Missing the Comforts of Our Eternal Home
But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who want to pass from this [place] to you may not be able, and no one may pass from there to us. (Luke 16:25-26, AMP)
The story of the rich man and Lazarus (found in Luke 16:19-31) is a striking picture of eternal torture and torment. In it, Jesus gives us an image of hell as a place that lacks all comfort and is void of companionship.
There is no comfort in hell. Think back to an instance when you endured great pain. At the time, you may have felt that the pain would never end. You may have felt hopeless and desperate waiting for relief. Now imagine being surrounded by sweltering heat and fiery flames for eternity with no escape and no relief. The rich man put it this way: “I am in agony in this fire.” (see Luke 16:24 NIV)
Hell is void of all companionship. Picture the most lonely, isolated place you can imagine. No one can reach you, for “a great chasm has been fixed” between heaven and hell. A chasm is defined as “a major division, separation, or difference between two people, or groups.” One of its synonyms is abyss. You wouldn’t want to live in that place for a day, let alone for eternity.
The rich man who died and went to hell had received in his mortal lifetime many comforts and delights which he consumed for his earthly pleasure. He was extravagantly rich in monetary terms, yet he was lacking in generosity and compassion.
The rich man “dressed in purple and fine linen,” which symbolized wealth, “and lived in luxury every day” (Luke 16:19 NIV, emphasis added). He did something else virtually every day. He walked through the gate and passed “a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table” (Luke 16:20-21 NIV). The rich man was so selfish, he couldn’t look past his desires for the finer things in life to give to a man in need. The rich man gave no thought to the eternal, only to the temporal.
Why would Jesus tell this story? To remind us to heed this truth:
Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14,TEV)
Maintaining an eternal mindset is hard, but spending an eternity in hell is agony. Jesus bids us to choose what is hard and enter into heaven, even though it means walking through the narrow gate.
* http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chasm, accessed 12-13-2013.
**Archeological Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005, p 1701.
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