In recent months we’ve lost several celebrities to death: Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame (April 8th); Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame (April 7th); David Jones of the Monkeys fame (February 29th); Whitney Houston, pop icon (Feb 10th); Etta James, Grammy Award winning singer (January 20th); and many others. Not to mention the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents and friends that we loss personally.
Unsubstantiated data suggests that about 150,000 people die each day. Fundamental Christianity would have us believe that the next conscious moment realized by each of these 150,000 people is either that of heavenly bliss or the torture of hell fire. Makes sense, yes? I mean, the primary proof positive of the soul’s imminent destination at death seems to be the well known parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, found only in Luke 16:19-31. In this parable, Yeshua tells His hearers the story of a rich man who lived a luxurious life. Lazarus, a poor and sickly man, was laid on the rich man’s porch where he “longed to be nourished with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table…” Ultimately both the rich man and Lazarus died. Lazarus was “…carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom…” while the rich man was buried…and in the grave he lifted up his eyes and was in torment…” Seems like clear enough evidence proving that the good go to heaven while the bad go to hell, right? Of course it is. Church leaders have used this passage to support their numerous teachings, preaching and commentaries for millennia that this is indeed the case. It goes without saying: they are the experts and we are simply the laity.
But let’s just suppose for the time being that the meaning of this parable is not as we perceive it to be. Let’s consider this parable from the perspective of one who was actually there listening to Yeshua; of Jewish descent; and possessing a modicum of knowledge of Jewish folklore and Jewish history.
Most of us who have been associated with traditional Christianity for a while likely have been taught that Yeshua taught using parables to get across heavenly principles using earthly stories. The purpose was to help the hearer understand spiritual principles through the use of earthly analogies. Seems reasonable, right? But to be sure why not ask Yeshua why He chose to use parables. This can be found in Matthew 13: 10-17, the highlights of which are as follows:
“And His disciples came to Him and asked, “Why do You speak to them in parables? And he answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given…For this reason I speak to them in parables because seeing they see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, In hearing you shall hear, and in no way understand; and in seeing you shall see, and in no way perceive; for the heart of this people has grown fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and should hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted and I should heal them…’ For truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what you see, and have not seen; and to hear what you hear and have not heard.”
Hold on: is Yeshua insinuating that only His disciples are blessed with knowledge of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God? Were the Jews then not privileged to gaining this knowledge, even with the use of parables? This kind of goes contrary to the understanding that Yeshua’s cute little parables were dummied down spiritual concepts that every commoner could understand because everyone could understand planting, sowing, marrying, being assaulted by bandits on a road, etc. Right?
Or could it be that we have here a case of revelation: revelation from the standpoint of Yahweh choosing whom He wills to understand the principles of His kingdom, in His appointed times. Is it possible dear friends that Yahweh instructed His son to provide humanity with parables as brilliant “place markers” that would in Yahweh’s own good time reveal to man fundamental principles of the coming Kingdom of God? Does it not make perfect sense that Yahweh chooses the times and circumstances for each person to come into full knowledge of His plan for mankind? Certainly today, our understanding of many of the principles contained in our Bibles was not held by most of the children of Israel in the last 4 millennia of known history. Even today, Yahweh continues to reveal to his chosen few a myriad of truths that have been hidden from most for many millennia. And here in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man lies another example of truth that has been hidden for centuries and is now being understood by Yahweh’s elect.
If one examines the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man from the perspective of a first century Jew, the illusive true meaning of this parable rises from centuries of misinformation and misunderstanding. Please return for my next posting that will examine the origin and proper interpretation of this great parable. In the meantime, stay alert; stay on your knees; pray for the peace of Israel; and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.