Lift Up Your Eyes in Torment

To be or not to be, that is the question. Not life however but instead a parable.

Picture 536

Please let me out of here!

A frequented target for the defense of an eternal place of punishment for the wicked is found in what seems a pretty straightforward story.

Those who use this text for this purpose though are met with a challenge from those who question the author’s intended genre.

Is the story Jesus told of a certain rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus the recount of an actual event, or is it a parable put forth with meaning hidden to the uncircumcised heart?

This is a very important question, for the answer determines whether Jesus is acknowledging an actual eternal place of torment with His words, or communicating another symbolic Kingdom truth.

It is in the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s account of the gospel where we find Jesus sharing of these two men who both die and awaken, one at Abraham’s side, and one in great torment in Hades.

W. Edward Bedore of the Berean Bible Society, a proponent of this being an actual event makes these points:

1. Parables are true-to-life, but hypothetical, illustrative stories. The names of specific individuals are never given in them, but here the names of three men are given; Lazarus, Abraham, and Moses. Also mentioned are the “prophets” who were also real people. (“Moses and the prophets” is a general term for the whole Old Testament that refers to its human authors).

2. It does not have the normal form of a parable with an introduction, analogy story, and application. Instead it is in the form of the narration of a real-life story given for the purpose of illustration.

3. It does not use the principle of comparison in a way that is characteristic of parables.

4. The discussion between the rich man and Abraham is not consistent with the parabolic style found in the Scriptures.

5. It seems obvious that in relating this particular story when He did, the Lord Jesus was using a real-life account that many of those listening to Him that day could readily relate to it because they actually knew, or at least knew of, the two men involved. The rich man’s brothers may have even been in the audience.

There are those who strongly disagree with Mr. Bedore’s conclusion. These would argue that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable because:

1. It is included with other parables. The theme is the same as the previous parable. It is a parable about unjust stewards wrongly handling the riches of God.

2. It was told to a crowd. When speaking to crowds, Matthew tells his readers that Jesus always spoke in parables (13:34).

3. Abraham nor Lazarus could be in Heaven. Jesus said, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man (John 3:13).”

4. The immediate audience, even Jesus’ closest friends, would never have interpreted this story as about two men actually dying and waking up in heaven and hell. Through the lens of Jewish history and theology, this parable was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ accusation, “This man receives and eats with sinners (Luke 15:2),” and the condemning words against them, “The Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14).”

Point four from the latter list interests me enough to pursue it a little more. Just as ccragamuffin recently shared, “It is of great importance to hear what the original recipients heard.” It may be taking advantage of one of Alice’s rabbit holes, but what could this story mean if it is a parable, as some suggest?

About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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7 Responses to Lift Up Your Eyes in Torment

  1. Pingback: Trading Places | Resting in His Grace

  2. . In fact, He told such a parable just before he told about the rich man and Lazarus and he told another one in the next chapter. In verses 1-9 of this chapter we see a manager for a rich man get fired. He then tells the clients to cheat on what they owe, and the rich man tells him he did the right thing! Please take a minute to look at the story as Jesus told it and the comments there v1ff . Jesus would certainly not have been recommending this behavior.In a parable in the next chapter, Jesus illustrates His point by describing a master with selfish expectations of his slave lu1707ff . It would teach the wrong lesson if seen as illustrating how to treat servants. His point was about faith. So, in its larger context, the story of the rich man and Lazarus appears essentially between two others which would also teach false doctrine if isolated from their intended lessons.

  3. says:

    Hello Pastor …… there is so much injustice going on in the name of religion that it leaves me distraught. If ever you believed that the mind of God must be nurtured to allow you to see its true beauty (man is the cloth for the mind of God) you would never speak of punishments .. for you are creating them with your thoughts … and there is simply no reason for you to want to punish yourself … for your thoughts will bring back into your own life all that you teach to others. You will be made to test the waters of what you preach … be gentle on yourself Pastor …. be not so self-righteous … I too once made that mistake .. now I know different. In the above parable that I have never read but have the capacity to guide you through my own experience just last week .. when God showed me how man has the capacity in his own mind to come face to face with the devil. It is one which I shall never repeat for he created a scenario to show me how people suffer and how we may never judge anothers’ sorrows and try to be as kind as possible.Waking up in hell and heaven means everyday as this is the garden of eden and each day may either become a heaven or a hell depending on our attitude.
    Abraham nor Lazarus could be in Heaven. Jesus said, “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man (John 3:13).”

    All men are gods as was jesus. Do read more of my articles and my book MasterMind .. it is a gift from God. After my journey with MasterMind I am able to understand any knowledge in its correct way.

  4. Rob Barkman says:

    Once again, MT very interesting study…

    “Parables are true-to-life, but hypothetical, illustrative stories.” sticks out in my mind. To my knowledge, every parable is based upon typical everyday events that take place in life. If this is so, then whether the account of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable or not is really immaterial to the whole discussion..

    If it is a parable, then the Lord is using an event that commonly takes place to illustrate a lesson,. if it is not, then it is a literal event that He is sharing.

    In either case, eternal torment would exist.

    Lord bless you in your studies!

    • mtsweat says:

      Excellent points Pastor Rob! We could very well find that eternal torment is being taught, whether in parable or narrative of an actual event. Thanks for a great and necessary thought!

  5. ccragamuffin says:

    A very humbly offered thought…If this was a factual event and not a parable, then EVERY facet of it must prove true. This seems problematic to me on several points. (To adddress that would be an entire series of replies…I obstain) If it is a parable, then shouldn’t we also remind ourselves why Jesus spoke in parables? He (Jesus) said that He spoke in parables to HIDE what He was saying so that only the disciples would know what He was speaking about. So the fact that the Pharisees did not understand the message speaks more for it being a parable, than against it. Yes? What could this parable be about? Shouldn’t we consider context, context , context? Who had been listening to the parables. How had each group reacted? Who SHOULD have been speaking about the love of God, but instead were filled with contempt (16:14)? Could this be a parable speaking to the Jewish nation as a whole? Who were the people feasting on the blessings of God every day but blind to their actual poverty? Could the poor man be the Gentiles…feeding on the crumbs (reminds me of Mark 7:28). Just a few very poorly expressed, and gently offered thoughts. Thank you for giving our minds some exercise. That is a good thing.

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