Many people forget that several stories and parables in the Bible are not to be taken literally and that they are a reflection or a lesson for mankind. Several times, the dead or people are depicted who may be hidden or in the womb of something or someone else. There are also stories of torments in a hell where someone can come to his senses or contemplate his life. It is also cited that if the dead were to come out of their graves (or places of hiding or putting away), it would not exactly lead to a better outcome. The living souls (people) have the texts of the prophets at their disposal. But even those texts cannot touch or move many. What could the dead do?
In our series on death and its dead, we look briefly at what can happen to those souls or deceased or how they will be judged. The Bible also refers to possible justification and entry into the Kingdom of God.
Dives and Lazarus
“19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared well and delicately every day. 20 Also there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, 21 And desired to be refreshed with the crumbs that fell from the rich mans table: yea, and the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it was so that the beggar died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. 23 And being in hell in torments, he lift up his eyes, and saw Abraham a far off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy pleasures, and likewise Lazarus pains: now therefore is he comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 Besides all this, between you and us there is a great gulf set, so that they which would go from hence to you, can not: neither can they come from thence to us. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my fathers house, 28 (For I have five brethren) that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets: let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one came unto them from the dead, they will amend their lives. 31 Then he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead again.” (Lu 16:19-31 GenevaBible)
This is the concluding parable of a group of five running through Luke 15 and 16. The reason for giving this series is stated in Luke 15:1,2 —
“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying ‘This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.'”
The Pharisees and scribes were hardening their hearts against the truth preached by our Lord, while the publicans and sinners were more often sufficiently humble to receive the truth gladly, and to reform their lives in harmony with it. The opportunity to enter the race for the high calling and joint heirship in the Kingdom was being proclaimed to the Jewish people. The scribes and Pharisees were not only indisposed to enter, but they sought to prevent others who were willing to enter. (Matt. 23:13.)
“ Woe therefore be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men: for ye yourselves go not in, neither suffer ye them that would enter, to come in.” (Mt 23:13 GenevaBible)
One of their special grievances against the Lord Jesus was on account of his willingness to receive all sincere penitents, regardless of their social position, while at the same time he exposed the real wickedness of the hypocritical ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, not needing repentance.
The group of parables now under consideration is a specially good example of our Lord’s attitude. Beginning most mildly, with the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Silver Piece, it carries the reader on through the parables of the Lost Son* and the Unjust Steward, until the grand climax is reached in the last of the group, and the end awaiting the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, as well as the blessing reserved for the penitent publicans and sinners, is vividly portrayed, by the symbolism of The Rich Man and Lazarus.
In Luke 15:3-7 and 8-10, our Lord justifies his conduct by illustrations which must have appealed to all the right-minded among his bearers. If a man have lost one sheep out of a hundred, or a woman one of her ten silver pieces, the lost one claims more interest and attention than the others, and great rejoicing is made when it is found. Similarly, there is more joy in heaven over one of these repentant publicans or sinners than over ninety and nine scribes and Pharisees who in their own estimation are just, and need no repentance. This was mildly sarcastic against the just- in-their-own-eyes, but it must have given great joy to the sincerely repentant.
– The New Covenant Advocate June 1909 p. 42-43
* Parable of the Prodigal son
The Dead — Where Are They? 21 The Prodigal son
- The Metaphorical language of the Bible
- Literalist and non-literalist views
- Light and Salt – Parables of Influence
- Matthew 18:12-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for Lost Sheep
- Doubting and going astray
- Only once and with consequences
- To sacrifice our being for Christ
- Today’s thought “My soul thirsts for God” (January 23)
- Christadelphian magazine on the Unjust Stewart
- Life and Death
- The Rich man and Lazarus: April 15th 2021
- The value of suffering – Luke 16:19-31
- Certain Justice
- When We are the Villains
- Warning From Beyond
- There Was Not a Needy Person Among Them
- The Gospel According to Luke: An Exposition, Part 44 – Luke 16:19-31: “The Man Who Was Lost Forever”
- Hell was made for a reason
- Where was God when_______________?
- Warning Against Others, Part 13: Who or what did Our Lord Jesus Warn Against? Part 8