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A Hopefully Fresh Look at the Rich Man and Lazarus (no relation)

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posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:19 PM
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As part of my book project, Heaven, Yes - Hell, No, I covered the Gospel According to Luke the Physician, and in that I covered the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Here is my interpretation of that parable:


Now we reach the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, one of the usual pillars and proofs of Hell – but there is a lot more going on here. First, all of Jesus' parables, as far as I can tell, are teaching about the Kingdom of God, especially how it operates. We should not view any of it as being literally true in itself. Consider how Jesus explains the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:24-30) to His disciples. In verses 37-39 He gives it all away – He Himself is the Sower, the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdom, the tares are the children of the "wicked one," the enemy is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. We could say that His parables are allegories or similes. No one has any problem with political cartoons – elephants and asses are political parties, bears are Russia, bulldogs are the UK, etc.

Given that, how should we regard the characters of this parable/allegory/simile? We will go step-by-step. First off, who is the unnamed rich man? We see him wearing purple, the color of rulers, of royalty. He also wears linen, the fabric of the priesthood. God Himself granted Israel to be a kingdom of priests, in Exodus 19:6. With ten tribes long lost to exile, and most of Judah and Benjamin left behind in the East, the little kingdom around Jerusalem was "the last man standing," or the Israel of record. It had a king, it had priests, and it was prosperous – at least, it saw itself as rich in the ways of God. Given all this we should view the rich man as the nation of Judah.

Lazarus has a name, but we must figure him out too. If the rich man is Judah, and Lazarus is poor, could he be a foreign nation, one not rich in the ways of God? Confirmation comes in Luke 16:21 – he wanted to be fed with crumbs from the rich man's table. This takes us back to Jesus' brief encounter with the Canaanite woman – she humbly accepted being called a dog, but hinted that she yet deserved some crumbs (Matthew 15:22-28). This sad picture is completed by the dogs licking Lazarus' sores, for dogs are seldom mentioned in the Bible. Lazarus, then, stands for any heathen nation, or for all of them. Just as in the parable of the wedding feast, where people are brought into the feast/Kingdom without a selective process, Lazarus dies and is brought to Abraham's bosom.

[see following post]
edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: space, the paragraph frontier

edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: dum de dum




posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:21 PM
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Now as I've said before, a funny thing happened on the way to the Septuagint. Jews had more contact with Greek language and culture. As part of that contact, after the exile, some of their ideas about Sheol began to change. In their minds, Sheol came to be compartmentalized like the Greek Hades. Part of it was now thought to be for the righteous, called the Bosom of Abraham. Another part was for the wicked, and called "hell" in the KJV, but footnoted as "hades." These parts were thought to be separated by a fiery gulf - all that would have been easily understood by Jesus' hearers.

OK, we've got the rich man and Lazarus both dead, meaning that Judah and the gentiles (nations) are both now in a new condition. The rich man (Judah) sees that Lazarus (the Nations) are now accepted into the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of this when He told His Jewish hearers, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matthew 21:43) Do you see how He rejected the fig tree of Judah, just as He cursed the literal fig tree, as we read in Matthew and Mark? I would go so far as to say that the Jewish nation had become the basket of very good and very bad figs we read about in Jeremiah. These represent the Jews who responded to Jesus, and those who did not.

Back to our parable – Lazarus is in a good place, and no doubt the "good fig" Jews are there with him. The early church was made up of these good fig Jews, and more and more non-Jews came in until this whole group came to be called Christians, and made a final split with Judaism about 150 AD. This split, at the time, was not as clear-cut as it might appear from our vantage point in time, but that's another subject. The rich man is not in such a good place. These "bad figs" have suffered Roman oppression, the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, exile and dispersion. Persecutions went on and on for many centuries, in many countries. Truly, Judah, the rich man, is now tormented in a flame. He calls out to Abraham for the smallest favor – a drop of water – and could that be a reference to the water Jesus told the woman at the well of? Yes, I think it is.

Abraham admits that the rich man is his son, but reminds him that his time and status as God's favored nation has come and gone. Truly, his place has been taken by "a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." I won't try to parse that nation down, but for the sake of convenience, let's just say it is the "nation" of Christendom, a term seldom heard of in today's secular world. Since the split between Judaism and Christendom, a fiery gulf has indeed come between them, with few people bridging that gap or being converted one way or the other.

The rich man asks Abraham to send warning to his five brothers. Here, we see another reason to see him as Judah, for the man Judah had five full-blooded brothers, as we can easily read in Genesis 29:32-35 and 30:17-20. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Zebulun. Abraham insists that Moses and the prophets (which Jesus said testified of Him) should keep the brothers from the rich man's fate, but then the rich man makes the odd request that someone witness to them from the dead. Truly, this is an odd request, for the Jews disputed the resurrection of Jesus, and did not record the resurrection of those whose graves were opened after that of Jesus. History bears out that these resurrections would have no impact on those who rejected Jesus. Abraham in the parable confirms this.

There it is, my view on the parable – a prophecy, not a proof text for Hell. Jesus is using a well-understood mythological template as a way to say things without some of His audience understanding the meaning. In our time, many still do not. Consider a literal Hell, based on this parable involving a figurative rich man, figurative Lazarus, and figurative Abraham – it is just absurd.
edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: a few words fewer, and that's good, but this comment adds more than I took away...

edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: la de dah

edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: whut's ina name?



