EIGHTY WORDS OF
TERROR FROM THE DEPTHS OF HADES
Imagine you just received a very special
gift for your birthday. It is something you've wanted for a long time - a
You unwrap it from it's packaging,
follow all the instructions in setting it up, plug it in, flip the
"on" switch, and begin to turn the dial. Suddenly, you're receiving
your first transmission.
You quickly assess that your first
transmission is a desperate message coming over the short wave radio at sea: "Mayday!
Mayday! This is the Blue Dolphin One Seven Seven. We have encountered a storm
(static)... taking on water (static) ...two overboard... (static) repeat...
taking on water! (static)... Mayday! Mayday! ...any ships in vicinity,
please...(static).." then silence.
Those few words of terror picked up on a
short-wave radio, set you into motion. You quickly contact the Coast Guard to
relay the message, giving them the name of the vessel, the frequency of the
broadcast, and the exact time you picked up the transmission.
"Is there anything else we can
do?" you ask. "We're willing to help further if needed."
"No," says the dispatcher. "We'll take over from here," is
the response. "Thanks for alerting us."
"That's OK," you reply.
"It's the least I could do. I wish there were something else we could do
to help those poor people."
A few words spoken in terror from the high
seas... they set you into motion. You identified with the panicked person on
the broadcast. For a few short moments, his terror became yours.
THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE TO CALL YOUR
ATTENTION TO A FEW WORDS OF TERROR - EIGHTY OF THEM TO BE EXACT - THAT ARE
RECORDED IN THE BIBLE.† THE TRANSMISSION
DID NOT COME FROM SOMEONE IN DISTRESS ON THE HIGH SEAS.† THEY WERE SPOKEN BY SOMEONE IN DISTRESS FROM
THE VERY DEPTHS OF HADES.
The words are these:
"Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and
send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my
tongue; for I am in agony in this flame...
"Then I beg you, Father, that you send
him to my father's house--for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them,
lest they also come to this place of torment.
"No, Father Abraham, but if someone
goes to them from the dead, they will repent!"
The eighty words you just heard make up
the only transmission we have from that place the Bible calls Hades. Like the
short-wave mayday message, these words ought to set us into motion. We should
identify with the person transmitting them. I hope I can help you do that in
The words from Hades are recorded in Luke
16:23-31. Please turn with me to this section of
(Read Luke 16:23-31 NASV).
n For the sake of you careful students of the Bible, let me say that in this message I will make no distinction between Hades (the temporary place where the unrighteous people go after their physical death) and Hell (the "Lake of Fire," the final resting place of the unbelieving dead.) I do understand the difference, but I see little need to distinguish between them in this message. Suffice it now to say that both places are places of fire and torment, and there is no escape from either. In the end, after the judgment according to Revelation 20:14 death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire.
IN (LK. 16), - THE WORDS SPOKEN BY THE RICH MAN WERE FROM THE DEPTHS OF HADES.
THIS MORNING, WE WILL LEARN SOME LESSONS FROM THIS POWERFUL BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF A MAN WHO ENDED UP IN THE DEPTHS OF HADES.
FIRST, IN THIS PASSAGE, WE SEE A MAN
CAUGHT IN A TERRIBLE CIRCUMSTANCE.
Verse 23 says, "and in Hades he lifted
up his eyes, being in torment."
In our lives, we do our very best to
remove or set aside unpleasant circumstances. Many of us do not even want to
talk about death.
Consider the last funeral you attended of
an unbeliever - someone who lived all the way through life with no regard for
the things of God. Look around in your mind's eye. What do you see there at the
funeral? The flowers are meticulously placed, the music is soothing, the
funeral director is wearing his best sad/pleasant/understanding face, and the
person bringing the eulogy is engaging as he recounts the person's
accomplishments in life. However, little or nothing is mentioned about life
after death. Everyone carefully avoids that subject unless it's the oftened
mentioned and misleading phrase, "at least he's in a better place."
Now imagine that suddenly the funeral of
that unbeliever is interrupted by the terrified voice of the deceased coming
over the loud speaker system.
"Please, somebody help me! I'm in
agony in this flame! I'm in torment! Help me!"
It would certainly change the mood,
wouldn't it? All the somber faces would change to looks of horror. The farce
would be exposed for what it is. All the talk of peace and rest and "he's
in a better place" would cease as people came face to face with the truth.
Yes, some would still wonder what was going on. Was that really the deceased
they heard? Was someone playing a cruel prank? There are some that would not be
convinced even if someone returned and spoke to them from the dead.
No, such a thing is likely to happen. But
if it did, it would be an accurate picture of what it would be like for the
death of an unbeliever.† He would want
to scream out to his loved ones present at his funeral "get your life
right with God, because you don't want to come here -- a place of agony and
Twice in this passage the word "torment"
is used. Twice the word "agony" appears - once the
word "flame." No, you won't hear
any of these words every mentioned at a funeral. Rest assured though, according
to the Bible, in the context of the deceased unbeliever, that is what is going
n Brethren, we must not allow this to happen to us.† We cannot die without the Lord.† We must remain faithful to our Savior and stay away sin so we won't give up our salvation.† If we die without the Lord, then we will be put up in the hotel of torment and agony.† We need to start taking our spiritual lives more seriously and prepare ourselves for heaven.†
SECOND, IN THIS PASSAGE, WE SEE A MAN
WHOSE SITUATION WAS DESPERATE.
Verse 24 says, "Father Abraham, have
mercy on me..."
