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Man’s Nature and Destiny

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    19 THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

    PART 1 - TESTIMONY OF MOSES AND THE PROPHETS

    THE hoary fable that every man has in his own nature an immaterial, ever-conscious, never-dying principle, vaulting from the gloomy regions of heathen mythology over into the precincts of Christianity, and claiming the positive authority of Christ and his apostles, instead of the uncertain speculations of Socrates and Plato, conceives that it finds a secure entrenchment in Luke 16:19-31, or the record concerning the rich man and Lazarus.MND 137.1

    Into this record, as into the strongest of strongholds, it enters with every demonstration of confidence; and from its supposed impregnable walls, it hurls mockery and defiance against all opposing views, as the infatuated subjects of Belshazzar defied the soldiers of Cyrus from the walls of Babylon.MND 137.2

    We venture to approach, at least to reconnoiter. We venture further, from the record itself, even to lay siege to it, and dig a trench about it, which if we mistake not, will soon effectually reduce it, and all the arguments for immortality it is supposed to contain.MND 137.3

    The first fact to which we call the attention of the reader is that Christ, as the result of this narrative, parable, or whatever it may be, refers us to Moses and the prophets for light and information respecting the place and condition of the dead. In the record, the rich man is represented as requesting that Lazarus might be sent to his brethren on earth, lest they should come into the same place of torment. How would he prevent them? - By carrying back to them information respecting the state that follows this life; by telling how it fared with the covetous rich man who had enjoyed his good things in this life, and inducing them to live such a life here as to avoid the condition into which he had fallen.MND 137.4

    And what was Abraham’s answer? - “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.... If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Verses 29-31. That is to say, Moses and the prophets had given them just as positive information respecting the condition into which man passes from this life, as could be given them were it possible for any one to retrace his steps through the portals of the grave, and rise from the dead.MND 138.1

    The significance of this declaration should not be overlooked. It throws us right back upon the records of Moses and the prophets for information upon that subject respecting which the incident here related is claimed to be full and sufficient testimony.MND 138.2

    We therefore inquire what Moses and the prophets have taught us respecting the place where the scene here depicted is represented to have taken place. What place was this? Answer: Hades; for this is the word from which “hell” is translated in verse 23. In hell, hades, the rich man lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham and Lazarus afar off, though still within sight and speaking distance.MND 138.3

    The New Testament was written in Greek, while Moses and the prophets wrote in Hebrew. What is the Hebrew word answering to the Greek hades? Answer: Sheol. These are the equivalent terms in the two languages. All that a Hebrew writer meant by sheol, a Greek writer meant by hades, and vice versa. The question, then, is simply this: What have Moses and the prophets taught us respecting sheol, and the condition of those who enter therein?MND 139.1

    Meaning of hades and sheol. - These words denote the common receptacle of the dead, both righteous and wicked. The righteous dead are there; for at the resurrection they raise the victorious shout, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave [Gr. hades], where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55. And the wicked dead are there; for at the resurrection to damnation it is said that death and hell (Gr. hades) deliver them up. Revelation 20:13. That the hades of the New Testament is the sheol of the Old, Psalm 16 and Acts 2:27 bear testimony. Thus Psalm 16:10 says, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Heb. sheol];” and the New Testament, as above, makes a direct quotation of this passage by saying, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell “[Gr. hades.]”MND 139.2

    Use of the word sheol. - This word occurs in the Old Testament sixty-five times. It is rendered “hell” and “grave” each thirty-one times, and “pit” three times. With our Lord’s special indorsement of what is there written concerning it, we may look with interest at the facts brought out by the testimony of Moses and the prophets concerning our relation to it.MND 139.3

    All alike go there. Thus Jacob says, “I will go down into sheol [to use the original word in place of the English rendering] unto my son mourning.” Genesis 37:35. Korah and his company went down into sheol. Numbers 16:30, 33. All mankind go there. Psalm 89:48.MND 139.4

    What goes into sheol. - Sheol receives the whole man bodily at death. Jacob expected to go down with his gray hairs to sheol. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram went into sheol bodily. The soul of the Saviour left sheol at his resurrection. Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31. David, when restored from dangerous sickness, testified that his soul was saved from going into sheol. Psalm 30:2, 3.MND 140.1

    The duration of its dominion. - Those who go down into sheol must remain there till their resurrection. At the second coming of Christ, all the righteous are delivered from sheol. All the living wicked are then turned into sheol, and for one thousand years it holds them in its dread embrace. Then it gives them up, and judgment is executed upon them. Revelation 20:11-15.MND 140.2

    Location of sheol. - It is in the earth beneath. It embraces the interior of the earth as the region of the dead, and the place of every grave. Ezekiel 32:18-32. It is always spoken of as beneath, in the interior of the earth, or in the nether parts of the earth. See Numbers 16:30, 33; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9-20; Ezekiel 31:15-18; 32:18-32. Referring to the fires now preying upon the interior parts of the earth,and which shall at last cause the earth to melt with fervent heat, the Lord, through Moses, says: “For a fire is a kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest sheol, and shall; consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundation of the mountains.” Deuteronomy 32:22. Jonah went down into sheol when he descended into the depths of the waters, where none but dead men had ever been. Jonah 1:2.MND 140.3

    Condition of the righteous in sheol. - They do not praise the Lord there. David so testifies: “In death there is no remembrance of thee; in sheol who shall give thee thanks?” Psalm 6:5. Hezekiah uttered the same great truth, when he was delivered from death in answer to prayer: “I shall go to the gates of sheol; I am deprived of the residue of my years.... Behold, for peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind my back. For sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.” Isaiah 38:10-19; Psalm 115:17; 146:1-4.MND 140.4

    Condition of the wicked in sheol. - They are still and silent there. David, in a prayer indited by the spirit of God, says: “Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in sheol.”MND 141.1

    Psalm 31:17. In 1 Samuel 2:9 we read that the wicked shall be silent in darkness.MND 141.2

    General character of sheol. - It is a place of silence, secrecy, sleep, rest, darkness, corruption, and worms. Job says: “So man lieth down, and riseth not; till the heavens be no more,they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep. Oh! that thou wouldst hide me in sheol, that thou wouldst keep me secret till thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time and remember me. If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” Job 14:12-15. Again he says: “If I wait, sheol is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. And where is now my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of sheol, when our rest together is in the dust.” Job 17:13-16; 4:11-19; Psalm 88:10-12.MND 141.3

    There is no knowledge in sheol. - This fact is plainly stated by Solomon through the Spirit of inspiration: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in sheol, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:4-6, 10. When man goes in there, his very thoughts perish. Psalm 146:4.MND 142.1

    Such are the great facts concerning sheol, or hades, revealed to us in the books of “Moses and the prophets.” Their statements are literal, plain, explicit, and unequivocal. In opposition to all these, can it be maintained that in sheol and -hades there is consciousness, wisdom, device, knowledge, happiness, and misery, as is popularly claimed on the authority of this record about the rich man and Lazarus? If not, and if sheol is such a place of silence, darkness, inactivity, and unconsciousness as they declare, can the use of such language as is employed respecting the rich-man and Lazarus in this very place be accounted for?MND 142.2

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