Originally posted by adjensen
Ever read this? The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man:
The Parable Explained:
The Jews pictured by the rich man in this parable are in their present state because of their unbelief, which ultimately manifested itself in the
rejection of the Messiah, Yeshua. Unfortunately, this parable shows that the punishment and testing they would undergo would not immediately lead them
to Christ. Instead of calling on the Messiah, the rich man calls on his ancestor Abraham to help ease his suffering.
LUKE 16:25 "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he
is comforted and you are tormented. (NKJV)
Abraham clearly identifies the rich man as his descendant by calling him "son." He tells him that things have changed. When the Jews were God's
chosen people, they enjoyed the spiritual blessings associated with that status. But now, Abraham says, Lazarus is enjoying those blessings while the
rich man is grieving and in sorrow. "Tormented" here is another form of odunao, the same Greek verb found above in verse 24.
LUKE 16:26 "'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor
can those from there pass to us.'" (NKJV)
What is the "great gulf" which stands between the rich man and Lazarus? Paul aptly explains it to us in the eleventh chapter of Romans. He tells us
that because of the Jews' unbelief, "God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to
this very day" (Rom. 11:8). Paul goes on to say that "a partial hardening would happen to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles had come in"
(Rom. 11:25). In II Corinthians 3:14-15, Paul tells us that the Israelites' "minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted
in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their
The "great gulf" mentioned by Abraham is nothing less than God's blinding in this age of the Jews as a whole to the truth about their Messiah!
It's not that the Jewish nation won't acknowledge Christ; they cannot recognize his true identity because of God's actions! Yet because of the
Eternal's great mercy, this state of affairs will not last forever (Rom. 11:26).
LUKE 16:27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may
testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'" (NKJV)
Yielding himself to his destiny, the rich man asks one more thing of his forefather Abraham. He pleads with him to send someone to warn his brothers,
so that they may escape "this place of torment" (basanou), the testing and punishment that he was undergoing.
The fact that the rich man has five brothers is a vital clue to his true symbolic identity. Judah, the progenitor of the Jews, was the son of Jacob
through Leah (Gen. 29:35). He had five full-blooded brothers: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Zebulun (Gen. 35:23).
While the significance of this seemingly pointless detail has been neglected by scholars throughout the centuries, you can be certain that it did not
escape the notice of the Pharisees and scribes to which Christ was speaking. They thoroughly knew their history and were extremely proud of their
heritage. Yeshua wanted those self-righteous Pharisees to know exactly who He was referring to with this parable. This detail cements the identity of
the rich man as the house of Judah, the Jews!
LUKE 16:29 "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'" (NKJV)
Once again Abraham refuses the rich man's request, telling him that the brothers already have a witness in the writings of Moses and the prophets
that will allow them to escape his fate. Moses, as well as the prophets, are shown several times in the New Testament to support Yeshua's identity as
the Messiah (Luke 24:27, 44; John 1:45; 5:46; Acts 3:22-24; 7:37; 26:22-23; 28:23). Abraham tells the rich man that his brothers would have to
recognize the prophesied Messiah because of the things written about him in the Tanakh. This echoes what Yeshua told the Jews in John 5:45-47.
JOHN 5:45 "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you -- Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed
Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (NKJV)
As the Scriptures show, the Jewish leaders of Christ's day generally failed to recognize the very one Moses wrote about (Deu. 18:15, 18).
LUKE 16:30 "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 "But he said to him, 'If they do
not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'" (NKJV)
Christ uses the last two verses of this parable as an amazing prophecy of his pending resurrection from the dead. The rich man says that although his
brothers may not accept the scriptural evidence for the identity of the Messiah, they will accept the evidence of one who is raised from the dead.
But Abraham answers and plainly tells him that anyone who rejects God's Word about the Messiah will also refuse to acknowledge the evidence of a
miraculous resurrection. This last verse is a sad prophecy about the Jews and about all the Israelites who have not, despite God's resurrection of
His son from the power of the grave, recognized Christ as the Messiah.
Christ ends this parable abruptly, with no real resolution presented. The picture presented is a bleak one, yet there is hope for the Jews and for all
Israel. In Romans 11, Paul laid out that hope in such a manner that scarcely few today have really believed it.
In Romans 11:1 Paul rhetorically asks if God has cast away His people, Israel. He answers his own question emphatically by saying "Certainly not!"
He tells us that God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Paul writes that there is currently a remnant of Israel, analogous to the seven
thousand reserved to God in Elijah's time (I Kings 19:18), that God has elected by grace. The rest God hardened, that the Gentiles might also be
included in salvation through grace. He gives the resolution of the situation in verse 26.
ROMANS 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that
blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The
Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." 28
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and
the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so
these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience,
that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His
ways past finding out! (NKJV)
The same God that blinded Israel unto disobedience will have mercy on all that have been rebellious due to that blindness. To quote Paul once again,
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" Praised be the
Eternal Creator of all things!
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man, long used by mainstream ministers to teach the reality of "hell," really has nothing to say about
punishment or reward in the afterlife. Christ used this story, which fit the common misconception about life after death in his day, to show the fate
that awaited the Jewish nation because of the unbelief and faithlessness which led them to reject him as the Messiah. They still suffer from that fate
to this very day. Yet the time is soon coming when God will pour on the Jews the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Christ whom
they pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn (Zec. 12:10).
Bryan T. Huie
Updated: January 9, 1998