A couple of months ago an interesting objection was brought to my attention. The claimant stated that Scripture supports the notion that Heaven is actually hotter than Hell. What does a closer, contextual look say?
As the preacher in Ecclesiastes mournfully wrote, “….there is nothing new under the sun.” Although this can be all too easily applied to objections to the Christian faith, on the rare occasion an objection slips through that is, shall we say, unique. One such objection is based on Isaiah 30:26, a verse that apparently claims that Heaven is hotter than Hell. As always, the answer is found in the context.
The first thing to note is that Hell isn’t actually hot, at least, not in the sense of literal burning. Hell is a state of shame and exclusion (Link 1 below), so the comparison to Heaven is moot. The claimant uses Revelation 21:8, which seems to describe Hell as a “lake of fire,” but in a book with an apocalyptic focus, one shouldn’t expect anything less than a dramatic metaphor to describe judgment and exclusion from the creator.
What about Isaiah 30:26, which is said to describe Heaven as over 500 degrees celsius? Isaiah 30 can be summed up in four major points.
- The wickedness of the Israelites (Isaiah 30:1-11)
- Imminent destruction as the consequence (Isaiah 30:12-17)
- Describing the glories of the millennial day (Isaiah 30:18-26)
- Wicked destroyed by fire at the Second Coming (Isaiah 30:27-33)
The verse at hand describes an event at the Messianic age when “….the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people.” The full verse is,
Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.
This language isn’t at all unfamiliar to Isaiah’s book. Isaiah often associates the figure of light with spiritual purity and blessing, especially in terms of the Gospel (Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 58:8, etc.). Likewise, the darkness is a figure for calamity and sin. The Adam Clarke commentary puts it thusly,
By moon, sun, light, are to be understood as the abundance of spiritual and temporal felicity with which God should bless them in the days of the Messiah, which should be sevenfold, i.e. vastly exceed all that they had ever before possessed.
This verse describes a time where Israel will be formed into the likeness of God and made perfect as He heals their wounds. This verse isn’t a description of Heaven but of Israel.
This objection is nothing but a case of critics reading false ideas into a chosen text whilst ignoring both the literary context and the surrounding verses. The problem is the people who parade these unusual objections are seen as the authorities and not as the “skeptics.” They claim rather than question. It makes me wonder if activism is a more appropriate term.
Clarke, Adam. “Commentary on Isaiah 30:26”. “The Adam Clarke Commentary”. Available.