Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rich Man And Lazarus

The Rich Man And Lazarus Parable - What does this illustration mean?

Luke 16:14-31

A parable is an illustration. What is the story of the Richman and Lazarus an illustration of? Is is one of afterlife? Well, let's examine it part by part. It tells us that the beggar died and went to Abraham's bossom. Well, the Bible says that Abraham was still in the grave, since no one went to heaven before Jesus died. Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 So, where was Abraham? Abraham was in the grave, like King David, and all mankind were. Acts 2:29,34 So, how could a beggar literally go to Abraham's bossom? These and other questions will be answered shortly.

So, what about the rich man? If Abraham wasn't in heaven, then, the rich man must not have been in a burning hell. Let's take a closer look at those verses. Verse 23 tells us the rich man was in "hell;" however, this word is taken from the Greek word "hades." "Hades" is also translated an equal number of time as "grave" in the King James version. (31 times each) One example is 1 Corinthians 15:55, which reads, "O death, where is thy sting? O GRAVE, where is thy victory?" This chapter is discussing the resurrection from death, so, this verse is tell us that death and our grave isn't victorious over us, because we can be resurrected by God from our graves (hades), like Jesus was raised from his tomb. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 That "hades" or "hell" means "grave" can be seen by the fact that Jesus was said to be there when he died and was placed in a tomb until he was resurrected from death by his Father. Acts 2:31; 10:40

There are other things about this parable or illustration that don't make much sense either. People who are dead, cannot think, see, speak or do anything at all because they are unconscious according to the Bible's definition of death in Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10 and Psalm 146:4 And, does it seem reasonable to you that the rich man, if he was truly in a burning hell, could literally call out to Abraham and Abraham hear and see him in his suffering in a burning hell? Plus, could Lazarus literally travel to the burning hell with water on his finger that could literally cool the rich man's tongue? See verse 26 for the answer to that. Wouldn't Lazarus get burned and the water evaporate too quickly or get hot too quickly?

With all these seemingly unreasonable statements, how are we to understand this illustration given in Luke chapter 16? Well, a few verses before the illustration begins, we are told of a development among the Pharisees. They are described as covetous and highly esteemed in their own eyes before the people. See verses 14-15. This means that they desired, wealth and prestige and the honor of men. They wanted to lord it over those in the congregation, and were not humble men. Thus, the position they occupied under the Old Mosaic Law (verse 16) pictured "the rich man" in the illustration.

The beggar represented the common people, who accepted the message about God's kingdom that Jesus preached. (verse 16) Abraham represented God the Father. Those who listened to Jesus (common people), were in a better postion in the eyes of God the Father (Abraham), while the Pharisees (rich man) who did not listen to and accept the message that Jesus brought were in a state of SPIRITUAL death (hell or the grave) in God's eyes. Since the Pharisees were not literally PHYSICALLY dead yet, they could FEEL torments (fear). Please compare Luke 16:23 with Hebrews 10:31, which explains this meaning.

So, you see, this illustration in Luke 16:14-31 is not about a literal place where people can be tortured by fire forever. It is a symbolic illustration/parable of a great change. The Mosaic Law Covenant was replaced by the "Law of Christ," or Christian or everlasting Covenant. Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 13:20 And, the Pharisees were no longer the priests of that old covenant as a result. Hebrews 7:11-12; 8:7,10; 9:11 Since the Pharisees didn't accept Jesus as being the new High Priest, and his message exposed their wicked works, it was a torment to them, while they lived. It caused them fear, because they didn't want to loose their position of wealth, honor and prestige and accept the truth.  Because the Pharisees [rich man] didn't accept Jesus, they were spiritually dead, even though they were alive.  The common people [Lazarus] who did accept Christ, were spiritually alive.

By Linda Washburn

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