... The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame." Luke 16:22b-24
Years ago, before most churches were air-conditioned, I heard of a Texas pastor who, on a 100-degree day got up in his pulpit and said, "I just want you folks to remember there is one place hotter than this. Amen."
That was the entire content of that Sunday's message.
As near as I can tell, that pastor was wrong. I believe there are two places hotter than that pastor's town. One of those places is Death Valley, which now holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded. For those of you who are wondering: on July 10, 1913, the thermometer registered 134 degrees Fahrenheit or 56.7 degrees Celsius.
For a good many years, a temperature recorded in Libya held the record. Now, after some serious research and investigation, the World Meteorological Organization has ruled that the man reading some antiquated equipment had made a mistake.
So, Death Valley got promoted, and it now holds the record as the hottest place on earth.
But like I said, there is another place that is hotter. But that place hasn't been recognized by the World Meteorological Organization. That's because this place is beyond its purview and can't be found here on earth.
Now, I don't have an exact temperature readout of how hot hell can get. According to Jesus' parable about the rich man and Lazarus, part of which serves as our text for today's devotion, hell is a pretty uncomfortable place, made even more so by the knowledge that things aren't going to be getting better -- ever.
So that none of us would have to experience hell's heat and the accompanying separation from our Creator, the Lord sent His Son into this world on a 33-year-long rescue mission. During that entire time Jesus did everything necessary to assure that those who believe on Him would not perish but, instead, would be given eternal life.
Because Jesus' supreme sacrifice has been made and accepted, now when believers in the Savior die, hell is no longer their final and inevitable destination. Instead, they're going to a place of green pastures and still waters, which is a considerable improvement.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for sending Your Son to save me, I give thanks. Because of what He has done, I have been rescued from the heat of hell. Now I ask that the Holy Spirit use me to let others know they don't have to go to the spiritual Death Valley known as hell. In Jesus' Name I offer up this prayer. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries