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The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is one that is often evoked in sermons, and like most other parables, does not have an explanation alongside it. Some presume that it could even be a real story which Christ shares. As we all know, the text often unravels new meaning each time we read it, and thus I would like to give you my understanding of this Parable.

First of all, I believe this is a Parable as Yeshua(Jesus’ Hebrew Name) never relates real stories other than Parables, unless it is from the Scriptures. The other reason to presume that this is a Parable, in fact comes from the text itself, as Christ relates several Parables to the Pharisees and Scribes in Chapter 15 and 16 before relating the parable in question to the same audience. It is most likely a Parable also because of the clues riddled in the story.

Let me know your thoughts and whether you agree, disagree or you have had a better interpretation or revelation.

Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
The Rich Man is adorned in attire that symbolises kingship/authority and he was blessed in everything living a rich life, just like the religious leaders of “the Kingdom/House of Judah” who was always blessed by God, living under His care.
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
The poor beggar named Lazarus (Greek transliteration of Eliezer) was full of sores and was laid at the gate signifying “the Kingdom/House of Israel” who was exiled only to live outside the promised land in uncleanness without the blessing of God. Also note that the dispersed/scattered Israelites were regarded unclean by the Pharisaic authority of the day (Joh 7:35).
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
The scattered people of the Kingdom/House of Israel desired to be part of God’s people but was barred and separated by the religious authority. We see many a time that Gentiles came to worship in Jerusalem (Joh 12:20, Act 8:27). If the House of Israel stood for the beggar, the Gentile nations who longed to be part of God’s People were signified by the Dogs. Christ had previously equated Gentile nations to dogs(Mar 7:26,27). So far the Parable speaks of the Blessed House of Judah with the House of Israel at its feet taking any blessings that they can possibly get. The gentile nations who longed to be blessed by God were trying to be as close to the House of Israel as they possibly could, and get anything that came their way.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Judgement comes to both the House of Israel and the House of Judah
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The House of Israel ends up in Abraham’s Bosom* which means to be collected to their forefather Abraham(Mat 8:11), while the House of Judah is not collected back to their forefather.
Luk 16:24,25 And 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 thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The House of Judah will long to be with their forefather but it will be too late when they are in the grave, to change their fate.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest 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 House of Judah longs to save their brethren who are alive and who will receive the same fate.
Luk 16:29,30 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Christ references himself as a person who goes into the world of the living from the dead, as the House of Judah thinks his brethren will change from evil by the word of such a person.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The change from evil/sin can be attained by the Word of God – His Law and the words of the Prophets, but people who don’t listen to the “Old Testament Scriptures” (as we know them) would not change even if a person comes alive from the dead.

Conclusion
The Parable which is directed at the Pharisees and Scribes were the ones who had Authority of the House of Judah. They were the Rich man of the day. The House of Israel scattered among the nations after the Assyrian Exile, were at the feet of the religious authority and were only getting crumbs because of their disgust of them. The gentile nations were far worse off. This religious authority may think that anything will change with these religious figures, if a person comes back from the dead and preaches repentance and coming back to God’s Word. But a person who does not adhere to Moses (The Five books of Moses known as Torah or the Law of Moses) and the Books of the Prophets would not change their minds because of anything. The Pharisees and Scribes were not keeping God’s Law at the time because of additions that they had made to Gods’ Word (also known as the Traditions of the Fathers/Elders or the Oral Law).

This was a clear rebuke against the religious authority of Yeshua’s day, to go back to God’s Word. How could they believe Yeshua, even when He comes back from the dead; as they don’t even adhere to God’s Law and the words of His Prophets?

*What is Abraham’s Bosom?
It is clear that Abraham’s Lap or Bosom was a generic term used in the 1st century and beyond to explain the dead being collected back to their forefathers, specifically Abraham. In Jewish writings it speaks of a Rabbi named Ada bar Ahava as following: “he was dwelling in the lap of our Patriach Avraham” (Talmud Kiddushin 72b). It was a place that righteous people go to.

Further Reading
The Parable of the prodigal son and the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the Term “Hell”
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people through Messiah
Has the church replaced israel

The unknown Assyrian Exile

Most Christians have heard of the Babylonian Exile of the Israelites. We are familiar with the story of Daniel, and have heard about the Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar. But what about the Assyrian Exile? Why is it that Christians do not even have a clue about this event?

