And I'm wondering ...
What if hell isn't eternal - at least for us mortal folk? Suppose the "hades" aspect of it really was just a holding tank for those before Jesus' time on earth, awaiting His judgment? And that, at the time His judgment came, it was tanked in the lake of fire for all time?
What if hell - the eternal, ever-burning, lake-of-fire aspect of it - is reserved for the devil and his angels: created, half-eternal beings who knew God and yet rebelled against Him? Because they were created to be eternal from that point on; created to be close to Him and still stood against everything good about Him?
What if eternal punishment is simply that those of us mortals who were created to choose immortality close to God - yet never having seen Him except through His creation and the story of His Son - we choose death when we choose to be anything other than closer to God? Forever-death? Irrevocable, un-appealable and unappealing permanent nonexistence?
When we had the chance to choose to be with Him forever, instead?
When we had the choice to be like Him, and carry His story forward, and live it out each mortal day?
When we were appointed to judge angels by showing them that the right choice could be made in faith and not just by sight alone, making their crime of rebellion all the more heinous?
Isn't "eternal death" the opposite of "eternal life"? Rather than its opposite being "eternal torture"?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23
And why is there something deep within me that wonders how a God - even a God of great righteousness and unimpeachable wrath - can be just in dispensing eternal torture to rebels whose sins were temporal; choices made blindly and in lack of faith?