THE UNSAVED ARE REMEMBERED NO MORE. DOES THIS SIGNIFY ANNIHILATION?
Updated - 5/5/09
We read in Isaiah 65:17:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
We read about the former things not being remembered.
Based upon this verse and other similar verses, it is said that God does not remember the former things. We could include the unsaved as part of the “former things”.
Therefore, this seems to teach that the unsaved must be annihilated. Since, if the unsaved still exist in a place called the lake of fire, then doesn’t that mean that God would remember them?
We have to check this reasoning out in the Bible.
Actually, if God did annihilate the unsaved at the end of the world, He could still remember them or their shame, if he wanted to remember.
We must ask: According to the Bible, what does it mean for God to remember mankind?
God does use the idea of God remembering or forgetting in different ways in the Bible.
We get help in understanding what it means that God does not remember the unsaved by checking other passages.
We must follow the Biblical rule of 1 Corinthians 2:13 to compare Scripture with Scripture to understand what God means by words and phrases in the Bible. Therefore, we have to search the Bible to understand what it means that God does not remember someone.
Psalm 77:7-9 gives us help in understanding what it means that God does not remember the unsaved in eternity future. We read there:
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
The Psalmist is afflicted and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit asks this series of questions.
If we examine these questions, we find that basically, in this world, the answer to all of them is “no”.
For the unsaved in this world, God has not yet cast them off forever. The unsaved are cast away from God to some degree, but it is not yet forever. Today, there is still the possibility of being brought back to God.
God is still being favorable to unsaved people. The unsaved can still pray to God with the hope that God will save him. In addition, every day God shows favor or kindness to all mankind in providing for him (Matthew 5:45, Acts 14:17).
God’s mercies are not yet clean gone forever. God’s mercies are still possible in this world today for even the most wicked sinner.
His promise that He is saving has not yet failed forevermore. The Hebrew word translated “promise” in verse 8 is mostly translated “word”. The Word of God talks about God’s mercy and God’s salvation. God’s promise or word of salvation has not yet failed forevermore.
Looking at the last part of verse 9, God has not yet shut up His tender mercies. Salvation is still possible for the worse sinner.
Finally, God has not yet forgotten to be gracious.
Today, the answer to all of the questions in Psalm 77:7-9 is “no”.
We see that today the answer to all of the questions in Psalm 77:7-9, even for the worst sinner, is basically “no”. In this world, for the unsaved, the answer to all of these questions is “no”.
However, when we get to eternity. For the unsaved cast into the lake of fire, the answer to all of these questions sadly becomes “yes”.
The unsaved are eternally cast away from God. God will show them no favor. God’s mercy will be clean gone forever.
Here are a few verses that teach that God’s mercies towards the unsaved come to an end at Judgment Day:
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
For the true believer, God’s mercy rejoiceth against judgment because Christ has paid for all of his sins. However, for the unsaved, according to James 2:13 there will be judgment without mercy.
We read more verses:
Psalms 59:5 Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.
Isaiah 9:17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.
Jeremiah 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
These are some verses in which God teaches that He will show no mercy nor favour towards the unsaved at Judgment Day.
Today, God shows mercy and favor towards the unsaved. There is still the possibility of salvation, God’s eternal mercy.
However, according to the Bible, when we get to Judgment Day, there will be no more mercy for the unsaved.
The promise or word of salvation will be gone. His tender mercies will be shut up from the unsaved and finally, God will have forgotten to be gracious.
In eternity future for the unsaved the answer to all of the questions in Psalm 77:7-9 will become “yes”.
We can think about the rich man in hell in Luke 16:19-31. For him, there is no possibility of mercy. The answer to all of the above questions in Psalm 77:7-9 has become “yes”. That includes the question: Has God forgotten to be gracious? In eternity, the answer will be “yes”. The unsaved will never be remembered again for any possibility of mercy.
In eternity future for the unsaved, God will have “forgotten to be gracious”.
Psalm 77:7-9 teaches that when God talks about forgetting or not remembering the unsaved, it can mean that God has “forgotten to be gracious”. That is, for the unsaved in the lake of fire there will be no possibility of mercy. God has forgotten about being gracious anymore.
We see other verses that confirm that God does use the idea of God forgetting or not remembering in the sense of forgetting to be merciful.
It does not mean that God’s memory literally fails. Nor, does it mean the unsaved don’t exist. Rather, it means God will no longer remember to be gracious.
We read two verses in which God talks about forgetting people in the sense of leaving them in misery:
Psalms 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psalms 44:24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
In Psalm 42:9 the Psalmist is complaining that God has forgotten about him. It does not mean that the Psalmist does not exist. Rather, it means that God has not come to help him in his difficult situation. God has “forgotten to be gracious” to him and rescue him from his difficulty.
In this world, there is still hope for every unsaved person that God might remember him and might save them. However, in eternity future, for the unsaved cast into the lake of fire, God will forever have “forgotten to be gracious”.
