Your Daily Meditation on December 08, 2017 at 07:00AM

And if your right hand is snaring you, strike it off and cast it from you, for it is expedient for you that one of your members should perish, and not your whole body pass away into Gehenna. Matthew 5:30

Unlike eternal torment, Ge-Hinnom was used for a punishment that had a definite conclusion. However, unlike annihilation, its use in Jeremiah had nothing to do with punishment in the afterlife. When we find Jesus referring to Ge-Hinnom in a manner like Jeremiah, we have no reason to start with the assumption that Jesus intended this metaphor to refer to an otherworldly fire where God will keep people alive for all time just so they can suffer. When Jesus said it was better to lose one’s hand than to have their whole body thrown into Ge-Hinnom, he was calling for repentance in the face of national catastrophe, not a history ending judgment.

To understand the cultural force Ge-Hinnom carried for Jesus and his contemporaries, imagine if he had been a Germans prophet living in the late twentieth century, warning his compatriots that they risked burning in the fires of Auschwitz. Or imagine if a Japanese prophet told his contemporaries they would be punished in the fires of Hiroshima. It would have been a deeply offensive, revolting rebuke. Which is the point. For Jesus to have used such a place as a metaphor was not meant to disrespect its history, but to warn people just how close they were to repeating their ancestors’ mistakes.

From “Jesus and the End of Death” by Mark Edward