A Reversal of Fate
This is a narrative about how riches can turn from a blessing while we are living the good life and how it can turn to the curse of-Hell. It is narrative about how a poor beggar who does not speak during the entire narrative. In death, he is taken by angels into the 'bosom of Father Abraham.'
A Reversal of Fate
There is a narrative in The Bible about an affluent man and a homeless person. The Bible tells us the poor man’s name was Lazarus; the man with wealth is just referred to as a “certain rich man.” This narrative can be found in the Book of Luke, chapter 16:19-31 ; it has a potent representation for today.
Truth transcends time. Truth has a way of speaking to the inner character of a person. We are given insight into what motivated a rich snob and a poor slob. There is much to be said about the way a man views riches.
The Bible says, “A man’s life conisists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”
It is about the eternal power of grace and mercy that flows from God to man. It is a story of man's inhumanity to man. It is about how we use and abuse each other because of the things we possess. It is also about the blessings of God in spite of our greed.
The rich snob faired sumptuously every day; he wore good clothes of purple and fine linen; he lived in good housing and he had all the amenities of folk doing well in life. The rich man would tell you that he worked hard to achieve the wealth he possessed. He would tell you that most people are poor because they are lazy and don’t want to work.
However, we are told in I Timothy. 6:17, “those that are rich in this world are told not to be high-minded or to trust in uncertain riches.”
He was content to believe he lived a superior existence and deserved every moment of it. The “good life” would always be his privilege. He had no thoughts of “bad days” or death.
On the other hand, Lazarus was not born to privilege. He was the poor slob you see on the streets of the city on a daily basis. In fact he begged the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Lazarus’ existence was the exact opposite of the rich man. The Bible tells us that Lazarus was in poor health; we are told he had sores. The medical attention he received came from dogs that licked his sores. The poor slob had nothing but his name to identify him in life. Lazarus’ name makes a profound statement about his character. The name Lazarus means," God is my help."
These two men, the rich snob and the poor slob, appear to be complete opposites on the surface but they have a common bond. The bond is an equalizer. It is called –Death and in time the rich man died. The rich man had spent so much time living the “good life,” he had made no preparations for the life after death. We are told he lifted up his eyes in Hell.
Lazarus also died. This man had spent a lifetime trusting God. It may be difficult to understand how the circumstances of Lazarus changed to be eternally better than the rich man. When Lazarus died, he was ‘carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.’
The rich man was able to see Lazarus resting in the bosom of Abraham. He sees in his mind's eye some of his mistakes. The rich man prays a fervent prayer to God. Here is what he prayed:
"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."
The rich man is still somewhat delusional. He still thinks Lazarus should serve him. The rich man is willing to accept water from the finger tips of a beggar who once ate dirty crumbs from his table. What a reversal of fortunes. The rich man does not stop there; he has a two-part petition. He probably learned this on Wall Street, he says this.
"I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren: that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
The rich man, even in death, does not address Lazarus with any respect or with humility for the way he had treated him in life. He wanted Lazarus to speak to his five brothers but did so as if Lazarus was his servant and not as a friend. He could have asked Lazarus this way.
"Dear friend, I know that in life I didn't treat you very well. In fact I apologize for not asking you to a proper meal at my table or offering you a better way of life. Forgive me but would you please help my brothers that they don't make the same mistake in life as I have done."
Abraham tells the rich man that there is a great gulf between the two residences which cannot be bridged. One gulf is the rich man still lacks perception. He did not understand his own selfish character. He did not respect Lazarus as a man who knew "who he was and whose he was."
You may know someone like Lazarus or you may know someone like the rich man that is the reason the rich man is so generic, we know people with this mindset.
The accountability process in the judgment is so precise; no exceptions are made for not following obedience to The Word of God.
We never hear Lazarus utter a word in this entire discourse but his message is distinct and clear beginning with his name. His destination gives us insight into how to measure success.