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The Rich
Man and Lazarus


    PART VII: THE PARABLES ON WEALTH
 
            CHAPTER 28
 

                               Introduction

               Some believe that The Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable,
         and some believe that it is an historical account.  I believe
         that it is a true story, especially since the man Lazarus  is
         named.    However,  it  has  an  essential message, so I have
         included it.  It is found only in Luke 16:19-31.
 

The Story
                      "There  was  a  rich  man  who   was
                   dressed  in  purple  and  fine  linen and
                   lived in luxury every  day.  At his  gate
                   was  laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered
                   with sores and longing to eat  what  fell
                   from the rich man's table.  Even the dogs
                   came  and licked his sores.

                      "The time  came when the beggar died
                   and the angels carried him  to  Abraham's
                   side.    The  rich  man also died and was
                   buried.    In  hell,  where  he  was   in
                   torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far
                   away, with Lazarus by his side.    So  he
                   called to him `Father  Abraham, have pity
                   on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip  of
                   his  finger  in water and cool my tongue,
                   because I am in agony in this fire.'

                      "But    Abraham   replied,     `Son,
                   remember   that   in  your  lifetime  you
                   received your good things, while  Lazarus
                   received   bad  things,  but  now  he  is
                   comforted here and you are in agony.  And
                   besides  all  this,  between us and you a
                   great chasm has been fixed, so that those
                   who  want  to go from here to you cannot,
                   nor can anyone cross over from  there  to
                   us.'

                       "He answered, `Then I beg you father,
                   send Lazarus to my father's house, for  I
                   have  five brothers.  Let  him warn them,
                   so that they will not also come  to  this
                   place of torment.'

                        "Abraham replied, `They  have  Moses
                   and  the  Prophets;  let  them  listen to
                   them.'

                        "`No, father Abraham,' he said, `but
                   if  someone  from  the dead goes to them,
                   they will repent.'

                        "He  said  to  him,  `If they do not
                   listen to Moses and  the  Prophets,  they
                   will  not  be  convinced  even if someone
                   rises from the dead.'"   (Luke  16:19-31,
                   New International Version).

         Ralph Earle provides the following outline.   (Turnbull,
         Gen.  ed., PROCLAIMING THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE GOSPEL OF LUKE,
         by Ralph Earle,  pp. 73-75).

         1.  TWO MEN IN LIFE (VV. 19-21).  "There was a  rich  man..."
         who  was  unnamed  by  Jesus,  but  named  Dives (from Latin,
         "wealthy") by someone later.

            Dives was "habitually clothed" (meaning of  Greek  text)
         in  purple  and  fine linen.  Purple dye (PROPHYRAN) was very
         expensive,  made from a special fish, and  ranging  in  color
         from  a  deep  violet  through a deep blue to a deep scarlet.
         Alexander  found garments 200 years old that  had  been  dyed
         with  purple  and  were  still vivid in color.  Egyptian Fine
         linen (BYSSUS) was so delicate  that  it  was  called  "woven
         air."  It  was  almost transparent and felt like silk--it was
         very expensive.

            Dives  lived  in  luxury  every  day.   The  Greek  text
         literally  states  that  he  was  daily  "making   merry   in
         splendor." He had a luxurious lifestyle.  [Marvin R. Vincent,
         WORD STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, 4 vols.    (Grand  Rapids:
         Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1887-1977), 1:396-397.

            Lazarus was  a  beggar--the  Greek word  denotes one who
         is "utterly destitute."   It  is  interesting  to  note  that
         Lazarus'  name is an abbreviated form of Eleazar, which means
         "God a help."
              Lazarus  was laid (Greek, "was thrown"--today, we  might
         say "dumped") at Dives' gate. Dives' gate was "a gate full of
         artistry and exquisite beauty."  (Morgan,  THE  PARABLES  AND
         METAPHORS  OF  OUR  LORD, p. 224).  Lazarus was "covered with
         sores"--the one Greek word translated by the  English  phrase
         of  three words is a medical term meaning "to be ulcerated"--
         the Greek word is found only here in the New Testament.    It
         is reasonable that Luke should use medical terms since he was
         a  physician.    Lazarus was very hungry and would have eaten
         what fell from  Dives'  table--what  the  dogs  usually  ate.
         (Vincent, WORD STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, 1:398).

