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Lazarus and the Rich Man

The Bible explains the meaning of this well known parable of Jesus - it is not what you have probably been taught



     When Jesus was asked the question of WHY He spoke in
parables He answered, "You shall  indeed hear but never
perceive. For this the people's heart has grown dull, and
their ears are heavy of hearing and their eyes they have closed, 
lest they should perceive with their eyes and hear with their
ears and understand with their heart and turn for me to heal
them. But blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for
they hear" (Mat.13:l4-17). As we turn to Luke 16 and the parable
of Lazarus and The Rich Man may we be blessed with understanding.
       
                     HEAVEN OR HELL AT DEATH

     Can you imagine being up in heaven and looking down on loved
ones suffering, writhing and screaming in the fires of hell for
all eternity?  But this is what you have probably been taught is
the everlasting fate for those who didn't "get saved" or never
had the name of Jesus preached to them. Do we go to heaven
instantly upon death if we have "been a good person" or to an
everburning inferno of eternal torture if we have "been a
bad person"? 
Those who believe we do, have used the parable of Lazarus and
The Rich Man probably more than any other part of scripture to
uphold their teaching. God admonishes us through Isaiah to
compare the scriptures, "...line upon line, here a little - there
a little..." (chap. 28:10-13).
We read in 2 Tim. 2:15  "Study to show thyself approved unto
God...rightly dividing the word of God."
       
     Let us examine the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man very
closely.
       
     Jesus said, "There was a certain rich man, which was
clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every
day..."  Now we are to contrast this with Lazarus, a beggar who
laid at the rich man's gate, full of sores. He desired to be
fed with the crumbs which, fell from the rich man's table. The
name Lazarus is a contradiction from FLIEZAR, which signifies
the help or assistance of God. Lazarus dies and is carried 
into Abraham's bosom (v.  22). Jesus did not say that the beggar
went to heaven, but "was carried by the angels  into Abraham's
BOSOM."
       
     The dictionary defines bosom as,  "the upper part of the
body between the arms" and so as,  "deep innermost part of a
human",  as "a bosom-buddy - close,  trusted,  intimate,  very
dear,  take to the bosom, embrace,  cherish."
       
     Lazarus was carried BY THE ANGELS (we shall  study this 
later) into an intimate,  close relationship with Abraham.   The
beggar here represents those who receive salvation. Do people, 
upon being converted and accepting Jesus as personal  saviour
enter an intimate relationship with Abraham? Yes  indeed! 
Through faith  in Jesus Christ we all  become the children of
Abraham,  "you can see from this that the real children of
Abraham are all  the men of faith who truly trust in
God....  and now that we are Christ's we are the true descendants
of Abraham,  and all of God's promises to Him belong to us" so it
is written.
       
     We can have an intimate relationship with Abraham through 
Christ, and notice,  all that God promised Abraham belongs to us.
       
                 WHAT GOD PROMISED ABRAHAM
       
     To what did Lazarus become an HEIR?   What was the promise
God gave to Abraham that all  Christians can be heirs to? Turn to
Gen.12:5-7,  "And Abraham took Sarah  his wife...  and they went
forth  into the land of Canaan...  and the Lord appeared unto
Abraham and said,  UNTO THY SEED WILL I  GIVE THIS LAND."   Again
in Gen. 13:15 God made a promise to Abraham,  "for all the LAND
which you see, to YOU will  I give it,  and to your SEED
FOREVER."   This promise was the land of Canaan -  land on the
EARTH,  not  in heaven.   
     God repeated this promise  in Gen.15:18,  "In the same day
the Lord made a covenant with Abram,  saying, unto your SEED have
I given this LAND..."   The beggar Lazarus and all men of faith
are included  in Abraham's SEED.   Through  Christ this promise 
is of ETERNAL inheritance (Heb.  9:15).   God inspired Stephen to
say that Abraham did NOT receive the inheritance during his
physical  life - not even a "foot length" (Act 7:1-5 LB
translation). But the PROMISE was given to him and his seed. The
promise to Abraham and his seed was ETERNAL INHERITANCE - eternal
LIFE ON THIS EARTH!
     Again, this time through Paul,  God makes it plain that
Abraham and those who are his seed,  through  faith,  have died
in faith - not having as YET received the promise (Heb.  11:8, 
13:39).
       
