Perhaps this is one favorite story in the Holy Bible that has been read and preached repeatedly. It is this story that in all likelihood attracted people to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to avoid the fate of the Rich Man. The story:
Luke 16:19 "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 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; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."24 "And 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 lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
The story is part of the word of God. It is written, God is speaking in parables:
Ezekiel 20:49 "Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?"
It was prophesied, Jesus Christ would speak in parables and He confirmed this:
Psalms 78:2 "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:"
Mark 4:34 "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples."
What is frightening is what our Lord told His disciples regarding other people who do not want to believe in Him.
Mark 4:11 "And he said unto them , Unto you it is given to know the mystery of thekingdom of God : but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand...”
Since the story is a parable and only Jesus can explain it, how does our Lord give the great message of the story? Let us remember Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Rev. 19:13). It is, therefore, through the words of God that the parable is elucidated.
As usual, we will first take up the understanding and interpretation of man to the story. Then, we compare this with God's own explanation of His words, through His very words following the direction in:
Isaiah 28:10 (KJV) " For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
These are the characters and objects in the story:
- The Rich Man
- Lazarus, the beggar
- Clothed in purple and fine linen
- Crumbs falling from the table
- Sores licked by dogs
- Five brothers of the Rich Man
- Moses and the prophets
- Father's house
MAN'S UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLANATION
The story is taken literally-physically; thus, the Rich Man is wealthy in material things living luxuriously. Lazarus is a literal beggar who has nothing to eat but those crumbs falling from the table of the Rich Man. Upon their death, the Rich Man suffers the fires of hell, while Lazarus was brought to Paradise where Abraham and the Old Testament saints are.
The Rich Man, physically dead, proved that he is spiritually alive for he was thinking of his five brothers who are still on earth. He wanted Abraham to send Lazarus on earth to warn his brothers for they live as he did while still physically alive. However, Abraham told him that "Moses and the prophets," or their writings, are sufficient warning for them.
To take the word of God literally, it is impossible for a financially and materially rich man to enter the kingdom of God . How could a camel enter the eye of a needle?
Matthew 19:23 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples… And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
However, this will contradict what is written about rich men becoming chosen people of God. In the Old Testament, Abram later known as Abraham was a rich man:
Genesis 13:2 "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold."
In the New Testament, Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man:
Matthew 27:57 "...there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:"
Also, taking the word of God literally, the way to heaven will no longer be “narrow” for there are many financially and materially poor people around the world. But as it is written, only few ever succeed in attaining eternal life because the gate is narrow:
Matthew 7:13 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
THE LANGUAGE OF GOD
God is speaking spiritual things. Jesus Christ is speaking in parables.
John 6:63 "Jesus said ...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Romans 7:14 "For we know that the law is spiritual...”
However, God has His way of revealing things:
1 Corinthians 2:11 "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? ... 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
By the way, God directs us on how to read the Holy Bible. It is not the same as many people try to get the message by getting the context of the story or incident.
Isaiah 28:10 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
For God, we must have a definite question or topic we want to know. Then God will direct us to His words, taking only “the line” from the different verses in the different books. Look now how God explains His words in the following:
Revelation 3:17 "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
Here, the man is claiming to be rich with material things. However, our Lord told him, “you are poor and naked.” Literally, how could a rich man who has money and plenty of gold and silver be deprived of clothing? Very clearly, our Lord is speaking of spiritual nakedness of the “garment of salvation.”
Isaiah 61:10 "... my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation...”
If Abraham and Joseph of Arimathea were materially rich and were able to attain eternal life, and if the world is awash with materially poor people as to nullify the truth of “the narrow gate;" then God must, indeed, be speaking “spiritual things.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Lazarus, the beggar, typifies the “poor in spirit,” while the Rich man, the “rich in spirit.” Our Lord spoke of the “poor in spirit” in the following:
Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
As used in this sense, spirit could not have referred to the Holy Spirit. Rather, it points to the “spirit of man” or the SOUL, the unseen component. The attributes of the soul are the INTELLECT and FEELING. The “poor in spirit” therefore are the people who are devoid of the intellect and feeling IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS; for our Lord is not speaking about social, economics, politics, or scientific things. The “poor in spirit” jibes perfectly with what our Lord spoke of the need for conversion into a little child:
Matthew 18:3 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
A “little child” to God is much younger than what people think:
Isaiah 28:9 (KJV) "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts."
Lazarus, the beggar, is a “spiritual suckling” who did not have any intellectual capability in spiritual matters. He does not have the emotion of an “adult” as to reason out and reject the “illogical” truths. Lazarus, therefore, must be a spiritual “little child” who, according to our Lord, deserves eternal life. Thus, Lazarus must have been endowed with spiritual knowledge and strength, not otherwise given to the Rich Man:
Matthew 11:25 " At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent , and hast revealed them unto babes ."
