“So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’” (Luke 16:22-26.)
I am drawn to this story for many different reasons. I love the contrast between the beauty of Heaven and the torment of hell; the anguish of the rich man who has fallen from his pedestal and begs for a drop of water from the poor man’s finger. I am comforted by the fulfillment of a promise that “those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31.) “So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth.” (Job 5:16.)
“Then [the rich man] said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31.)
Oh Father, there is nothing you cannot do! I pray for the salvation of my loved ones; those who are dear to me yet mock you, Father. I must “not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6.) Yet, my heart wants them to be saved; to have each name written in the book of life so that they will glorify you and we can be together for eternity.
There is a great gulf between us. They are caught in the web of sin “which so easily ensnares us”. (Hebrews 12:1.) Please Father, set them free!
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.
“No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.
“Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength.
“Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, and the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, and she who has many children has become feeble.
“The Lord kills and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and brings up.
“The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and lifts up.
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.
“For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He has set the world upon them.
“He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness.
“For by strength no man shall prevail.
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.” (1 Samuel 2: 1-10.)