God frequently used fire to punish the disobedient. He rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near about (Gen. 19:24). He brought hail mingled with fire upon the Egyptians, Ex. 9:23. By fire, God destroyed 250 men who were in rebellion (Num. 16:35). God sent fire upon Nadab and Abihu to devour them because they acted without His authority (Lev. 10:2). Someday the heavens will be dissolved by fire and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (2 Pet. 3:12).
People fear fire and respect it. In their hysteria, some have crushed others to death fleeing from the searing flames bent on devouring them. Here we have a contradiction: while people will flee from fire, billions are racing toward the fire of hell, actually inviting it.
Hell is a place of fire. The Scriptures describe hell as a lake of fire (Rev. 20:14); a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42); and hell fire (Matt. 18:9). It is into this fire that the ungodly will be cast. How terribly frightening to contemplate being thrown into a lake consumed by fire, or into a suffocating, searing furnace of fire. This is just a hint of what the fire of hell will be like.
The punishment of fire is far worse than anything we have seen, heard, or imagined. Fire produces pain. Those who go to hell will be tormented by fire, continually. Jesus said, There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:42). “…The rich man died and was buried, and being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame” (Lk 16:22-24).
The nature of this fire is everlasting. Jesus will ultimately say to those on His left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Jude describes it as eternal (Jude 7).
Jesus warns us that if we place our members at the disposal of sinful desires we shall be cast into hell fire, where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. For everyone shall be salted by fire (Mk 9:48-49). There are two destructive forces: the worm and fire. Both suggest to us the permanence of retribution. The worm dies not, therefore the gnawing anguish never ceases. Those in hell are salted with fire (preserved); therefore, the results remain constant. The smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night (Rev. 14:11). Just think, to be in constant agony forever, with no hope of escaping the horrors of hell.
Who will be going to hell? All those who know not God and have not obeyed the gospel of Christ (2 Thess 1:7-9). “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).