In Psalm 44:24 we see that God has forgotten the affliction of the Psalmist. It does not mean that the Psalmist does not exist. Rather, it means that God has left him in his difficult situation. God is not acting to help him.
Let’s consider additional verses where God defines what it means that God does not remember someone.
We read in Psalm 13:1-2:
1 <<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>> How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
The Psalmist, David, is crying out to God for mercy. He is asking God “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD?”.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David identifies being forgotten by God with God hiding his face and not helping David in his misery.
For God to hide His face means that God is not helping David. God is leaving David in his afflictions.
The fact that God has forgotten David in Psalm 13:1-2 does not mean that David does not exist. Rather, it means that God is not helping David in his afflictions. God has “forgotten” about David and his afflictions. God is not helping David.
In the same way, Isaiah 65:17 is teaching that at Judgment Day when God casts the unsaved into the lake of fire, He will eternally “forget” about them and their afflictions. They will still exist, but God will not “remember” to hear their cries and help them.
We read another passage that talks about God forgetting in Isaiah 49:13-15.
We read there:
13 ¶ Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
14 But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Isaiah 49:14 links God forgetting someone to God forsaking that person. For someone to be forsaken by God does not mean that this person does not exist. Rather, it means that God has left that person in their afflictions. God is not helping nor listening to the needs of that person.
Isaiah 49:14 confirms the definition that for God to forget someone does not mean that this person does not exist. Rather, it means that God has abandoned that person. When God casts the unsaved into the lake of fire, He will eternally abandon them.
We read more about God forgetting mankind in Lamentations 5:20-22. We read there:
20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
22 But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.
is talking about God’s wrath upon the churches at the end of the church age,
starting in 1988. The historical example was ancient
In Lamentations 5:20, Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that God has “forget” the churches and congregations. Verse 20 links God forgetting the churches to God forsaking the churches.
The fact that God has forgotten the churches does not mean that the church people do not exist. Rather, it means that God has forsaken them. While people are in the churches in our day, God has “forgotten to be gracious” to them.
The church people still exist, but God has “forgotten to be gracious” to them.
We have seen several verses that define what it means that God has “forgotten” or not “remembered” someone. These verses define that to mean that God has “forgotten to be gracious” to them.
The statement in Isaiah 65:17 “former shall not be remembered” means that for the unsaved cast into the lake of fire, God will not remember to be gracias to them. The unsaved will still exist but God will not remember to hear the cries of the unsaved in the lake of fire.
Let’s look at more verses that teach what it means that God “remembers” or “forgets” people.
God remembers His mercy and His Gospel program for those He saves
For example we read in Psalm 98:3:
He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the
Psalm 98:3 means that God has become active in performing His mercy and truth.
When God saves someone, it means that God has “remembered” his mercy for that person, to use the language of Psalm 98:3.
The opposite is that if God has forgotten someone, then it means that God has not shown mercy to him.
Following this line of reasoning, the unsaved in the lake of fire will be eternally forgotten by God. He will have “forgotten to be gracious” to them.
God remembered Hannah in fulfilling her petition
We read two verses about God remembering Hannah, the mother of Samuel. God remembered her in the sense that God gave her the petition that she requested.
1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
1 Samuel 1:19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.
In verse 11, Hannah is asking that God would not forget her, but that God would remember her. Then, in verse 19 the Bible says that God remembered Hannah.
God is not using the words “forget” and “remember” in the sense of Hannah’s existence. Rather, in these verses “forget” and “remember” have to do with God’s hearing and responding to Hannah’s request.
Hannah is asking that God would not “forget to be gracious” to her in granting her petition.
In this passage, if God had not remembered Hannah, it would not mean that Hannah did not exist. Rather, it would mean that God did not grant her request.
God will forget the unsaved in the lake of fire in the sense that He will not fulfill their petitions or cries for mercy. He will not show mercy to them.
In the same way, when the unsaved are cast in the lake of fire, God will not grant any pleas for mercy. God will have forgotten to be gracious according to the language of Psalm 77:9.
This matches the language of Luke 16:23-26:
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The rich man is asking Abraham for mercy to reduce his suffering. Abraham represents God in this case. But, that petition is not granted because for the unsaved in the lake of fire, God has forgotten to be gracious.
The next phrase we read in Isaiah 65:17 is "nor come into mind."
The word "mind" here is normally translated "heart" and identifies with the whole being. This word "heart" is used a lot, but we can understand what God is saying in this phrase of Isaiah 65:17 by considering some verses with the same Hebrew word:
Jeremiah 3:15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
The word “heart” in Jeremiah 3:15 is the same Hebrew word as “mind” in Isaiah 65:17.
Here God is talking about those He plans to save. This possibility still exists for any of the unsaved in our day. God's heart is toward those He plans to save. It is possible for mercy to come into God's heart today for anyone who is not saved. However, mercy towards someone in lake of fire will not "come into God's heart or mind". There is no possibility of salvation once we are cast into the lake of fire.
