I have long thought that there must be in the Bible some explanation of the word Lake as found in the dread expression "Lake of Fire" in the closing chapters of Revelation.
I would suggest that the "Dead Sea" is a type of the Lake of Fire. Sometimes it is very useful to link up statements in Holy Writ, which, at first sight do not seem to be connected. This is specially true of the Old Testament, where there are very many scattered statements in the Prophets.
The Dead Sea lies in the lowest part of that great valley which stretches in a direct line due south from the base of Mount Hermon to the head of the Gulf of Akabah. This valley is a chasm or fissure in the earth's crust, being for nearly 200 miles below the level of the ocean. The Dead Sea is the reservoir into which all its waters flow, and from which there is, and can be, no escape except by evaporation.
There are terraces in the hills around, which seem to indicate that at one time the waters of the Dead Sea were as high as the Mediterranean.
There are many hot sulphur springs in the district, and in some places the smell of sulphur and rotten eggs is very strong. In the brooks and along the shores pieces of sulphur, bitumen, rock-salt, and pumice-stone, are found in great profusion.
The water in the Dead Sea is more intensely salt than that of any other sea known. It has a bitter nauseous taste. One can float easily therein in an upright position with head and shoulders above the surface. Eggs can float, with only two-thirds immersed.
The depression of the Dead Sea is without a parallel in the world. Its surface is round about 1,300 feet below the Mediterranean.
Somewhere on the shore lie buried the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, apparently destroyed by a shower of hot sulphur and an irruption of bitumen.
We must next turn to Zechariah, ch. 14. Verse 4 tells us that Jehovah's feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave into two pieces, and "Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with Him" (v. 5). Then v. 8 says that "On that day living waters shall flow out from, Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer and in winter." These two seas are the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
Verse 10 states that "All the land shall turn into a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem,—and shall lift herself on high and abide in her own place."
Luke 17:29 mentions the fire and sulphur which rained from heaven and destroyed one and all who lived in Sodom. In Revelation 9:17-18 we read of horses which spit fire and fumes and sulphur out of their mouths, so that the third of human beings are killed. In Rev. 14:10 we next read of those worshipping the Wild Beast and his image, who will be tormented in fire and sulphur. Next, in Rev. 19:20 we learn that the Wild Beast and the False Prophet will be cast alive into the lake of the fire which is burning with sulphur, Then, in Rev. 20:10 Satan himself is cast into the lake of the fire and sulphur, to undergo his torment day and night for the ages of the ages. Finally, in Rev. 21:8, "Yet as to the cowardly, and faithless, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and magicians, and idolaters, and all the liars—their part is in the lake which is burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death."
It will be noted that fire and sulphur are the remedies for those who are excessive sinners only. Nothing is said concerning sulphur in Rev. 20:15. Possibly this means that the sinners in this verse will get off comparatively lightly, when they admit their wrongdoings and repent.
Now the filling up of the Dead Sea must mean something. Its waters will become much less salty, and the stench of sulphur must disappear as the Lake becomes filled up and much deeper, wider and longer. At present no fish of any size can live in the Dead Sea, though small fishes can be seen where purer water pours into the lake from the North. The taste of the water is extremely disagreeable. When the Mediterranean flows into the lake fishes will be able to live in it, due to the "living waters."
What then about the Lake of Fire? Will it continue into what is called "eternity"? Certainly not, as Rev. 20:10 states clearly that Satan and the Wild Beast and the False Prophet will be tormented for the ages of the ages. As there is no account of the funeral of these three parties anywhere in the whole Bible, we must conclude that after their torment they obtain new life. "Behold, I am making everything new" says Rev. 21:5. This must include Satan and the others, who, in time, will be thirsting for the water of Life which is given freely (Rev. 22:17). The Lake of Fire must end up in Life, as all Death is to be abolished, not merely human death, or physical death.
The filling up of the Dead Sea area with living waters will be like the filling up of the Scroll of Life with names as sinners repent before the Great White Throne. Nowhere are we informed that all those before the Great White Throne shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, or that all sinners shall be condemned.
Sin is a deficiency, a lack of what we need, a shortcoming. We await our filling up with Holy Spirit. Eventually, all human beings will be filled full with Divine Spirit, just as the Sea of Death will be filled up and purified. Is Jehovah's hand shortened that it cannot save? Is He not Mighty to save?
We do not find the term "Dead Sea" in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. This name, in Latin, was given by Jerome, and it is very suitable. Three times it is called "the Sea of the Plain (or the Arabah), the Salt Sea": (Deut. 3:17 ; Joshua 3:16; 12:3). Six times it is called "the Salt Sea" (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3, 12; Joshua 15:2, 5; 18:19). Twice it is called" the Sea of the Plain" (or Arabah: 2. Kings 14:25; Deut. 4:49). Three times it is called the East, Eastern, or Former Sea (Hebrew qadmoni: Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zech. 14:8). Modern inhabitants call it EI-Baheiret el-Myetah (The Sea the Dead); also Bahr Lut (Sea of Lot).
Another matter which ought to be considered is the fact that there have been many translations of the Bible which shew corrupt or false renderings, which have caused human beings to be sorely deceived and misled. Would not sinners have some grounds before the Great White Throne for pleading that these false translations had deceived them? Why, the corruption of the Hebrew and Greek terms for Ages to Eternal and Eternity would be enough to vindicate them.
A.T. Last updated 12.5.2006