Isaiah 66:22-24 Cannot Include Fallen Angels

Another reader says...

READER>> You mention the end of Isaiah 66 -- this is the verse Christ quotes in Mark 9 / Matt 18 (and earlier in Matt 5’s parallel warning if I recall correctly) involving Gehenna. So now you can have fun deciding whether this applies to the Lake of Fire judgment or not after all. ;) But from Isaiah’s own perspective it applies to humans being slain at the coming of YHWH and the survivors being appalled by it; there’s a parallel scene in Ezekiel or Jeremiah... where God gives instructions on how the survivors will have to send teams out for years to properly collect and bury and / or burn the dead, and how even after that’s done some people will be assigned to check for remaining bones and flag them for proper removal and burial later. Isaiah doesn’t go into anything like that detail, but he’s quite explicit about them being the corpses of men (iysh) who transgressed against God.

ME>> Let's look at these passages more closely.

Isaiah 66:22-24 (WEB),

22) "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me," says Yahweh, "so your offspring and your name shall remain. 23) It shall happen that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh will come to worship before me," says Yahweh. 24) "They will go out, and look at the dead bodies of the men [enowsh] who have transgressed against me; for their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

You note that the Hebrew word "enowsh" is used to describe those who rebelled.  "Enowsh" means man, mankind, or mortal man, so at first glance it would seem that this passage could not be referring to the destruction of fallen angels.  So what event is then in view?

The reader above believes that this passage explains the corrective hand of Christ upon his human enemies at his pre-Millennial return.  The reader also apparently believes that this event is synonymous with Ezekiel 39.  Is that the case?  Ezekiel 39 does mention God judgments, but his presence in the flesh is not explicit.  Ezekiel does not mention the New Heavens and Earth and thus also seems to point to earlier events.

It should be noted that the Hebrew word "enowsh" was also used to refer to the angels who visited Abraham in Genesis 18.  So apparently the word does not always mean mortal man, but can also mean embodied angels. So it would not break any rules of interpretation to apply it to fallen angels in Isaiah 66:24.

Furthermore, Isaiah 65 and 66 is one of the few places the Old Testament explicitly references the New Heavens and the New Earth.  So the New Testament parallel event seems to be Revelation 20 and 21 just before the commencement of eternity.  I have proposed that Daniel 12:1-4, Matthew 25:31-46, and Revelation 20:11-15 are all talking about the same event: the final verdict for both mankind and fallen angels.  Isaiah 66:22-24 seems to point to the same event with Satan and his demons' final rebellion against God and mankind.  Satan and the demons meet their certain defeat, while all mankind looks upon the carcasses of the rebel angels with loathe, Revelation 20:7-10.  Now it also seems clear that Satan does tempt humankind into battle against the camp of God at that time.  However, this does not require that those humans who join the final rebellion with Satan are then finally lost to the Lake of Fire.  I still hold that Satan and his demons receive the sentence to the Lake of Fire which is prepared for them while mankind, even unbelieving mankind, receive grace -- solely on the basis of Christ's vicarious atonement.  Finally, I have proved in my article, You are Wrong About Matthew 25:31-46!, that the "ethnos" gathered before Christ at the final judgment includes both humans and fallen angels, Matthew 25:32 and Revelation 20:13.  It is no coincidence that Revelation 20:8 says that when Satan is released he will gather the "ethnos" for battle against God's people.  Satan will round up both his demons and unbelieving mankind who so easily serve as his pawns.

It was objected that Mark 9:42-50 uses the same expression "their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched" as found in Isaiah 66:24.

Mark 9:47-50 (WEB),

47) If your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out. It is better for you to enter into God’s Kingdom with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire, 48)  'where their worm doesn’t die, and the fire is not quenched.' 49)  For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. 50) Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Mark 9 certainly is not a warning to demons, but to unbelieving humans. There are several possibilities.  One possibility is that I am wrong about Isaiah 66 and that the prophet is speaking only about the punishment of wicked human beings.  In this case perhaps Isaiah is writing about earlier events.  However, the New Heavens and Earth language seems to point to the final battle just before the Great White Throne judgment.  In either case, understanding "enowsh" to mean only wicked human beings does not necessarily undermine my primary thesis that all mankind will be finally saved.  Though, my proposed model of understanding would need to be refactored.

