Publish Uplift and Comfort for the Poor
TODAY poverty is the lot of the great majority of mankind, nearly all of whom look upon material prosperity as the chief good in life. But why set your heart on something unlikely of realization? And even if realized, what have you? Burdens, anxieties and temptations that plunge men into destruction.—1 Tim. 6:9, NW.
Spiritual poverty is even more widespread than lack of material riches, but those who appreciate their spiritual poverty are truly wise. How so? Because God has made it possible for these to become spiritually rich.
Jesus illustrated this change from spiritual poverty to spiritual felicity and prosperity in the parable or illustration of the rich man and Lazarus.a A parable? Yes, for “without an illustration [Jesus] would not speak to them”, and to take it literally involves us in many inconsistencies and absurdities. For one thing, note that nothing is said about the rich man as being wicked or the poor man as being good. Certainly it is inconceivable that such all-important facts would have been overlooked if the account were to serve as a warning to evildoers.—Matt. 13:34; Luke 16:19-31, NW.
Briefly, the illustration shows the following: When Jesus began his ministry he found a class of men who were like the rich man in that they were rich in honor, position and spiritual advantages, the scribes, Pharisees, lawyers and priests. They were proud, haughty, self-righteous, and considered themselves the custodians of the sacred pronouncements.—Matt. 23:2; John 8:39; Luke 16:15; Rom. 3:2, NW.
On the other hand, Lazarus, whose name means “God is helper”, fittingly pictures the poor and humble lovers of righteousness who appreciated their spiritual need. These, in the eyes of the religious leaders, were morally diseased and fit company for dogs, uncircumcised Gentiles.—Matt. 15:26, 27; Luke 18:9-14; John 7:49, NW.
The ministry of Christ Jesus brought about a great change in the condition of each, well pictured by their death. The spiritually poor were comforted by the truth, and by reason of their faith and consistent course of action were brought into God’s favor, well pictured by Abraham’s bosom. (Matt. 5:3-12; 11:28-30; Luke 22:28-30; John 13:23, NW) On the other hand, the plain teaching of Jesus brought so much torment to the religious leaders that they caused Jesus to be murdered. With Pentecost the tormenting message was again heralded forth. They were no more given relief from this torment than was the rich man in the illustration.—Matt. 21:45, 46; 23:1-36; Acts 5:27-33, NW.
Today we see the same thing but on a much larger scale. Again there is the proud and rich, selfish and spiritually favored clergy class; and again we see a lowly class of persons who appreciate their spiritual poverty. Again the preaching of the truth brings torment to the spiritually rich and comfort to the poor, helping them to come into the position of favor with Jehovah God. As the prophet foretold: “Jehovah . . . raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy from the dunghill; that he may set him with princes.”—Ps. 113:1, 7, 8, AS.
a See The Watchtower, February 15 and March 1, 1951.