Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Reflection: Today we see the juxtaposition (big word meaning placing two things beside each other to bring new clarity to a subject) of the blessings of the tribes of Israel and the allotment for each tribe in the Promised Land. This comes with a parable from Luke (only found in Luke) about a Rich Man (representing the Pharisees, the Covenant people of God) and the Poor Man Lazarus (representing the nations outside of Israel).

We need to interpret this parable, which is unique to Luke, in the context of the other four parables that make up this set of teaching in this gospel. If you remember two were about lost things that were found and God’s heart for lost people. And then also Jesus was receiving quite a bit of heat from the Pharisees for healing people on the Sabbath. It is then that Jesus begins to reveal that God’s plan has always been that the Jews would be a people set apart to be a blessing to all nations through the promise given to Abraham in Genesis. This parable is yet another indication that the blessing given to Israel being God’s people, would be extended to the Gentile nations who Jesus came for, and of which Paul would be an ambassador for in the letters to come.

The parable is not so much meant to be an exact literal description of heaven and hell. For instance there is no other instance where people can communicate back and forth to loved ones from hell in the bible. And also it is not meant to say all who are rich are going to heaven and all who are poor are going to hell. That is the danger of literal interpretation especially of a parable that must be interpreted in context.

But if the parable is to teach about the blessing being given to the Gentiles through the rejection of Jesus by the Jews; what does this say to us today? If you are a believer have you not been blessed and included in all the covenant promises of God? Have you not been called to be a son or daughter of God and into a holy priesthood of all believers? With these tremendous privileges and blessings come responsibility. Like Paul, who received his calling by Jesus himself, he knew his life was bought with a price. He took the precious gifts of his calling and lived the rest of his life sharing this precious gift with all who would listen. As it says, “He became all things to all people so he might win some.”

And our Moravian doctrinal text of the day reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:10 (read all of 2 Corinthians 5 to see the context it is one of believers awaiting the new body we will receive in heaven) we will one day give an account for the things we have done in this life with the precious covenant promises we have been given in Christ. This is not a judgment regarding whether we are saved but an accounting with what we have done with the gifts we have been given.

Take a moment today to think of the privilege you have been given as God’s covenant daughter or son. We have the chance to live out our calling bringing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven through the local church, which is the hope of the world. Thank you Jesus for choosing us to bring the kingdom to all the world and we will one day rest in your bosom along with Abraham and all sons and daughters of God.

Psalm 96:1-9
1 Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.

Joshua 19:10-39
Allotment for Zebulun

10 The third lot came up for Zebulun according to its clans: The boundary of their inheritance went as far as Sarid. 11 Going west it ran to Maralah, touched Dabbesheth, and extended to the ravine near Jokneam. 12 It turned east from Sarid toward the sunrise to the territory of Kisloth Tabor and went on to Daberath and up to Japhia. 13 Then it continued eastward to Gath Hepher and Eth Kazin; it came out at Rimmon and turned toward Neah. 14 There the boundary went around on the north to Hannathon and ended at the Valley of Iphtah El. 15 Included were Kattath, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah and Bethlehem. There were twelve towns and their villages.
16 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of Zebulun, according to its clans.

Allotment for Issachar

17 The fourth lot came out for Issachar according to its clans. 18 Their territory included:
Jezreel, Kesulloth, Shunem, 19 Hapharaim, Shion, Anaharath, 20 Rabbith, Kishion, Ebez, 21 Remeth, En Gannim, En Haddah and Beth Pazzez. 22 The boundary touched Tabor, Shahazumah and Beth Shemesh, and ended at the Jordan. There were sixteen towns and their villages.23 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Issachar, according to its clans.

Allotment for Asher

24 The fifth lot came out for the tribe of Asher according to its clans. 25 Their territory included:

Helkath, Hali, Beten, Akshaph, 26 Allammelek, Amad and Mishal. On the west the boundary touched Carmel and Shihor Libnath. 27 It then turned east toward Beth Dagon, touched Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtah El, and went north to Beth Emek and Neiel, passing Kabul on the left. 28 It went to Abdon, Rehob, Hammon and Kanah, as far as Greater Sidon. 29 The boundary then turned back toward Ramah and went to the fortified city of Tyre, turned toward Hosah and came out at the Mediterranean Sea in the region of Akzib, 30 Ummah, Aphek and Rehob. There were twenty-two towns and their villages. 31 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Asher, according to its clans.

Allotment for Naphtali

32 The sixth lot came out for Naphtali according to its clans:33 Their boundary went from Heleph and the large tree in Zaanannim, passing Adami Nekeb and Jabneel to Lakkum and ending at the Jordan. 34 The boundary ran west through Aznoth Tabor and came out at Hukkok. It touched Zebulun on the south, Asher on the west and the Jordan[b] on the east. 35 The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinnereth, 36 Adamah, Ramah, Hazor, 37 Kedesh, Edrei, En Hazor, 38 Iron, Migdal El, Horem, Beth Anath and Beth Shemesh. There were nineteen towns and their villages. 39 These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Naphtali, according to its clans.

Luke 16:16-31
The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 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.’ 25 “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. 26 And besides 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.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “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.’”

Does God not see my ways, and number all my steps? Job 31:4

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10

We know that you are always with us, O God. Be with us today and every day as we go through life, and help us remember to live as your children, until we see you face to face. Amen.

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