The millstone

Sunday, October 1

Mark 9:38-50

Eternal punishment. Like it or not, it is a biblical concept, albeit a late-blooming one. In the Old Testament, the afterlife is rarely spoken of, and when it is, it is usually pictured as a shadowy, wraithlike existence.

For the dominant line of thought in the Old Testament, “Sheol [the realm of the dead] cannot thank thee, death cannot praise thee; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for thy faithfulness”(Isa. 38:18). The dead are miserable, insubstantial shades, and it is better to be a living dog than a dead lion (Eccles. 9:4).

Only in the later books of the Old Testament, such as Daniel, do we encounter the idea of a resurrection of the dead at the end of time, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”


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