“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:27-31)
Read: Joshua 9:3-10:43, Luke 16:19-17:10, Psalm 83:1-18, Proverbs 13:4
Relate: As I was reading this today three different, and mostly unrelated, things jumped out at me one right after another. I am just going to throw them all out there and see what happens. I apologize in advance if this devotional doesn’t seem to flow or fit into the tightly packed message you normally expect from me.
The first of these is that the rich man in hell was still aware and concerned with what was going on in both heaven and earth. I won’t get into the speculative theology of whether or not what he was in was the future hell all those in rebellion against God will inhabit. Neither will I speculate on whether Lazarus was in the future heaven followers of Jesus will enjoy. The point here is that Lazarus had it good, really good, and the rich man had it bad, really bad, and yet even in his suffering and his torment he was aware and concerned with what was happening outside his world. I think that is part of what will make hell, hell. It won’t just be the fact that a person is in pain and torment but the awareness that they did it to themselves and that the torment was avoidable.
The second thing is that this rich man had not changed. Yes, he wanted relief from his anguish, and yes he does want his family to avoid his situation but two things are glaringly absent from everything he says. He doesn’t ask if and how he can leave that place. He wants relief but says nothing of escape. The second and more important is that there is no repentance or contrition. He says nothing about being sorry for what he has done. Instead, he is trying to order Abraham about and he still views Lazarus as an inferior. It is as though Lazarus is now Abraham’s servant or errand boy. “Send your boy over here with some water for me. No? Then have him go warn my brothers about this place.”
The third thing is that zombies and ghosts can’t save people. Can you imagine what Lazarus would have looked like if he stepped back into his body, crawled out of his grave, and then showed up at his brothers door to pass along that message? Of course you can. We have all kinds of movies and TV shows from the horrible (28 Days Later, World War Z), to the great (the first Resident Evil) showing us such a scenario in all its cinematic glory. Those brothers would be crapping their pants and desperately hoping that Alice or Daryl Dixon will show up to save the day. They would be far too frightened to listen to a word that zombie was saying. The message would be lost (but not in the psychedelic island sense of the word).
React: All three of these observations are truths that often seemed to get overlooked by those who complain about the “justice” of hell. It is a very legitimate question to ask, “How could a just God send someone to hell for an eternity based on the choices they make during a brief lifespan?” Well, God doesn’t send anybody to hell. People chose to go there. He actually does everything possible outside of taking away our free will to keep people from choosing hell. Hell, after all, is nothing more than the physical manifestation of the spiritual wish many have that God would just “stay out of their lives”. Hell is what happens when He says, “OK. If you insist.” It is completely avoidable.
More than that, people don’t just chose to go there but they chose to stay there. I am not going the Rob Bell route with that in saying that eventually, even in hell people will repent and ultimately “love wins”. I think it is more a matter that God sustains a person’s life as long as repentance is still a possibility. He knows everything and I think He knows when a moment comes at which a person has gone beyond the point of no return. Please note this is an opinion, not a dogma. If someone were to scripturally point out how I am wrong, I will gladly change it, but I do not see any evidence of repentance or even contrition coming from anyone in hell.
Hell is avoidable, people chose to go there and to stay there, and God has given us everything we need to avoid it. The scripture, His Word, and our testimony is all the entire world from the youngest to the oldest, from the richest to the poorest, from America to Zimbabwe needs to make the informed decision to chose God and avoid hell. Religion is most certainly not a private matter we should all keep to ourselves but rather a global concern we should all be shouting from the rooftops. God doesn’t need zombies to reach the world, He has given it the Church. We are the walking dead proclaiming life. At least… we should be. Are we?
First and foremost I thank You with everything within me for doing everything short of sin to keep me from hell. It is incomprehensible to me that You have chosen to love me so deeply and richly that You would allow Your Son to come and take upon Himself, on the cross, the penalty for my rebellion against You. Forgive me for making that sacrifice necessary. Forgive me also for not being vocal at every opportunity about all You have done for me. Help me at every opportunity to eloquently and persuasively shout from the rooftops the warning this world is so desperate to hear.
23 thoughts on “Messages From Hell”
Well done and I posted it on my facebook page. God has been pressing this on my heart for over a month, glad you wrote it.
‘We are the walking dead proclaiming life’ I love that and just commented the same on your last blog – hope I can keep that in the forefront throughout today. Bless you.
Reblogged this on Shiny Thoughts and commented:
“We are the walking dead proclaiming life.” amen!
I’m not quite sure I follow the “we chose to remain in hell,” just because I thought (and I could be wrong) once we get to Hell, that’s it. That said, I LOVED this article, and I followed your thoughts and conjectures. Very thought-provoking!
I agree once someone gets to hell, that’s it. But that does not mean it is, and consistently remains, their choice. That is what I was talking about when I said God sustains a life until they go beyond that point of no return where they would no longer repent no matter what happened.
Gotcha! Thank you for clarifying. 😃
Yeah, and it was a great point. You were writing about the rich man and how, in a sense, “he chose to remain in hell,” by virtue of the fact that he didn’t ask, “can you get me out of here!??” We read that he makes those other two requests, but not the request for escape. Wow. So, you gave us some great insight there. People truly do reject God’s grace and mercy with their eyes wide open.
Oh, and by the way, I appreciate these words of yours, “Religion is most certainly not a private matter we should all keep to ourselves but rather a global concern we should all be shouting from the rooftops.”
Great reminder to be vigilant in sharing God’s love and grace! At the point of death so many people come to God….like the man on the cross next to Jesus. Our goal should be to reach as many hearts and souls as we can before that time in their life so they may know God’s blessings now. Thank you for your writing ministry!
I second all the positive comments. Thank you for sharing your writing ministry. You bring encouragement and admonition to believers and I am grateful to you and for you.
This is a great post!
i like that you pointed out how the rich man continued to order people around to serve him. Which shows that maybe in hell people remain who they were and their sins follow after them. also what caught my eye when i revisted the passage was that Abraham pointed to Moses and the prophets to teach about repentance. Thanks for the thought provoking
Most of us don’t think enough about the meaning of eternity. Imagine being with a bunch of souls who think God ought to step aside and let them take over. Imagine being with people forever bitter instead of grateful.
There is no way Satan would be happy in heaven, not if heaven remained heaven. If Satan was in heaven, it would not be heaven. It would be hell.
Wow, what a provocative post. I’ve always thought similar things but never had the courage to say them except to people I feel very comfortable with. Good for you. I hope to be as brave on my blog.
Reblogged this on ChristianBlessings and commented:
God’s free gift is for us to go to heaven. Have you chosen to accept His gift or by default of not choosing are you headed for hell?
You certainly put a new spin of thought to the Lazarus story. Good post.
Amen! We are the walking dead. See Matthew 27:52
I think this would make a great post. Zombies right out of the scripture. . .
Great post.. I’ve recently been pondering this story also.. Gives us great insight on how our lives today impact our eternal future.. God bless you!
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Your argument is right. Thanks for your boldness in stating the fact that there is a hell and we have a choice right here, right now to avoid it. I’m so thankful for the alternative that comes with my choice to accept the sacrifice of Jesus.
Wonderful observations. Thank you for sharing
Amazing blog! Don’t apologize for it! Outstanding!
Where the rich man went is called hell or, in the Greek, hades (hah”-dace) i.e. ‘land of the wicked dead’ (situated deep down the earth). This place is not the real hell i.e. lake of fire aka bottomless pit. Satan will go there first; others who do not get bornagain will go there after the white throne judgment. There’s truly no way of escape once there, else the erroneous doctrine of purgatory will be true. What the rich man tried to do was to lay an illegal precedent for the occupants of hades so as to use that lacuna to escape. If father Abraham had allowed him other hellish miscreants will have their way too! You don’t go there if God does not, as a righteous Judge, sentence you there. The rich man wanted to play an evil fast one but God can’t be outwitted. Amen. Christians are not zombies, for the walking cadavers, are the unbelievers of John 3:18, who are “condemned already”. A zombie is a demonic affiliate. A Christian is of 2Cor. 5:17, a new creature. The word ‘new’, kainos (kai-nos’): ‘new (especially in freshness)’, therefore always new before the righteous Jehovah. The ‘creature’ ktisis (ktis’-is), is an ‘original formation’ by the Eternal God. Hallelujah!