2 Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
Psalms 8:2 "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
Who would ever think that these are physical babes? Indeed, God is speaking spiritual things. God is "speaking in tongue!” Now it is made clear what God really meant with what James wrote:
James 2:5 "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
Again, if God is referring to the financially-materially poor of which the world is thickly populated with, then the Way to eternal life must be “wide and paved” where many people pass through. However, God will never contradict His words! Christ is not a liar. It is His enemy, the Devil also called Satan, who is the father of lies (John 8:44 ). Man may be speaking the truth in social, economic, political, and scientific matters. But here is what God says when it comes to spiritual concern:
Romans 3:4 "… yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written...”
As a spiritual “little child,” Lazarus could have solely depended on God, just like the example shown by Jesus Christ:
John 5:19 "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself...”
John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing...”
Lazarus followed the example of our Lord in spiritual humility. In that sense, Lazarus was indeed a "beggar" before God.
THE RICH MAN
Who symbolize the RICH MAN? People with billions of dollars? These are only few. Who represent LAZARUS? People earning $200 a year or less? These are many. But our Lord said:
Matthew 20:16 "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
The Rich Man is simply the opposite of being "poor in spirit:" soulish, meaning spiritually proud. It is hard for a religious intellectual to submit to the sharp 2-edged sword in the words of God (Hebrew 4:12 ). Also, religious emotionalism prevents a soulish man from accepting the bitter truth in the word of God. Emotion stands on the way to the Truth. Is it easy to accept "Many are called and only a few are chosen?" With emotion, man will appear to be even more compassionate than God is. That is why it is written,
Jeremiah 17:9 " The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
The Rich Man was clothed in purple. The purple and fine linen cloth is reserved to priesthood:
Exodus 39:1-2 "… purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen."
“Purple clothe ” therefore denotes religiosity. Jesus Christ saw religiosity in the sects of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Scribes. Religiosity breeds self-righteousness, as it is akin to morality. Morality is cleanliness on the “outside.” This is what the religious people got from following the "letter" of the Law.
Romans 10:2 "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
The Rich Man, like any religious and pious person, might be sincere. But faith is more than sincerity. This is what attracts “many,” for this is the meaning of “righteousness” from the viewpoint of the people. However the truth is:
Matthew 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
Jesus Christ Himself admitted that religiosity, with man’s understanding and application of the law, is simply cleanliness on the “outside.” Spirituality is something else. It is " cleanliness in the inside.” For details see the article on CLEANLINESS ON THE “OUTSIDE” AND “INSIDE” (http://www.purechristianity.org/cle anlin.htm)
Abraham, Joseph of Arimathea, and other chosen people of God were materially wealthy. They would not have deserved the kingdom of heaven if what our Lord said is taken literally:
Mark 10:25 “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. 28Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s. "
Does “leaving the house” mean literal-physical abandoning the household? God gives a spiritual meaning to “house” in the following:
Exodus 20:2 " I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Ezekiel 2:8 "But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.
Does “leaving mother, father, sister, wife, children” mean literally and physically abandoning them? Otherwise it will contradict another God's command of "love thy neighbor." God is speaking "spiritual things" and this is what He means:
Deuteronomy 13:6 “ If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known...”
Here, “brother, son, daughter, wife, friend, refer to the SOUL.” Paul revealed his greatest enemy, which is no other than his own self. This is the dictate of the intellect and feeling that can only be identified to the SOUL.
Now “being rich” presents a different dimension as distinguished from material wealth.
Luke 6:24 " But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation."
1 Timothy 6:9 “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Man’s perception of the foregoing references to “wealth” presents a very myopic view of the subject. Spiritual riches and destitution should be distinguished from the literal-physical counterparts.
"CLOTHED IN PURPLSE AND FINE LINEN"
The Rich man " clothed in fine linen" indicates his exalted position with this attire. In religious matters, the Scribes and Pharisees were noted for this distinction:
Matthew 23:5 "…they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments…"
Today, this truth has not passed away for we find the attire or some emblems of the religious leaders indicating their distinction from the laity. Spiritually, "garment" indicates salvation:
Isaiah 61:10 " I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation…"
Spiritually therefore, the Rich man appears to be the person who has the most desirable "garment of salvation." The religious leaders during the time of our Lord answered this description. Who are the people today who have this spiritual description?
