THE PURPOSE OF PARABLES:
Judgment on unbelieving Israel. Withholding mysteries. The same with tongues which are words they cannot understand.
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Both literal and Symbolic
Luke 16:19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously (lived in luxury) every day.
- The rich man had a banquet table of blessings. A metaphor for the blessings God gave the Jews: the covenant, the twelve tribes, the promises, the nation, the Word of God, the law, the line of kings and prophets, and ultimately the MESSIAH.
- The very Messiah who stood before them is about to tell them about Himself.
Luke 16:20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
- In comparison, Lazarus had fallen into disease. Lazarus was outside the gate – apart from the rich man and an outsider. Lazarus represents the gentile non-Jewish nations.
Luke 16:21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the (gentile) dogs came and licked his sores.
- Jews and scripture refer to gentiles as “dogs”. Lazarus’ and his “companions” were heathen dogs all of which were outside the gate.
- Lazarus begs for the crumbs on the Rich man’s table. The gentiles are starving for God’s Word while the Jews continue to use God’s blessings for their own pleasures.
- Matthew 15:26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs (gentiles).” And she (a gentile woman) said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the (gentiles) little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
- Both the literal woman in Matthew 15:26-27 and the parable of Lazarus are referred to as “little dogs”.
Luke 16:22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
- The Jews arrogantly believe, since they are the biological offspring of Abraham, their place is secure. It would be unheard of to think that a gentile would have a place as one of God’s children.
- The gentile beggar died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom, the bosom of the Jews; The place of paradise, Gan Eden.
- The Jewish leaders are being told that a GENTILE is carried to a place reserved for Jews; those who are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The Jewish rich man also died. If anyone should be in Abraham’s bosom, it should be him. But no … He wakes in a place of torment.
Luke 16:23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
- The bosom is the place of comfort and love. John the disciple reclined at table putting his head on Jesus’ bosom.
- The rich man, who thought his afterlife would be likened to his literal life, cast his eyes to see Abraham’s bosom. He sees Abraham cradling Lazarus.
- Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 16:24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’
- The rich man is in torment. He does not speak to Lazarus (who he felt was beneath him), but to Abraham, calling him “Father Abraham”, appealing to him as a son appeals to his father. Now he is the beggar instead of Lazarus.
- However; He still wants to use Lazarus for his own purposes; to cool his pain.
- This is the prophetic story of the Jews who reject Jesus growing even as gentiles come to Jesus recognizing His authority.
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.
- “But!” Abraham replies.. (“But” means “the flipside is…”)
- Abraham calls him his “son”, but there is division here. Abraham does not deride him for anything he did wrong, only the good things he received while Lazarus received evil things.
- The implication being, why was there a disparity between you Mr. Rich Man, having riches and Lazarus who received nothing? Did you share anything with Lazarus (the gentiles) when God instructed you to be a blessing to the gentile nations?
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.’
- The great gulf is a chasm which cannot be crossed. Death is a one way gate that cannot be reversed whether for good or for evil. There is nothing which can be done to change the outcome. It is like Noah’s ark. Once the door is shut, it’s too late.
- Is this story literal or only a parable for learning a lesson? It is very much both.
- If literal then what and where is “Sheol” or “Abraham’s bosom”? We are told they are both places of the dead. Both Abraham’s bosom (Paradise) and Torments are places in Sheol.
- When Jesus was on the cross he told one of the thieves that very day he would be in paradise with Jesus, leading one to believe that paradise is Abraham’s bosom.
Luke 16:27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house,
- The Rich man now knows what it is like to beg.
- The Rich man has lost his blessings because he did not share them.
- The Rich man, a Jew, is begging Abraham to send a gentile, Lazarus, to testify to his “father’s” house (God’s house) with the news of truth. Prophetically, even today the Jews are in part “blinded” from the truth. It will take a tribulation of seven years to bring them around, every last one of them.
Luke 16:28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
- In this passage the number 5 is symbolic of half of a whole (10) indicating a choice: passing or failing. See Topic: Numbers for further explanation.
- See Parable “The Ten Virgins”
Luke 16:29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
The Jewish leaders were ignoring Moses and the prophets.
Luke 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Even if the MESSIAH goes to them they will not repent. This is a prophetic verse which should have sunk into their ears. The Messiah will indeed go to Sheol. He will indeed share the truth. He will indeed be raised from the dead. And they will STILL refuse to hear Him.