Rich man and Lazarus

The Rich Man and Lazarus
- Luke 16:19-31

Believe it or not, this is the ONLY place in the entire New Testament that suggests that a lost soul goes into a fiery hell immediately at death. This idea is not taught anywhere else - not by Matthew, Mark, John, James, Peter or Paul.

Jesus often told parables. While containing many practical lessons, parables are not meant to be taken literally. Here are 9 reasons why the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is definitely a parable:

Jesus often began his parables in the book of Luke with the phrase, “a certain...” See Luke 12:16; 13:6; 14:16; 15:11; 16:1; 19:11-12; 20:9 (KJV).
A man cannot literally enter into “the bosom” or chest of Abraham.
It is impossible for anyone who is literally burning in fire to carry on a normal conversation.
Can those in heaven and hell talk to each other?
The rich man was represented as being “bodily” in hell, with eyes, a mouth, a tongue, etc. This is obviously symbolic. If the rich man’s grave was dug up, wouldn’t his body be there? Of course.
A real man burning in fire would not ask for a little water to cool his tongue. (He would ask for the fire brigade!)
Jesus Christ did not interpret every parable He told. Yet He did interpret the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13. In His interpretation of this parable, Jesus said plainly that hell-fire occurs at the end, rather than at death. Read Matthew 13:40.
Consciousness at death contradicts the rest of the Bible. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Psalms 6:5; 115:17; 146:4; etc.
2 Peter 2:9 says that the lost will not be punished until “the day of judgment” which occurs at the end of the 1000 years (see Revelation 20:11-15).
The purpose of this parable was to teach the greedy Pharisees that contrary to their present opinions, the rich are not necessarily blessed and the poor cursed (16:14, 22-23), that a man’s destiny is fixed at death (16:26), that speaking against Him with their “tongues” would result in their going into hell-fire (16:4), and that if they would not believe Moses and the prophets, a resurrection would not convince them (16:29, 31). Thus Jesus declared that we must believe Moses and the prophets. Nowhere in the writings of “Moses and the prophets” do people instantly go to heaven or into hell-fire at death. Why did Jesus use the name Lazarus? Because this parable was also a prophecy. At the end of His life Jesus would resurrect a real person named Lazarus, yet this miracle would still not convince the Pharisees that He was the Messiah. John 11:1-53.

Note: We should interpret parables in the light of the rest of the Bible, rather than the rest of the Bible in the light of one parable.

Saul, Samuel and the witch of Endor - 1 Samuel 28:5-14
Did King Saul really speak to Samuel after his death? Do the whole host of scriptures that clearly state the dead sleep until the second coming of Christ contradict this passage? Definitely not! In 1 Samuel chapter 28 we find Saul afraid of the host of Philistines and so enquiring after the Lord for help. But the Lord would not answer Saul so he went to the witch of Endor to see if he could contact Samuel from the grave and have him ask God how he could gain victory over the Philistines.

Saul of course sinned greatly by inquiring of an evil spirit in place of the Lord. If Samuel had actually gone to heaven, Satan would certainly not have been given permission to bring him down in response to the incantations of a wicked woman. The figure that appeared to the witch had to be an impersonation of Samuel by a demon or even Satan himself. If Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), he can certainly appear as the prophet Samuel. Note in verse 11 that Samuel was supposedly brought up from below. Heretical but popular theology says that righteous people such as Samuel would come down from heaven, but pagan ideas assume that the dead are below ground. This popular pagan idea about death had obviously crept into the beliefs of God’s people well before the time of Christ. See the story of the rich man and Lazarus earlier and John chapter 11 for example.

This witch of Endor was known for having a familiar spirit but what is a familiar spirit? It is certainly not an angel of God because of His strong condemnation against consulting with them. A familiar spirit is a demonic spirit (fallen angel) that is in league with Satan. This is what the woman at Endor had. She had communication with a demon that was quite capable of impersonating Samuel. It was not Samuel who appeared but a demon masquerading as Samuel. Note in verse 12 that the first thing the demon did was expose Saul’s masquerade to the witch. Note also that Saul did not actually see anything himself and had to ask what she saw. The witch replied that she saw gods ascending out of the earth and an old man covered with a mantle. What were these so called gods ascending out of the earth with Samuel? More demons! Saul assumed it was Samuel he communicated with based only on what the witch said. Since the witch said she saw Samuel coming up from out of the earth (not down from heaven), King Saul was putting his trust completely in a spirit medium, a necromancer, a witch, against the expressed will of God. So the conversation that followed was not between Saul and Samuel, but between Saul and a witch with a familiar (demonic) spirit.

So with all these facts in mind and understanding what the Word teaches about the state of the dead and the circumstances of Saul’s relationship with God at the time, we know that it could not have been Samuel raised from the dead but a fallen angel. The fact that Saul even attempted this séance with a witch or spirit medium was an abomination and rebellion against God of which Saul paid for with his life.

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