The Rich Beggar and Lazarus
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” Luke 16:23,24.
The rich man was tormented in this flame? His cry, that Lazarus might dip his finger in water and cool his tongue? Was his whole body not engulfed in the flame? Why single out the tongue for relief; why not the feet or other extremities?
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” James 3:6.
“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able to bridle the whole body” James 3:2. (Sounds as though it came from the Proverbs, doesn’t it?)
“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” Luke16:15. “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous. . .derided him” Luke 16:14. Would man exalt himself while casting down his Creator? Would he think to dethrone the Sovereign and make himself God? “The tongue is a fire? It defileth the whole body? It is set on fire of hell?” James 3.
And what of Lazarus? He recognized him; even knew his name? He was well aware that Lazarus had laid at his gate full of sores; that he was a beggar whom he had refused even the crumbs from his table. Had he observed the Law of Gleanings (Lev.19:9,10) that called for him to provide for such as Lazarus. . .how could he profess to keep the law and purposely ignore this one? What did he now know about Lazarus: that he was no longer laden with sores; he was in heaven, clean, undefiled. Lazarus might touch his defiled tongue with water without fear of his being ceremonially defiled himself by a defiled beggar.
He believed that Lazarus might enter the abyss and leave at will; that he would be without harm from the flame in which he himself suffered.
“that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.” Where would Lazarus obtain the water: certainly not from within the flame of hell! What kind of water is it that would resist being immediately vaporized upon entering this fiery furnace? And it is expected to remain cold water that it might cool his tongue? What water could possibly cool the fire of hell? And effectively cool the tongue as to bring a prolonged degree of Comfort? Lazarus, have you access to such water? “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb” Rev. 22:1.
My dear rich beggar, what a sad commentary! Not so much as a drop of cold water is possible to cool your parched tongue. The Well stood before you; spoke to you: “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” Rev. 22:17.
“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” John 4:13b,14.