The Teaching Of The Parable

But what does the parable teach? That the Jewish nation, and especially the Scribes and Pharisees were about to die as a power, as a church, as a controlling influence in the world; while the common people among them and the Gentiles outside of them were to be exalted in the new order of things. The details of the parable show this: "There was a certain rich man clothed in purple and fine linen." In these first words, by describing their very costume, the Savior fixed the attention of his hearers on the Jewish priesthood. They were emphatically the rich men of that nation. His description of the beggar was equally graphic. He lay at the gate of the rich, only asking to be fed by the crumbs that fell from the table. Thus dependent were the common people, and the Gentiles on the Scribes and Pharisees. We remember how Christ once rebuked them for shutting up the kingdom of heaven against these. They lay at the gate of the Jewish hierarchy. For the Gentiles were literally restricted to the outer court of the temple. Hence in Rev. 11: 12 we read: "But the court, which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles!' They could only walk the outer court, or lie at the gate. We remember the anger of the Jews at Paul, for allowing Greeks to enter the temple. This is the significance of the language of the Canaanitish woman, Matt. 15: 27, who desired the Savior to heal her daughter. The Savior, to try her faith, said: "It is not meet to cast the children's bread to the dogs." She replied, "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their Mater's table." The prophet (Isa. 1: 6) represents the common people of Israel as "full of wounds, bruises, and putrifying sores." The brief, graphic descriptions given by the Savior, at once showed his hearers that he was describing those two classes, the Jewish priesthood and nation on the one hand and the common people, Jews and Gentiles, on the other.

The rich man died and was buried. This class died officially, nationally and its power departed. The kingdom of God was taken from them and conferred on others. The beggar died. The Gentiles, publicans and sinners were translated into the kingdom of God's dear son where is neither Jew nor Greek, but where all are one in Christ Jesus. This is the meaning of the expression "Abraham's bosom." They accepted the true faith and so became one with faithful Abraham. Abraham is called the father of the faithful, and the beggar is represented to have gone to Abraham's bosom, to denote the fact which is now history, that the common people and Gentiles would accept Christianity and become Christian nations, enjoying the blessing of the Christian faith.

What is meant by the torment of the rich man? The misery of those proud men, when soon after their land was captured and their city and temple possessed by barbarians, and they scattered like chaff before the wind-a condition in which they have continued from that day to this. All efforts to bless them with Christianity have proved unavailing. At this very moment there is a great gulf fixed so that there is no passing to and fro. And observe, the Jews do not desire the gospel. Nor did the rich man ask to enter Abraham's bosom with Lazarus. He only wished Lazarus to alleviate his sufferings by dipping his finger in water and cooling his tongue. It is so with the Jews today. They do not desire the gospel; they only ask those among whom they sojourn to tolerate them and soften the hardships that accompany their wanderings. The Jewish church and nation is now dead. Once they were exalted to heaven, but now they are thrust down to Hadees, the kingdom of death, and the gulf that yawns between them and the Gentiles shall not be abolished till the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, and "then Israel shall be saved."

Lightfoot says: "The main scope and design of it seems this: to hint the destruction of the unbelieving Jews, who, though they had Moses and the prophets, did not believe them, nay would not believe though one (even Jesus) arose from the dead."

Our quotations are not from Universalists, but from those who accepted the doctrine of eternal punishment, but who were forced to confess that this parable has no reference to that subject. The rich man or the Jews were and are in the same Hell in which David was when he said: "The pains of Hell (Hadees) got hold on me, I found trouble and sorrow," and "thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Hell." Not in endless wo in the future world, but in misery and suffering in this.

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