Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but this is my one aim:
to forget everything that's behind, and to strain every nerve to go after what lies ahead.
I press on toward the finish line, where the prize waiting for me is the upward call of God
(Philippians 3:13-14)
by – Stuart H. Pouliot
January 20, 2011
Brimstone—Agent of Love
It can be stated without much, if any, contradiction that when most people hear the word brimstone , they conjure
up images of people being tormented (actually, more like tortured) in a fiery place called hell . If you have followed
my writings, you know that I abhor such a thought, for it maligns the loving and merciful character of God, and,
besides, it is not based on scripture but on pagan imagery.
In the physical sense, the English word brimstone simply refers to sulfur (sulphur). The word is traced to the Old
English word brynstan , which is made up of brin , meaning "to burn," and stan , meaning "stone." Taken from the
ground, sulfur, which has the atomic number 16, appears as a bright yellow crystalline solid that burns easily; hence,
it is called a burning stone .
Sulfur is one of the oldest known substances used as a fungicide (kills fungus) and pesticide (kills pests). It is a
component in fertilizer, black gun powder, and matches, and is used in the process of manufacturing cellophane,
rayon, rubber, bleaching paper, and a host of other products. Also, it is an essential element of life, being found in
two amino acids, cysteine and methionine, and it is used to save lives and fight infections by being formulated into
a form of drug called sulfa drugs . As such, in a physical or natural sense, sulfur is not a bad thing, for it has many
good uses, especially when it comes to life and its preservation. On the other hand, it can also be used to kill.
However, when it comes to its spiritual meaning or application, the traditions of men have built up quite a bias
against the word brimstone . Bible dictionaries generally identify brimstone as sulfur (sulphur), an inflammable
mineral substance found in quantities on the shores of the Dead Sea, which is a most appropriate understanding of
the word. However, most go on to define it as denoting destruction or punishment and expressing the idea of
excruciating torment. This is based on the literal destruction of the ancient cities on the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah,
and on a literal and torturous lake of fire.
The question is this: Is there a spiritual meaning to brimstone that goes beyond physical destruction of the flesh?
Of course, I reject the excruciating torment part.
The first mention of brimstone is found in the account of the Lord judging Sodom and Gomorrah by totally
destroying the cities of the plain by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24-25). There was no torture in this judgment;
it was simply a total destruction of the city and its inhabitants. In this account, the word brimstone is translated
from the Hebrew word gophriyth , which is related to cypress resin and, by analogy, inflammable (burning) sulphur,
and is derived from the Hebrew word gopher , which is identified with a type of wood, in particular, cypress wood.
If you recall, Noah was commanded to make the ark out of gopher wood (Genesis 6:14).
The Greek word for brimstone is theion , which conveys the sense of flashing, as in inflammable sulphur, and is
derived from theios , which means " divine, godhead ." We discover this word in the first and last mention of
brimstone in the new testament.
But on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone [ theion ] from heaven and destroyed
them all. (Luke 17:29 NASB)
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers
and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone [ theion ], which is
the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NASB)
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Brimstone—Agent of Love
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Now, putting all these notes together, spiritually speaking, it is proposed that brimstone denotes something good,
not bad, for it speaks of God's means of cleansing the flesh of man. In the physical sense, it was used to literally
destroy sinful flesh (i.e., death of the body, not torture), but, in the spiritual sense, it signifies (figuratively speaking)
the cleansing of man from his sinful nature and works of the flesh. Its ultimate purpose is salvation, not destruction
or annihilation. Let us consider a few points.
First, generally, the first mention of a Hebrew word in the old testament sets the meaning for the Greek word in
the new testament when the same Hebrew verse is repeated or referenced in the new testament. As such, in its
primal meaning, brimstone refers to gopher wood , which was used to save Noah and his family who were brought
safely through the water; in type, baptized into Christ through His resurrection (1 Peter 3:20-21). Salvation!
Second, in the Greek, brimstone is also connected to that which is divine . Many probably think of it as connected to
Satan and hell, but this is not so, for there is a divine meaning attached to brimstone.
Third, brimstone is like a sulfa drug used to fight off infection and disease in the mortal body. In the spiritual sense,
it signifies the agent by which God cleanses or, if you will, purges unbelievers from the works or deeds of the flesh
(Revelation 20:13). All the wicked or unjust will be judged before the great white throne and will have a part in the
lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. As I have written elsewhere, the lake of fire
signifies the righteous and holy law of God that will purge (cleanse) the wicked of their works of the flesh, teach
them righteousness, make restitution for their evil deeds against others, and, ultimately, reconcile and restore them
to God. The second death is the death of their works of sinful flesh, not annihilation of their existence or torture of
their body. We could say that brimstone is the treatment of disease (sinful deeds) and the preserver of life .
Fourth, the atomic number for sulfur is 16, which is the number of love. God is love, and in His love He mercifully
judges, even the unjust, for the purpose of leading all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth through
the man Christ Jesus (Anointed, Messiah) who gave Himself a ransom for all, not just some or a few but ALL (1
Timothy 2:4-6). Thus, at the heart of brimstone is God is love !
Fifth, the gematria for the Hebrew word for brimstone is 693, which is a factor of 9 times 77. The number 9 signifies
judgment, and the number 7 signifies divine perfection or perfection of what is in view. The number 77 could signify
a double witness. As a whole, these numbers all point to God's perfect judgment. Thus, brimstone signifies God
bringing about His divine, perfect order that will ultimately include the unjust. At the consummation of the ages,
the unrighteous will join the ranks of the righteous company of God.
Sixth, the gematria for brimstone in Greek is 144, which signifies God's chosen ones destined for the resurrection
out from among the dead. 144 is also the multiplication of 12 by 12, and the number 12 signifies divine government
or the perfection of divine government ; and is the primary number of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21-22). Brimstone
is not directly associated with the resurrection of the saints; but, what about brimstone being associated with God
establishing His divine government on a new earth that has been cleansed from all deeds of sinful flesh (2 Peter
3:10)? However, to bring all mankind into His kingdom and immortality, He must purge the unjust, those outside
New Jerusalem, as well. Thus, fire and brimstone are God's way of establishing His divine government in the hearts
of all mankind, none excluded.
In conclusion, brimstone could be called the sulfa drug of God that will cleanse and purge all mankind of sinful
deeds, so that by the consummation of the ages, all will be restored to God, so that the Father will be All in All new
(1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Revelation 21:5), proving love never fails!
Brimstone is the agent of love!
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11:33)