By Dennis E. RABINEAU
Most vacations include an itinerary. You have an idea what you will see and do before you arrive at your destination. The Bible has enough information to project an itinerary for those whose destination is hell. Let's look at the first 6 days.
The trip originates at the gate of death. Since departures are made daily, you are called upon to begin your trip on short notice. Since the journey is only one way, there is no need to concern yourself with return plans.
Your initial point of departure may prove more than a little frightening, as you suddenly realize the finality of your destination. The trip itself will leave you with little time to contemplate what awaits.
As you pass through the doorway of death, you will notice almost immediately that your direction is taking you away from the light toward what appears to be complete and utter darkness. With each passing moment the darkness becomes more intense. At first the absence of light is only annoying, but you feel it becoming more ominous and threatening.
The intensity of the darkness is only matched by the absence of any joyful sounds-no music, no laughter, no sounds of merriment. As you move farther, faint sounds of moaning and wailing become detectable. They seem to be coming through the darkness from every direction. You become aware of a faint light. it flickers like a flame, yet thick clouds of black smoke dance all around it, keeping the flame from casting off any real hope of light.
Suddenly you find yourself obsessed to know what day and hour it is. Already it feels like you've been here for an eternity ... and it's only Day 1.
The continuing darkness is stifling. It's as if something is lurking in the veil of night that surrounds you. You yell, you threaten, you even plead, but to no avail. Whatever it is just stays there, producing fear like you've never known before.
As your eyes struggle to adjust to the dark, you become aware of a new sensation. The heat. It's right at the edge of unbearable. Hot, searing, intolerable heat. Your body craves water. You'd give anything for a drink, and you try unsuccessfully to push that desire out of your mind.
The air is thick, choking, miserable ... and it's just Day 2.
At least you think it's Day 3. It seems like it has already been forever. You've not been able to sleep.
You still can't believe you're here. Where are the friends you thought you would see? The knowledge that they would be here too had brought you some comfort in your lifetime. Where is the fun you thought you would have? It isn't at all like what you were led to believe.
You stumble upon a group of others. You pour out a litany of questions. As they open their mouths, no words come out ... only the sounds of weeping and wailing. Some in the group don't even try to respond. They gnash their teeth, as if in some invisible pain.
You wonder when this nightmare will end. You wonder why somebody can't make it stop ... and it's only Day 3.
How you wish you could send a message to those you left behind. You'd warn them about this place. You'd tell them what it's really like, so they'd never come. The thought of your loved ones coming to a place like this is unbearable. You can't help but think back upon that day when you made your decision to come here. You understood that your rejection of Jesus meant that you would spend eternity in hell but it didn't seem real or important then.
Looking back, you think how foolish you were to reject God's offer of salvation. You wish you could choose again.
You find yourself hoping that your loved ones will choose differently, even though you realize such a choice means you'll never see them again ... never touch them ... never speak to them. What a horrible realization ... and it's only Day 4.
You've become acutely aware of the absence of any good in this place. There's no love, for God is love. There's no joy or peace or goodness, because all of these come from God too. There's nothing sacred, nothing holy, nothing of God anywhere to be found. You're amazed at how evil evil can be.
For the first time since your arrival, you begin to sense the great gulf that is fixed between where you are and where God is. The span is beyond your comprehension as you try to realize the degree of distance that will separate you from God and those who chose to serve Him. God is on the other side of that gulf. Loved ones in Christ are on the other side of that gulf. What a lonely realization ... and it's only Day 5.
Through the darkness you saw a new face today. A new arrival. He stopped to speak with you. You could see the terror in his eyes. He asked questions that you had been asking only days before. You opened your mouth to reply, but all that would come out was the sound of weeping and wailing.
You've just spent your first 6 days in hell. Unfortunately, an unholy, unhappy eternity stretches out before you ... and all because you rejected Jesus. if only...
But wait. The fact you're reading this says you still have a chance. In His mercy, God is giving you an opportunity right now to change your eternal itinerary. "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).
Oh, friend, do it now ... before it's too late.
(This scenario is based upon verses found in Revelation 20:14,15; Luke 16:20-31; Mark 9:43; Matthew 22:11-13.)
This article is used by permission. D.E. Rabineau is pastor of Evangel Chapel (Assemblies of God) in Bridgewater, New Jersey. This article originally appeared in the PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, MAY 4, 1997.