"Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41 NRSV).
I would like to know if on the last judgment and at the end of time Hell or Hades will continue to exist?
Chapter 25 in the Gospel of Matthew is an extensive discourse on the power of the choices we make, and the importance of right discernment. It begins with the parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, five of whom were prepared for the delayed arrival of the bridegroom and five of whom were not. The moral of that parable is "Keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Matthew 25:13).
Jesus then turns to the parable of the Ten Talents: Three servants are entrusted with talents (sums of money) by their master, who then leaves on a long journey. When he returns, he calls each servant in turn to account for the talents each had received. Two of them had invested their talents wisely, reaping a profit and earning the pleasure of the master and financial reward besides. The third had fearfully hidden his talent away, and had no talent, but only the one talent to return. He is dismissed from the household, and his one talent given to the more successful of the other servants. Moral: "For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
These parables may both seem harsh – to foolish bridesmaids and fearful servants, at least – but the point is clear, I think. Choices have consequences. If we choose to ignore the need to keep our spiritual lamps full, or if we hide our unique, God-given talents away and refuse to use them out of fear, the results of those choices will be to exclude us from the new dimension of consciousness that Jesus describes as the kingdom of heaven. If we keep our lamps filled, and at the same time freely invest our talents so that our unique spiritual gifts produce much good in our own lives and in the world, then our faith and confidence will allow us to move up to the new consciousness.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all his angels with him," Jesus explains at Matthew 25:31, "then he will sit on the throne of his glory." Metaphysically, the Son of Man is not Jesus – or not merely Jesus – but rather the Christ – the Oneness with God that is our true identity, the Oneness that Jesus achieved and demonstrated and calls each of us to find within ourselves. At that "second coming" – the coming of full Christ consciousness to each of us – we will need to "separate the sheep from the goats" (Matthew 25:32). We will need to recognize and embrace those thoughts and energies in consciousness that are loving, affirmative, faith-based and choose to bring them with us into the new consciousness. And we'll equally need to recognize those thoughts and energies that are fear-based, negative, selfish and leave them behind.
Metaphysically, then, we're not dealing with a literal place called Hell, or Hades. Hell is traditionally defined as a place of great suffering, defined by the absence of God. But the Power of God is omnipresent; there can be no place where God is not. And a God of infinite love would not insist on eternal suffering for any of God's creatures.
Fire can be painful, to be sure; but it is also an agent of purification. Those "goats" on the left judged to be unworthy of the kingdom are not doomed for all eternity. They are sent out – perhaps into another life experience – to be purified, so that eventually they, too, will be appropriate to the kingdom consciousness, and welcomed in. The process is not pleasant – as most of us can attest through our own live experiences – but the outcome is never in doubt. We can leave the torments of Hell whenever we are ready to release our negative, fear-based thoughts and replace them with the energy of infinite love and infinite possibility that is God. How long we stay in torment until that happens is entirely up to us.