Considering the rest of the story here, we
need to realize that this man was not use to asking for help. He had probably
never been desperate in his entire earthly life. According to Jesus, he had
lived a life of splendor. He regularly wore clothing of purple and fine linen
from only the best shops. He had no needs.†
Human need was as far away from his conscious mind as his wealth could
keep it. Though such desperation existed just outside his front gate in the
beggar who lay there, this man managed to keep it from spoiling his day.
Now suddenly, he was crying out for mercy.
As Lazarus once "longed to be fed with the crumbs"
that fell from his table, now he was longing for just one drop of water.
It is hard to imagine a more desperate
condition than the one this man was in. Yes, people have died horrible deaths
in fire here on earth, but the key word there is "died." They died.
This man wasn't dying! All the agony was there without the ending of it.
Revelation 14:11 contains these words:
"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no
rest day and night..."
Matthew 25:46 says, "And these will go
away into eternal punishment..."
n No wonder the man was crying for mercy.† He was experiencing eternal punishment!
How do you describe eternity? I don't
really know. It's longer than a lifetime. It's longer than a millenium. It's
longer than the entire history of man. It is forever!†
If the punishment in Hades or Hell lasted
only a week, perhaps one could endure it without crying out for mercy. If it
went on for a year, at least he could dream of the time when it would be over.
But to imagine a punishment that never ends, that is a desperate situation.
I know there are people who do not want to
believe that Hell is eternal.
A US (Religious) Magazine recently asked
its readers what they thought about the idea of an afterlife. The article
concluded that the old "Hellfire-and-brimstone" idea seems to be on
its way out, being replaced by the idea of Hell as an absence of God. It went
on to say that one result is that people are becoming more concerned about
doing good for its own sake -- and less about doing good to avoid Hell.
While that may certainly be the trend in
people's belief, I want you to know that this believer is still concerned about
doing good to avoid Hell.
I know there are those who say, "I
cannot believe that a loving God could do such a thing to a person!" But
the fact remains - that is what the Bible says. Saying it isn't so or refusing
to believe it does not change what this book of God says.
Listen, on this side of death, you can
obtain ten thousand gallons of the water of God's mercy whenever you need it.
On the other side, if you die outside of Christ, there will be none - not even
THIRD, IN THIS TRANSMISSION FROM HADES, WE
SEE A MAN FOR WHOM NOTHING COULD BE DONE.
The passage says in verse 26, "there
is a great chasm fixed...that none may cross over from there to us."
In the beginning of the story, the two men
are separated by a gate, by the end of the story they are separated by a gulf.
You can step through a gate. You cannot
step across a gulf. The point is, there was nothing anyone could do - even if
they had wanted to.
There is no remedy for one in Hades or
Hell. The only thing that can be done is preventative and it has already been
done. This man was told, "They have Moses and the prophets, let
them here them." In other words, having lived and died
under the Old Testament, he should have listened to the Old Testament
Scriptures. That was the only hope for his relatives, too.
You see, many living today think that if
there were really such a place as Hell and if it were really as bad as all
that, God would somehow alert them in a special way so as to get their
The rich man in Luke
16 chose either to be ignorant of the Scriptures or to
disregard them. There was no additional warning.
Neither would there be a special warning
to his five brothers. Nor will there be any more warning to you and me or to
others living today.
It is possible that someone here is
thinking, "One of these days God will do something really big to get my
attention, then I'll change. That didn't happen in this man's life. He had
received all the warning he was ever to get.
Once a person gets to Hades, there will
be nothing anyone can do to help him.
Verse 25 says, "During your life you
received your good things... [now] you are in agony."
God had already extended all the goodness
this man was going to get. His problem was, he did nothing with it. The key
words there are "during your life." "During your life" is
all the time you get. If you blow it, it will be too late afterward to change
Don't interpret God's goodness toward you
today as an indicator that everything is all right.† Don't think to yourself that since you have money or good jobs
that God must be blessing you and that you will automatically make it to heaven.† The rich man thought he had it all, but he
was lacking one thing: salvation--a relationship with God.† I think that many people are going to be
surprised when they find themselves in Hades.†
They will be there because they spent too much time focusing on worldly
pleasures and not enough time serving and loving God.
If you end up in Hades, it will be too
I once read a copy of the transcript
released by the National Transportation and Safety Board of ValuJet Flight 592
cockpit voice recordings just before the fatal crash into the Florida
Everglades. On that day, May 11, 1996, 110 people came face to face with the
horrifying reality of death.
It was haunting to read the words that
were spoken during those final minutes of terror as the cabin and cockpit filled
with smoke. For the people aboard Flight 592 that fateful day, there is nothing
we can do. There is no way to undo what happened.
But preventative steps can be taken in
the future to keep such a thing from happening again. You see, ValuJet cut
corners in their maintenance. They lived dangerously and recklessly like such a
disaster could never happen to them. They squeezed every bit of profit out of
business that they could, all the while ignoring warning after warning.
Likewise, today there is nothing that can
be done about those already in Hades. But preventative steps can be taken to
assure that other people don't end up there. But we cannot cut corners. We
cannot live as though it could never happen to us. Like a "black box"
containing a voice recording of disaster-in-progress, the words of Jesus here
in Luke 16 warn us to be careful of the maintenance
of our relationship with Him. They also spur us into action to try to reach our
loved ones and neighbors before it is too late.
If you are not a Christian, don't wait!
Don't risk an eternity of torment for the sake of a few years of pleasure. Be
reconciled to God today.
For those of us who are Christians, we
dare not let up on our commitment to Christ. The danger is too great and the
stakes are too high.
4. At this time, the Lordís invitation is extended.† If you have any needs, please come now as we stand and sing.
Primary Resource Used To Develop This Lesson
Sermon by Dave Redick www.preacherstudy.com