“Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;”
To the rebellious Israelites (those on His left), God had told them to depart from Him into what He called the “eternal fire” which He used figuratively. If the rebellious died, they were dead from now on. There is no eternal life of the wicked. For the wicked, there is only everlasting death. God gives the reason for them being separated from Him, “cursed.” You have sinned and would not come unto Me that you might have life. No good work has proceeded from your hand, because of your carnal mind; which is enmity against Me and it reigned in your heart; and you would not have Me reign over you. We see here, plainly, why sinners are destroyed; not because there was no salvation offered for them, but because they neglected to receive good and do good. As they received not Jesus who was offered to/for them, so they could not do the work of righteousness which was required of them. They were cursed, because they refused to be blessed; and they are damned, because they refused to be saved.
The main truth intended to be taught refers not to the MANNER of suffering, but to the CERTAINTY and INTENSITY of it. That this image was well known to the Jews (Isaiah 66:24), and therefore expressed the idea in a very strong manner.
Let me tell you what it is not – it is not reasonable to suppose that a mode of punishment will be adopted suited to the decaying body – perhaps bearing some analogy to suffering here, in its various forms of flames, cold, heat, disease, ungratified desire, and remorse – perhaps the concentration of all earthly woes, all that makes man miserable here, poured upon the naked body and spirit of the wicked in hell forever and ever. No, no, no – no way! You can order my book entitled Satan, The Devil and The Adversary. But God dealt with the Israelites after this scripture …
“10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” — 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-14 –NASV).
He also presented practical lessons for the Israelites who would be living at that time (24:32-51 66-74 A.D.), encouraging them to faithfulness, watchfulness and preparedness. By way of application, these lessons are relevant to all believers in any period, even in 2017.