The Rich Man and Lazarus

Have you ever thought about what it would be like for you after you die?  I understand that those of us who are saved have our names written in the Book of Life.  The apostle Paul’s fellow workers had their names written in that Book.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:3 “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”  The Book of Life is mentioned several times in the book of the Revelation.  Everyone will be judged on the Judgement Day, but if our names are in the Book of Life, our eternal destiny is already decided.

But what happens after death but before the Judgement Day?  I understand that everyone goes to a place where we wait for the judgement.  I believe that the following story given by Jesus gives us the best description of what happens after we die.  Luke 16:19-31 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  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.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him 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.'”

The rich man was very wealthy; he wore rich clothes; he feasted on good food every day.  He likely lived in a mansion where he had everything that he desired.  The beggar named Lazarus was exceedingly poor.  He was full of sores, which likely indicates that he had no resources to seek medical help; instead, the dogs came and licked his sores.  His desire was to at least be able to eat the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.  The rich man received good things while Lazarus received evil things.  The rich man apparently had little concern for the poor man.  Maybe he gave Lazarus the crumbs from his table, but he did not give him what he needed.  1 John 3:17 “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”   Jesus described the judgement in Matthew 25:41-43 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’”  These on His left who did not have love for the needy went to everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The rich man died and went to Hades.  Hades is the name for the grave or the place of departed spirits.  There appears to be a division in Hades.  The rich man went to a bad part of Hades where there was torment.  Lazarus and Abraham were in a good part of Hades.  It appears that Jesus also went to Hades after He died.  The apostle Peter quoted David in a prophesy about Jesus in Acts 2:27 “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”  When Jesus was upon the cross, one of the thieves that was also being crucified believed in Jesus.  Luke 23:42-43 “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’”  From this, I believe that when Jesus died He went to the good part of Hades called Paradise where Abraham and Lazarus were.  Jesus did not stay in Hades but was resurrected and returned to life.

Lazarus was comforted and the rich man was in torment in Hades.  He requested that Abraham send Lazarus that he might dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue; for he was tormented in the flame.  But there was a great gulf fixed between where the rich man was and where Abraham and Lazarus were; no one could pass between the two locations.  The rich men then requested that Abraham send Lazarus back to the land of the living to warn his five brothers so that they would not come to this place of torment.  But Abraham did not send Lazarus.  He said that the brothers already had Moses and the prophets (the Holy Scriptures) and that they needed to listen to them.

I do not want you to go to the place of torment where the rich man was.  I encourage you to read the Holy Scriptures so that you may believe and obey what they teach you to do.