The haves and the have-nots

The haves and the have-nots

There is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. – Luke 16:26

Luke 16:19-31

 19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury.”

 20 “At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.”

 22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,”

 23 “and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.”

 24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’”

 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.’”

 26 “‘And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’”

 27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home.’”

 28 “For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’”

 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’”

 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’”

 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 was superseded in part by a new epidemic in 2021: Vaccine Envy. Vaccine envy led to months of vaccine anxiety. Social interactions were often defined quite simply by who had received the vaccine and who had not. Within months, a two-tiered society of “haves and have-nots” developed. The vaccinated returned in part to a modicum of normality not available to the unvaccinated.

In Israel, the government reopened gyms, hotels, and swimming pools – but only those who have been vaccinated were permitted total access. The vaccinated were issued a “green badge” to prove it.

Denmark rolled out “vaccine passports” that enabled travelers to prove that they were vaccinated and therefore allowed to board a plane.

IBM has developed a “digital health pass” that provided proof of vaccination and authorized people to be admitted to sports arenas, airplanes, or workplaces.

The CDC announced that if people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, they can have small indoor or outdoor gatherings without wearing a mask or social distancing. But only with other people who have also been fully vaccinated.

How ironic! In an era of heightened awareness and a commitment to bridge antiquated class barriers and prejudices, that brand-new ones would emerge. Society was bifurcated anew. The catchphrase of the day demanded “your-papers-please.”

Even more paradoxical that Israel would lead the way with “green badges” after their ancestors were forced to wear “yellow badges.” Yellow badges with the Star of David on them were worn off and on during the Middle Ages. The Nazis required all Jews to wear them during World War II. The yellow badges indicated they were the have-nots, the outsiders.

Indeed the human race is bifurcated. But external badges do not indicate who is who. The basis for the separation does not involve material considerations such as vaccination. But rather the schism results from matters of the heart: belief or unbelief.

REFLECT & PRAY

There is a tendency among people to set expectations regarding what the Father must do for them so that they might be willing to believe. How many people will say, if only I had known the Truth I would have acted differently. They already have all the Truth they need through Moses, the prophets, and the New Testament.

Father thank You that you made the Truth known and available so that anyone might believe, repent, and be saved. Thank You that You worked in the life of each child of the King to make it so.

INSIGHT

In Luke 16, the Lord Jesus Christ tells the parable of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus. In life, they were separated by class, economic status, and health. In life, there was a great chasm between them. Lazarus was completely ignored by the rich man while they lived. Both of them die and go to Hades, the place of the dead. There once again they are separated by a great chasm. But this time the separation is based upon the response to the truth of the Word of God. The poor man had faith which ushered him into Abraham’s bosom, the rich man did not.

But the point of the story is not that people will be separated in Hades. Rather the emphasis is on the fact that the separation is the consequence of decisions made while they were alive on planet Earth. Some folks might ask, “How can the Father send someone to Hades, a place of torment?” The Father did not send the rich man to Hades. He sent himself because of his unbelief. He failed to heed the message of the Scriptures that the Messiah would come and save people from their sins.

The rich man only begins to pray when he finds himself in Hades. He reaches out to Abraham seeking mercy. He wants Lazarus to help him. While he was alive on earth, he had ample opportunity to repent of his sins but did not. Why? Because his heart was hard and unreceptive. Now that he recognizes the dire consequences. He wants his brothers to be warned, that they might repent (Luke 16:30). On the surface that sounds reasonable. But in fact, it is not. Through the mouth of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ explains why.

Luke 16:31 “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

At any given moment we have sufficient Truth to believe and seek forgiveness for our sins. If we respond

At any given moment we have sufficient Truth to believe and seek forgiveness for our sins. If we respond appropriately to the Truth we have, the Father will make sure we have enough Truth to understand the gospel, repent and be forgiven. But giving more and more Truth to an unresponsive heart is to no avail.

John 3:36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.

The truth is out there for anyone and everyone to find and accept. But the time of opportunity has an expiration date: end of life on earth.

John 3:17-21

 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.

 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.

 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.

 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

What is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the poor man actually about? It reveals the final outcome of accepting the greatest of opportunities versus squandering them.

Galatians 6:8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.    

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