Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 21: "A Great Gulf Fixed"
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >
Application to the Jewish Nation
When Christ gave the parable of the rich man and
Lazarus, there were many in the Jewish nation in the
pitiable condition of the rich man, using the Lord's goods for
selfish gratification, preparing themselves to hear the
sentence, "Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found
wanting." Dan. 5:27. The rich man was favored with
every temporal and spiritual blessing, but he refused to
cooperate with God in the use of these blessings. Thus it was
with the Jewish nation. The Lord had made the Jews the
depositaries of sacred truth. He had appointed them [p. 268] stewards of His grace. He had given them every spiritual and
temporal advantage, and He called upon them to impart
these blessings. Special instruction had been given them
in regard to their treatment of their brethren who had
fallen into decay, of the stranger within their gates, and of
the poor among them. They were not to seek to gain everything
for their own advantage, but were to remember those
in need and share with them. And God promised to bless
them in accordance with their deeds of love and mercy. But
like the rich man, they put forth no helping hand to relieve
the temporal or spiritual necessities of suffering humanity.
Filled with pride, they regarded themselves as the chosen
and favored people of God; yet they did not serve or
worship God. They put their dependence in the fact that they
were children of Abraham. "We be Abraham's seed," they
said proudly. (John 8:33.) When the crisis came, it was
revealed that they had divorced themselves from God,
and had placed their trust in Abraham, as if he were God.
Christ longed to let light shine into the darkened minds
of the Jewish people. He said to them, "If ye were
Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the
truth, which I have heard of God. This did not Abraham."
Christ recognized no virtue in lineage. He taught that
spiritual connection supersedes all natural connection. The
Jews claimed to have descended from Abraham; but by
failing to do the works of Abraham, they proved that
they were not his true children. Only those who prove
themselves to be spiritually in harmony with Abraham by
obeying the voice of God, are reckoned as of true descent.
Although the beggar belonged to the class looked upon
by men as inferior, Christ recognized him as one whom
Abraham would take into the very closest friendship. [p. 269]
The rich man though surrounded with all the luxuries
of life was so ignorant that he put Abraham where God
should have been. If he had appreciated his exalted
privileges and had allowed God's Spirit to mold his mind and
heart, he would have had an altogether different position.
So with the nation he represented. If they had responded
to the divine call, their future would have been wholly
different. They would have shown true spiritual discernment.
They had means which God would have increased, making
it sufficient to bless and enlighten the whole world. But
they had so far separated from the Lord's arrangement that
their whole life was perverted. They failed to use their
gifts as God's stewards in accordance with truth and
righteousness. Eternity was not brought into their reckoning,
and the result of their unfaithfulness was ruin to the whole
Christ knew that at the destruction of Jerusalem the
Jews would remember His warning. And it was so. When
calamity came upon Jerusalem, when starvation and suffering
of every kind came upon the people, they remembered
these words of Christ and understood the parable. They
had brought their suffering upon themselves by their
neglect to let their God-given light shine forth to the world.
In the Last Days
The closing scenes of this earth's history are portrayed
in the closing of the rich man's history. The rich man
claimed to be a son of Abraham, but he was separated
from Abraham by an impassable gulf—a character wrongly
developed. Abraham served God, following His word in
faith and obedience. But the rich man was unmindful of
God and of the needs of suffering humanity. The great
gulf fixed between him and Abraham was the gulf of [p. 270] disobedience. There are many today who are following the
same course. Though church members, they are unconverted.
They may take part in the church service, they may
chant the psalm, "As the hart panteth after the water
brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God" (Ps. 42:1);
but they testify to a falsehood. They are no more righteous
in God's sight than is the veriest sinner. The soul that
longs after the excitement of worldly pleasure, the mind
that is full of love for display, cannot serve God. Like the
rich man in the parable, such a one has no inclination to war
against the lust of the flesh. He longs to indulge appetite.
He chooses the atmosphere of sin. He is suddenly snatched
away by death, and he goes down to the grave with the
character formed during his lifetime in copartnership with
Satanic agencies. In the grave he has no power to choose
anything, be it good or evil; for in the day when a man
dies, his thoughts perish. (Ps. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5, 6.)
When the voice of God awakes the dead, he will come
from the grave with the same appetites and passions, the
same likes and dislikes, that he cherished when living. God
works no miracle to re-create a man who would not be
re-created when he was granted every opportunity and
provided with every facility. During his lifetime he took
no delight in God, nor found pleasure in His service. His
character is not in harmony with God, and he could not
be happy in the heavenly family.
Today there is a class in our world who are
self-righteous. They are not gluttons, they are not drunkards,
they are not infidels; but they desire to live for themselves,
not for God. He is not in their thoughts; therefore they
are classed with unbelievers. Were it possible for them
to enter the gates of the city of God, they could have no
right to the tree of life, for when God's commandments
were laid before them with all their binding claims they [p. 271] said, No. They have not served God here; therefore
they would not serve Him hereafter. They could not live
in His presence, and they would feel that any place was
preferable to heaven.
To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is
His character. But those who do not appreciate and utilize
the precious opportunities and sacred influences granted
them on earth, are not fitted to take part in the pure
devotion of heaven. Their characters are not molded according
to the divine similitude. By their own neglect they have
formed a chasm which nothing can bridge. Between them
and the righteous there is a great gulf fixed.
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >