The Hell Test – Tested (Part 12)
“And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23
In our last study we saw Jesus declaring to the Pharisees the result of serving riches instead of God. It happened when the Pharisees heard Jesus telling His disciples the parable of the unjust steward. Jesus hit the Pharisees where it hurts – in their pride and pocket book.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.’ Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:13-15
It was after those words that Jesus told the Pharisees about the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham. The story included the use of the word hade (hades).
“The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:22-23
It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not define hades or explain its existence to the Pharisees. There is no record of the Pharisees questioning Jesus about hades or the story He told. It appears from Luke’s Gospel that the message Jesus intended the Pharisees to hear and understand was received, though probably not appreciated.
The Lord’s story included specific details about hades:
- It is a conscious existence that includes the ability to hear, see, speak, taste and feel
- It is a place of torment that includes pain from fire (phloyi – flame) and horrible thirst
- There is a great distance between the saved and unsaved (chasma – chasm, gulf)
- The unsaved are trapped with no ability or opportunity to leave hades or communicate with the physical world
This was not the first or last time Jesus spoke of a place of torment called hades. In fact, Jesus included hades in earlier teachings.
“But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Luke 10:14-16
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19
Jesus was using words and concepts the Jews understood. The Greek word hades was used to translate the Hebrew word sheol (realm of the dead, grave). As Jesus did with many other Hebrew words and ideas, He added details and a better understanding of the full meaning.
In Luke 10 Jesus included “Hades” with “the judgment.” The context is Jesus sending out the 70 disciples (two by two) to heal the sick and preach that the Kingdom of God “has come near you” (Luke 10:9). However, if the 70 went into cities that did not receive them, Jesus told them to wipe off the dust of those cities from their feet and say – “The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you” (Luke 10:11). Then Jesus told the 70 that it will be more tolerable in that “Day for Sodom than for that city.” Jesus explained what He meant by saying –
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Luke 10:13-16
The word “judgment” is krisei and was often used in the New Testament for God’s final Judgment. Jesus mentions three cities in His “woes” – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. These were three cities where Jesus did many of His mighty works, but where the people did not repent (Matthew 11:20). Jesus compared them to Gentile cities (Tyre and Sidon) and said that the people who lived there would have repented long ago if they had seen the mighty works Christ was doing in Israel. Because of the lack of repentance of the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, they would suffer in the final judgment and would “be brought down to Hades.”
Christ’s Judgment is the key to understanding hades and that’s what we’re going to focus on in the next part of our “test” of The Hell Test.
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”