"FARED SUMPTUOUSLY EVERY DAY"
This truth has not passed away in our time (Ecclesiastes 1:9, Matthew 24:35). The description will identify the spiritual Rich man in our time. Who occupy the high echelon in religious organizations and enjoy the great treasury of religious knowledge? Spiritual food refers to the word of God:
Jeremiah 15:16 " Thy words were found, and I did eat them…"
Matthew 4:4 " But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
Volumes upon volumes of research materials about the Holy Bible evidence the great treasury of religious knowledge of each religious denomination. The sect leaders who are known as the authority on religious matters must be "faring sumptuously everyday" with these knowledge. However, our Lord has this to say on the "wise and the prudent."
Matthew 11:25 " At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE
Lazarus the beggar simply desired "to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table". The words of God are the spiritual food. In the days of our Lord, if the teachers of the law were looked up for their religious wisdom, what would the Disciples have but the "crumbs"? Today, with the great many researches on the word of God flooding the Christian world, what would be the "crumbs" but the simple HOLY BIBLE in the hand of spiritual Lazarus'. Who is the giver of spiritual wisdom after all?
James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."
1 John 2:27 "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie."
Just as Lazarus was content with the "crumbs," so are spiritual Lazarus' today satisfied with the pure word of God in the Holy Bible, untainted or unadulterated with human wisdom. God through His words is the sole authority to explain His words for He is represented thereto.
Lazarus was hungry! The Natural Man (1 Corinthians 2:14 ) sees physical hunger. The Spiritual Man (1 Corinthians 2:16 ) sees spiritual hunger. The Rich Man has sumptuous food. Lazarus was happy with the crumbs. Good for Lazarus, for God did not intend that “kind of food” for him. The “food of the rich” is not the same as the “food for the poor.”
The “food of the rich in spirit” is the word of God tainted with human wisdom the fruit of pride. The “food for the poor in spirit” is the word of God unadulterated with the rationality of man. Did not our Lord advocate spiritual "conversion into a little child?" What for? To accept God's "irrationality" which cannot be reconciled with "human rationality."
Luke 6:25 "Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep."
Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine...not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”
SORES LICKED BY DOGS
Luke 16:21 "Dogs came and licked his sores."
Spiritual dogs are the people who do not know God like the religious leaders during the time of our Lord.
Revelation 22:15 " For without are dogs…and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Spiritual "sores" are the trials that spiritual Lazarus' are subjected to, as Job was. In fact, this is a sign of being chosen of God:
Hebrew 12:5 " …My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
After identifying the spiritual dogs and spiritual sores, we now find this in the real believers who suffer many hardships in life as the chosen before them had undergone. Outsiders or spiritual dogs oftentimes give words of comforts intended to help the real believer. But just as dogs (without the intervention of science) would infect Lazarus with rabies, so do "outsiders" by the spiritual rabies they have in human doctrines.
The “dogs” are not the household pets in the following. They are the “shepherds” supposedly to feed the “flock:”
Isaiah 56:10 "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."
If the spiritual dogs are the “false shepherds,” then lick on the sores gives a soothing feeling, but does not heal. These are the psychology and human ways that refresh the soul. The sores are the wounds of the soul:
Psalms 147:3 "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
Psalms 38:5 "My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness."
How could “false shepherds” heal the “sores” of the soul? All religions use philosophy and psychology that invigorate and soothe the feeling. It is emotional instead of real spiritual refreshment. Spirituality should be distinguished from Religiosity.
Ezekiel 34:10 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.”
Both the Rich Man and Lazarus died, buried in the cemetery, and their body turned into dust. However, both remained alive spiritually for the Rich Man talked to Abraham and even wanted Lazarus to be sent on earth to warn his five brothers. Some truths:
1. That judgment is given upon physical death:
Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
And we will be judged according to what we have done on earth:
2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
Good and bad done is rated according to God's standard, not man' standard. This truth can be seen as a shadow in the lifetime of men. The word of God, representing Him, is judging our every act.
John 12:46 " I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him…"
2. Look at the spiritual ignorance of the Rich Man. Why does he call Abraham "Father" when only God should be called as such:
Matthew 23:9 " And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."
Again, this can be seen as shadow in the lifetime of men where they call religious leaders as "Father." A variation is to call religious leaders as Teacher or Leader or Shepherd or Pastor when only Christ deserves these titles:
Matthew 23:8 " But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren."
Our Lord warned His apostles on being looked up by others. The message is spiritual humility always, from beginning to end, for this is the antidote to pride, the cause of the downfall. God manifested Himself in the flesh in the person of our Lord to show the example as model. True, He appoints apostles, evangelists, prophets, pastors, and teachers to perform the function but never to appropriate the glory for the title.
Luke 22: 24 " And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve."
3. In hell the Rich Man thirst for water because of the heat of the flame. However, his physical body already turned into dust. How could his invisible-intangible soul suffer thirst for literal water? The resurrection of the dead is yet to come (Revelation 20:12 -13). Christ indeed is speaking in parables, and He alone can and should explain these through His words. The Bible gives several references to water:
- Revelation 17:15 - "water" symbolizes people.
