In Proverbs 30:7-9 it records this prayer "Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
Money is a subject we as Canadians are well versed in. We have stock channels, _ of our newspaper dedicated to the subject- if you read the Globe & Mail or National Post, money magazines, Brian Costello who fancies that he would like to take care of our money, financial advisors, etc, etc.
In light of our environment the prayer of Proverbs 30:7-9 seems almost strange "give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread"
In addition to this have you noticed that no ever takes the time to in our society to teach on the pitfalls that surround the pursuit of money?
The Bible does. I Timothy 6:9-10 says "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Proverbs 30:7-9 also identifies that those with money tend to become self sufficient and ones who forget God and their need of Him. Money tends to blind people when it comes to their need of Jesus being their Savior.
In Luke 16:14-15 Jesus says to the Pharisees "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this, and were sneering at Jesus.
In the book of Luke Jesus quite frequently addresses the topic of money. On a number of occasions the rich become his target. In the minds of many of the people of his day was the notion that a materially wealthy person was favored and blessed of God while those without were cursed of God. The Pharisees were by and large quite wealthy; they also happened to be the spiritual leaders in the land of Israel. If anyone thought they would get to Heaven it was the Pharisees. They were convinced that their status as the religious leaders of the land, their Jewish heritage, and there affluence were all guarantors of their spending eternity in Paradise/ Heaven.
To illustrate to the Pharisees the error of their beliefs Jesus tells us a parable we might entitle "The Rich man and Lazarus"
READ Luke 16:19-31
This parable has long been one that has gripped the imagination, particularly in matters pertaining to a persons existence and where they will be following physical death. Many a sermon entirely focused on Hell has been preached from this text.
When Jesus told this parable his primary purpose was not to provide a definitive picture of the afterlife and in particular, Hell.
We must approach this text understanding that Jesus has just portrayed the Pharisees as lovers of money and as ones who believe that worldly riches are a sign of the blessing and favor of God.
In view of this there are a number of lessons for us to glean from this text today.
I. THE TOPIC OF MONEY
1. People with money are expected by God to help those who have none.
Consider this parable….
We are able to manufacture a million reasons for not financially helping someone in need out. –they are lazy, bad managers of their money, I already pay taxes that fund welfare, etc etc.
Yet the principle still stands and this parable illustrates it perfectly
You and I might sometimes say "I don’t have much money, does that mean I shouldn’t give?" Well, just think of the widow who gave her penny at the temple. She gave generously out of her poverty while the others gave tight fistedly out of their wealth.
2. On the same note as point #1 there is a stinging indictment here against those who wantonly gratify themselves and at the same time ignore those who sit under their very noses who have nothing.
Lazarus was unceremoniously dumped -meaning of the word "laid"- by the rich man’s gate. Inside the rich man indulged himself continually while at his gate sat Lazarus longing for his table scraps. The fact that he was longing for the table scraps and the pieces that hit the floor doesn’t mean that he got them either. The irony is that Lazarus—a man made in the image of God is regulated to the position of even being lower than a dog—for dogs were allowed to eat what hit the floor and the implication is that Lazarus didn’t even seem to get those pieces.
Q How many gated communities do we discover that sit adjacent to economically depressed quarters?
Q How many BMW’s and Landrovers are there upon our streets while at the same time their sleeps people in our gutters and under bridges?
Israel went into exile in part because the rich neglected and abused her poor.
In I John 3:17-18 it says "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words of tongue but with actions and in truth."
3. Material blessings and money are not necessarily signs of God’s favor
This was a common interpretation. One of the shockers of this parable is that the rich man ends up in Hell. The assumption of the day was that if you materially wealthy then God must have been happy with you and that you were right with Him.
While material blessing and money are not nec. Signs of God’s favor, the flip side is this: the ill health and lack of money that some might have does not necessarily mean that God is displeased with a person either.
His name means "God is my helper"
The Lazarus of this parable is portrayed as being a righteous man, a man who trusts in God and who depends upon God for his help.
How odd we think that such a man should suffer with a broken body and be forced to sit at the gate of a rich man—contesting with the dogs for table scraps.
II. THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO GAIN FAVOR WITH GOD. THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO GET TO HEAVEN.
One of the key questions this text raises is this:
Q If you died today where would your spirit go? Hell or Heaven?
Q Does everyone here know how they ensure that a place is reserved for them in Heaven?
Q Do you know why it is you need Jesus as your Savior
-poor man didn’t get to Heaven because he was poor and the rich man didn’t go to Hell because he was rich. One man was righteous and right with God and the other man wasn’t. The poor man had heeded the scriptures call to be reconciled unto God, the rich man hadn’t. Note that it does not matter that Jesus is talking to people who at this point only had the OT. Those same scriptures highlight a persons sin and their need of forgiveness and a Savior.
-one gets to be right with God when they confess their sin with a broken heart, asking Jesus alone to forgive them and to act as their Savior. "There is no other name by which we must be saved"
"If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your Heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved" Romans 10:9
The justice of God necessitates judgment in Hell. The mercy and love of God makes for undeserved forgiveness….
III. As you and I contemplate this text one cannot help but think on the subject of Heaven and Hell
Of course we must remember that we are here dealing with a parable whose purpose is not to teach us definitely about Heaven and Hell, but there are some truths here that other scriptures confirm that we must note.
