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How Long Did The Fires Of Sodom And Gomorrah Burn?

     Remember the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah? Most of us are familiar with the fiery account of their destruction. Does the Bible have anything to say about the ultimate fate of those who populated these cities? Are the men, women, and children of these cities forever doomed to fiery torture? Or is there hope for them to ultimately be reconciled to God? There are a few passages that address this issue and in most English translations they seem to create some contradictions. However, a quick look at one particular word in the original language clears up the confusion.

In preparation for looking at the particular word, let us first look at a passage from the prophet Ezekiel which contains very important information about the destruction of these cities. In these verses, as God speaks to Israel He shares some surprising truth. He tells them that the way they were living was worse than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Think about that for a moment. The sin of Israel was far greater than the sin of the people of Sodom.

"As I live," says the Lord God, "neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit." (Ezekiel 16:48-50 NKJV)

God was saying that however rotten the behavior of the Sodomites may have been, what the people of Israel were doing was worse.

As you consider that, keep in mind that Scripture teaches us that ultimately "all Israel will be saved."

What about Sodom? Is there hope for any or all of "those people?"

The account of the destruction of Sodom in the Old Testament is often used in conjunction with Jude verse 7 to "prove" the reality of eternal conscious torment of the wicked in hell.

"As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 7)

In many English versions of the Bible, including the New King James, this verse straight forwardly tells us that the fate of the inhabitants of Sodom is forever suffering in fire from God. However, a close look at the original Greek reveals that translators have been inconsistent in the rendering of one very important word which we will get to in a moment.

With those questions in mind, please take time to read all of Ezekiel chapter 16 in your own. For now, please pay special attention to the verse below.

"When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state." (Ezekiel 16:55)

Please re-read that verse carefully? Did you catch what God was saying? Have you ever read those words before? When was the last time you heard a preacher talk about that?

Do you think the mercy of God would be so great that He would restore the people of Sodom? Could the grace of God be that great? Do you believe that Christ really is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Would Sodom and Gomorrah quality as being part of the world?

What about the teaching that God is "just?"

Since God Himself said that during the time of Ezekiel Israel was worse than Sodom, yet all Israel will ultimately be saved, would it be "just" of God to torture everyone who lived in Sodom forever and ever without end? What about the children of that city?

Let's go back to Jude verse 7.

"As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 7)

In this verse the word translated as eternal is the word "aionios" which is the adjective form of "aion."

In multiple places in all Bible translations including the King James aion is translated as "age." It is the same word that is used in verses which refer to "the end of the age" and "this present evil age." At other times this word has translated it a "world" as in "the end of the world."

It seems more than strange to me that when the word Aion is used in a passage having to do with judgment or wrath, suddenly it is translated as eternal or everlasting.

How is it that the same word could mean a period of time with a beginning and an end and also something without end?

As you think about the destruction of Sodom, let me ask you a question. How long did fire literally reign down on the cities? If it was truly eternal, wouldn't it have to still be burning? How long did the fires actually burn? It burned until it was finished. In other words, it burned for a time.

The inhabitants of these cities suffered the vengeance of the aionios fire of God. It was a fire that burned until it burned out. In other words, it burned until there was nothing left to burn. Today if you were to visit the plain of Sodom you would clearly see that the fire is no longer burning. It burned for an a time with a beginning and an end. It burned for an aion. It burned for an age.

The people of the city were burned in the fire that reigned down. In other words they died. But one day they will be resurrected.

In the future, according to God speaking through Ezekiel, they will be restored. They will take part in every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. They are part of "as in Adam all die in Christ all shall be made alive." Their sin just like yours and mine has been taken away by the Lamb of God.

How could that be? The answer is simple. It's because God is a God of grace.

The ultimate salvation of the people of Sodom is just like mine and yours. It is something undeserved, but freely given. Some of us believe sooner. Others will believe later. Eventually all will believe and all will be reconciled to God.

"For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:19)

Article Source:

James Flanders is a writer, Bible student, and musician from the state of Arizona. Each day he is amazed to discover more about the good news of God's ultimate plans for creation as revealed in the Scripture.

Posted on 2013-11-14, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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