I believe that it is correct to say that hell is the absence of God (in a sense).“God is holy, and anything that is not holy must be ushered away from his presence. He cannot allow impurity near him…”[1] Though we are sinful, Christ died for our sins and those of us who have accepted him in our hearts as Lord and savior have been made righteous through his blood. However, there are those who do not given their lives to Christ remain impure and unholy and can never enter into the presence of the Lord. Therefore, hell must be the absence of God because God cannot dwell around that which is in darkness, which is what hell is.

As Croteau mentions, it is “the absence of God, the absence of people, the absence of relationships, and the absence of everything”[2] The opposite can be found in the presence of God. Psalms 16:11 states, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11, ESV). In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul says, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thess 1:9, ESV).

To be away from the presence of the LORD could also mean to be separated from or sent away.[3] Hell is a punishment for those who have lived a life apart from God. If this is true, then it would make sense that they would spend eternity apart from God as well. As mentioned before, the absence of God is also the lack of everything else that is good and brings pleasure. With Him, there is joy and pleasure forevermore and without Him there is not only the opposite of that, but there is nothingness, there is loneliness and despair. That is the true absence of God.

However, one could also say that God is not absent from hell itself as he is omnipresent. Rather, God’s absence in hell could really be defined as His separation from those who have not been redeemed. In essence, the LORD is present in hell but ABSENT TO THOSE WHO ARE IN HELL. Isaiah 2:10 says, “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty” (Is 2:10, KJV). In this verse, they were hiding from the presence of God out of fear of His punishment. Isaiah 2:10 explains to us that God’s presence can also bring punishment. This would support the notion that God is not truly absent from Hell but absent from the presence of the unrepentant who are in hell. It must be a truly painful punishment to know that God is there but will not and cannot save you. That is why hell is the ultimate punishment for unbelievers. Their opportunity to accepts Christ in their hearts as their LORD and Savior has passed and no longer will they have a chance to be redeemed because God has turned away from and rejected them.

[1] David A. Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament (Nashville Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2015), 175

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 176.

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