by PJ Salas
“And it came to pass, the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom…” Luke 16:22.
Abraham’s bosom is an expression that comes from the Bible. The phrase is from a story in the book of Luke, chapter sixteen, verses nineteen through thirty-one. The narrative is an allegory teaching us a lesson. And while the passage is not literal, it is astute and critical.
A Tale of Two Men
The tale is about two people who lived very different lives; one was wealthy and the other desperately poor. Both men died. The sick beggar was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man finds himself in a place of anguish, seeking a different outcome for his fate, but learns there is no mercy in death.
Money and Greed
In the context of Luke, chapter sixteen, we see the parable of the rich man and the beggar is about money, greed, covetousness, and about how we treat others. This story reveals how we trust to our money, how we mishandle money, how stingy we are, and how we are enticed by money and led astray.
People assume the story is about death and hell, because that is the setting; but, in fact, it is about choices made while we are alive, and the natural, eternal consequences of those choices. The lesson is a warning.
We earn money, gain abundantly, and forget God who gives ability, who blesses us with good income, even affluence; and in the process we forget those who do not have money. The money becomes our god, our eyes wander, our minds too, and our relationship with God suffers, as well as our relationship to others.
Before we realize it, time and seasons pass, we hurt God, we hurt our loved ones, and we are lost. Then we die, it is all over, and what then, eternal loss. And this is what the parable is all about. It is a wake-up call to each one of us. Wake up before it is everlasting too late.
What the Story Teaches
The fable is not about an eternally burning fire, it is about an eternal destiny, one for which we have a choice while we are still alive. The story is about what will happen if we continue to refuse Jesus and His Word.
Will you end up in the place of Abraham’s bosom, awaiting the resurrection of the righteous? Or will you be found in the second resurrection with the wicked? (Daniel 12;2; Luke 14:14; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:6).
In life, as in this allegory, the decisions we make, and the way we live now, determines what we will do, and how we will live tomorrow. And when we die, we are dead, it is too late to change our life.
There is no mercy after we die. Mercy is for the living. God gives us a number of years to live, and He gives us a free will to live those years the way we choose; but, there are consequences, the natural outcome of our thinking and behaviors.
The decisions we make now, the way we live, the way we think and feel, the attitudes we take, all are deciding for today, tomorrow, and for eternity; and that is precisely the point of the story of the rich man and the sick beggar.
The wealthy man had every advantage in life, yet he did nothing to help others, nor to love God who blessed him abundantly. The beggar had no advantages in life, yet he lived his life in faith and love to God.
The narrative in Luke is for all people; it is for every one of us a sounding alarm from our Savior. We need to pay attention to the way we are living, because there is no more mercy when we are dead.
Masterfully satan has distracted many from understanding the truth of this parable and its solemn warning. We need to wake up and realize our eternal destiny is at stake. Jesus is our only hope and help, He is our salvation and our heart’s desire; we need Him.
In this story of wealth and poverty Abraham is the ancestor of both men, but spiritually the forefather of only one, the poor sick man; because the sickly beggar lived his life in faith to God, as did his ancestor Abraham.
Where is Abraham’s Bosom
Abraham is dead, in the grave, awaiting the resurrection of life (John 5:28,29). The place of the beggar is with Abraham; they will be together in the resurrection of the righteous. The grave of the faithful, who are awaiting the resurrection of life, is the place of Abraham’s bosom (Revelation 20:6).
In this parable of the rich man and the beggar Abraham’s bosom is in the grave awaiting Christ’s return.
Spiritually, and in general, the bosom is regarded as the seat of the heart, where we hold people close, physically and emotionally.
The Christian’s Message
As Christians our life and our message is that of righteousness by faith. In our hearts we carry our Redeemer, and He carries us in His heart. Through faith in Jesus we live a life of righteousness. He teaches us how to live by faith. He strengthens us to live in accordance with all of God’s Word; and we long to please Him who cares so deeply for us.
Abraham is affectionately known as the father of faith. He is also our example in living a life of obedience through faith. As Abraham honored our Creator by living uprightly through faith in Jesus, we should too. Christ gives us strength, He helps us, that we may be found with the poor man, in Abraham’s bosom, awaiting the resurrection of life (Genesis 26:5; Philippians 4:13; James 2:17-23; John 5:28,29).
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom…” Isaiah 40:11.
“Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10.