There are other accounts of the state after death given, e.g. in Job 10,21-22. Isa. 14,9-19. Ezek. 28,18; 32,21-32. These do not coincide with the first picture of worm and fire, nor with each other, but are all attempts to make clear to the reader some side of the condition of death. The actual facts, however, which it is intended to illustrate, are those given us of Our Lord's death: His body was in the tomb,3 His spirit had returned to God,4 and His soul was in Hades suffering "the pains of death".5 With this agrees Paul's "absent from the body".6 Job's "darkness" pictures the complete blotting out of all perception after death: Isaiah's fire and worm the awful fact that the body has been destroyed in Hell (Matt. 10,28): Isaiah's "thrones" the contrast between the death of Lucifer, Hitler, and Mussolini, cast out like abominable branches, carcases trodden underfoot (Isa. 14,19), and that of Edward the sixth and George the fifth! Ezekiel's "ashes" picture the final destruction of Lucifer's body (c.f. Isaiah's worm in 14,11), and his "bed" (Ezek. 32,25) the long physical sleep of death. So the comfort of Lazarus points to the cessation of his earthly sores. Bringing, however, all these various passages together literally one would be forced to state that Scripture says that the dead in Hades are sitting on thrones, sleeping in beds, being eaten and covered by worms, groping in darkness, burning in a blazing lake! It is only by vivid pictures that God can give us a full view of the nature of death and illustrate the various pains of disembodiment.
Some may have the thought that physical pain in fire would be more awful than disembodiment, and look upon the latter as an attempt to belittle the fearful nature of Hell. Yet actually is there any worse condition even upon the earth than a creeping paralysis which kills the senses one after another, touch, sight, hearing, speech, taste, and finally leaves the soul helpless and hopeless in an immobile body? So at death the soul finds itself bereft of all its senses, bodiless, inert and hopeless. The feelings of such a soul are given in Ps. 73,19, "utterly consumed with terrors." Yet the vital point is that this frightful condition is due not to God's desire to hurt, but simply to His inescapable duty of depriving them of their bodies, which they would only misuse to the hurt of others.