     This promise of eternal  inheritance of Canaan and the
earth, given to Abraham,  is woven  like a thread throughout the
Bible.       
     Ps. 25:12-13 you find a description of those that will 
inherit the earth. 
     In Ps. 37:9  "evil  doers shall  be cut off,  but those
that wait upon the Lord shall  inherit THE EARTH. In verse 11, 
"the meek shall inherit the earth" and verse 22  "inherit the
earth."   See also verses 29, 34 and PS 69:35,36;  82:8.   
     Isaiah repeats the PROMISE in chap. 57:13:  "..  he that
puts his  trust  (faith)  in me shall  possess the LAND...."   In
Isaiah 60:21 we see a picture of the inheritors as the
"righteous,"  and they will  inherit the "land forever." 
       
     Under the NEW TESTAMENT COVENANT does this promise to
Abraham and his seed become NULL and VOID?   NO!   One of the
reasons why Jesus came to earth was to confirm the promise given
to the fathers (Rom. 15:8), the fathers being ABRAHAM,  Isaac and
Jacob (Acts 3:13).  Jesus repeated the promise in Mat. 5:5,  "The
meek shall  INHERIT the EARTH." And in chapter 19:29 
".......inherit EVERLASTING LIFE."  
     Those that are Christ's and the seed of Abraham (Gal. 
3:29) will  reign 1,000 years with Jesus (Rev. 20:4).  Where?  
ON THIS EARTH (Rev. 5:10).   After the one thousand year reign we
shall inherit the NEW EARTH where God the Father and the heavenly
Jerusalem will  come to dwell (Rev.  21,22). THE PROMISE given to
Abraham and to his seed was ETERNAL LIFE on THE EARTH, not
eternal  life in heaven.   For further study request our article
"WILL YOU GET TO HEAVEN?"
       
               LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN DIED
       
     Verse 22 of Luke 16 tells us that the beggar DIED.   He
is represented as one of Abraham's seed -  in a bosom
relationship with Abraham,  heir to the promise with Abraham.  
As we have seen,  Abraham has NOT YET inherited the promise.   He
died in FAITH (Heb.  11:8-13). Abraham died, and was STILL DEAD,
when Jesus was performing His ministry on earth.  
     We read in John 8:52,  "....Abraham is dead..."  Both the
beggar and the rich man in the parable DIED.   What are some of
the plain Bible verses regarding the state of the dead?
       
     "For the living know that they shall die:   but the dead
KNOW NOT ANYTHING...." (Ecc.  9:10). When Jesus went to raise
Lazarus  (His friend) He told His disciples that he was SLEEPING
but the disciples misunderstood.   Then He told them plainly:  
Lazarus  is DEAD!(Jn. 11:11-17).
       
     The definition of death as given by Jesus Himself is a
SLEEP.
       
     The beggar in our parable DIED.   Abraham died.   They
fell ASLEEP. Abraham did not receive the promise at his death.  
He died  in FAITH that he would one day inherit the promise.  
The beggar does not receive the promise BEFORE Abraham - none of
Abraham's seed receive the promise before Abraham receives  it.  
That is clearly shown to us in Heb.11:39-40.
     For the beggar to be carried  into the bosom embrace of
Abraham, Abraham must be ALIVE!   But he was not alive at the
time Jesus spoke this parable (Jn. 8:52;  Heb.11:8-13,  39).
       
              WHEN THE PROMISE IS INHERITED
       
     When, then,  is Abraham, the beggar of our parable and
all of the seed of Abraham to inherit the promises?   At the time
of the RESURRECTION of the righteous!  "For the Lord Himself
shall descend from heaven.... and the DEAD IN CHRIST shall  rise
first" (I Thes. 4:16).  
     This tremendous  inheritance made so long ago will 
become a reality at Christ's second coming.
     "Flesh and blood  (you and me - all humanity) cannot
inherit the Kingdom of God,  neither does corruption  inherit
incorruption.   "Behold I show you a mystery, we shall not all 
sleep,  but we shall all  be changed (a promise)  in a moment, 
in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump:   for the trumpet
shall  sound and the dead shall  be raised incorruptible and we
shall be changed.   For this CORRUPTIBLE  must put on 
incorruption and this MORTAL must put on  immortality" 
(1 Cor.15:50-53).
       