NationalGeographicDon’t believe me? Let’s turn to history. The National Geographic Society has published a book called “Essential Visual History of the World” which contains a very concise history of all the major civilizations and kingdoms of the earth. In this book, you find empires such as Egypt, Syria, Persia, India, China right upto Greece, Rome and even into modern history of the great World Wars. The interesting pages that caught my eye, was the ones that mentioned “the Israelites”. In page 42 & 43 of the book (pictured below), it clearly mentions the division of the Kingdom into North & South and of its fall into Assyria and Babylon respectively.

Divided-Kingdom-of-Israel

Click on thumbnail for expanded view

If you were like me, you would be scratching your head thinking where an Exile to Assyria is even mentioned in the Scriptures? The reason we do not know about this event is because very rarely do Christians read the lengthy, name heavy, books of Kings & Chronicles.

For a thorough examination of the Divided Kingdom of Israel, and how it effects our understanding of God’s Word, read the following posts;
Parable of the Prodigal Son and the 2 Houses of Israel
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people, through Messiah

Here is a very brief look at what happened to Israel after the reign of King Solomon
1. After David, Solomon was anointed King and when Solomon was old, his many wives made him sin against God (1Kin 11:4-7).
2. As punishment, Solomon’s servant Jeroboam received 10 tribes to rule over, and the rest were ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (1Kin 11:30,31/ 1Kin 12:16,17).
3. Rehoboam ruled over the Tribe of Judah & Benjamin, collectively called the “House of Judah” (1Kin 12:23).
4. From this point onwards in the Books of 1st & 2nd Kings, Jeroboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Israel” in the north of the land while Rehoboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Judah” in the south of the land.
5. After much rebellion against God, and not giving ear to the Prophets, The House of Israel was taken captive to Assyria(2Kin 17:6,18,23).
6. The Majority of them were scattered among the nations(Hos 8:8, Jer 31:10).
7. Even though, The House of Judah, was much better than The House of Israel, they also disobeyed God and was taken captive to Babylon(Dan 1:1,2).
8. God let Judah return back to their land after 70 yrs in exile(Jer 29:10, Ezr 2:1, Neh 7:6).

The divided Kingdom of Israel, was known as the “House of Israel” & the “House of Judah” from the time after the death of King Solomon. The New Covenant was made exclusively with these two divided houses/kingdoms as we can see below.

Jer 31:31  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Heb 8:8  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

The Scriptures do not speak of a New Covenant made with any other nation. Christ himself said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 15:24). This was the same Good News prophesied by Ezekiel when he spoke of a day when the 2 kingdoms would be united under one shepherd.

Eze 37:16-24  Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.

This is the same mystery that Paul spoke of, when he explained that all believers are grafted into the Olive tree, which is God’s people “Israel” in Romans Chapter 11. (Compare Rom 11:19 and Jer 11:16). All of prophecy in the Scriptures hang on the simple fact of the division, dispersion and regathering of His people under Christ our Shepherd. How can we understand any of these complex ideas given to us in Scripture, if we do not understand the basics that even History proclaims to be true?

My prayer for each of you who have not heard of this part of history, is that you would search the Scriptures and read for yourself, so you would be able to better understand everything written by the Prophets as well as the New Testament writers such as Paul, bringing you to a closer walk with our Heavenly Father.

What are Phylacteries?

Have you ever noticed or been puzzled by the word “Phylacteries” in the New Testament? Ever wondered what Christ was talking about in Mat 23:5? His words were “But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments”.

Pharisee I had paid little notice to this word before, picturing in my mind that it was some sort of clothing item that the Pharisees wore. Not paying full attention to details in the Bible can, and have, had a major impact on the beliefs that are prevalent in the Christian congregations.

The “Pharisees & Scribes” who were wearing phylacteries mentioned by Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) would have looked something like this. The “Phylacteries” or “Tefillin” as it is called in Hebrew, is a small box which contains Scripture with a strap, which can be bound on the Head or the Arms.

