“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”Luke 16:26-31
You may wonder why I called this Gem – The Poor Man has a Revelation. Don’t you mean the rich man has a revelation, Ian? No, I am sure I have got it right. In referring to the poor man, I am referring to the man who was once rich, but not now. I have talked to you about this before. (Gem 998, among others). In Luke 12:21 we were warned not to store up treasures for ourselves but to ensure that we are rich toward God. How do you become rich toward God? By storing up treasure in heaven where rust and moth don’t ruin it. By storing into your heavenly bank account. How do you do that? Well, one way the Law, the Prophets and the Writings tell us is to care for the poor, the widows, the lame, the sick. But this “rich” man didn’t do that. Instead he wasted it on himself. The result is that he is poor. He is now the poor man and Lazarus is now the rich man. Lazarus has all of heaven’s resources at his disposal and the “poor” man has nothing. You see, you can’t take it with you. You have to send it on ahead while you are still living. When you are dead it is too late.
Take note of another verse that talks about true riches. “We have this treasure in jars of clay so that this all surpassing power might be seen to be from God and not from us.” True riches come from God. Note, Abraham has told the man, you have received your good things already. This is passive and completed action. During your life you were given . . . by God. If you had been rich in the Word, you would have known what to do with what you received. You have the treasure of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings to tell you how to handle riches. The Word of God is one of the riches you have been given. The Creator’s manual is there to tell you how to run this body and this life you have been given. When all else fails, read the instructions! The Word of God makes it abundantly clear what to do. But in order to spell it out really clearly, let’s go back to the previous parable. You mean the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is connected to the Unjust Steward? Yes, put the pieces together.
There is so much to say here, I really don’t know where to start. But with this segment, I will draw your attention to one thought process:
“And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly . . .I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”
Let’s go back further to the Parable of the Rich Fool.
‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:19-21
The point of all this is that these rich fools all thought their riches were theirs and it was up to them what they did with them. All wasted their resources on themselves except the Unjust Steward came to his senses and was commended. Oh, are you getting it now? – Just like when the younger son came to his senses. The Unjust Steward realized he had better do what the Word of the Lord said. Take care of people while there was still time. So he sacrificed his own commission to give a break to the villagers. He made friends who would welcome him into heavenly dwellings. Oh, not that they had the power to grant him entry. Only God can to do that! But by recognizing the truth of the Law and where real wealth lay, he changed his tack and seemingly saved his soul.
Unfortunately, this poor man in focus now (formerly “the rich man”) has realized too late what he should have been doing. Now he wants to move heaven and earth to sort it out. Firstly for himself – ‘Abraham send Lazarus over here to cool my tongue’. He wants Lazarus as a waiter or manservant to care for his needs. Nothing has changed. And still without a hint of repentance or realizing he needs to beg for forgiveness. Abraham says: sorry, no can do. [Even though LAZARUS MAY HAVE BEEN WILLING TO DO IT.] That thought still staggers me. I am still reeling from the shock. It speaks volumes of Lazarus’ integrity and long suffering. Wow.
When that doesn’t work, the poor man wants Lazarus to become an errand boy and take a message back to the poor man’s brothers and family. Now what would the message be?
“I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.” Warn them about what? I am convinced the message is the same as it was for the Rich Fool and the same as it was for the Unjust Steward. Use the riches you have for eternal purposes.” Abraham, please send him back to tell my five brothers”. It is clear that the five brothers can read because Abraham says, “Your brothers can read what Moses and the Prophets wrote.” Well, surprise, surprise. “You had the message already. It is the same as what is written in the Word of God. Your brothers are rich and prosperous – they can read. They have education. They already have this message, this warning. Let them read it for themselves.”
Noooooo Father Abraham! “If someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.” Oh, now it is clear to you. You realize you have come to the revelation too late; that the Word of God means what it says. You know now, it is all about repentance! You have just realized you were wrong and find yourself in the very place you didn’t want to end up. [Because the Pharisees told you the poor, the lame and sick would end up here.] So you want your brothers warned. Interesting isn’t it. Abraham has already told him there is no crossing over the chasm. So, he desperately thinks of the next alternative. Well, if you can’t cross from hell to heaven after death, then what about going back to tell the living. I know you can do that because there was a guy in Bethany who did it. Ah, so you know about him do you?
Do you see the huge irony in this parable? Whether Lazarus is the same person in each of these stories or not, it matters not. It is clear that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law rejected him and the notion that he came back from the dead, because of their willful disobedience to the Law. Their tendency to explain the Law away by redrafting the Mishnaic regulations to suit their viewpoint. In so doing, they have made their followers twice as much a son of hell as they are.
Oh, this parable is thick with irony, with shock and with warning.
I don’t intend to go through all the details of what I clipped for you from Luke. I have to leave something for you to do. I promise you, there is a wealth of truth hidden in the connection between these segments of Luke. I will draw some of it out for you but won’t rob you of the blessing of finding it for yourself, by spelling out everything. Why would I rob you of the excitement? I want you to get excited and tell everyone about what you find. Besides, we would spend the next months on it all. Can’t have that. Some of you are chaffing at the bit already to move on.
To the selfish, ‘giving’ is a dirty word.C. J. Metzler
God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving!Rick Godwin
You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Do your giving while you’re living.Ian Vail
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.Jim Elliot
Live Simply. Give Generously. Love Totally, Care Deeply. Speak Kindly and leave the rest to God.Regina Brett
We’re supposed to seek the kingdom of God first and foremost, and all these other ‘things’ will be added to us.Bob Gass
In fact, we don’t even have to ask for them, they’re automatically given to us when we put God’s kingdom ahead of our own.Bob Gass