented as forever destroyed in the Second Death. — Revelation 20:14,15.


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