Eschatology

'Day and Night' and 'No Night' -- Do Revelation 14:11 and 22:5 Contradict Each Other?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
A reader asks, "If there will be no night in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:5), why does the Bible speak of "day and night" in Hell (Revelation 14:11)?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

A reader of The Profitable Word asks, "If there will be no night in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:5), why does the Bible speak of "day and night" in Hell (Revelation 14:11)?

Let's begin by looking at the two verses in our reader's question:

And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11)

There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

The phrase "day and night" (sometimes "night and day") is the English translation of idiomatic expressions in both Hebrew and Greek that emphasize the incessant nature of an activity or condition. These expressions appear dozens of times in Scripture. Here are but a few examples:

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. (Psalm 55:9-10)

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:5)

And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? (Luke 18:7)

Since these and other passages speak of the activities of man within the present time-constrained creation, there is a reference to activities occurring within the context of our earth days and nights. But the principal emphasis is not necessarily on the time of day or night in which something occurs, so much as it is on the incessant nature of the activity or condition.

In addition to the two Revelation passages in our reader's question, we also find the same words used in other parts of that book, in John's visions of events beyond the temporal realm of literal night and day:

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" (Revelation 4:8)

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them." (Revelation 7:13-15)

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down." (Revelation 12:10)

Clearly, the phrase "day and night" is used in these passages solely to emphasize the incessant nature of the activity - of the living creatures worshipping God before His throne, of tribulation saints serving God in the heavenly temple, and of Satan wrongfully accusing the brethren (cf. Romans 8:33).

The sum of all this is that there is no contradiction in these passages in Revelation. Hell will be a place of incessant darkness and torment (e.g., Jude 13), just as the New Jerusalem will be a place of incessant light and glory (Revelation 21:25, 22:5).

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