         2.  TWO MEN IN DEATH (V. 22).  "The... beggar died....    The
         rich  man also died...."  Lazarus died and the angels carried
         him  [his  spirit]  to  "Abraham's  bosom,"  a  Jewish   term
         synonymous  to  Paradise.  The word "Paradise" comes from the
         Old Persian word PAIRIDAEZA, through  the  Greek  words  PERI
         ("AROUND")  and TEICHOS ("a wall").  PERITEICHO was chosen to
         translate the Garden of  Eden  (Hebrew)  into  Greek  in  the
         SEPTUAGINT,  a  Greek  translation  of the Hebrew Scriptures.
         Paradise was a compartment of Hades, the  place  of  departed
         human  spirits.  (Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew
         Sheol).  There is a possibility that Lazarus' body was buried
         in  the  potter's field.  However, Lazarus body was  probably
         not buried:

                A beggar of that type, completely destitute, alone,
              covered  with  sores,  at  last  breathing  out his
              spirit in all his poverty, in those times  was  not
              buried.  Almost inevitably  the cleaners passed the
              dead body, unknown, unclean, and hurried  him  away
              in  the  early  dawn  until  they  came  to Tophet,
              Gehenna, the rubbish and refuse heap of fire, where
              they  flung  the  body in.  That is a known fact of
              the time, and the very fact we are not told he  was
              buried,  leads  us to suppose such an  end for him.
              [G.  Campbell  Morgan,  D.D.,  THE   PARABLES   AND
              METAPHORS  OF OUR LORD (Old  Tappan, NJ: Fleming H.
              Revell Company, 1943), p. 225].

            It  is  very interesting to note that Jesus used Gehenna
         as a symbol of everlasting torment.  The word  Gehenna  is  a
         transliteration  of  the  Greek  word  GEENNA,  which  is   a
         transliteration of the two Hebrew words, GE HINNOM (Valley of
         Tophet), located immediately south  of  Jerusalem.    At  one
         time,  ancient  Israel  sacrificed  infants  to the false god
         Molech. The idol Molech was destroyed, the practice of infant
         sacrificed  was  stopped and the area was made into a garbage
         dump.  It was not a sanitary landfill  like  we  have  today.
         Bodies  of  humans and animals, plus filth were dumped there.
         Because of the rotting material, perpetual  fires  were  kept
         going.    Thus Jesus words, "where their worm [maggots] dieth
         not and the fire is not quenched."   Men  consigned  Lazarus'
         body to the garbage dump, a SYMBOL of everlasting punishment.
         Lazarus was dishonored by men.

            Dives died.  He [his body]  was  buried,  probably  with
         much  pomp  and ceremony.  Men honored Dives.  His spirit was
         carried into Hades also, but to the part for unbelievers.  He
         went into the REAL everlasting punishment.

         3. TWO MEN AFTER DEATH. (VV. 23-31).  "In  hell...he  [Dives]
         was  in torment...Abraham [was] far away, with Lazarus by his
         side."   Dives  was  in  hades  in  ODYNOMAI,  literally  "in
         anguish."    (Vincent,  WORD  STUDIES  IN  THE NEW TESTAMENT,
         1:399).  This word is used only  by  Luke,  and  means  "deep
         sorrow,  grief  or  anguish."   The situations of the two men
         were now reversed.  Dives, who had lived in temporal  comfort
         and  luxury,  was  now in anguish.  He now became the beggar,
         asking Abraham to dip the tip of his finger in water to  cool
         his tongue.  Abraham responded that it was impossible for him
         to cross the great chasm  (Greek, CHASMA) separating them.

            Dives then asked Abraham to send Lazarus  back  to  warn
         his  five  brothers  not  to come to "this place of torment."
         Abraham responded that they would not believe someone  coming
         back from the dead if they would not believe the Scriptures.

