This verse states, “And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever.” Some erroneously believe this is referring to souls burning forever in hell.
The time frame of what is described here is yet to come. The passage is referring to “Babylon” (Rev. 14:8), “that great city, because she made all nations drink of…her fornication.” This is the final, religious/political, end-time revival of the Roman Empire also described in Daniel 2:42-43 as the “toes,” and in Daniel 7:7, 24 as the tenth horn. Revelation 13 describes it as the seventh and last horn, and Revelation 17:12 describes it as the seventh head having ten horns (which has not yet appeared).
Revelation 14:9-10 states, “If any man worship the beast [this final end-time revival] and his image, and receive his mark…he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…in the presence of the Lamb.” As long as the people who are participating in this “beast” system continue to rebel against God, they will receive “no rest day nor night” (vs. 11). This does not state that they will be burning in hell for eternity. What it does say is that once their bodies are burned up, the smoke ascends forever. The fire extinguishes itself but the gases from the smoke will continue to circulate in the atmosphere.
The worshipers of the beast shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, as shown in Rev. 14:10, and the main perpetrators will be cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19:20). This event follows the climatic Return of Christ after Armageddon and falls within the time of the sixth of the last seven plagues. This takes place during the year of God’s wrath (Rev. 14:10), which is not totally fulfilled until the seventh and final last plague (Rev. 16:17, 19).
Neither that lake of fire mentioned in Rev. 19:20 nor the later fire of Rev. 20:13-15, which continues until it purges the surface of the earth, constitute an “ever-burning hell.” Malachi plainly states, “And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts” (4:3). This verse shows that the wicked will be destroyed—blotted out—not “burning up” forever.
If you would like to learn more of the true Bible teaching about hell, request our booklet The Truth About Hell.
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