The importance of this verse is in the fact that it sheds light on a major misunderstanding in Christianity. Which one, you ask? “It’s the common belief among Christians that the Scribes and Pharisees Kept the Old Testament Law, and that this is why Yeshua called them Hypocrites and white washed tombs – because the Old Law was done away”.

The problem with this understanding is that both biblically and historically, we have evidence that the Pharisees did not keep God’s Law. In fact, wearing “Phylacteries” was not a Commandment given by God. Then why did the Pharisees wear these things? Because it was part of their “Oral Law”, known as the “Traditions of the Elders” throughout the New Testament (Mat 15:2,3,6, Mar 7:3,8,9,13, Gal 1:14). TefillinWearing “Phylacteries” was how they had interpreted Exo 13:9,16 & Deut 6:8, 11:18 which says that “God’s Word should be a sign upon our hands and between our eyes”. Obviously, this was a figure of speech to say “that we should do or obey as well as remember God’s Word”.

The Pharisaic Sect of Yeshua’s day had taken a piece of Scripture out of context and made a separate Law out of it. The “Oral Law” which is still in use today, known as the “Talmud” is strictly adhered to by Orthodox Jews around the world. Not only do they wear it, the “Talmud” provides strict laws on how to even put it on. (If you want to learn more about the Pharisees and their traditions, I recommend that you watch this video, brought to you by former Orthodox Jew – Nehemiah Gordon)

What does this mean? Are all Jews like Pharisees? Are all Pharisees alike? The picture of “Pharisees” and some times, even “Jews“, in a Western Christian mind, is that they were wicked, legalistic and nonspiritual people. This is hardly the case. We know that there were quite a lot of Pharisees who respected Yeshua, as well as some who believed in Him (Luk 13:31, Joh 9:16, Act 15:5). We should by no means generalize people. Furthermore, it is important to remember that Yeshua, His Disciples, His followers and even Apostle Paul, were all Jews.

The Orthodox Jews of today, still adhere to a plethora of extra laws (from the Talmud), thinking that it is genuinely what God expects from them. They are misguided, as much as the Christians who think the Law is done away in Christ. We must understand that not all Jews are like the Pharisees of Christ’s age. Consider the Karaite Jews who reject the Talmud and anything other than the Old Testament, and the Messianic Jews who believe in Yeshua.

The many persecutions which have fallen on the Jews have always happened because of this huge misunderstanding. A lot of people have persecuted “Jews” standing under Christ’s banner, making it impossible for them to except Yeshua as the prophesied Messiah.

What was the main Commandment which the Pharisees broke through their traditions?
God’s Word specifically instructs that no one can add or remove anything from God’s Law/Commandments.
Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
The Scriptures call anyone who adds to God’s Law, a Liar (Pro 30:6). This was one of the main concerns Yeshua had regarding the Pharisees, when He said “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men”(Mar 7:8) & “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Mat 15:3).

Are all traditions bad? Are all traditions sin? definitely not. But the moment we put “Tradition” over “God’s Commandments”, or teach “man made Traditions” as “God’s Law”, we are breaking His Words. This is why Yeshua said (quoting Isaiah 29:13)”But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“(Mat 15:9) regarding the Pharisees.

Adding and Diminishing & the 2 Houses of Israel
If you know about Biblical History, you would know that the people “Israel” divided into 2 Kingdoms after the death of King Solomon. These 2 Kingdoms were called “The House of Judah” & “The House of Israel/Ephraim”. “The House of Israel” was carried away by Assyria and scattered in the nations with a promise of being regathered, while “The House of Judah” was exiled for 70 years in “Babylon” being let back into the land. (Please go to this link for more info) It is interesting to see how “the Jews” (House of Judah) add to God’s Law, through their various traditions and man-made laws written in the Talmud, while “the gentiles” (House of Ephraim) diminishes from God’s Law, saying it is done away and that they are free from it.

“Phylacteries” are a good reminder of checking our lives, our doctrines and our thoughts for anything that we may be adding or diminishing from our Creator’s Words. It is a call to really put His Words in our hearts and souls, binding them on our hands by being obedient to Him, that His Words may be always foremost in our minds (Deut 11:18), so that we do not turn to the left or to the right from them (Jos 23:6) choosing God and His Word alone in the midst of man-made commandments & traditions.