We have been looking at some preliminary matters related to the setting of this parable as recorded in verses 19-21. Now I want to consider in some detail just what the Saviour says.
Please note that the Saviour wants us to understand that man does not cease to be when he dies! All who have died up to this moment still exist. They still exist as the person they were while alive, verses 22-23. Who they had been before they continue to be!
Upon death, there is a separating of the saved and the lost. We are required to separate ourselves from wicked people as much as possible here on earth, Psalm 1:1, Ephesians 5:11, 2 Thess 3:14. Full and complete separation is not possible here. “Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world,” 1 Cor 5:10. But when we die we will be separated completely from sinners.
Punishment for the unsaved and blessing for the saved begins immediately upon death. Of course, these attend the both parties here on earth, but there is a fulness to these after death. Psalm 1:1, 32:2, 34:8. Likewise for the sinner. “He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity,” Proverbs 22:8. Galatians 6:7-8. But while trouble follows the sinner he will enter into it in fuller measure when he dies.
We have this truth set forth in the words of the Saviour. “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 was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,” verses 22-23.
The circumstances of the beggar improved above measure while those of the rich man plummeted!
The beggar was carried into the paradise reserved for the saints while the rich man went to a place of torment, all pleasure ended!
Note the role of angels in the lives of the redeemed, Hebrews 1:14.
Death seals our eternal state. Whatever state we are in when we die, we cannot alter it. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27. The word ‘judgment’ refers to ‘separation’. The beggar and the rich man were separated from each other by ‘a great gulf’, verse 26.
Boys and girls, our life is the only opportunity we have of getting ready for eternity. Do not miss your chance. “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” Hebrews 3:7-8.
Do not harden your hearts against the voice of the Lord Jesus calling you to Himself for salvation. Rather say like Samuel: “Speak; for thy servant heareth, 1 Samuel 3:10.
“The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust,” 2:12.
How marvellous is this — rewards for sheltering in Christ!
1. This was something Boaz prayed for. So our heavenly Boaz prays for us. John 17:24. We shall see and also share with Christ in His glory, Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2; Col 3:4; Romans 8:18; 2 Cor 4:17; Phil 3:21.
2. God’s rewards are full rewards. The word “full” is often translated “perfect”, there will be a wholeness to God’s rewards. Our reward is God Himself. “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” Genesis 15:1. In heaven we will enjoy God in a fashion we cannot conceive of here — S. Cat Q. 1. Men shall yet see that “Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth,” Psalm 58:11. It is a sure reward, Pro 11:18. God’s rewards are visible, Matthew 6:4.
3. Let it be noted that the wicked will also receive their rewards. Psalm 91:8; 94:2: Isa 3:11.
The circumstances of men in this world differ greatly. One may have an abundance of this world’s goods while another is bereft of such luxuries! Yet if you were to measure these two men by such things how wrong you would be! The one surrounded by earth’s bounty went to hell while the poor beggar went to heaven!
We must not measure a man’s true condition by outward appearances! Consider how Paul the apostle was viewed by men. “We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day,” 1 Corinthians 4:13. Paul says that the world considers him as something akin to that which you would ‘scrape off your shoe’! Yet he was one of God’s great men, a prince of the Kingdom of God! His influence and witness have pointed millions to the unsearchable riches of salvation!
Men need to be taught about the deceitfulness of riches!
“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch,” Proverbs 11:28.
“Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven,” Proverbs 23:5. “And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Mark 10:23-25.
RICHES are a great deceiver and many spend their life seeking them and miss heaven and find themselves eternally in hell as a consequence. Remember the parable of the ‘Sower’ in Luke 8! “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection,” verse 14. The Saviour warns of the ‘choking’ power of riches. They can ‘choke off’ the precious influences of the Gospel and rob a man of heaven! That is the theme of this parable.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy,” 1 Timothy 6:17
A right understanding of the true value of this world’s riches will have eternal benefits.
“And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,” Rev 18:16-17.
Here is true riches and how they may be obtained. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Corinthians 8:9. If we receive the crucified Saviour we are rich indeed!
Barely twenty years have passed since the Saviour instituted the Last Supper and just five years have passed since the founding by Paul of the Corinthian church and yet it appears that the central act of worship has degenerated into something more akin to a pagan feast. Verse 21 demonstrates this to be so. How sad this is!
If such corruptions could and did take place during the lifetime of the apostles just what may we not expect to happen 1900 years after their ministry and influence has ceased.
For the Corinthians, the Lord’s Supper had become a carnal thing. One in which they satisfied their natural appetites and gave expression to social prejudices, verse 22. For such practices Paul gave no praise, verse 22.
Wherever it is kept, there are disorder still, verse 28-31. Need of self-examination!
Departures from scriptural practices are no light thing. This is a day in which little is thought of indulging fleshly notions and abandoning the rule of Holy Scripture. This is wrong and is all the more blameworthy when we have been instructed in the way of truth.
