Many a street preacher has used the “lake of fire,” an image in Revelation, to depict God as a sadistic torturer who likes to roast unrepentant rebels like kalua pigs over an eternal spit once the stopwatch runs out.
But is torture really the point of this image? I would like to suggest, in contrast, that the lake of fire is an apocalyptic symbol for the smoldering rubble of Babylon. It depicts God’s judgment on empire, not the torture of individuals. The symbol does not promote a caricature of God as a sadistic torturer, but rather reclaims hope for a world torn apart under the destructive power of empire.