“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. 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.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 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.’”
In the early years of our marriage, I painted the outside door with oil-based paint. I kept washing the paintbrush with soap and water. Scrubbing harder didn’t work, so I wiped the paint with paper towels and my paint clothes. My arms and clothes were full of paint, so I took off my paint scrubs and wiped the paint on my legs. The pain was all over me and the kitchen. I sat on the kitchen counter in a place of torment and cried, realizing I needed my husband to save me. When he came home, he tried not to laugh. He got a bottle of turpentine from the garage and cleaned up the paint.
We separate ourselves from God when we don’t recognize the need for a savior. The Jewish people created their own chasm. They wanted to be in charge, have power, and be their own gods. They wouldn’t repent when John the Baptist and Jesus asked them to. Abraham believed he needed a Savior, and it was credited to him as righteousness. He mentored Eliezer (Lazarus) for many years, so Eliezer must have believed as Abraham did. They were in a place without turmoil waiting for Jesus to unite them with God. There are three heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2), so perhaps they were in a different one from God; maybe Hades, the realm of the dead, also has separations, and Abraham was there. It is clear Judah was in Hades in a place of psychological torment separated from God. Jesus is the only one who can fill the chasm between the Jews and God. He is our ticket to the kingdom’s banquet. When we believe, Jesus delivers us straight to God. When Jesus told this parable, he hadn’t yet died to save us. The chasm from humans to God was still in place.
Judah (the rich man) asked Abraham to send Eliezer (Lazarus) to his five brothers to warn them they needed a savior, so they don’t end up in a place of torment. Through this parable Jesus told the Pharisees they had evidence He was their Savior and prophesied they wouldn’t be convinced even when He rose from the dead. Today the Jews still try to save themselves by keeping the Ten Commandments, and they can’t.
But Romans 11 gives this story a good ending. Romans 11:25-32: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. … And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins … they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who … have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too … may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”
Perhaps unbelievers go to Hades while awaiting Judgment by Jesus, but the Bible says in Romans 11:32 that everyone is disobedient and God will have mercy on them all. Doesn’t that mean no one will spend eternity in hell?
Dearest Father in Heaven, thank you for a good ending to this story, for Your mercy, and for Jesus who fills the gap between godlessness and You. I pray that all Christians will stop telling the lie that people will go to hell for eternity and, instead, start loving. According to Your promise, You will have mercy on all. And Your promises are irrevocable. I pray in Jesus’ precious name, amen.