by Tad Lindley
The story is true, because Jesus named one of the individuals. It is a tale of two men, one who died and went to the afterlife saved, and the other who went on from this life to hell, where he still is at this very moment as you read this. Jesus names the saved man. He is Lazarus. The lost man is simply referred to as “a certain rich man”. Here is their story, it is a lengthy reading, but please read it carefully: “Once there was a rich man. He was dressed in purple cloth and fine linen. He lived an easy life every day. A man named Lazarus was placed at his gate. Lazarus was a beggar. His body was covered with sores. Even dogs came and licked his sores. All he wanted was to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.
“The time came when the beggar died. The angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In the place of the dead, the rich man was suffering terribly. He looked up and saw Abraham far away. Lazarus was by his side. So the rich man called out, ‘Father Abraham! Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water. Then he can cool my tongue with it. I am in terrible pain in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember what happened in your lifetime. You received your good things. Lazarus received bad things. Now he is comforted here, and you are in terrible pain. Besides, a wide space has been placed between us and you. So those who want to go from here to you can’t go. And no one can cross over from there to us.’
“The rich man answered, ‘Then I beg you, father Abraham. Send Lazarus to my family. I have five brothers. Let Lazarus warn them. Then they will not come to this place of terrible suffering.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. Let your brothers listen to them.’
“ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will turn away from their sins.’
“Abraham said to him, ‘They do not listen to Moses and the Prophets. So they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:19-31 NIrV)
The rich man’s cry
The rich man, in the midst of his torment in hell, was crying out for Abraham to get a message to the living so that they might be saved from the coming judgment. Abraham’s response seems harsh. If they won’t believe Moses and the Prophets (in other words, if they don’t believe the Bible), then it doesn’t matter if they witness the miracle of someone being raised from the dead, they still won’t believe it.
In recent years, entities within Bethel pushed for the opening of alcohol sales in our city. One of the main talking points was that it would shut down bootlegging, and somehow the elimination of expensive bootleg alcohol would result in a higher quality of life in Bethel. Unfortunately, an unintended, but not unexpected side effect of flooding our town with cheap alcohol has resulted in a catastrophic parade of premature death, people who died before their time, because they drank alcohol that was legally purchased in Bethel. I know our extended family has been impacted from multiple sides by these losses. Has yours?
What would our dead say?
As Bethel once again goes to the polls to vote, I wish I could bring back some of the dead. Like the rich man begging Abraham to send a message to the living, their cry would be for us to, “Vote YES!” They would show you their grieving families, their griefstricken children being raised by the surviving spouse, and they would beg you to vote yes. Unfortunately, they cannot come back. Death is final. In their stead I urge you to vote “Yes” on both ballot measure 1 and ballot measure 3.
When you vote YES, you are voting
• For children to be raised by both parents
• To keep children out of the foster care system
• To reduce bootlegging in villages all over the region
• For more children to finish high school
• To reduce Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
• To keep people you love out of jail
• To protect the innocent from being killed by drunk drivers
Please vote YES on October 1
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.