One Hell, Two Places
What we call Hell actually refers to two different places, Hades (Sheol in the Old Testament). Both places are very real and neither place hold any comfort for those who go there. Hades is where the spirits of all who have died in their sins are right now. It is a temporary place for unsaved souls until the final judgment. There is no praise or celebration or hope of God in Hades [Isaiah 38:18]. Before Jesus everyone went there when they died, good and bad [Psalm 89:48]. There was, however, a place in Hades for the righteous called Paradise. Jesus told the repentant thief next on the cross that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day [Luke 23:43]. When Jesus war raised from the dead He took all those in Paradise and took them to Heaven. He captured captivity itself [Ephesians 4:8].
Not for People
Hell is a place prepared by God as an eternal place of torment for Satan and the angles that rebelled against God [Matthew 25:41]. In the future when all mankind is judged, all who are in Hades will, along the Devil and the demons, be thrown into an eternally burning, but never consuming, lake of fire. It is a place of “outer darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” [Matthew 22:13].
A favorite question asked by skeptics and detractors is, “How can a loving God send people to a place like Hell?” but for God to truly be fair and just, Hell is mandatory. The must be a place of punishment as well as a place of reward. The sceptic’s question is the wrong question. The question should be, “How can anyone turn down the invitation from God to go to Heaven rather than Hell?” It is not God’s will that anyone perish [2 Peter 3:9 NIV]. The choice of were we spend eternity rest solely in our hands.