Early Christianity recognized the allusion to Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures of Ps. 91. The impetus for this understanding undoubtedly comes from the account in the Gospels where Christ is confronted by Satan. The Tempter knew about the riddle of Gen. 3.15 and was trying to see if Jesus was the One who would crush him. The Devil guessed wrong about Jesus and caused Him to be crucified thus made Jesus a sacrifice (offered by two Jewish High Priests: Caiaphas and Annas). The crushing part will happen in the future when Christ returns. Therefore, even though the Tempter literally caused Jesus’ heel to be pierced in the crucifixion, that act demonstrated God’s love and provided a sin offering for humanity.
Since death could not hold Jesus He obtained redemption of humans through His resurrection. All who trust in Christ and His work on the cross and over the grave will see His face. The Devil made his biggest mistake by letting Jesus be crucified since it opened the door for the Spirit to indwell humans (which couldn’t happen it seems until Christ ascended the throne). 1 Cor. 2.8 speaks to this: None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (NIV). This is a reference primarily to spirit entities and human rulers only secondarily. These were the powers, principalities, rulers of this dark world who mistakenly enabled Christ to redeem His people and send the Holy Spirit in their hearts as a deposit.
Here are some artistically wrought ivory book covers depicting Christ treading upon the “young lion and cobra” of Ps. 91. 13:
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written in your hearts, known and read by everyone. (2 Cor. 3.1-2)
Here is the late Edward Fudge in a video from 2011. He argues effectively for the consuming of the wicked (after requisite punishment) at God’s judgment. Though I should have read his book by now, I’ve never. I hold to his position concerning the outcome of unredeemed sinners from my own studies and snippets from others’ positions whom I investigated using exegetical resources. The bible is my ultimate authority so I studied this concept to see if it was in the text.
My former pastor and seminary president was Richard V. Clearwaters who held the consuming position also. However, at that time I was smugly sitting in the pew proud that I was sort of “more orthodox” than my pastor since I held to the traditionalist eternal torment position. The motivations for my late and former pastor are not my own today. He voiced the reason for his conclusion largely as a result of the death of his unsaved brother for whom he felt responsible. Clearwaters often described the relief he felt after realizing his brother would not suffer eternal torment. Indeed, who can comprehend eternal torment of humans?
My adherence flowed out of understanding the idea of immortality denied Adam and Eve in their fallen state. If humans are invested with native immortality, then expulsion from the tree of life was superfluous. So, for me, I reviewed the doctrine and the arguments which underpinned the traditional position and started to find assumptions which were philosophical and not biblical.
Here is a nice summary of the arguments from his book “The Fire that Consumes.”
I commend a newly-published study of what is called “harmonization” of texts of the Gospels: Cambry G. Pardee, Scribal Harmonization in the Synoptic Gospels, NTTSD, 60 (Leiden: Brill, 2019). I have just completed a larger review for Review of Biblical Literature which won’t appear till November this year, but the book deserves to be noticed […]