In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Christ gives us a good look at what Sheol is like. Some would say; “but isn’t this only a parable?” I do not believe that we should write this off as only a parable. Instead let us ask the question, “What is a parable?”
A parable is a true story about something the original hearers would have been very familiar with or knew all about. For example Jesus spoke about fishing, ploughing fields, sowing seed, harvest, baking bread, looking after sheep, births, weddings and deaths. All the parables that Jesus told are true, in the sense that they either happened, or could have happened, but many had an unfamiliar ending.
So the story Jesus tells us about the deaths of Lazarus and the rich man is true in that it could have happened. The unfamiliar ending is the rich man asking Abraham to send Lazarus back to the world of the living to warn his brothers. But what if Jesus Christ the Son of God had asked God the Father to send Lazarus back? When Jesus told this parable, it is very possible that Lazarus, Jesus Christ friend, who had been raised from the dead, was right there with Jesus. (John 11:1-47)
Was the Lazarus, whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead, the same Lazarus spoken of in the story? I don’t believe so. Nevertheless those listening to Jesus would have recognized this as a true story, in that it could have happened just as Jesus told it.
Jesus Christ starts in verse 19 by saying; “There was.” Meaning, this is something that has already happened. Jesus is not saying this is how it will be. Jesus is telling us, this is how it has been ever since the death of Abel, Adam’s son, and this is how it will remain until Jesus Christ comes for all those who belong to Him on the last day. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, & John 6:40)
Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and rejoiced in abundance every day; 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores. 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. 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.
This all happened before the resurrection of Jesus Christ from Sheol, the world of the dead, and because Jesus Christ was the first to ascend to God the Father from the world of the dead. We know that at the time of Lazarus’ death, Abraham’s soul was still in Sheol and his body still in the grave. So when Lazarus dies, his soul was taken down to Sheol to rest, along with the souls of Abraham and the other saints. But when the rich man died, his soul was taken down into the lowest pit of Sheol, where the souls of the wicked are tormented.
Luke 16:23 And in Sheol he lifted up his eyes. Being in torment and seeing Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom, 24 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed: so that they which desire to pass from here to you cannot; neither can they which are there with you pass to us.
Lazarus was in the place of comfort, while the rich man was in the place of agony and torment. Both are within Sheol, the world of the dead, but in different areas. The rich man could see up and across to where Lazarus was. But between them was a great gulf fixed, which no one could cross.
This picture that Jesus Christ gives us may not be an exact picture of Sheol, but it must be a very close likeness; for Jesus would not lie to us, and it is His way of explaining to us what Sheol is like.
In Luke 23:43, Jesus describes the place of comfort and rest within Sheol, as paradise. The word ‘paradise’ means a park, or a large garden ground. This word paradise is used three times in the Scriptures. In Luke 23:43; Jesus Christ describes the place of comfort and rest within Sheol as paradise. In 2 Corinthians 12:4; it is used to describe a vision of a place in the sky. Then in Revelation 2:7; it is used to describe a place on earth.
The tree of life, according to Revelation 2:7, is in the paradise of God. Also according to the Word of God, the tree of life was placed in the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden can rightfully be described as a paradise. When God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God never removed the tree of life. Instead God placed an angel to guard the tree of life, so that no man may eat of it until the end of the age, when the earth is restored to those who have overcome (Genesis 3:21-24 & Revelation 2:7).
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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