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:27 PM
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Excellent summary.
(One tiny slip of detail. In the "five full brothers of Judah" you have written Jacob when you meant Issachar)



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:41 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Thanks for the correction - I'll look again. My KJV seemed to say "Jacob," and it did not sound right to me, but I ran with it, well because (as you and I and everyone knows) the KJV is the True Word of God!

EDIT: I went back and reread it. I had misread it, and so will correct.


edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: space, again, spaced out

edit on 23-2-2016 by Lazarus Short because: what, a, difference, a, comma, makes



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:45 PM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short

Interesting, though

The rich man is condemned
Israel, Judaism are not, they get another bang at the villains in the near future as I understand it



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 05:51 PM
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originally posted by: Raggedyman
a reply to: Lazarus Short

Interesting, though

The rich man is condemned
Israel, Judaism are not, they get another bang at the villains in the near future as I understand it



But who are the villains? Is it the Romans, who only responded to Jewish rebellion? Or was it the nation of Judah, who thought they were special, kind of like we see today with American Exceptionalism?



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short

Good post ..thanks ,I enjoyed it and it sounds very reasonable .



posted on Feb, 23 2016 @ 10:12 PM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short

Ok, villains was a poor choice of words
What I should have said is that Israel will find Jesus and start doing what they should have been doing from the beginning.
Israel were supposed to teach the world about who and what God is

I just don't think your analogy fits

There are 144000 chosen of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Israel are not condemned just yet where the rich man was

That is just my opinion



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 01:09 AM
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originally posted by: Raggedyman
a reply to: Lazarus Short

Ok, villains was a poor choice of words
What I should have said is that Israel will find Jesus and start doing what they should have been doing from the beginning.
Israel were supposed to teach the world about who and what God is

I just don't think your analogy fits

There are 144000 chosen of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Israel are not condemned just yet where the rich man was

That is just my opinion


If you compare what Jesus said against the Jewish nation and the secular history which followed, you may see what I am getting at.



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 01:53 AM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
Bear in mind that the Israel that matters is not "Israel according to the flesh" but "the Israel of God".
Who are the Israel of God? Those who "walk by this rule" (Galatians ch6 v16).
And what is this rule? "Neither circumcision counts for anything, neither uncircumcision, but a new creation" (v15).



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 07:53 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
And we as Christians are grafted into Israel, how can we be grafted onto the condemned

Romans 9' 11

I just don't see the connection, I don't think Israel are condemned like the rich man

I also understand circumcision, I don't think it's relevant in this context

I just don't understand the connection the op made, happy to have it explained



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 08:00 AM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
I still think it helps if you distinguish between Israel "according to the flesh" (that is, by physical descent and obedience to Moses) and Israel "according to the Spirit", belonging to God by faith.
Israel "according to the Spirit" is not condemned, and that's the one we are grafted into.



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 08:15 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
Ok
So you think the nation of Israel is condemned and God has turned away from them
They have no further part to play in Gods plan

Do you have a good theological site worth a look about that issue



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 08:25 AM
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a reply to: Raggedyman
I can only recommend Galatians ch4 (I've got a thread coming up later in the week).

As Paul observes, "God has not rejected his people, whom he foreknew" (Romans ch11 v2).
It's a question of rightly understanding what is meant by "God's people".



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 08:36 AM
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a reply to: Raggedyman

What we are discussing is big and complex, but I will try to break it down for you. What we call "Israel" is not that middle-eastern political entity, but the entire body of people descended from the man Jacob, later renamed Israel.

They went down to Egypt as an extended family.

They left Egypt as a group of tribes.

They increased in Canaan, and over time colonized here and there.

Ten tribes were deported by Assyria, and ended up everywhere from Asia Minor to Europe.

Two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were deported by Babylon, and spent 70 years in exile.

Only a small part of Judah and Benjamin returned to Canaan with Ezra and Nehemiah.

This group became the core population of the kingdom of Judah, while the Benjamites formed the core population of Galilee.

These two little kingdoms, a fraction of a fraction of Israel, were the focus of Jesus' ministry, and Judah, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, was the focus of His denunciation.

God has a plan for Israel, and neither is easy to find.



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 08:42 AM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short

Thanks, I know Israelis story

I just don't see them as condemned, I think God has a role for them to play when they Finaly find Jesus

Galatians 4 was helpful,ta



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 09:09 AM
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originally posted by: Raggedyman
a reply to: Lazarus Short

Thanks, I know Israelis story

I just don't see them as condemned, I think God has a role for them to play when they Finaly find Jesus

Galatians 4 was helpful,ta


"Condemned" - now there's an interesting concept. Just yesterday I was reading a section of the Gospel of John, and saw the use of "condemnation" and "damnation." "Damnation" was footnoted as "condemnation," and "condemnation" was footnoted as "judgment." My Male Bovine Excrement Detector went "beep!" and I looked the passage up in Interlinear. Sure enough, it all came from the same Greek word, and should have been "judgment" in each case. Some of what you read, especially in the KJV, is biased toward putting a foundation under the cartoon concept of Hell and its attendant damnationist god.

However, if you dig a bit, you will find that God does not damn, condemn, judge, or be angry with us forever - just for a season.



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 09:33 AM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short

Though the rich man wasn't exactly in Abraham's bosom



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 10:09 AM
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Just posting this lecture as it takes up some of the ambiguity we experience in trying to understand in the text .



posted on Feb, 24 2016 @ 11:49 AM
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originally posted by: Raggedyman
a reply to: Lazarus Short

Though the rich man wasn't exactly in Abraham's bosom


Things will eventually be good for the rich man and his ilk, but first the chaff, tares, wood, hay, and stubble must be burned away...




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