I made the mistake of clicking on a link in Facebook and it took me to a picture I really wish I hadn’t seen. Two young men were standing together laughing. One of them was holding the end of a rope up. Dangling from the rope around its neck was a sweet little puppy.
Despair washed over me and I quickly moved on but the image is burned into my brain.
Do those young men know, I wonder, what they are doing to themselves when they do such cruel things?
I believe, with all my heart, that one day it will be them dangling on the end of that rope! One day it will be them suffering terror and pain as a rope bites into their neck and their lungs strain for air. On that day they will be inside the mind and body of that puppy feeling every single thing they ever did to it. They will live through that experience as the puppy lived through it and they will know they are to blame for what they are suffering. As they dangle on the end of that rope I don’t think they will find anything to laugh about then.
I’m firmly convinced we are all made from the same fabric. The only fabric God had available to him when He created everything that exists – Himself. He is all there was to make anything with and, on judgement day, everything He made will reconnect with Him.
Like blood flowing into a reattached severed limb His knowledge will flow into us and we will know what He knows and feel what He feels. We will see ourselves through His eyes and have the same reactions towards ourselves and our actions that He has.
When He commanded us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” I think he was giving us a warning that the day would come when what we do to others will be what we have done to ourselves and we will feel every hurt we ever inflicted on any living thing.
I don’t believe Hell is made of literal fire and brimstone. I think it will be spiritual fire and brimstone – the fire of guilt and shame. The brimstone of regret and remorse. Judgement day will be the completion of the work done that day in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, ate from the tree of knowledge, and separated themselves from God.
On that day Adam and Eve, like rebellious children, chose their own will over the will of the one protecting them. Like a child who ignores the warnings and touches fire Adam and Eve chose to hurt themselves by touching the flames of sin. Once they knew the truth about sin they burned with guilt and shame and they wanted to avoid God for fear of His wrath. They severed the connection, turned their backs on God, and forced Him to send them out to fend for themselves.
On judgement day I believe the connection will be restored but we will not be protected from the full force of that connection by our childish innocence as Adam and Eve originally were.
We have eaten from the tree of knowledge and that cannot be undone. Once God repairs our connection to Him we will know everything He knows and He knows everything.
He knows what that puppy felt, He knows what the rape, murder or torture victim felt, He knows the pain of every slap and more. He knows the consequences of every sin every one of us has ever committed. He knows how the child of a rape victim suffered because of the sins of his father. He knows how many times the child abuse victim sliced herself up in a vain effort to cope with the pain of what was done to her.
He knows the chain of events. How someone didn’t bother to neuter or confine their dog so he fathered a litter on a stray who, being hungry and pregnant, bit a child who tried to pet her. How the child went home angry and crying and hit his baby brother for touching his toys. How the baby cried so loudly it made Mother angry and she shook the baby to shut him up. How the shaking caused brain damage and the baby never invented the cure for cancer which was what he was born to do. He knows how many people suffered the pain of getting cancer or of losing a loved one to cancer because there was no cure.
All because one person didn’t think about, or didn’t care about, possible consequences.
That same person will care on judgement day because they will know how much the dog suffered trying to give birth to puppies she was too starved and weak to deliver. They will feel the lifelong guilt and anguish of the boy who knows he made his brother cry and upset their mother so much she did what she did. They will know what the child whose brain was damaged would have done with his life if he had not been shaken and they will know exactly how many people suffered because he did not do what he was born to do.
They will know the consequences of their “harmless” decision to let their fertile dog out and they will suffer.
We will all suffer. We have eaten from the tree of knowledge and, on judgement day, we will know. We will know the suffering of every child who died of hunger because we did not give of our excess, of every animal who ever suffered before dying to feed us, of every person who ever lived in bondage or died under torture. We will know the suffering as intimately as if it had happened to us because it does happen to us.
On that day I will know your pain and you will know mine because we are both made of the same body – the body of God – and when we are reconnected to each other through being reconnected to Him we will know each other as intimately as we know ourselves.
On that day we will wish fire and brimstone was all that hell consisted of!
Instead we will burn with anger at ourselves, we will scream with the pain we inflicted on others, we will bleed the blood that we have shed! We will know guilt and shame so great it will be more than we can bear and there will be nobody to blame but ourselves.
I believe on judgement day the full capacity of our brains will be unlocked and it will be impossible to fool ourselves once that happens. We will lose the ability to ignore, gloss over, make excuses for ourselves or blame others for what we have done. We will know God gave us the power to choose and we will know that we are responsible for every choice we ever made.
I do not look forward to judgement day because I know it will not only be the things I chose to do that will be counted against me but also the things I chose not to do.
There were two boys in that picture I mentioned and, although only one was holding the rope, both will hang from the end of it on judgement day. The second boy, by failing to try and stop the other boy, is equally to blame for the puppy suffering. We really are our brother’s keepers to the extent that we could have changed their behaviour and the second boy could have done something to stop the first. He will know that, if he doesn’t already, when his ability to shift blame onto others is gone.
Anyone who has suffered self-hate, guilt, shame or remorse has some idea of how much suffering is ahead of us on judgement day. Anyone who has never felt these things is in for pain the like of which they never dreamed possible and they will suffer so much more than those of us who are familiar with those emotions. Physical pain can’t hold a candle to the pain of self-hate! If you don’t believe that ask the people who slice themselves up, trying to escape the pain of their self-hatred, which is worse.
Judgement day will come and when it comes I don’t think it will be God who judges us. I think we will judge ourselves and we will judge ourselves with the same mercy we have shown in our judgement of others.
“Judge not lest ye also be judged” God said and I believe it was another warning that what we do to others we will discover we are actually doing to ourselves in the end.
Anyone who holds a grudge will hold the mother of all grudges against themselves on that day. Anyone who has ever hated others for what they have done, or lusted for revenge against those who have done them wrong, will hate themselves and lust for revenge against themselves a thousand times more than they ever hated, or wanted revenge against, others in this life. Anyone who has been unable to forgive someone else will be unable to forgive themselves on judgement day.
Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and they knew what God should think of them, what He should do to them, how they deserved to be treated and they hid. They did not ask forgiveness because they knew they did not deserve forgiveness. We will be aware we do not deserve forgiveness too but, unlike them, we can hope for forgiveness.
If we can reclaim the innocence Adam and Eve discarded we can be forgiven. Like little children who are able to believe the impossible we must believe we can hide our sins in Christ. We can only be spared the suffering of all the things we did, or failed to do, if we have repented, accepted the offer Christ made to pay the price for them in our place, and believe it is all the payment God requires.
It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself Jesus died for you, if you don’t really believe it or you don’t really believe you have done all that much wrong, you will be in big trouble on judgement day. If you have accepted Christ as your saviour God will forgive you but once you know the full extent of your sins you will struggle to believe you really can be forgiven. You will look on the face of God and you will know you do not deserve to be forgiven and only if you can say, with all the faith, hope and trust of a little child who believes the impossible can happen, that your sins were paid for by Christ will you be able to cross over into heaven.
If you cannot do that, like Adam and Eve, your shame and guilt will make you turn away from God and He will be forced to let you go. I don’t believe He will send anyone to hell because I don’t think He will have to. I think we will judge ourselves, condemn ourselves, and send ourselves there. We won’t be able to help it once we know what God knows.