Summary: 77 words of distress being called out from hell, but nobody can help. LUKE 16:19-31.
There was a movie in recent months about a man who was talking on a short wave radio and ended up talking to his father who had died many years before. Now, that is what I call imagination. But, for the sake of tonight’s message, I want you to imagine something, too. I want you to imagine that you are sitting in front of a short wave radio and you hear the faint crackling of a distant voice.
You immediately know it is a distress call from a ship. Through the static and skips, you barely make out that they have taken on water and in the storm tossed seas, two have fallen overboard. You grab the microphone and try to reply, but all of a sudden, there is nothing but silence.
Now, in a message such as this, you notice two things. The first thing you notice is that the person sending the message was terrified. The second thing you notice is that when the message ends abruptly, you are terrified. But what would you do next? You would call the Coast Guard and give them all the information you have on that call, including the frequency of the broadcast and the time you picked up the call.
After you gave them all the information you had, they would thank you and tell you that they would take it from there. And you would probably be thinking that you wished there was more you could do for those people trapped at sea.
A very brief call of terror from an unknown person somewhere far away. During that call, his terror became your terror.
Now that you have imagined all this, I want to bring to your attention today to other words of terror that are recorded in the Bible. But these terror-filled words did not come from someone in distress on the high seas. These words came from someone in distress from the depths of hell itself.
This morning, I preached on a passage found in LUKE 16:19-31. This passage is about the rich man and Lazarus. They both died. It tells how the rich man lived his life focused on those things of this world that his money could afford, and because of this he had no time or focus on God. Lazarus, on the other hand, was a poor beggar and had nothing. Nothing, that is, but his mighty faith in God.
When the rich man died, he went to hell and was in torment. He could see Lazarus in Paradise, standing with Abraham. And tonight, we are going to be talking about what the rich man felt as he finally realized the reality of the truth.
As this man speaks, I want you to listen to every word he uses to describe where he is and how he feels about it. The first 30 words in his distress call begin in LUKE 16:24.
‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
This man realizes where he is, and he is frightened. He is calling out for help. But, he is still trying to be the rich man, isn’t he? He wants the poor man to be his servant and bring him water.
Abraham replies by reminding him that during his life of plenty, he had all the good things. And then Abraham reminds him that the chasm between the two keeps anyone from crossing over to the other side.
The next 32 words the man says begins in verse 27.
‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
He is still trying to get Lazarus to do run errands for him, isn’t he? This man never had time to ponder eternity while he was enjoying his fame and fortune, but now he is terrified and going through agony! And, all of a sudden, he is faced with eternal reality and he is starting to worry about his brothers. But, like I said this morning – once we go through the Judgment, it is just too late to have any “do-overs”. What is done is done.
In response to this man’s latest plea to have somebody go warn his brothers, Abraham tells him that the living have the prophets and they can listen to them, if they choose to.
The next 15 words the man cries out are found in verse 30 –
‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
And the last response by Abraham is telling the man that if his brothers won’t listen to the words spoken by all the prophets, they won’t listen to anyone from the dead either.