A funny thing happened earlier today. I was surprised by something and out of nowhere, I heard myself say, “What in the blue blazes was that?” Now I want to remind you that this isn’t my everyday language but for some reason, I remember my mother using the phrase from time to time. She only said it when she was surprised or witnessed something incredulous. Then, sure enough, blue blazes somehow came into play. Now in all honesty I don’t know if this was a Mom thing, or a Chicago thing, or a global thing, so if you have never heard the phrase, no worries… but I heard it quite a bit growing up.
It wasn’t anything my Dad said, or anybody else that I remember, but I know the phrase was somewhat common in the sixties. So today, I was as surprised as anyone when it popped out of my mouth. Mom associated blue blazes with the fire of hell, burning hot – very hot. And somehow, the reference to blue blazes was more socially acceptable than the direct reference to hell, which I never heard her mention.
Lately, I have run across a number of people who don’t think that hell exists. The defense is something akin to wondering how a God who loves us would banish us to eternal separation from Him in eternal damnation. But I think that this gets into a much bigger argument and that is whether God gives us choices in life. There are several schools of thought on this.
First of all, many folks believe that God set the world in motion and that everything is pre-ordained. In other words, your fate and my fate has already been determined – God decided it in the beginning and there is nothing we can do to change it. There are those who are saved and heading to heaven; and there are those who will not be saved and are destined to spend eternity separated from God – in hell. Finally, there are those who flat out don’t believe in God at all. It’s all a myth and God doesn’t exist – and neither does heaven or hell. Just for the record, I don’t believe in any of these scenarios.
Another thought is the idea that God created us, set the world in motion and gave Man free will. In other words, God is still active in our lives and we have a choice to follow Him; or not… The thinking is that we really can’t love if we don’t have a choice to not love. So God created us and as early as the Garden of Eden hoped that we would make the correct choices to be in community with Him. Since God is all knowing, all powerful and all present, He knew that man would fall, but it had been God’s intent to commune with Man on an intimate basis. And through His Son, Jesus Christ, we still have that promise for all who believe.
So hell is reserved for those who deny the existence of God, or those who may acknowledge that He is real, but choose to not follow Him. Then, and only then, are people doomed to spend eternity separated from God in what my mother referred to as “blue blazes.” So how do we know that hell exists? Well, that is our verse for this evening – from the book of Revelation. When John had his dream, he encountered Jesus, and John recounts the beginning of his story. He tells us, in Rev. 1:17-18, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” So Jesus Himself told John that not only was there a hell, but that Jesus had the keys!
I don’t know about you, but that’s good enough for me. And if you take the time to read the book of Revelation and study the endtimes, I think you will be convinced that hell is a very real place – and not somewhere you would want to spend eternity. My encouragement this evening is that God wants to spend eternity with you – in heaven… My prayer is that you will never make the choice to spend even a moment contemplating spending the rest of eternity in the “blue blazes.” Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…