Summary: Does Hell exist? And, if so, why did the Rich man end up there? What had he done that was so terrible that he deserved that type of punishment?


An old man sat by an open fire and dreamed the years away,

While, outside in the battle of life, many perished in the toils of day.

He never did any good, nor did he ever do any wrong.

He just sat by the open fire and dreamed the whole day long.

Now he’s left a vacant chair and they say he’s gone up higher,

but, if he still does what he used to do, he’s probably still sitting by the fire.

(author unknown)

APPLY: Today we’re looking at the Biblical story of a man who ended up sitting by the fire. We don’t know his name. He’s just referred to as … “the rich man” But Jesus tells us that - because of his lifestyle - he ended up in Hell.

Tony Campolo once described this man with these words:

“The rich man, at least, was worried about his brothers. Really, he may not have been all that bad, in the way we view "badness." His sin was not that he broke any of the Ten Commandments. He wasn't an adulterer or a thief. He hadn't killed anyone and in all probability, he came by his money through hard work.

The sin of the rich man was that he enjoyed a yuppie-like "Good life" while being unconcerned about those around him who desperately needed help.

Like the man in the poem I just read:

“He never did any good, nor did he ever do any wrong”

He just sat by the fire and dreamed the whole day long.”

Now, there are a few questions that came into my mind as I was preparing today’s sermon:

1st – What had he done that was so wrong?

Like Tony Campolo observed: This man may not have been all that bad… as we view “badness”. I mean - it was HIS money!

And those beggars could be so annoying.

I mean why didn’t that guy go out and get a job or something.

He was always out there EVERY DAY asking for alms.

If I gave money to him, it was just encourage all the other beggars to come annoy me.

You name the excuse, and that rich man probably had used it.

But there are a few things about the beggar that we need to notice:

· He wasn’t a professional beggar. It wasn’t like he could go out and get a job. He had sores on his body… and the dogs came along and licked his wounds. Who’d hire this man? Not McDonalds.

· He wasn’t begging for alms… he was just asking for the scraps from the table. He was asking for food that the rich man would have thrown away!!! It wasn’t going to cost him a dime to help out this Lazarus.

· And Lazarus was a Godly man. God KNEW his name. We’re not told rich man’s name, but God knew who Lazarus was. And when Lazarus died… the angels came looking for him.

It’s almost humorous.

Luke 16:22 tells us “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died… and he was buried”

Lazarus dies and the angels come and get him

But when the rich man dies… he just gets buried.

Lazarus was a man that God loved and when he died, God sent him a personal escort to the other world.

But the Rich man didn’t get that

So just WHAT had he done wrong?

Well, it helps to understand how God views poverty.

* In the Law God commanded His people: If there is a poor man among your brothers… do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother… There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:7 & 11

And so God says - this is so important to Him - that He makes us some promises:

* “… blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” Proverbs 14:21

* “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

In fact, God promises: “He who is kind to the poor LENDS to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Proverbs 19:17 (He’ll repay with interest)l

BUT on the other hand:

* “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31

* And “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

Proverbs 21:13

Essentially, the rich man had shut his ears to the cry of the poor.

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