Last week we watched a show about monsters. These were not giant monsters that roar and squash cars. These monsters were small and sometimes microscopic. The show featured three separate cases of people that had contracted parasites that could likely have been fatal if they did not get treatment. These parasites caused breathing problems, skin problems, infections, and even began to cause a problem with malnutrition by intercepting food nutrients. One man was infected with worms in his body that were up to nine inches long! Imagine having a bunch of nine-inch invaders wiggling around in your body wreaking all kinds of havoc with your system.
This makes me think of one of the images for eternal destruction. Jesus said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to stumble, to cut them out and cast them from you because it is better to enter the kingdom with one hand, foot, or eye than "to be cast into Hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" (Mk 9:43-38).
Jesus uses two pictures here. The first is, "Hell," which is a translation of "Gehenna" in Greek, which is a transliteration of the Aramaic "Ge-Hinnam," which means "Valley of Hinnom." The Valley of Hinnom was the site of some of Israel's most deplorable, detestable, and abominable practices, including live child sacrifices to the detestable god Molech (2 Chr 28:3; 33:6). It was Josiah who "defiled" the site in his religious reforms (2 Kng 23:10), making it no longer suitable for pagan worship. It eventually became the city dump where people dumped their refuse and burned their trash. It was a putrid place, forever smoldering with trash and defilement. During the intertestamental period, this valley, "GeHinnom," became a word to refer to the place of eternal punishment, where the fires burn the refuse that has been cast out.
The second picture is from the prophecy in Isaiah 66:24, which says, "Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind." The image is of the rotting and burning corpses of those who transgressed against God. They are forever burning and eaten with worms.
The image of the city dump with putrid maggots, worms and infestations that do not die and infest the bodies of the condemned is the image that Jesus gives of Hell. So, in addition to the image of the lake of fire and bottomless pit is the image of rotting bodies in the city dump that are forever eaten by worms and forever burning. What a horrifying image to think of being forever eaten by worms and forever burning. No wonder it is called the place of eternal torment.
Fortunately, no one need be doomed to that place. God does not want anyone to perish, "but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). God gave his only son to offer himself for us on a cross and rise from the dead. When he returns, those of us that belong to him will go to be with God rather than to Hell (1 Cor 15:23-24).