Q. I recently heard a well known evangelist comment that Isaiah 66:22-24 was evidence believers in heaven would take an “annual tour” to observe unbelievers in hell. When asked “for what purpose” he explained (paraphrased) so that we might appreciate how blessed we are to enjoy God’s favor in heaven. Since we are told there would be no more tears or sadness in heaven this explanation does not seem reasonable. I certainly would not be happy or consoled to see those suffering in hell especially if some of those suffering were known to me – and as an “annual event”?. What is your take on this scripture?
A. This is one of those passages that helps differentiate life in the New Jerusalem from life on Earth during the Millennium. Rev. 21:4 says there’ll be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away. It’s speaking about life in the New Jerusalem where the Church will dwell. As you say, this statement couldn’t be true if we had to visit the unsaved dead in their agony every year.
On Earth, it’s a different story. There will still be sin and death, and Isaiah’s account of the Millennium describes Israel and the nations during that time. Some Hebrew manuscripts of Isaiah 66:23-24 don’t include the word “all” in reference to mankind, so the Church is not necessarily included. And Zechariah 14:16-17 says this annual pilgrimage will take place on the Feast of Tabernacles and applies to all the people of Earth. Therefore, I believe those who make their periodic visitations to bow before the Lord and view the suffering of the unsaved during the Millennium are inhabitants of Earth and not the Church.