Destinies awaiting all men
The story of Lazarus and the rich man in the Bible has many relevant dimensions for all men today. In one of such angles, the Lord Jesus Christ used the story to illustrate the only two destinies awaiting all men, at the end of life. He wanted everyone to know about it. This unique story is not a parable. It contains everything we need to prepare for heaven and glory. From it, we learn that: one, the rich and the poor will die and both will find themselves alive after death. Two, what happens after death is far more important than what happens before death.
Three, life is brief and eternity is long, and beyond human comprehension. This length of time will make temporary experience of pleasure or pain, prosperity or poverty, fame or failure, promotion or persecution, happiness or hardship, surfeiting or suffering on earth to be forgotten in the fixed experience of eternity. Four, external circumstances on earth are deceptive. Things will turn around for the rich and the poor, the sumptuous and the hungry, the elegant and the destitute, the popular and the wretched, the socially influential and the beggarly isolated at the other side of the grave. Five, whatever may be the condition of the righteous in this world is for a short time, because we are journeying to a glorious eternal home. Six, prayers after death avail nothing; at death, the eternal state is fixed forever. Seven, there is a great reverse in eternity.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried” (Luke 16:22). Everything – sorrow or joy, plenty or penury, posterity or pain – will soon end. Sadly, “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches” (Psalms 49:6) do not often see the need for Christ and therefore take steps to be born again. However, when they pass on to the other side, they will wail and be full of sorrow.
Although the man Lazarus was poor in material things of this world, he was rich in faith, trust and confidence in God. He was a ransomed, redeemed, repentant, reconciled, restored, righteous soul, and his spirit was renewed and regenerated. After his sojourn on earth, he “departed” to be with the Lord. Believers are on a journey to eternity. For those whose sins are forgiven, whose names are written in the book of life, and who live without condemnation in their hearts till the end, it is not death but departure from this world. Thus, Paul the apostle announced that: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me…” (Luke 16:23,24). Natural, tribal, national or religious connection with a priest, an Abraham or some favoured people without connection with God through Jesus Christ will not save any soul or get anyone to heaven. Those who have lost their souls while running after the things of this world and died impenitent, unconverted and unsaved will spend eternity in hell, where there will be perpetual and eternal fire, flame, torment, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, punishment, unquenchable thirst, sorrow, regrets, pain, suffering, torments and remembrance of lost opportunities. Worse still, there is no water, refreshing, relief, peace, love, sympathy, compassion, ease, mercy, escape, sleep or annihilation in hell. Day and night, sinners are tormented there forever.
However, the moment a child of God dies, he goes directly to heaven to be with the Lord; there is no resting or sleeping place and no interval. All sorrows, sufferings, shame and perplexity on earth will end and all unanswered questions are resolved. Heaven is glorious; it is prepared only for those who are saved and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and for those who are kept pure and undefiled by the power of His cross. The moment the thief on the cross repented and died, that same day he was in paradise in heaven. The same goes for the believer: immediately his soul leaves the body, it goes “to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
The rich man in hell thought that if one went to his brethren from the dead, they would believe. However, “Abraham saith unto him, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). This reference to “Moses and the prophets” means the Scriptures. Although they have the writings of Moses and the prophets for them to read about requirements for redemption and get prepared for heaven, men will rather perish in religion and tradition than believe the testimony of those who came back alive from the dead. We must understand that if they will not hear the ministers and the preachers or read the word of God and repent, “neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). This then reaffirms the vital ministry and power of the Scriptures as God’s means of saving the souls of men.
Further Reading (King James Version): Luke 16:19-31; Luke 16:19,21,22; Job 21:13-15,21-23; Psalm 49:6-12; Mark 8:36,37; Luke 2:25-29; Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Luke 16:22-26; Matthew 13:40-42,49,50; 25:41,46; Mark 9:43-48; Jude 7; Revelation 14:10,11; 19:20; 20:10,11-15; Luke 23:42,43; Acts 7:55-59; 2 Corinthians 5:1,6,8; Philippians 1:21-23; Luke 16:27-31; John 12:9,10; Luke 24:27; 2 Timothy 3:15-17.