     "When the Son of man shall come in His glory,  all the
holy  angels with Him...."  This  is the second coming of Christ,
"Then He will  sit upon the throne of His glory. Then shall the
King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of my
Father,  INHERIT the Kingdom (Mat.25:31-34).
     The tremendous PROMISE given Abraham so long ago will
come to fruition at the RESURRECTION.   God will  RAISE Abraham, 
Isaac and Jacob in a resurrection (Mat. 22:31-32).   Jesus told
the Pharisees they would SEE Abraham IN THE KINGDOM (Luke.13:28),
because,  although now DEAD,  he will  be resurrected to immortal
LIFE together with the rest of the dead in Christ  (including the
beggar) at the last trump and Jesus' return (I Thes. 4:13-18;  I
Cor.  15:20-23,51-54).
       
                    CARRIED BY THE ANGELS
       
     Jesus said the beggar DIED.   But after he died,  "he was
carried BY THE ANGELS into Abraham's bosom."   We have seen that
WHERE he was carried was NOT up to heaven at his death,  but into
the status of one of the seed of Abraham,  to inherit the PROMISE
given to Abraham of eternal inheritance   of  the   LAND on this 
EARTH, at the SAME TIME that Abraham inherits this promise - at
the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saints to
glory.
       
     Lazarus  is to be carried into his father's close embrace
- into Abraham's bosom BY THE ANGELS!
       
     Do the scriptures reveal that the angels will  have a
part in uniting all the spiritual  children of Abraham together
when they come up to meet the father of the faithful.   Yes 
indeed!   Christ shall,  "send His ANGELS with a great sound of a
trumpet,  and THEY shall gather together His elect from the four
winds" (Mat.  24:31).   Here's the resurrection at the last trump
- the TIME when the angels carry Lazarus and all the righteous 
into sharing the promised inheritance with Abraham - carrying
them into the bosom of Abraham.   Lazarus  is resurrected and
carried by the angels through the air to meet Christ in the
clouds at His return,  and TO BE WITH ABRAHAM in an intimate
father and son type of relationship.   Both will then be
resurrected and live eternally, in the PROMISED LAND, on the
EARTH - their inheritance.
       
     The Bible makes it plain as to how we are to understand
the word "BOSOM."   In  Isa. 40:11 we find God will care for His
children as a shepherd does for his sheep,  carrying them "in His
bosom."   Jesus was "in the bosom" of the Father (Jn. 1:18), 
enjoying a very close relationship with the Father,  as He said, 
"I can do nothing of myself."   To be in the bosom of someone  is
to have that person's  love,  care and protection - to share
their inheritance.   So it shall  be with Abraham and all his
seed AT THE RESURRECTION!
       
                   THE RICH MAN'S FATE
       
     What happened to the rich man and WHEN?   Jesus said,  " 
the rich man also died,  and was buried"  (Luke 16:22).   Jesus
gave no TIME setting for the incidents in the parable.   Other
scriptures must tell us WHEN these things take place.   Jesus
only gave the FACTS of what happened.  
     He did not say the body of the rich man was buried  while
the man himself, his  immortal  soul, was cast into an
everburning hell.   Jesus said the rich man DIED - the man
himself was BURIED.
       
     What does  it mean to be buried?   The dictionary says, 
"concealed under ground - covered up".   People are buried in a
grave and covered over with earth.   But the hell  popularised by
DANTE ALIGHIERI  (1265-1321) in his poem THE DIVINE COMEDY 
(where Dante himself travels to Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise) 
is far from any comedy.   The common  idea that most Catholic and
Protestant people have of "hell"  is a place where the "unsaved"
or the "wicked" are in pain and torment for eternity.
       
                  THREE KINDS OF HELL
       
     The rich man  "IN HELL lifted up his eyes"  (verse 23).  
So this rich man was  in a place called "HELL."   And  IN this
hell he "lifted up his eyes."   His eyes had been CLOSED,  in
death - he had DIED said Jesus, and now there came a time when he
was alive again.
       
     What KIND of HELL was he in?
       
     It is  important to understand that the NT was written 
in the GREEK language and translated  later into English.   In
the Greek three different words, with three different meanings, 
are used,  while in the King James Bible only ONE word  is used -
the word "hell."
     One of the Greek words in TARTAROS - used only in 2 PET.
2:4 where it means a condition of darkness and restraint.   It is
used in reference to fallen angels or demons.   For an  in-depth
study of this word we refer you to ADAM CLARKE'S COMMENTARY.
       
     Another Greek word used for "hell"  in the NT is HADES.  
It means, literally,  a place devoid of light,  a dark obscure
abode, and should have correctly been translated "grave."   It
corresponds to the Hebrew SHEOL ("the grave").
       