            Lazarus was now comforted (PARAKALEO, "called alongside"
         Abraham and the Lord).

                   The Interpretation
             In their earthly life, Dives was  clothed  in  beautiful
         garments.   Lazarus was clothed in sores.  The physical realm
         had become a delusion, a  lie.    For  in  the  invisible  or
         spiritual realm, Dives was clothed in self-righteous rags and
         Lazarus was clothed in the righteousness of God.

            What  was  Dives' sin?  Some may see his riches as being
         sinful, but Jesus did not say this.  It is hard  for  a  rich
         person to enter the Kingdom of God, but not impossible.  In
         fact, Abraham was a rich man.   Trench identifies Dives sin:

              For  it ought never to be forgotten, that it is not
              the primary purpose of the  parable  to  teach  the
              fearful consequences which will follow the abuse of
              wealth and contempt of the poor,  but  the  fearful
              consequences  of  unbelief, of having the heart set
              on this world, and  refusing  to  believe  in  that
              invisible world, here known only to faith, until by
              a miserable and too late experience  the  existence
              of  such  an unseen world has been discovered.  THE
              SIN OF DIVES IN ITS  ROOTS  IS  UNBELIEF:  [italics
              mine]  the squandering on self, and contempt of the
              poor, are only the  forms  which  it  takes.    His
              unbelief  also  shows  itself in supposing that his
              brethren, while refusing to give heed to  the  sure
              word  of  God, would heed a ghost. ....  It is most
              important to keep in mind that this, the rebuke  of
              unbelief,  is  the  central  thought and aim of the
              parable. (Trench, NOTES  ON  THE  PARABLES  OF  OUR
              LORD, p. 162).

                Trench comments concerning Dives' second request:

              There  lies  in  it a secret justifying of himself,
              and  accusing  of  God:  "If  only   I   had   been
              sufficiently warned, if God had only given me clear
              evidences of the need of repentance,  and  of  this
              place  as  the  goal of a worldly life, I had never
              come higher.  But at  least,  let  my  brethren  be
              warned.    (Trench,  NOTES  ON  THE PARABLES OF OUR
              LORD, p. 169).

            There was another  Lazarus  whom Jesus raised  from  the
         dead. Instead of listening to him, hardened religious leaders
         tried to put him to death:

                       Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found
                   out that Jesus was there  and  came,  not
                   only  because  of  him  but  also  to see
                   Lazarus, whom  he  had  raised  from  the
                   dead.  So the chief priests made plans to
                   kill Lazarus as well, for on  account  of
                   him  many  of the Jews were going over to
                   Jesus and putting  their  faith  in  him.
                   (John 12:9-10, New International Version).

              The chief priests were Saducees, who did not believe  in
         the  resurrection  (Matthew  22:23).  They refused to believe
         someone who was raised from the dead, apparently because they
         did   not   believe   someone   could   be  raised  from  the
         dead--eyewitnesses' testimony did not matter!

            Those  who  reject God and his Word will become more and
         more hard.  They will rationalize  everything  to  fit  their
         choice of belief.

            Some future day, Dives would leave the  temporary  hades
         and be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).  The
         lake of fire is commonly called hell.

            On the other hand, Lazarus' faith was  in  God  and  his
         word.   He  would later leave the temporary hades and be with
         his Lord forever in what is commonly called heaven.

            The difference between an eternity in heaven or hell  is
         the  simple  choice  of  accepting  Christ  as our Savior and
         believing in him:

                   Whoever  believes  in him [Christ] is not
                   condemned, but whoever does  not  believe
                   stands  condemned  already because he has
                   not believed in the name of God's one and
                   only  Son.  (John 3:18, New International
                   Version).
 
 

                                Central Truth

                   GOD REQUIRES THAT WE HAVE FAITH IN HIM.  
 

                                 Conclusion

              It is God's will that all people trust in Christ and  be
         saved.    Let  us  patiently  witness  to  all concerning the
         wonderful plan of salvation  that  our  Father  has  provided
         through his Son!  END