Paul only taught that which he had been divinely taught himself. Paul had always underlined his apostolic independence, Gal 1:11. Likewise, he here states that what he taught them had come directly from the Lord Himself.
He carefully relayed the truth to the flock of God. This is what the Saviour demanded of the apostles. The Corinthians had been taught the right way of commemorating the Lord’s death, verse 23. The word ‘deliver’ means ‘to put into the hands of’. Out of 121 times used it is translated ‘betray’ 40 times. Paul took pains to make sure that that which he had received was that which he passed on to the Corinthians.
There must be no room for man’s innovations in the doctrinal structures of the Church of Christ.
The institution of the Lord’s Supper demonstrates the loving care of Christ. It was a night in which a professed follower would betray Him; the rest of the apostles would forsake Him and the chosen nation would reject Him. Yet, He thought upon His people. Perhaps it was fitting in the midst of such blindness that the Saviour takes steps to avert the tendency of His people to forget Him.
The words of Christ are to be understood figuratively rather than literally. This is made clear by the use of the phrase ‘this cup’. The cup referred to the wine within it which in turn referred to the blood of Christ.
In this supper we are to remember the Lord Himself. Not just the events of that dark night.
This supper was established to be a perpetual memorial to Christ’s death. The word ‘shew’ means ‘to proclaim or to publicly announce’. This is a telling again of the Saviour’s death, Exodus 12:26-27.
Notice the discretion given to the church regarding its keeping of the memorial. ‘As often’. The keeping of the Passover feast was fixed, Exodus 13:5 but not so the Lord’s Supper. But as ‘often’ as we do keep it, it must be as instituted by the Lord.
“Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year,” Exodus 34:23-24.
Israel was and still is, one of the great warrior nations yet from her prophets we learn that there is more to securing our borders than military prowess and tactics. “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places,” Deuteronomy 33:26-29.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” Psalm 46:1.
I would like to consider the topic of keeping our border, especially in a day when the question of that border most important to the Ulster Protestant is being undermined and that universally!
We will not consider military matters but rather what has to be done to obtain the aid and the assistance of the One Who alone can raise up or cast down!
“God hath power to help, and to cast down,” 2 Chronicles 25:8.
In our text, we are told that the men of Israel were commanded to appear before God three times a year to worship Him. In the later years, this meant travelling to Jerusalem. During these times of worship when the borders of Israel would be deprived of men to defend them, God promised to make sure that no foreign enemy would rise to invade!
PLEASE NOTE THAT GOD CONTROLS EVEN THE THOUGHTS OF OUR ENEMIES.
He can quench enmity and hatred against His people. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: andbecause of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds,” Judges 6:1-2.
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him,” Proverbs 16:7.
Read 1 Kings 11:9-14.
God is sovereign in the affairs of nations.
Sennacherib king of Assyria – “But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest,” 2 Kings 19:27-28.
In the very courts of kings it is so. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” Proverbs 21:1.
It is so with the lowliness of men. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand,” Proverbs 19:21. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:9-10.
Even the devil is subject to God’s will. Job 1:9-10, 12. “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him,” Matt 4:11.
II. WE MAY CLAIM THE SPIRIT OF THIS PROMISE TODAY
Israel was promised protection while they were engaged in worshipping Him in obedience to His Word. So the same applies to all today who WALK and LIVE in obedience to God.
This is so even when obedience to God is contrary to human wisdom! “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me,” Luke 18:21.“And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth,” 1 Kings 17:13-14.
Faith in God is required to enjoy this security. Ulster enjoyed a great measure of God’s mercy and protection in former times when faith in God’s Word was much stronger than today. That is why I utterly condemn the ecumenical false prophets who have destroyed, to a very great measure, that faith. In so doing they have robbed us of our help!
The defence of God is the ultimate defence. “Neither shall any man desire thy land.” The word ‘desire’ means to ‘lust after’! What a thing if God were to take away the lust of republicans for this land of our fathers! The machinations of Sinn Fein and the Dublin government would wither!
III. THIS PROMISE WAS ESPECIALLY LINKED TO THREE ACTS OF WORSHIP
Passover. ‘Faith in the lamb’. We know that this pictures Calvary. It was the first of the seasons. The Cross is the chief of our places of worship.
Pentecost. ‘Fulness of the Spirit’. The season when the Holy Spirit was poured forth upon the people of God. Acts 2:1.
Tabernacles. ‘Following the King’. “That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God,” Leviticus 23:43.
These are the key factors of true religion, the observance of which will see God’s blessing rest upon us!
This feast highlighted their separation from the world, marking as it did their leave of Egypt. This feast is mentioned as being observed in the Millennial Reign of Christ, Zech 14:16, 18-19. That is a day when the Saviour will enforce His holy will upon the world, Rev 19:15.
These were seasons of joy and feasting as well as security. All these feasts were occasions of Joy. God would have us joyfully worship Him.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Romans 14:17.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” 1 Peter 2:9.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4.