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Does Lazarus’ parable teach the truth about heaven and hell?

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Speaker 1

Larry is asking, is Luke 16:19 to 31 a parable? Then what is the truth between heaven of blessings and hell of torment written in Revelation? Is that just a parable? And I believe this is a question you’re also going to answer Joy’s question.

Speaker 2

Yes, and so we’ll answer Joy’s question at the end of this. But let’s larry, this is an excellent question and this is a huge another controversial subject, but it’s important, right? So we mentioned earlier about soul sleep. There’s these people that I’m in that group where I believe that when someone dies, their soul does nothing or really they are their soul. And so when you die, your soul is dead, you’re just sleeping, you’re lying in the soil decomposing, nothing’s going on. It’s like you unplug your computer. Is anything happening? There? No, nothing. No activity. But there’s obviously a large group of Christianity that believes that we have an everlasting soul, that when you die, then it will go somewhere. And this was something that a lot of Jews during Jesus time also were grappling with what happens when people die? And we have to understand, by the time Jesus showed up, you have the Jews who had been very much influenced by the Babylonians. They spent time out there in Babylon toward captivity. And then when they got back, eventually they were conquered by the Greeks. And so they have the Greek theologies and mythologies and viewpoints coming in Philosophies, affecting their thinking.

Speaker 2

And so they’re integrating all these things. And then we end up having a whole body of literature that we call the second temple literature. And we’ll come back to Joy’s question about this is relevant to that. So in this context is where Jesus is giving this parable. It’s not in a vacuum. Jesus doesn’t just give this story and there’s no context to it. He’s relying on something that people know. It’s going to be important, though, for a lot of people of whether Jesus is telling a parable or is Jesus using actual facts and being literal, from which then we could draw some more important doctrines. So when Jesus is talking about what goes on, is he just being figurative having a greater story or are we going to be able to pull out what he’s talking about and say, oh yeah, see, things really work this way. So that’s a big question. So is this a parable? Now, let’s talk about context here in Bible, I talk about we need to see the full context. What is the context of Luke 16 and parable 1931? This is a parable of the rich man and Lazarus who both die and then one ends up in Hades and then the other one ends up at Abraham’s bosom.

Speaker 2

What’s the context of this? So it’s really interesting. Let’s I’m going to share my screen and I’m going to take us through really quickly through Luke 15. I’m going to look at the headers because it’s really interesting. I don’t have to read everything. You can look at the headers and see what’s going on. So you have the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. So sheep is lost. It knows it’s lost, it needs help. Jesus come saves it. Then you have the parable of the lost coin. It doesn’t even know it’s lost, but it’s showing how Jesus King goes out looking for those who don’t even know their state. And then we come to the parable. So parable, parable, parable. And then the parable of the lost son. Now we look at the story of the lost son and we know again, this is all made up. It’s all story from which we will draw a greater lesson. And so here this one. You have one son who rebels, who becomes spiritually lost. And the moment he turns back, the father is there ready for him, right? This is that person, a different type of relationship with God.

Speaker 2

And then there’s actually another relationship we see in Luke 15 in this parable of the prodigal son. And that’s the son that never left. That son is unhappy about the return of his son, even though he was always there with his father and getting blessings. We then go now into Luke 16 and we come to the parable of the unjust steward. So again, parable and these flow straight into each other. There’s no break between the parable of the prodigal son and then the parable of the unjust steward. We go straight into this. And then Jesus is talking about now another type of way people have a relationship with God. So this is someone who’s serving God. They have a relationship with God, but they’re not using the resources God has given them wisely and what are they using it for? I mean, ultimately in this story then, Just Steward tries to take care of himself by making friends with people of the earth. He’s like, I can’t count on it. Says I can’t count on God, so I’m going to make friends with people here on earth. Kind of how the analogy would work. And guess what, the rich man was please.

Speaker 2

And look how this begins, by the way we’ll come back to this. It says there was a certain rich man. There was a certain rich man and he ends up being pleased. And Jesus talks about how the people of the world are shrewd. The Master commended them, Just Steward, because he had dealt shrewdly. And God talks about how we should be using our worldly resources to build relationships that then we can enjoy in heaven. And then Jesus starts ripping into the Pharisees. You see this now in Luke 16, he’s just tearing them apart, how you guys are all about money. That’s what you guys just care about. And they start talking about how the law and the prophets have been there. You could be learning about God’s law. You’d know what the requirements are. And he talks about how even as part of the law, there’s this part that whoever divorces a wife and marries another commits adultery and whoever marries her, who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. We’re talking about adultery. Where does this come from? There’s nothing else about adultery anywhere. But remember this whole context, everything is about relationships. And if you look in the Old Testament, god talks about his relationship, his covenant with his people as being like a marriage and he’s like their husband.

Speaker 2

And he’s talked about, right, that what is it like if one of us is unfaithful to God, we turn on him and then we go to some other we have a relationship with someone else, like money, maybe. That’s our relationship. And it’s in this context now that we begin. Jesus goes straight into, there was a certain rich man. Does that sound familiar? Because it should, because this is what the parable of the unjust steward began with. There was a certain rich man. So we call this one a parable. And as you saw earlier, all the other ones were parables. But then we come to the rich man and Lazarus, and it’s just the ritual lazarus, look at this. The NKJV doesn’t want to put parable there because they know what’s at stake. And if they admit that this is just a parable, they know that’s going to undermine the argument for a lot of people that supposedly Jesus is telling us facts about Hades and facts about the bosom of Abraham, things like this. So they they don’t want to put parable there, even though it’s in the context of five or of five whole parables, parable, parable by parable, parable all about relationships with Christ.

