Summary: Jesus spoke of a chasm between heaven and hell in His parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. Was the chasm meant as just a parable or does it really exist?
The Grand Chasm
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘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.’ “‘But,’ Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, 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 father's house, 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.’”
Jesus told this parable to those assembled about two men, a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man was said to be dressed in purple, this was to symbolize the best and most expensive clothing, and lived in luxury. In contrast, Lazarus was a beggar with very little in the way of clothes as sores on his body developed. Lazarus would have been satisfied with just the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. It is very likely that the rich man saw Lazarus at his gate each time he left, but paid him little, if any, attention. The dogs licked the beggar’s sores, showing more compassion than the rich man. Both men die; with Lazarus going to Abraham’s side (the King James states Abraham’s bosom which is found in the Jewish Talmud to signify Heaven) and the rich man went to hell. Tormented in hell, the rich man looked to see Lazarus and Abraham, and asked Abraham to have Lazarus put a drop of water on his parched tongue. Lazarus, who wasn’t worthy to be touched in life, now is needed to put a drop of water on the tongue parched by flames in death. Abraham explained there was a chasm between the two, and neither he nor Lazarus could cross it.
The rich man then wanted Lazarus to visit his brothers to warn them so they won’t share in his torment, yet where was the rich man’s concern in life? Abraham told the man they had Moses and the Prophets, which is to mean the Scriptures, or specifically the Old Testament, to listen and learn from. Further begging from the rich man prompted Abraham to tell the rich man that if his brothers wouldn’t believe Scripture, they would not even believe one that was raised from the dead, whether this meant Lazarus and was keeping to the parable or Jesus could have alluded to His own death and resurrection.
Yes, people are not seeking the Truth from Scripture and also do not believe the warning from One that was raised from the dead. People in Jesus’ time as well as now are trying to ignore the warning from the One who rose from the dead. Jesus’ detractors have said and still say the body was stolen or that Jesus wasn’t truly dead, but just unconscious, woke up in the tomb, rolled the stone away and left. If anyone has hurt their hand they know just how hard it would be to use, and yet these men believe that someone who has had the equivalent of a rail road spike driven through both hands just days before could use his hands to push a very large stone away. And that doesn’t even address the issue of the person being able to walk with these same style of spikes being driven through his feet. Unbelievers still try to find a way not to believe.
Jesus also said in His parable that there was a gulf between Heaven and hell, that one cannot reach the other. This separation, this chasm, is certainly a real barrier. In Larry Niven’s book “Inferno”, Niven inferred that hell was a place unbelievers go, but after a time, when the person truly repents of their sins and is sorrowful of the life they lead, could find their way out of hell and gain entrance into Heaven. No one condemned to hell can find their way into Heaven; there is no path, no bridge, no way for those in hell to leave their punishment, no way to get that drop of water for their tongues, no way to even get a second of reprieve from their eternal punishment, no way to cross that chasm. And those in Heaven, even if they wanted to, could not make the journey to hell. Those in Heaven are joyful, happy, in the eternal bliss of God’s presence. God will not allow one moment of negativity to His people in Heaven. The chasm between Heaven and hell is God ordained and God maintained. This is not of God’s choice, but rather something that needed to be done. Once you get placed on one side or the other, you’re there forever.