Heaven: here called Abraham’s bosom and in Luke 23 called Paradise
-place of comfort and rest. Note how Laz. comforted—in the bosom of Abraham
-ASIDE: Abraham is an important figure in Heaven in this respect: His faith in God which resulted in his getting to Heaven has stood for us as the same kind of faith in God that we are called to exercise. According to the scriptures we as Christians are the children of Abraham by virtue of our exercising faith in Jesus Christ—the promised SEED to Abraham. (See Romans 4, Genesis 12,15, Galatians 3, Hebrews 11, Matthew 3:9). By virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ we are heirs to the promises that God gave to Abraham: land, seed, blessing—promises that became Abraham’s by faith, promises that become ours by faith.
-having no connection with Hell. Separate. Ones residency is permanent
1. A reality
-not imagined. Jesus spoke of Hell as being a real place 162 times in the NT
2. A place which justice requires.
-the rich man went there not for being rich but for failure to repent of his sins and turn from his rebellion against God
3. A place of unremitting torment
-the scriptures speak of a fire that never burns out, a place where the worm does not die, a place of darkness and gloom, a place where there is continual weeping and gnashing of teeth
-Hell is forever after. No such thing as annihilation and being gone. Forever
4. A place where many go who otherwise think that they will go to Heaven
-rich man ……
5. A place you don’t have to end up in
Perhaps you are here today and you recognize that you stand before God as a rebel, as a sinner. Perhaps in this recognition you in your heart are grieved and sorry for your sins. It could that you want the free gift that God offers: peace with Him, forgiveness of your sins.
The scriptures teach that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekial 18:32)
II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance"
Jesus died in your place…. that you might be forgiven of your sins. Put your trust in Him…..…..
IV. One of the things our text emphasizes is that the message of the Scriptures/ the Bible contains all you need to know to warrant your putting your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
The rich man requested that Lazarus be raised physically from the dead and then go and preach to his brothers. Note Abraham’s reply* Of the many things Abraham says in his reply one message is crystal clear: The Bible, the Scriptures possessed were sufficient enough to warrant a persons belief in Jesus, the repenting of their sins and their putting their faith in God alone.
There are lots of sign seekers out there!
-give me a sign that you exist God
-perform some miracle just for me and then I will believe
Evidence for God’s existence abounds, His power is on display all the time. To those that demanded Jesus perform signs he always said NO.
Another certain reality communicated in this text is this: Jesus rose from the dead and there are many logical reasons for believing so—yet even in his res. few have turned to him. It’s not for lack of evidence that people do not believe and follow God: It’s because of hard and sinful hearts. Blinded hearts (II Cor. 4:4)
Q Do you need reasons to believe and turn to Jesus as your Savior?
Start reading the Word of God. Start in the book of John. The book of John was written with the specific purpose of convincing people as to who Jesus is and why one needs to turn to him for the forgiveness of their sins.
God’s Word won’t let you down. It’s unity, its perfect prophetic record, archaeology, and it’s testimony are all good reasons to completely trust it.
The scriptures say "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" Romans 10.
If you are not ready today to turn in faith to Jesus Christ today but you want to know more get into God’s Word. Seek the Lord while He may be found. But don’t hesitate. Don’t delay. For you it just might be to late if you wait to get right with God. If you hear his call and desire your sins to be forgiven. Turn to Jesus today, right now and all your sins will be forgiven, you’ll become a child of God and Heaven will be your eternal home.
Because of the context of our passage we started out with the topic of money. Jesus tells this parable to rebuke and warn the Pharisees regarding their obvious love of money over God.
Also sometimes folks get so wrapped up in the things of this world that they forget about God and the fact that eternal matters are far more important.
One of the major themes of this parable is the theme of "Being to late"
a. After your dead its to late to think about being reconciled to God
Hebrews 9:27 says "It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment"
b. After your dead its to late to reverse where you will spend eternity
The decision must be made while you are still in the flesh. Will you look to Jesus to be your Savior and Lord? Will you serve him and be faithful unto him? OR Will you refuse Jesus and the forgiveness of sins he alone offers?
It’s your choice and every persons choice. Once your dead its to late
c. Once a person goes to Hell their regret for their sins is to late.
Note how the rich man seems to regret in our text. To late
Hell is forever, that’s what the Scriptures teach. There is no escape from it.
d. At times our concern for the lost will be to late
Note the rich man’s request ‘I have 5 brothers and I don’t want them to come here’
His concern for his 5 brothers and where they would spend eternity came to late.
How utterly sad! How few also are the people who truly contemplate matters of eternity. How few are the people who deeply contemplate what will happen to them upon their deaths and where they will spend eternity. Far to many have swallowed the lie of evolution that teaches that we are but highly evolved animals who have no souls. Death is not the end for us.
Q What’s the job of every follower of Jesus Christ?
Sometimes our concern for lost ones comes to late……..
Also one last lesson: Based on this text I won’t hesitate at any funeral, particularly that of an unsaved person to communicate this message: Every person that goes to Hell, if he could come back would say: Make sure you don’t go there: Get right with God while you have time.