Question: I know the question “Did Jesus Visit Hell?” is asked and answered in this column. I have a similiar question. When Jesus was on the cross and said something like, “God, why have you forsaken me?,” was he separated from God? And if he was separated from God, does that mean that for an unspecified time he was in hell, visiting there for all sinners?
Answer: He was essentially in hell, not physically, of course, but spiritually. I view hell as a place, but more than that, it is a place separated in some sense from God. It cannot be entirely separated from God because, of course, God is omnipresent. But it is a place without God’s manifested presence, His presence manifested in ways that brings life to people’s souls. It therefore feels like a fiery torment. Jesus experienced spiritual separation from the Father and was experiencing the soul piercing pain of the absence of God’s manifested presence in his life. What this says to me is that even unbelievers are able to thrive to one extent or another in life because God is making His presence known in them at a level they don’t even recognize. They will recognize its absence, however, in hell.