     The third Greek word translated "hell"  in the KJV is
GEHENNA. It is used  11 times  in the NT.   The word is taken
from the valley of Hinnon outside Jerusalem where fires were
continually burning to dispose of rubbish.  Idolatrous kings set
up a shrine called Molech, where people brought their children to
be burned alive in honor of this god.  The prophet Jeremiah
denounced this abominable practice and foretold that Tophet
would be destroyed and defiled  (see 2 Kings 23:10; 33:6). For an
in-depth study on this  idolatrous child sacrifice see,  BIBLICAL
ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW VOL. 10. #1.
       
     All  references to GEHENNA as  "hell"  refer to a final
destruction of the wicked by a fire none can quench until  it has
fulfilled the purpose for which  it was kindled.  Sodom and
Gomorrah suffered complete destruction by everlasting fire  (Jude
7). The results of that fire were eternal  or everlasting - the
fire went out when there was nothing else to consume. It is
not still burning.
       
     For an in-depth study on the above two Greek words and
many others relating to DESTROY,  DESTRUCTION,  PERISH, etc., we
recommend the 112-page book LIFE AND IMMORTALITY by Basil
Atkinson M.A.,P.H.D. We will give you the address where this book
can be purchased upon request.
     Going back to our rich man who "lifted up his eyes  in
hell." The word for hell is here the Greek HADES,  and as noted
above means  "the grave."  This same word "Hades" was used in
Acts 2:27-31 to describe where Jesus was in His death.   The
Father did not leave Jesus in HADES (hell, the grave) nor allow
Him to see corruption.   He was RESURRECTED.
       
     The rich man was buried in the GRAVE - he DIED.   We have
seen previously how the scriptures define DEATH.
       
                  HE LIFTED UP HIS EYES
       
     This  is a common term meaning he LOOKED and was ALIVE.  
The question is WHEN did he look - WHEN did this rich man live
again? Jesus pictures him as representing one of the unjust or
wicked.   We must look to other scriptures to tell us WHEN the
unjust will open their eyes in the grave.
       
     Let's first prove that the wicked will be raised from the
dead.
       
     Here's the verse,  "........that there shall  be a
RESURRECTION of the DEAD,  both of the JUST (Lazarus) and UNJUST
(the rich man)"  See Acts 24:15.
       
     In Daniel  12:2 we read,  "And many of them that sleep
(in death) in the dust of the earth shall AWAKE  (resurrection) 
some to everlasting  life (the just)  and some to everlasting
contempt (the unjust)."
       
     Notice John 5:28-29:   "Don't be surprised!   Indeed the
time is coming when ALL the dead in their graves shall  hear the
voice of God's Son,  and shall  RISE again - those who have done
good to eternal  life; and those who have continued  IN EVIL to
judgement"   (LB translation).
       
     Jesus  is clearly showing that there is a time coming
when the eyes of all  in the graves will be opened.   The TIME
for the righteous dead to be raised is at Christ's return,  "Each
however IN HIS OWN TURN. Christ rose FIRST, then when Christ
comes back all  HIS people will become alive again."   (I Cor. 
15:23 LB).
       
     When will the rich man and all the wicked be raised?
     In revelation 20:4 we read of the resurrection of those
in Christ at His coming.   But notice verse 5,  "....the REST of
the DEAD lived not again UNTIL the thousand years were finished."
       
     Now we can ascertain the time when the unjust, the
unsaved, the rich man in our parable,  will  be raised - at the
end of the  1,000 years, what is commonly referred to as the
millennium.   THEN the rich man will lift up his eyes in a
resurrection.
     Lazarus will have been raised from death at Jesus' 
return,  together with Abraham and all the saints.   They shall 
live through the 1,000 years.  But the rest of the dead do not
live again until the millennium is over.
       
     As we have seen that death is defined by Jesus as SLEEP
(Jn.11:11-17) and the dead "KNOW NOT ANYTHING" (Ecc.9:5), the
rich man coming to consciousness AFTER the 1,000 years will  know
absolutely NOTHING of the months and years since he died.   TO
HIM IT WILL BE THE NEXT SECOND OF TIME SINCE HE CLOSED HIS EYES
IN DEATH.  
     Now at his resurrection,  when he lifts up his eyes,  what
does he see?
       
                        THE FLAME
       
     When he is resurrected,  he sees a FLAME which torments
him! Earlier we considered the flame as we described GEHENNA
fire.
     Jesus spoke of this fire as DESTROYING (Mat.10:28).  In Rev.
20:14-15 it is described as a  "lake of fire."
       
