I thank thee, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the
THE QUESTION (#71)
Jesus talks about being thrown out into the darkness a few times, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and in Mark 9 talks about their worm not dying and the unquenchable fire again.
What do you think the darkness represents and then, if applicable, what are your thoughts about the weeping and gnashing of teeth as it relates to "instantaneous" disposal?
What is the fire going to be consuming unquenchably for eternity, and what is he trying to convey by saying there will be worms relating to them (theirs) not dying?
The Lord speaks of two separate judgments, sometimes in similar language such that we fail to distinguish them. One is the judgment on Israel that was consummated in 70 AD when Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by a Roman Army. Their God had cut them off forever as a nation due to their failure to produce the Fruit that He desired. The other is the judgment on all humanity following the Resurrection -- sometimes called the Last Judgment.
Those utterances concerning the darkness is a reference to the judgment on Israel. The darkness is a reference to that segment of humanity that does not receive the Light that the Lord brought because Israel rejected him and refused to accept him or to hear his voice. Typical utterances referring to this darkness are:
Jn.12:35 Jesus therefore said to them: Yet [a] small time the light is with you. Be walking while you have the light, in order that the darkness not overtake you. And the [one] walking in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 While you have the light, be believing in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.
Jn.8:12 So, again Jesus spoke to them saying: I am the light of the world. The [one] following me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of zoe-life.
Even more specifically, this harks back to the prophesy of Isaiah, which the Lord validated by fulfilling it. It reads as follows:
Therefore, in the following and similar utterances, the Lord is not speaking of the Judgment of the Last Day but of the temporal judgment on Israel as a nation for having rejected his Light.
Mt.4:12 But having heard that John had been delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And having left Nazareth, having come he dwelt in Capernaum by the sea in the environs of Zebulun and Nephtali, 14 in order that what was said through Isaiah the prophet be fulfilled saying:
15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
Mt.8:11 And I say to you that many from east and west will have come and will recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(The "Sons of the kingdom" refers to the status that the Israelites once had, but lost due to their rejection of the Lord.)
Mt.25:29 For to him having all will more be given and it will overflow. But from him not having even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw the worthless slave into the outer darkness. There will there be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Mt.22:13 Then the king said to the servants: Having bound him hand and foot, throw him into the outermost darkness. There will there be wailing and grinding of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few [are] chosen.
Secular history provides ample evidence of this casting of Israel into the outer darkness of this world. Outermost darkness is simply the extremity of the outer darkness.
The "wailing and grinding of teeth" is the Lord's expression for great suffering, whether in this age as a result of the judgment on Israel, of after the Resurrection at the last judgment.
Mt.13:49 Thus it will be in the completion of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the midst of the just. 50 And they will throw them into the fiery furnace. There shall there be wailing and grinding of teeth.
As to the consuming fire and the worm not dying, this saying is patterned on the very real images of Gehenna.
The Valley of the Sons of Hinnom (Geenna) is the valley just south of Jerusalem where waste was and is tossed to be burned (as I observed it in 1988) or, in case of dead animal disposal, to lie until consumed by worms. In ancient times the bodies of criminals and other individuals denied burial were also disposed there. This was a continuous process in that place. The fires were and are burning continuously, being refueled by the deposition of more waste by the inhabitants of Jerusalem -- so also with the worms that infest the bodies; it was the city dump! The Lord took these graphic and terrible images and used them to describe the waste disposal at the Last Judgment because his disciples and the inhabitants of Jerusalem were familiar with the place. Refer to. the Parables of the Vine and the Tares, where the Lord gives images of the burning of the damned on that day.
Jn.15:6 If anyone be not dwelling in me, he was thrown out like the branch and was withered, and they gather them and throw [them] into the fire and it is burned.
Mt.13:30 Allow them to grow together until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the harvesters: Gather first the tares and bind them into bundles in order to burn them, but the wheat gather into my storehouse.
The King James Version of the Bible renders gehenna, or geenna, as "hell" which is sometimes misleading.
Here is your reference to Mark 9:
Mk:9:43 And if your hand stumble you, cut it off; It is good [that] deformed you enter into zoe-life than having your two hands depart into Gehenna, into the inextinguishable fire, 44 where their worm does not die and the fire does not extinguish. 45 And if your foot stumble you, cut it off, It is good [that] you enter into zoe-life crippled than having your two feet be thrown into Gehenna into the inextinguishable fire, 46 where their worms not die and the fire does not extinguish. 47 And if your eye stumble you, cast it out, for it is good [that] one-eyed you enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where their worm does not die and the fire does not extinguish.
There is no endless punishment for the unrepentant, but the graphic image of an accursed, burning place of waste disposal where individuals are consumed. He pictures the fire as inextinguishable, not as the endless torment of the individual, but as the continual refueling of the flames as in the Valley of Hinnom. His description of the worm that does not die is likewise due to the continual deposition of dead bodies in the valley, thus providing continuous food for the worms as they consume first one body then another.
You can read an informative article on Gehenna in Wikipedia.
Here is another Q&A posting that applies to your questions.