Witnessing Heaven on the Horizon
By Lynette Kittle
Although many of us are familiar with the story of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man told by Jesus, our focus is most likely on the rich man’s sorrow, suffering, and hopelessness in being eternally separated from God and his family. Our thoughts consider how although he was comfortable and well taken care of on earth, he is found in dire agony after his death. Yet, in reading about his torment, we often overlook that he had a clear view of heaven in his suffering. Although there are discussions over whether there is a difference between Hades and hell, we get the picture. Through Jesus’ story, we see how His life, death, and resurrection offer us everlasting life with Him.
The Rich Man and Lazarus’ Shared History.
From the story, we learn the rich man dressed in the best clothes, which included purple and fine linen of the time, living in luxury every day. In contrast, at the city gate laid Lazarus, a beggar, covered with sores with an empty stomach longing just to eat the leftovers from the rich man’s table. It sounds like the only ones who paid Lazarus any comfort were dogs, who offered him some relief by licking his sores (Luke 16:19-21). Yet when the beggar died, angels carried him away to Abraham’s side. Unlike Lazarus, when the rich man died, he was buried and found himself in hell. Imagine his surprise when in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham with Lazarus by his side (Luke 16:23).
“So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire'” (Luke 16:24).
Sadly, even in torment, the rich man thought he deserved to have the beggar serve him.
Who Goes to Hell?
Countless souls have been ushered into hell since the beginning of humanity. So often, we think of individuals suddenly finding themselves hidden away in darkness and a fiery pit, wondering how they got there. The rich man’s story reveals an awareness of where he has ended up and a prominent view of heaven. For individuals who do not believe in heaven or hell, there will be no doubt where they have landed. They will have the horrific realization they were wrong in what they thought and believed. The error of their thinking and belief system will be starkly and tragically revealed to them.
There are No Exits in Hell.
Unfortunately, there is no return from hell for those who reject Jesus on Earth. Scripture clarifies any misinformation concerning this possibility: “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And beside all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'” Luke 16:25-26
Those who end up in hell are tormented with regret in realizing that without Jesus, their loved ones will soon join them. Recognizing this truth in hell, in his torment, the rich man sought to reach out to his family.
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'” Luke 16:27– 28
Sadly, Abraham explains how they already have Moses and the Prophets to hear the truth. In response, the rich man begged Abraham to send someone from the dead to them, so they’ll repent. But in Abraham’s response, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:31) Tragically, people reject Jesus every day.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Do you know individuals so consumed with earthly comforts they haven’t looked ahead to plan for eternity? If so, share how Jesus died and rose from the grave to give them everlasting wonderful life with Him.
Is Hell Temporary or Eternal?
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jelleke Vanooteghem
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
Want to grow your prayer life? The So Much More Podcast shows you how to create space to be with God. This podcast, hosted by Jodie Niznik, introduces you to two types of scripture experiences: Lectio Divina and Imaginative Prayer. Join our growing prayer community today!