I remember a conversation I had with an unsaved co-worker a few years back concerning hell. He told me he wanted to go where the party was, to drink beer with his buddies. What a sad and absolutely wrong understanding of what Hades is. The unsaved will go into a place of outer darkness at death, as Job clearly lays out in Job 10:21-22, - "Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."
This place is NO party, it is an eerily dark, blackest black abode for those who die without Christ. It is a terrifying place, a place that would make the hair on your neck stand up. It is a land of confusion, where I believe lost souls wonder aimlessly in this thick blackness looking for a way out, and never finding it.
I want to share some frightening, descriptive commentary on these verses...
'I shall not return' - That undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns. - A. Barnes
'to the land of darkness' - The place referred to is not the grave, but the region beyond, the abode of departed spirits, the Hades of the ancients; and the idea here is, that it is a place where not a clear ray of light ever shines. That this was a common opinion of the ancients in regard to the world of departed spirits, is well known. - A. Barnes
'as darkness itself' - This is still another word אפל 'ôphel though in our common version but one term is used. We have not the means in our language of marking different degrees of obscurity with the accuracy with which the Hebrews did it. The word used here אפל 'ôphel denotes a THICK darkness - such as exists when the sun is set - from אפל 'aphêl, to go down, to set. It is poetic, and is used to denote intense and deep darkness. - A. Barnes
For him the horrors of imagination cannot be too black. No one can conceive the chill desolation of the "outer darkness," the dread despair of seeing the "door shut" on a rejected soul. The darkness will consist in separation from God, from blessed companionship, from joy, from life—for the future existence of the lost is never called a future life. The dolorous words of Job are not too strong for the fate of lost souls. - the Pulpit commentary
A palpable obscure: it is space and place, and has only such light or capability of distinction as renders “darkness visible.” The following words of Sophocles convey the same idea: Ιω σκοτος εμοι φαος; “Thou darkness be my light.” It is, as the Vulgate expresses it, Terra tenebrosa, et operta mortis caligine: Terra miseriae et tenebrarum, ubi umbra mortis, et nullus ordo, sed sempiternus horror inhabitat: “A murky land, covered with the thick darkness of death: a land of wretchedness and obscurities, where is the shadow of death, and no order, but sempiternal horror dwells everywhere.” Or, as Coverdale expresses this last clause, Wheras is no ordre but terrible feare as in the darknesse. A duration not characterized or measured by any of the attributes of time; where there is no order of darkness and light, night and day, heat and cold, summer and winter. It is the state of the dead! The place of separate spirits! It is out of time, out of probation, beyond change or mutability. It is on the confines of eternity! But what is This? and where? Eternity! how can I form any conception of thee? In thee there is no order, no bounds, no substance, no progression, no change, no past, no present, no future! Thou art an indescribable something, to which there is no analogy in the compass of creation. Thou art infinity and incomprehensibility to all finite beings. Thou art what, living, I know not, and what I must die to know; and even then I shall apprehend no more of thee than merely that thou art E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y! - Adam Clarke
'without any order' - The meaning is, that everything was mingled together as in chaos, and all was confusion. Milton has used similar language:
- “A vast immeasurable abyss.”
- “dark, wasteful, wild.” -A. Barnes
The ideas of order and light, disorder and darkness, harmonize (Gen_1:2). Three Hebrew words are used for darkness; in Job_10:21 (1) the common word “darkness”; here (2) “a land of gloom” (from a Hebrew root, “to cover up”); (3) as “thick darkness” or blackness (from a root, expressing sunset). “Where the light thereof is like blackness.” - JFB
'And where the light is as darkness '- This is a very striking and graphic expression. It means that there is no pure and clear light. Even all the light that shines there is dark, sombre, gloomy - like the little light of a total eclipse, which seems to be darkness itself, and which only serves to render the darkness more distressing. Compare Milton:
“A dungeon horrible on all sides round,
As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe.”
Par. Lost, 1.
The Hebrew here literally is, “And it shines forth (יתפע yatopha‛) as darkness:” that is, the very shining of the light there, if there is any, is like darkness! - A. Barnes
The Bible never paints a rosy picture when it comes to speaking on Hades. This truth should terrify sinners, for death comes to all. May God's mercy and His truth go forth, may He save sinners.