- 1 Kings 22:27 - "water" symbolizes affliction.
- Ephesians 5:26 - "water" symbolizes the word of God.
Of the three, Ephesians 5:26 where "water" symbolizes the word of God is the most appropriate for the Rich Man to get thirsty of. This is proven when he asked Abraham to send Lazarus to the earth to tell his five brothers what he missed while he was still on earth. The Rich Man only realized the value of the Word of God, symbolized by water, when he was already physically dead but still spiritually alive. But it is too late.
4. Love of the Rich Man
It would appear that the Rich Man is more loving than Lazarus is. He thought of his brothers, while Lazarus was oblivious of his relatives. This is one illustration of what Paul wrote in:
1 Corinthians 15:31 "...I die daily."
The “old man” in Paul is dying daily (Ephesians 4:22 ). It is not only his worldliness and selfishness that "died" with him. Included is emotionalism and intellectualism that would make him rejecting the truth. In this case, if emotionalism had not died in Lazarus in his lifetime, how could he attain real joy and peace in heaven, if he is still thinking of his “loved ones” on earth?
5. Suffering in Hell.
How could the Rich Man suffer pain from the literal heat of the flame when his physical body was already turned into dust? Again, only God through His words can and should explain the parable. The Bible gives several references to fire:
Acts 2:3 - "Fire" symbolizes the Holy Spirit
Isaiah 9:18 - "Fire" symbolizes wickedness
Amos 5:6 - "Fire" symbolizes the Lord
The Rich Man's torment in fire may take either or both forms. If fire is symbolized by "wickedness", he suffers very intense remorse, compunction, and much regret. Affliction of the soul is more painful than hardship of the body. People still living commit suicide with this kind of torment.
If "fire" symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the Lord, the Rich Man sees the exquisite splendor of God, and the intense feeling of desire to be among the chosen like Abraham and Lazarus. A simple illustration of this kind of feeling is, when a candidate for graduation fails to make the mark, sees his classmates on the stage in a toga taking their diploma, and being congratulated by relatives and friends. What a great feeling of loss and frustrations!
But this is only a shadow of the real physical suffering. Real physical suffering of the Rich Man will come to reality when he will have his physical body upon the resurrection of the dead.
Revelation 20:13 " And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
With the resurrected body, the Rich Man and the people he symbolizes will suffer ultimate punishment of the 2 nd death in the Lake of Fire .
Revelation 20:15 " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
BOSOM OF ABRAHAM
Lazarus, like all the saints of God, must have gone through the Tribulation Period expressed literally in:
Revelation 17: 14 "…And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
People who cannot comprehend the spiritual message of God think of the Tribulation Period as referring to the future to try real believers. To take this literally will make God an unjust God for it is unfair to future believers who will be subjected to this physical affliction. The word of God does not change just as God does not change, for He is represented thereto.
The Tribulation period is the trying period in the life of all chosen people of God. This is the time in their life when they are spiritually chastened as Job was. Satan temporarily "takes charge" in the life of the believers with the permissive will of God. Their "robes" are made white in the blood of the Lamb. This refers to the "robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10) which, only the death of the Savior, can justify true spiritual cleanliness, not only on the outside but inside as well. At the resurrection of the dead therefore, the saved are ready to face the great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11). Lazarus went over the Tribulation period as Abraham confirmed in:
Luke 16:25 " But Abraham said… remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
Perhaps a question will arise regarding the case of the thief at the right hand of our Lord as He lay on the cross. One may say, he did not pass through this trying period anymore. He was with our Lord in Paradise on that hour. Let us remember God is omniscient. He knew before hand that, if the thief were given time for this trying or "tribulation period," he would gladly accept everything needed for his chastening. Therefore, while literally-physically he did not pass through this trying period, in the eyes of God he had already gone and suffered and passed it successfully, with the spiritual the humility our Lord saw in him.
Lazarus, and the people he symbolizes, upon physical death already enjoy a life of bliss sans the physical body. After all joy and peace is enjoyed by the soul consisting of the feeling and the mind.
FINAL FULFILLMENT AND REALITY
In the end, Lazarus with Abraham and all the saints will have a similar physical body as the resurrected Christ to fulfill the promise of eternal life:
1 John 3:2 " Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
The promise of eternal bliss therefore will be finally realized:
Revelation 19:1 " And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2 For true and righteous are his judgments…6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."
How easy for many people identify themselves with Lazarus. But the words in the spiritual language of God are the judge. Truth is immutable:
Matthew 22:14 " For many are called, but few are chosen."