Another possibility is that in Mark 9 Jesus is comparing the punishments of human beings in Hades with the even more severe punishments reserved for fallen angels in the Lake of Fire.  Jesus may use the same language, "their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched," because the punishments are similar, even though Hades is temporal.

Finally, Jesus may simply allow wicked unbelieving mankind to fear the judgment that will come upon the fallen angels, the non-elect, even though all mankind will be finally saved from the judgment reserved only for fallen angels in the Lake of Fire. This pattern is evident a number of places in Scripture.  It is more than reasonable to let those who reject Christ's atonement think they have the destiny of the unredeemed.  In fact it is the best wakeup call possible for the hardhearted unbelieving elect.

Regarding the salvation of fallen angels, I had proposed that Satan, The Beast, and the False Prophet are all fallen angels.  These three beings are the only people explicitly mentioned by name as being thrown into the Lake of Fire. I have written further about this thesis in my article, Revelation 20:10.  The same reader above also objected, saying that The Beast and The False Prophet are human.  However, after reading Revelation again I stumbled upon verse Revelation 16:13.  This verse communicates that these three beings share of common nature of being the SOURCE of evil spirits and the spirit of demons.  Humans are not the source of the demonic, but instead humans are attacked and possessed by the demonic.  This seems like further evidence that these three beings are the demonic leaders of the rebellion against God with Satan as their ring leader.

I also finished reading Terms for Eternity: Aionios and Aidios in Classical and Christian Texts by Ilaria Ramelli and David Konstan.  They defend that "aion" means "age" or "eon" as many would agree.  However, they also note that the definitive Greek word for eternal, "aidios," is only used twice the Bible: once in Romans 1:20 concerning God and once in Jude 6 concerning the bonds on fallen angels.  Since Ramelli and Konstan argue even for the salvation of Satan they conclude that "aidios" in Jude 6 must mean transcending the ages, but not finally eternal.  They reason thus because these demons are being "held for judgment" so there must be an end to these "aidios" bonds after their judgment.  However, it could also be that these demons with "aidios" bonds are held in Thalaasa to be extracted for sentencing at the Great White Throne Judgment and then with the "aidios" bonds still on they are cast into the Lake of Fire.  Thus they are held for judgment, but the "aidios" bonds are not released as they are cast into the Lake of Fire.  Further, if the Sheep and Goat Judgment is synonymous with the Great White Throne Judgment and with the Great Judgment Day for the imprisoned angels, then it is clear that the goats are held for judgment and further sentenced to the Lake of Fire after their extraction from Tartarus / Thalassa.  So the "aidios" bonds of fallen angels do not end at the Great Day of their judgment, but continue on through The Ages of The Ages in the Lake of Fire.

That all said, I want to do further study concerning the Biblical arguments for an "apokatastasis" that could include the salvation of even the fallen angels sentenced to the Lake of Fire.  Can anyone point me to further resources on the meaning of "kolasis" from Matthew 25:46?  Some resources indicate "punishment, torment, etc."  However, I know others have argued that the word only means loving correction or correction with a goal to restoration.  Actually the only other Biblical use in 1 John 4:18 does not mean loving correction, but merely the fruit of fear, that is torment.  Perhaps the arguments for the meaning of "kolasis" as only corrective punishment are stretched because of the conclusion that human beings are sent to "aion kolasis."  If we think human beings are sent to the Lake of Fire, but hope they are later saved, then we need to understand "kolasis" as corrective.  However, if the goats on Jesus' left are fallen angels only, then the puzzle pieces fit together more easily.

Thanks for the comment above.  After reflection, I continue to hold that the Lake of Fire is prepared only for the Devil and his angels.  However, I may be agnostic about the duration of the torment to be endured in the Lake of Fire by the Devil and his angels.  The Scriptures obviously begin with rebellious Satan tempting mankind into the fall and end with all mankind redeemed with every tear wiped away and Satan and his angels in torment in the Lake of Fire.  Revelation 20:10 says Satan will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire for "The Aions of The Aions."  So when is the end of "The Aions of The Aions?"  If there is an end to Satan's damnation it is after the last page of Scripture.