We read another verse with this same Hebrew word “mind” from Isaiah 65:17 translated as “heart”:
Jeremiah 32:41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
Here again, God is talking about His mercy. God says that with His heart or His whole being, God bestows mercy upon those that He saves. But, for those in the lake of fire, the possibility of mercy will not come into God's heart or mind.
So, we see that the warning of Isaiah 65:17 for the unsaved is that once they end up in the lake of fire, they will be forgotten by God. The idea of mercy towards them will not come into God's heart or mind. There will be no hope for salvation for them.
With the help of other verses, we see that God does use the idea that God does not remember the unsaved, such as indicated in Isaiah 65:17, to mean that He has forgotten to be gracious to them. God is not teaching in Isaiah 65:17 that the unsaved do not exist. Rather, God is teaching that once the unsaved are cast into the lake fire, He will never remember to be gracious to them.
In eternity future the unsaved are hid from God’s eyes. Does this mean they don’t exist?
We read Isaiah 65:16:
That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
Isaiah 65:16 also makes reference to God forgetting about the “former things”. We can say that the “former things” include the unsaved.
In the above study of Isaiah 65:17 we found that God uses the idea of God “forgetting” the unsaved in the sense that God has “forgotten to be gracious” to them. He will not hear any petitions from them. We have found that God will forget the unsaved in eternity future but this does not mean that the unsaved don’t exist.
What about the phrase “hid from mine eyes”?
We read in Isaiah 65:16 that the “former troubles” are hid from God’s eyes. If we include the unsaved in the “former troubles” then we might be inclined to conclude that the unsaved will not exist in eternity future. After all, there are verses that declare that God sees everything.
Let’s examine the Bible to see what it means that God’s eyes are hid from the unsaved in eternity future.
Actually, God uses the idea of the eyes of God in several different ways in the Bible.
Sometimes God talks about the eyes of God in the sense that He is looking toward man to bless him. For example, we read in Isaiah 1:15:
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Isaiah 1 God is talking about ancient
Because the people of God won’t listen to the Bible with a desire to obey the Bible, God tells them that He will not hear their prayers. In verse 15 above, God says that when they pray to Him, He will not hear. That is, God will not grant their petitions.
Notice that God also says that He will hide his eyes from them. It is not that God literally cannot see them or their sin. Rather, God will not look to them with any intention of blessing them.
Notice the parallel language about the “hiding of eyes” in Isaiah 1:15 and Isaiah 65:16:
Isaiah 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Isaiah 65:16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.
Isaiah 1:15 declares that God can hide his eyes from the unsaved in the sense that He does not hear their prayers. God does not look towards the unsaved with the intention of blessing them.
Isaiah 65:16 says that the “former troubles”, which can include the unsaved, are hidden from God’s eyes.
With the help of Isaiah 1:15, we see that Isaiah 65:16 can be teaching that God will not hear any pleas for mercy from the unsaved in the lake of fire, who are part of the “former troubles”. He will not look towards them with the intention of blessing them.
Isaiah 1:15 helps us to understand what Isaiah 65:16 is teaching by the phrase that former troubles, including the unsaved, are hid from God’s eyes. It means that God will not, in any way, look towards the unsaved in the lake of fire to give them any mercy or to hear any pleas they may make.
We see this teaching also in Psalms 34:15:
The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
God quotes this verse in 1 Peter 3:12:
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Here God is using His eyes in the sense that He is looking to the righteous with the intention of blessing them. God ties this into the fact that His ears are open to their prayers.
Psalm 34:15 and 1 Peter 3:12 teach that God does refer to the eyes of the God in the sense that God is looking towards the believers to bless them and to answer their prayers.
It is not that God can see the believers and not see the unbelievers. Rather, Psalm 34:15, 1 Peter 3:12 and Isaiah 1:15 are teaching that the eyes of the Lord are upon the believers in the sense that He is ready to hear their prayers and to bless them.
For those that are in continuing rebellion and not coming to God humbly, God’s eyes are not upon them in the sense that God is not looking to them to bless them.
We read a similar verse in Micah 3:4:
Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
In Micah 3:4 we read a similar verse in which God is faulting His people. God is saying that they shall cry unto God, but He will not hear them. It is not that God literally cannot hear the cry of His corporate people. Rather, God will not hear with the intention of answering their petitions.
In the same way, God says He will hid his “face” from them. The “face” includes the eyes but expands beyond just the eyes to include the whole character of God.
Micah 3:4 is also teaching that God uses the figure of hiding His face or His eyes to mean that He is not looking to those continuing in rebellion to bless them.
It is not that God does not see His people nor literally hear them. Rather, God will not listen to any petitions nor will God look to them with any intention of blessing them.
We have seen several verses in which God uses the idea that God’s eyes are upon the righteous in the sense that He is blessing them and His eyes are not upon those continuing in rebellion in the sense that He is not looking to bless them.
These verses help us to understand the language of Isaiah 65:16.
God does use the idea of “God’s eyes are hid” from the unsaved in the sense that God is not looking towards them with the intention of blessing them. It does not mean that they don’t exist. For the unsaved in the lake of fire, God will never look to them with any intention of blessing them.