Speaker 2

Jesus is now ripping into the Pharisees and what they’re dealing with wealth. And now he’s talking about a certain rich man. I mean, it’s clear we’re talking about a parable here, but I can go even one step further and show you like, Jesus isn’t giving us facts. Jesus is citing the new temple literature, specifically people identified. We have to this day certain documents that have survived. One of them is called the Revelation or Apocalypse, to use the Greek word, the Apocalypse of Zephaniah. Now, nobody believes that this was written by Zephaniah. Rather, it’s clear it was written during that time period of the second temple, same time that the Book of Enoch was written. And Jesus is sort of using a lot of the concepts, sort of using that as a basis for telling this story. So the Pharisees would have known the book of Revelation of Zephaniah. And when Jesus starts telling this story like, oh, I know how this story goes, jesus puts a twist on it. So the rich man dies, Lazarus dies, who is sickly, who was poor, and the Pharisees would identify with the rich man. Oh, that’s tolerate, right?

Speaker 2

We’re rich, we’re doing great, we’re blessed. And so wouldn’t God bless us when we die? And yet Jesus twists this around. He twists their parable in the book of Zephania, Zephania dies. He’s taken down to Hades in this Hades. And if you look up the Greek word here, yeah, see, we even have Hades. Hades is not hell. It’s not where God will. A lot of people, when they think of hell, they think that’s the place where God is going to torture the wick, if forever and ever that will come after the judgment. But Hades was prejudgment. It’s sort of like the holding tank where God was going to hold people until he would judge them. And this is what the Jews were trying to figure out. And this is what the book was trying to figure out. And this literature was kind of basically to the Bible, what the Chosen is, if you know the TV series The Chosen is to the Bible today, it’s not trying to establish truth, it’s trying to fill in the gaps of trying to tell a story that wasn’t told and uses biblical characters and ties somewhat to the Bible.

Speaker 2

That’s kind of what the Apocalypse of Zephaniah was. It’s not scripture. It’s using Zephaniah, the character that’s from the Bible. And he dies. He goes down to Hades. He’s seen people suffer there. It’s not all fire, by the way. There are some people who are suffering by drowning. Those are people who took bribes. He sees people who are blind because they knew about God and scriptures, but they were spiritually blind. So now they’re going to be physically blind down there. And then he sees a class who are lying on mats burning. That’s their torture. Who’s that group? Those are people who had money and loaned it out at interest. And so they were getting rich off of taking advantage of poor people. Isn’t that interesting? The rich people were the ones that burning. So this is what we see exactly in Jesus story here. Lazarus, the poor guy goes to Bosom Abram, but the rich man ends up burning. So we can infer actually, the Jews would have known during Jesus’s time. Okay, yeah. So he was loaning out at interest. And then what’s interesting, okay, so we see that even though Abraham is far off, somehow the poor man sorry, the rich man is able to cry out and reach to him and be heard by Abraham, father Abraham, have mercy on me, even though he’s far off.

Speaker 2

This tells you like, this is kind of a joke, this is a parable. But in the revelation of Zephaniah, there was a giant body of water, giant body of water that separated Hades, or the place of suffering from this other place where God’s people would have been. And there it was, occupied by Abraham, Jacob, Isaac and all the Elijah. They’re there and they’re acting as mediators, trying to petition a god. Hey, that person is suffering over there in Hades. Can you please bring them over to our side? Let them not suffer. So they’re there as mediators. Now we come to Jesus’s parable and we have the rich man calling out to Abraham, abraham, please be my mediator. Please help me out here. And Jesus has twisted it. He’s twisted the story a little bit so that now Abraham isn’t being the mediator. He’s saying like, sorry, there’s nothing I can do. Your fate has already been fixed. You’re stuck here. There’s this gulf Lazarus isn’t going to be able to cross over. You’re stuck where you’re at. And importantly, notice there’s no God in this parable. All of the other ones, there was someone who stood in for God right there’s.

Speaker 2

The shepherd who went looking for lost sheep. There was the woman looking for the coin. There was the Father whose son turned around. There was the rich man who had the steward. There’s no God in this. Nobody representing God. There’s no relationship here between the Pharisees, the rich man and God. That’s important. Jesus make a big point. So this guy’s faith is just entirely on Abraham. Oh, we’re all about Abraham, just like the Pharisees were very much. And we end with kind of where we began when we introduced this, jesus said, the Richmond said, please send Lazarus to go warn my family. And how does Abraham respond if they do not hear Moses and the prophets needed, will they be persuaded? The one rise from the dead? And Jesus referring back to earlier where he was talking about the law, and he said that the law and prophets were until John. Since that time, the kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it. Jesus will talk about the law. You guys have what you guys need to know and you’re rejecting it. You’re rejecting your God. You don’t have a relationship with Him.

Speaker 2

Jesus is talking about the Pharisees here. This whole parable, it is a parable is talk about the Pharisees using a story. The pharisees would have known. Maybe they would have contributed to his writing and this would have resonated with him because Jesus took the story and turned it backwards on them. Jesus is not trying to give his doctrine at all about what is hell like, what is death like. He’s trying to show like, you guys don’t have a relationship with God. You need to get your act together because there’s going to be eternal ramifications from it. And it is interesting, though, that Jesus used Lazarus and later on goes and resurrects a real Lazarus. So Jesus was sort of setting the stage for that to happen. But this is still a parable.

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