(Photo: Dan Delzell)
It has been dubbed the "Hell Ship." It was the Carnival cruise that went horribly wrong two weeks ago after the ship lost power in an engine-room fire. And while it may have seemed like being in hell for the 4200 or so passengers who endured the stench and heat of that arduous journey back to land, there are some notable differences between their ordeal on the cruise ship....and the reality of eternal hell.
Here are 7 big differences between Carnival's "Hell Ship" and Hades.
1. Carnival Cruise Lines gave no warning ahead of time that this might happen. No one saw it coming, and least of all the passengers. In comparison, there are plenty of warnings in the Bible about Hades. In fact, Jesus spoke often about the reality of this place which many people enter after they die. (see Matt. 5:22; Matt. 5:29,30; Matt. 7:13,14; Matt. 8:12; Matt. 10:28; Matt. 11:23,24; Matt. 13:49,50; Matt. 16:18; Matt. 18:8,9; Matt. 18:34,35; Matt. 22:13; Matt. 23:15,33; Matt. 25:30; Matt. 25:41; Matt. 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 10:15; Luke 12:5; Luke 16:22-24)
2. The passengers on the "Hell Ship" spent five miserable days at sea longing to get home. In comparison, Hades is a place of "agony" and "torment" where the misery never comes to an end. The rich man in Luke 16 who went to Hades said, "I am in agony in this fire." (Luke 16:24) His suffering continues this very minute and is far worse than what those passengers endured for five days.
3. The passengers on the "Hell Ship" were able to see land long before the ship arrived in port. This made it even harder to be patient. In Luke 16, the rich man had a similar experience. "In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side." (Luke 16:23) Unlike the passengers who eventually made it to the port they had seen off in the distance, this rich man and everyone else in Hades will never make it to heaven to be with Abraham and Lazarus and all of God's children.
4. The passengers were able to get off the ship in Mobile, Alabama, and return to a life of relative comfort. People in Hades, by comparison, will only get out when they come before God on Judgment Day. They will then be sent to "Gehenna," which is the eternal fire. "Hades" and "Gehenna" are the Greek words in the New Testament which are both translated "hell." Hades is where lost souls go before Judgment Day. Gehenna, or the lake of fire, is where lost souls go after Judgment Day. Hades itself will one day be "thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14) Once you find yourself in Hades, there will never be a stop at a port that will return you to a place of comfort.
5. The passengers bought tickets to go on that Carnival cruise. Their money will now be refunded, along with other payments. Likewise, Hades is a place people pay to go to as well. However, you don't buy your way to Hades with money, but rather, with your sin. Your transgressions against God earn your "ticket" there. And in case you are wondering if your sin is "bad enough" for you to deserve a trip to Hades, check this out: "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (James 2:10) God's Word makes it clear that all of us deserve to go to Hades because we have all disobeyed God.
6. Some passengers maintained a sense of hope even during the difficult days on the "Hell Ship." Joseph Alvarez said some passengers formed a Bible study group. "It lifted up our souls and gave us hope that we would get back." In Hades, there are no Bible studies....and not a single person in Hades has even a glimmer of hope of ever getting out.
7. The way to avoid this sort of fiasco on a future Carnival cruise is to just stay on dry land. The way to avoid Hades is to trust Jesus to wash away your sin with the blood which He shed for you on the cross. Kendall Jenkins said, "This is my first and last cruise. So if anyone wants my free cruise, look me up." In comparison, God offers a free trip which is guaranteed. "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." (Revelation 22:17)
Well there you have it....7 differences between Carnival's "Hell Ship" and Hades. One nightmare lasted about five days....the other never ends. It simply moves a person from Hades....to Judgment Day....to Gehenna....with no hope....and no relief....and no port to dock in with an end to the anguish. Even if you don't take heaven and hell seriously today, just remember this....God certainly does....and that should be enough to get your attention.
It is fascinating how people often use the words "heaven" and "hell" to describe the best and worst experiences in life....even if they don't necessarily believe that heaven and hell are real places of eternal existence. Why do you suppose people are so attached to these words and these ideas? I believe it is because "God has set eternity in the hearts of men." (Eccl. 3:11) Deep down, each of knows that this life is not all there is to our existence. "Death," as they say, "is only the beginning."
If it can happen to cruise passengers who didn't see it coming, then stop and think about what else is out there that many people don't see coming. Jesus loved us enough to leave heaven and come to earth to pay for our sins on the cross, thereby earning a "cruise to paradise" of sorts for anyone who wants to go to heaven with Him. It's an experience that will never end....and will never get boring, to say the least.
Are you ready to sign up? Would you like to escape hell, and make it to heaven? Of course you would. Who in their right mind would ever want to ride a "Hell Ship" into eternity? Well then....today is the day to repent of your sin....and get connected to Jesus through faith. Then just begin to live for Him with all of your heart. What an awesome way to spend your life....living for your Creator....and riding off into the sunset on that ship where Christ is the captain.
Whatever you do, don't get stuck paying for your own sin in hell....especially after all that Jesus did to earn your "get out of hell free card." And don't be swayed by those misguided souls who say they are looking forward to going to hell so they can party there with their friends. They have no idea how far off their perception is from reality. Just think about the perception which those 4200 passengers had about the fantastic cruise they had seen advertised on the television commercials.
There is perception....and then there is reality. Which one are you guided by today when it comes to heaven and hell? God's free gift of eternal life in paradise is available to anyone who will bring their sin to Christ and accept Him as their Savior. You could go on a cruise every week for the rest of your life, but it still wouldn't begin to compare with the treasure that God is offering you today, tomorrow and forever.