     The Bible clearly outlines the reward of the wicked as
complete ANNIHILATION or utter extermination - eternal
punish-MENT not punish-ING (Mal. 4:1-3;  Mat.  25:46).   An
eternal death as compared to eternal life for the righteous (Rom.
6:23).
       
     Back to the rich man.   After opening his eyes he sees
Abraham with Lazarus in his "bosom" or close embrace.   Jesus
foretold that the Pharisees would see Abraham,  Isaac, and Jacob
in the Kingdom and they themselves cast out (Luke 13:28).   This
rich man sees Lazarus and he sees the flame or lake of fire which
is about to destroy him.   He is horror stricken!
       
     Have you had an experience that so frightened you that
your mouth became dry and you could barely speak and your body
temperature rose as you began to perspire with anxiety?
     Now imagine the rich man and the horror and dread that
would be his experience.   He cries out in anguish,  "Father
Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he might dip the
tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,  for I am
tormented  in this flame."
       
     The rich man cries out for mercy from this flame.
     Why did he call out for only a wet finger of water to
cool  his tongue, if his whole body was burning  in the flames of
hell as described by most theologians?   Surely he would have
requested a few buckets of water or may be a swimming pool.
       
                        IN TORMENT
       
     The rich man is definitely TORMENTED as he sees this
flame.    
     In this parable the word TORMENT or TORMENTED is used 4
times. In verses 23,28 the Greek is BASANOS and is used only one
other time in the NT in Mat. 4:24.   It means  "going to the
bottom."   Indeed the rich man was as we say,  "at the end of his
rope" or "at his wits end,"  - at the very bottom.
     In verses 24,25 the Greek for TORMENTED is ODUNAOMAI and
means to GRIEVE,  to SORROW, and it is connected with DUO,  to
sink,  to go down. This same word is used only TWO other times, 
in Luke 2:48 and Acts 20:38 where it is clearly referring to
consuming MENTAL grief.
       
     So we see clearly the picture of the rich man going down
in devastating grief - he realizes that he has lost eternal life
and is now looking at total ANNIHILATION in the lake of fire.
       
     If Jesus had wanted to convey the message that the rich
man was WRITHING in PHYSICAL pain in fire,  He would have
inspired the Greek word BASANIZO to have been used.   This is the
word for torment which relays the idea of mental  or PHYSICAL
pain,  and is used in such scriptures as: Mat.  8:29;  14:24;
Mark.  6:48;  Luke. 8:28;  2 Pet.  2:8;  Rev. 9:5;  12:2; 14:10.
       
     To study these Greek words we refer you to THE
ENGLISHMAN'S GREEK CONCORDANCE,  pages 103 and 524.
     It is very sobering to remember that many will  be in the
position of the rich man IF they do not repent,  "Except you
REPENT you shall all likewise PERISH"  (Luke.13:3).
       
     Those who will not DO the WILL of the Father but who work
- live - iniquity or lawlessness shall  be told by Jesus to
DEPART from Him.  He will confess He never knew them (Mat. 
7:21-23;  Luke.13:27).
       
                        HELL FIRE     
       
     There is nothing here about this rich man suffering
endlessly in physical pain - always burning - being on FIRE but
never burning up. His anguish,  as he sees the lake of fire,  as
he realizes what awaits him, is MENTAL anguish which results in a
dry and hot tongue as his body temperature rises,  hence his
request to Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue with a wet
finger.
       
     To be sure, the unrepentant wicked will  be cast into the
lake of fire, when their physical bodies will meet an
unquenchable flame.  There will  be a time of physical torture
and pain until  they are consumed and become ASHES under the feet
of the righteous (Mal. 4:1-3).
     "But the wicked shall  PERISH,  and the enemies of the
Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall  CONSUME,  into
SMOKE shall they consume away" (Ps. 37:20).
       
