A Lifetime Of Good Things
Eternal Tables Are Turned
Sunday Jan. 30, 2022
Scripture To Consider:
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 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.”
“And being in torments in Hades, he [the certain rich man] lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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.’ 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. 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.’”
“Then he [the rich man in eternal torment] said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him [Lazarus] back to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” Luke 16.19-31
Something To Consider:
I think we would be wise in hesitating to label this a parable. For never was the name of a person given in any of the parables. What is sure is that Jesus, for a few brief moments in history, rolled back the unseen by human eyes veil between life and death for all to clearly and solemnly see, hear, and sense the eternal suspense that awaits all of us on the other side of our taking of our very last earthly breath.
The certain rich man in our Scripture to consider, represents billions of misled individuals in every generation since the beginning of God creating humankind. A wise man wrote in Proverbs 15.6, “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue [or eternal reward] of the wicked is trouble.” This scenario is very descriptively revealed in our lesson of a lifetime today.
We are told by Jesus, concerning this certain rich man, “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen [a sign of royalty] and fared [or dined] sumptuously every day.” There are those who dine sumptuously a few times a year, or even a few times a week, especially in countries such as America. And then, there are those like Lazarus, who never dine sumptuously! And yet, whether we are able to dine sumptuously or not, there are eternal matters to be wisely considered here and now before we are forced into an eternal position we will greatly regret as did this certain rich man!
Most likely, this certain rich man was Jewish, for according to Jesus, the rich man recognized Abraham of old as father Abraham. And in the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus chapter 25 and verse 35, we read these words of warning and of responsibility; “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or sojourner, that he may live with you.” This was not the earthly life or end result of poor Lazarus.
Something Else To Consider:
What awaited Lazarus, which the name Lazarus means whom God helps, was his being carried by angels into an eternity of enjoyment prepared only for the righteous. And the certain rich man, we are told was simply buried. The rich man’s fate was filled with eternal torment not because he was rich. It was because his affluence blinded him spiritually to God, His Word, and to the misery of others. Wow! That should give us something else to consider!
The rich man’s lifetime of good things ended with flaming torment after death. The rich man like many others who are oblivious to the biblical reality of eternal life, lived a life on earth filled to overflowing with good things instead of God things. And once death closes the door of opportunity to avail oneself of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, all hope is lost forever and the eternal tables are turned in favor of those who desired to live godly in Christ Jesus, even in spite of their lack of the riches of this earth!
And in this certain rich man’s case, the eternal tables were quite possibly turned for his brothers, unless they repented of their sin as proclaimed by this certain rich man. Finally, in death, this certain rich man fully understood much too late, that his error in seeking riches and not seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, would now force him to receive his eternal reward of torment. And at that moment, he would have given away every earthly possession to have made a different decision while still alive. How sad!
Something More To Consider:
Therefore, this is both a tragic portrait and at the same time it is an extremely encouraging portrait Jesus has so described for us today. On one side of the picture so vividly presented, the rich man enjoyed a lifetime of nothing but good things, but in the end suffered and was tormented throughout all eternity. On the opposite side of the same revealing picture Lazarus through his death, lived to see and to experience the eternal tables turned in his favor.
Serving the Lord is eternally rewarding, though we may have to endure to the end of a humanly undesirable earthly existence as did Lazarus and millions since him. But, in the end, his enduring to the end, as well as our enduring to the end, will prove to be eternally rewarding. And eternity will prove to be a very long time!
What awaits the righteous is a great and exceeding reward! According to Psalm 37.16; “A little that a righteous man [woman or young person] has is better than the riches of many wicked.” The prophet Nahum declared, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”
A Few Final Words:
In the end, the Lord was and remained Lazarus’ stronghold in his earthly days of trouble. Evidently, in the eyes of God, Lazarus was righteous in his enduring a most difficult earthly existence. Evidently, the certain rich man trusted in his wealth, position, and possessions rather than trusting in God. As Lazarus, the certain rich man’s fate was eternal. He was and still is being eternally tormented, according to Jesus.
Lazarus, on the other hand, is being comforted and will experience eternal life. At the very moment of death, every individual’s eternal destiny is without any delay, fixed for all eternity, in the twinkling of an eye. There will be no time to reconsider! For the certain rich man, it was a brief lifetime of good things. For Lazarus, the eternal tables were turned for all of eternity.
According to Jesus, being tormented in Hades, the rich man cried out for help. “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.’”
Our Father in heaven, teach us to make good godly use of this life here on earth. Create in us an overwhelming eternal mindset. Teach us all the lessons of a lifetime that Jesus has to teach us. In Him Always, Amen!