Otis Q. Sellers, Founder David R. Hettema, Director


Volume 2, No. 38      Jane Sellers Hancock, Editor     July 2006

Thoughts from the Editor
Jane S. Hancock

A Review of The Rich Man and Lazarus
(Luke 16:19-31)

When I was a child my dad, Otis Q. Sellers, was just beginning his studies on man’s nature and destiny, on what is “a soul” and what is “death.” In the summer when school was out, my mother and I would travel with him on his weekly trips, resulting in repeatedly hearing his studies on Monday night in Evanston, Illinois; on Tuesday in Rockford; on Wednesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and on Thursday back home again in Grand Rapids at our evening Bible class. Repetition is good. I learned that man IS a soul and I knew from the 859 passages cited the Biblical evidence that backed up that teaching. I also learned that the dead are dead, that death is an enemy.

One of my favorite pieces of my dad’s writing is The Rich Man and Lazarus, a study he wrote in 1941 and rewrote and republished in 1962. Because the study of literature and writing is my field, I think it is a fabulous work because it deals not only with the doctrine, but also with the literature of the Bible.

He said, “This Book is God’s thoughts reduced to writing. When thought is reduced to writing it becomes literature. Therefore, the Bible is literature—literature in its highest and best form” (p. 15).

In literature we find literary forms—everything from historical narrative to poetry—and these forms all exist in the Bible: fable, parable, allegory, humor, proverb, irony, and satire. Yes, satire. And that is what the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus is. Satire.

However, instead of looking at the story as satire, most Biblical students use it to prove that man has a soul, that the soul is immortal, that death is another form of life, that death is simply life in another place, that death is the continuation of life, and that at the moment of death a man is ushered into ineffable bliss or frightful woe, that punishment is by means of literal fire, that the lost are tormented by fire eternally, that the dead are not dead at all but alive and fully conscious (p. 4).

Satire is a literary technique, which exposes the follies of its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule, often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Most satire has specific, readily identifiable targets; in the case of The Rich Man and Lazarus these targets are the Pharisees and their ridiculous practices.

What were some of these practices? They assumed “the position and rights that God had ordained for the king in Israel.” They took over the chief work of the priests—teaching—leaving the priests to perform an empty ritual. They lived a luxurious and magnificent style while most of Israel was suffering hardship due to the Roman occupation. They neglected the poor, justifying this neglect by their teachings. They believed that at death angels carried good men to a place, which they called “Abraham’s bosom,” while others were taken to a place where punishments were meted out to them. They established and maintained a caste system. They believed God spoke to them in a special way, not in the same say He spoke to the common people. They taught that if a man received evil things in this life, he would receive good things in the life to come (p.40).

So, Jesus Christ took their beliefs and wove them into a story, a story so ridiculous, so satirical, a story that would expose their superstitions, their way of life, and their teachings.

The story suggests that if one position is to be reversed in the life to come, then all positions should be reversed. If the poor were to become rich, then the rich should become poor; if a man did evil in this life, then he should get good things in the life to come. Ridiculous? Yes. Satirical? Yes. The story denies the justice of God, yet is in harmony with Pharisaic teaching.

As you read Luke 16:19-31, try not to read anything into it that isn’t there. We know nothing about the rich man except that he was rich, dressed well, ate well. We know nothing about the poor man except that he was poor and had to beg for food, for crumbs, and that he was full of sores. We know they both died. We know nothing about the characters of either of them. We cannot judge them. We can sympathize with the poor man but we know nothing about him. Was he a man of faith? Was the rich man a man of faith? The righteous and the wicked are not in contrast here.

Explore Otis Q. Sellers’ booklet, not only for its truth about man’s nature and destiny, but for its insight into literary forms used in the Bible. And remember, man doesn’t have a soul, he IS a soul; the dead are dead—until resurrection intervenes; and the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus is a satire ridiculing the beliefs of the Pharisees.

From the Director
David R. Hettema

(Editor’s Note: Recently, at the home office on Sunday, we had a guest speaker, Louis J. Tonetti, who dealt with the subject of the situation in the Middle East and the spread of the sadistic, counterfeit “peaceful” religion of Islam—which is by NO means peaceful! He clarified details of its spreading control there, as well as within the United States. He compared the differences between Islam and the Word of God, namely that the Arabic name “Islam” means “submission,” especially to the rule of violent men (their inman’s and mullah’s interpretations) and NOT to the living God in Christ, as we recognize, whom we know is a peace-loving God. One of His Names in the Hebrew is Jehovah Shalom [Jehovah {sends} peace] [E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible, Appendix No. 4].)

Those who put their trust in the Word of God are not the only people who are deeply concerned about world conditions brought on by Islam’s long-time hatred for Israel. The threats of destroying Israel are nothing new; it is the advanced weapon technology in the hands of those of Islam with the power to use them that makes these threats so fearful. If the powers of Islam have a plan to destroy Israel and have full control of Jerusalem, there is One in heaven Whose eyes have always been upon that city and also upon His people Israel, presently estranged from His fellowship and scattered throughout the nations of the world. But God has a sure plan for Jerusalem and for His people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His plan will not fail, and if the threats of the enemy turn into actions, it well may be the time spoken of by Isaiah, when God goes into action by His Spirit:

According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the islands He will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD (Isa. 59:18-20, KJV).

The day when God chooses to go into action will become the first day of Jesus Christ’s government in this earth. By God’s Spirit He will assume authority over all the nations of the earth and no will be hurt by His action; see Matthew 12:18-21 where the action concludes with And in His Name will the nations (Gentiles, KJV) trust.

I am convinced that the city of Jerusalem will be very much involved in the intervention and the blazing entrance of God’s government into this earth. God is speaking to Jerusalem when He said, Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee (God in the pillar of cloud over Jerusalem). For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations (and all of Islam) shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Isa. 60:1-3).

Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem . . . . (Zech 1:16).

Sellers’ “The Rich Man and Lazarus”

Available On Cassette, CD Or Online

Enjoy listening in your car, home or office to audio versions of Otis Q. Sellers’ booklet “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” which are now available on two cassettes or a single MP3 compact disk (CD). If you are interested in purchasing this in-depth study, beautifully narrated by the late Harry Wells, the cost (in U.S. dollars by check or money order, including shipping and handling) is $4 for each set of two tapes and/or $5 for each MP3/CD, together with mailing instructions to The Word of Truth Ministry, 228 N. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101-1675.

For your reading pleasure, the Word of Truth Ministry still offers the