                      THE GREAT GULF
       
     We have seen that Lazarus represents the righteous, the
seed of Abraham - those who will  inherit the promise of eternal 
life.   Abraham and his seed are brought together in a bosom
relationship by the angels at the return of Christ, when the
trumpet shall  sound and the dead  in Christ rise to meet their
Lord in the clouds.  It is at this time that the saints  (which 
includes Lazarus) will be CHANGED (flesh and blood can not
inherit the Kingdom of God -  I Cor.  15:20)  from MORTAL to
IMMORTAL (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
     NONE who are not granted this CHANGE will ever be with
Abraham.
     God will grant this change from mortality to immortality
to those who will REPENT.   Those who do not shall  PERISH  (2
Pet. 3:9).  The rich man represents those who have not and will 
not REPENT. We have seen that he and all such wicked ones will
also be raised to life again,  but after a thousand years from
when Lazarus and Abraham were raised to IMMORTAL life.
     The rich man never made it into God's Kingdom. He was
never CHANGED from mortal to divine.   He never REPENTED so he
could be saved,  so he could put on incorruption.   He is raised
MORTAL,  to receive his wages of sin which  is death  (Rom. 6:23)
in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14,15)  -  in a FIRE that burns up
matter into ashes and smoke.
       
     Those in the Kingdom with Abraham are no longer MORTAL -
they can not ever DIE again (Luke 20:34-36).   They can never
again pass back into mortality and be susceptible to DEATH.
     Those who have not repented to serve the eternal  God can
not pass over into life everlasting. They remain mortal to be
consumed in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:7,8).
     Only the saved possess  IMMORTALITY as the gift of God
(Rom. 2:7), but the wicked reap anguish and wrath that shall
devour them - fiery indignation (Heb.10:27).
       
     The GULF mentioned by Abraham which prevents the
righteous from being burned and which prevents the wicked from
escaping death by GEHENNA FIRE is -  IMMORTALITY!
                  
                   THE LESSONS FOR US
       
     As the rich man contemplated the fate that awaited him, 
he requested Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers  (5 is the
number used in the Scriptures to denote GRACE - request our
information on THE ARITHMETIC OF GOD) "....that he may testify
unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment" 
(verse 28).   Abraham said let them listen to Moses and the
prophets (verse 29).   "No," answered the rich man, "but if one
went unto them from the DEAD,  they will  REPENT."   Abraham
replied, " If they will not hear MOSES and the PROPHETS,  they
will  not be persuaded though one rose FROM THE DEAD."  (verses
30,31.
              
     Do you see - do you understand why Jesus gave this
parable?
              
     The whole experience of Lazarus and the rich man was
given to SHOW THE TRUTH OF THE RESURRECTION - not some natural 
immortal soul going to "heaven" or "hell" at death.
       
     This parable was given to SHOW THAT REPENTANCE IS
REQUIRED TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE,  or the lake of fire awaits the
sinner (request our FREE article "SAVED BY GRACE" which explains 
indepth all about SALVATION).
       
        Notice one final  lesson.   Jesus acquainted real 
repentance with a willingness to listen to Moses and the prophets
- the Old Testament not just the New Testament.   True repentance
that will lead to eternal life in the Kingdom of God on this
earth, is a willingness to LIVE BY EVERY WORD OF GOD (Mat. 4:4).
       
            ...............................................
       
       Written 1984 by Keith Hunt
                                    
An Internet Church posting, Re:  Lazarus and the Rich Man 
       
Hi Bill,
       
       I will try to answer your questions below.
       
       You  wrote:
       
       "Following is a copy (as is) of questions I sent to......
around June of 1987. Some of the questions were based on my ow 
misunderstanding of doctrines (but taught by "ministers" and
members of the congregation over several years). I would
appreciate your response to the questions."
       
       
       
       BIBLE QUESTIONS
       
       I have several questions that always come to mind while
reading through Luke 16:19-31 (Lazarus and the rich man) . I have
asked the same questions in the past and the standard answer is
that it is only a parable; a fictitious story. There is no
problem in accepting it as a parable - it would not make sense
otherwise in light of many other scriptures.
       What I do not understand is the  "facts" within the
parable. Surely Jesus Christ would not misrepresent the time
sequence of events and the actual facts (Doctrines) of the True
Church in a parable even though it is a fictitious story (the
rich man and Lazarus were not real, apparently)
       
       Should the facts within this or any parable in the Bible
represent the doctrines and teachings of the Worldwide Church of
God? If they do not then how can any of a parable be used in
support or non-support of a particular teaching?
       
       My Answer: 
       The facts of any parable should be taken within the total 
light of all the rest of scripture. If it all adds up, with no
contradiction, then it all becomes a part of the whole truth.
       
       QUESTION:I. The First question comes in Luke 16:19-21. The
rich man was one called by God to know the truth or else he would
not be in the resurrectIon. Verse 23 of Luke 16 illustrates that
the rich man was being resurrected. He, therefore, had to have
known the truth, had God's Holy SpIrIt and rejected the truth or
else he would not be in the resurrectIon( to death). Verse 19
and 21 show that the rich man was obviously not very generous
with his wealth or else he would offer more than crumbs to
Lazarus.
       
       1. Why did Lazarus have to beg for anything?  Why did he
not ask for third tithe assistance?
       
       My Answer: 
       Third tithe(as some call it) in Israel was not the means
to "end poverty." Jesus did say, "the poor you shall always have
among you."  Third tithe was, as the scriptures lay down mainly
for the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and widow. And It
was for "eating"  (See Deut.14:28,29),  not for everything one
might like. Lazarus then, we will take it did get food, but he
also needed other things that third tithe would not provide. And
third tithe was not the total or only way to help the poor. God
told the farmers not to cut the corners of their fields at
harvest time, so the poor could have those parts. So it would
seem God knew third tithe would not be the all sufficient means
to feed the poor and needy. So today in our lands, there are many
private "hand outs" to the poor above the nations welfare
program.
       
       QUESTION:2. Is BEGGING proper behavior for a Christian?
       
       My Answer: 
       That all depends on how you understand the word
"begging." a Christian finds themselves(especially if having
children) In the situation  where they need help to physically
live (food etc.), and they either go to the Welfare department
and/or the church for help. Are they not "beggIng" for help from
someone? We today have certain helpful departments of our nation
we can beg help from to see us through a difficult time so we do
not need to stand on the street corner with our hand out
(although I have seen some doing it when I was living in
Florida). The common practice in Jesus' time and before was to
find help from the people passing by. It was part of their
culture and customs to do it that way.
       Third tithe, or the poor fund in Israel (and our nations
do take it from us via our taxes) and the other means to help the
poor(and Christians do get poor at times) is for those who  need
help. So for Christians to correctly beg for help when truly in
need is quite proper. Paul collected for the saints when in
need (I Cor.16). I'm sure those saints had made know their
situation and daily requirements to Paul and others in the
church.
              
       
       QUESTION:3. Why would he even go near the rich man who
obviously from all outward appearance was not one to go near (he
probably would have been marked)?
       
       My Answer: 
       Lazarus did not know the heart of this rich man as
he lived in his poor situation. You are looking at the parable
from above and seeing the end and details of the whole. Lazarus
was looking at the tree not the forest. It would have been
natural to go to those whom he knew were rich and had things
they could give him. Sorry, but I am not following you concerning
"would have been marked." I think Lazarus would have marked the
rich man alright, marked him for someone who could help him in
his poverty.
       
       QUESTION:4. Why would Lazarus allow a dog to lick his
sores? Should he not call for the elders to anoint him for his
sickness?
       
       My Answer:
       Calling for the Elders to anoint is found in James
5. That instruction for the church had not yet been given. The
book of James had not yet been written when Jesus gave this
parable, so Lazarus did not know such a teaching existed.
       Some are really upset about dogs licking sores. But there
is much healing qualities in a dogs tongue. It is also given by
Christ to show that the rich man could have helped Lazarus as the
"good Samaritan" did to the injured, by using "oil and wine" on
his sores, but he did not. Even the dogs had more compassion on
the misfortune of Lazarus than this rich man with allthe means
whereby he could have helped him. Jesus showing the complete
uncaring attitude of some who will not make it into the Kingdom
(see Mat.25:31-46).
       
       QUESTION:5. Does  "...a certain rich man..."  and  "...a
certain beggar..." in Luke 16:19-20 mean that there really was 
such people?
       
       My Answer: 
       Oh, you bet. Such people as Lazarus were many in
Jesus' day, and sad to say there were many as portrayed by the
rich guy.
       
       QUESTIONS FROM VERSE 27 AND 28
              
       1. Why did the rich man ask Abraham to send Lazarus to his
father's house to testify unto his five brothers?  The rich man
knew he was in the resurrection because in verse 25 Abraham
reminded the rich man of his lifetime, "...remember that thou in
thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus
evil things:..."    The rich man's brothers would have to have
been in either the first, second, or third resurrection(for those
who believe in three resurrections) .
       If they were in the first resurrectIon they would have
been resurrected along with Abraham and Lazarus, in which case
they would all be spirit beings and would have no need a
testimony - they would have already made it. Verse 30 shows that
the Rich man thought that one being sent to his brothers from the
dead would cause his brothers to repent. If his brothers were in
the first resurrection they would have no need to repent. The
rich man could have asked his brothers for the water instead of
Abraham. If the Rich man's brothers were in the second
resurrectIon they would have already lived and either qualified
to be in God's Kingdom or else have not made it and would
be in the same resurrection as the rich man (unto eternal death).
Since the time setting of the rich man in verse 23 to 31 is the 
resurrection to death, why did the rich man ask such a request of
Abraham? Was he confused?
       
