Probably the biggest part of the conversation about hell and judgment is, “How can the God of Scripture be loving if there is judgment?” Especially in our culture right now. Right now the quickest response to any kind of judgment in our culture today is, “Love is love” so if God is loving, then how can a loving God bring judgment?
To help us tackle this question we are going to look at Luke 16:19-31. Lets start with verses 19-21:
Luke 16:19-21, “19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.”
- In verse 19 the rich man is covered in “purple (the color of royalty) and fine linens” like Boys to Men walking along the beach, full of joy and splendor every day, but the poor man, Lazarus, is covered in sores outside the rich man’s gate begging for food.
- Key: The poor man is given a name, Lazarus. This is really significant, because in the first century the “rich man” would have the connotation of being morally upright, position of honor, socially acceptable, but in the parable the honor is given to the poor man, Lazarus.
Luke 16:22-23, “22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.”
- Isn’t “Abraham’s bosom” a fun phrase? Now, this doesn’t jump off the page to us, but in verse 22 there would have been a huge gasp in the crowd when they heard Jesus say, “The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.”
- Key: When the audience is listening to Jesus in Luke 16 and hears there is a poor man, covered in sores, begging for food, and the poor man ends up in paradise, and the rich man ends up in Hades, the audience would have gasped, “Oh, no!”
Luke 16:24, “24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’”
- In verse 24 the rich man calls out, “Father Abraham!” This is Abraham of Genesis in the Old Testament dwelling in Paradise, and the rich man is making a plea to Abraham as though from one great Jew to another great Jew, “Have mercy, send Lazarus.”
- Key: The rich man doesn’t say, “Have mercy, get me out of here!” No, the rich man says, “Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool off my tongue.” The rich man isn’t asking for rescue. The rich man isn’t demonstrating remorse or repentance. The rich man is expecting Lazarus to join him in this misery.
Luke 16:25, “25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.”
- I need you to see the importance of the word, “Child.” The word, “Child” in the original language is a word of affection. This is important because when we discuss the subject of God’s judgment it can easily come across as cold, or indifferent, or as if the God of Scripture is saying, “You wicked sinners! Get out of here!” But, the word “child” implies sadness, and a sense of tragedy, because what is being described in this parable doesn’t have to happen.
- Key: The judgment of hell doesn’t have to happen. The God of Scriptures has provided a means of escape in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and the judgment of hell saddens the heart of God.
We must be careful to never speak about God’s judgment with a tone of callousness or indifference. It is a subject that saddens the heart of God, and when we find ourselves in a conversation about God’s judgment we must be careful to use a tone in our voices that conveys the same response.