What is the significance of the phrase “Where the worm dieth not” found in Mark 9:48?

garden_wormWhat is the significance of the phrase “Where the worm dieth not” found in Mark 9:48?

The expression is used three times in Mark 9:42-48.  It is always preceded by a reference to “hell.”  The word for “hell” in these verses is the Greek word Gehenna.  The word comes from the name for a valley on the east side of the city of Jerusalem, the Valley of Hinnom.  The word Hinnom seems to be the proper name of a man whose son claimed the valley during the period of conquests during the time of Joshua (Joshua 15:8, 18:16).  The valley was used by the wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh to practice child sacrifice (2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6).  For this reason, the entire valley became an unclean place that no self-respecting Jew would want to traverse.  Josiah had this valley permanently defiled since it had been used for child sacrifice to the god Molech (2 Kings 23:10).  In Jesus time, since the valley had been permanently defiled, it was used as a trash dump.  There were constant fires burning in the valley, and the place was perpetually filled with maggots and other worms as any trash dump would be.  The word Gehenna became a synonym for hell.  Jesus refers to this valley as a symbol of hell, the place of eternal condemnation for the lost.  He means to communicate that hell will be a place of eternal destruction and putrification not necessarily that there will be physical fire and worms in that spiritual place.  The word Gehenna is translated “hell” twelve times in the King James Version (Mat.5:22, Mat.5:29-30, Mat.10:28, Mat.18:9, Mat.23:15, Mat.23:33, Mar.9:43, Mar.9:45, Mar.9:47, Jam.3:5-6).

All of these references to hell mean that it is a real place where some people will go when this life is over.  The Bible describes hell as a place of torment and punishment.  Matthew 10:28 says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  It is the place prepared for the devil and his angels where they will be forever (Matthew 25:41).  Revelation 20:10 says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  Also, Revelation 20:15 says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  Hell is an extremely unpleasant place to be (to put it mildly), and we do not want to go there!  Let’s resolve to obey God while we are here on earth so that we can be heirs according to His promises.