       My Answer: 
       This is where parts of some parables "break down." 

 Parts are sometimes for those the parable is being given to. A
lesson is being taught, and all logical time sequence, and other
parts of logic from the whole truth of God's plan of salvation(as
you logically pointed out above) is put to one side, in order to
bring out a main truth to those listening at the time. Jesus
wanted those Pharisees and others like them that He was speaking
to at the time, to really get some basic points of truth, that
were essential for them to know and practice if they were NOT to
be in the rich man's shoes (heading for the lake of fire and the
second death) You are quite correct with your logic based upon
the truth of God's outline of His plan. The different
resurrections will make the literal words and depictIons of this
part of the parable not possible. But Jesus here threw away the
actual reality of the truth of the resurrections FOR THE GREATER
TRUTH OF THE PRESENT TIME. He really wanted those Pharisees and
those like the rich man who were living then, to REPENT of their
ways and attitudes, hence the LESSON within the "really will not
happen this way but I hope you get the point" part of this
parable. The point being that if they didn't change their ways
and attitudes, they would not be in the Kingdom, but would be
heading for the second death in the lake of fire.
       
       QUESTION:2. Why did Abraham reply to the rich man in verse
29 that they (his brothers) have Moses and the Prophets. Why did
Abraham not remind the rich man that his brothers were either in
the  First, Second, or Third resurrection?  It appears from the
answer given by Abraham (verse 29) that the rich man's brothers
were still living.  Finally in verse 31 Abraham said that if they
hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded,
though one rose from the dead.
       
       My Answer:  
       Like my answer above. The real lesson of the
parable at this point was not the actual time events of God's
plan of salvation as the different resurrections will clearly
give. Jesus was now hitting the Pharisees between the eyes. They
had wanted Jesus to show them some great miracle to prove He was
whom He claimed to be. They put their stock in outward physical
signs as claiming to be sent from God (as Jesus said He was, but
they didn't believe it). The rich man in the parable represented
THEM, those self-righteous, physical sign lookers, uncaring to
those "below" them (see Luke 18:10-14), and Lazarus represented
the publicans who were justified before God and would enter the
Kingdom. The rich man WANTED a physical sign to be given to SAVE
others. This he thought (representing the Pharisees before Jesus)
would be the answer to coming to repentance.
       They would repent towards Jesus (for all they said about
Him, even that He was of the Devil etc.) IF SOME PHYSICAL SlGN He
could give them, to prove He was the very Son of God. Then with
that proof they would tell others under their influence (five
brothers) to repent.
       This whole section of the parable was hitting those
Pharisees right..... you know where......I mean they really got
the point by this time.
       
       QUESTION:3. Why did Abraham respond (verse 31) with an
answer that appears to have been prior to the First resurrection,
in which case Abraham would not have been resurrected. Why did
Abraham not remind the rich man of the time setting?
       
       My Answer:  
       Because that is exactly what Jesus wanted them to
see, this parable was not really for the future at all, but for
the present reality of the attitude of those Pharisees. Jesus
throws aside all logical, the 1, 2, 3 of God's  plan of
salvation, to try to help those present religious leaders and
self-righteous rich, to see what TRUTH is based upon, to see what
REPENTANCE is really founded upon, to see what BEING SAVED is
anchored to. The time settings were not where it was at with
Jesus. There was much more important truths to be shown to those
people before Him. By the time Jesus was finished with this
parable the Pharisees KNEW PRECISELY WHAT LESSON He was trying to
teach them. They knew it was not logical time settings of God's
plan through resurrections. The main lesson, Jesus through
Abraham( the Pharisees pompously thought they were the children
of Abraham, see John 8:25-47 and what Jesus said about that idea)
wanted to get across was THE WORD OF GOD is where it is at, NOT
some physical miracle. If people cannot come to real repentance
and salvation through the WORD OF GOD, they will not come to it
through some physical sign or miracle. Notice the emphasis Jesus
placed on "the word" from the Father in John 8, not physical
signs.
       
       I hope this helps you Bill. Christian regards.

                       .....................

       Written November 1996 by Keith Hunt


 
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