Thank you my dear friend for this very interesting question. I do not believe that this parable indicates that those in glory are looking at things on the earth nor in hell. Now, it does appear that the rich man in this parable was able to see Lazarus in heavenly bliss, but could not communicate with him directly. We read in Luke 16:23: “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”  Thus, we can clearly gather that the rich man, after death, is in fact in Hades and in torment, and that he is fully conscious of his situation. He is able to look out and see father Abraham, and Lazarus in his bosom, but he only calls out to Abraham. We are not told here that Lazarus looked out and saw the rich man, and the only communication is between Abraham and the rich man, and not with Lazarus himself. I believe this to be important because that place where Lazarus is said to be, Abraham’s bosom, describes a place of heavenly bliss. Lazarus does not have his body in heaven (that does not happen until the Lord Jesus returns to the clouds in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18); but clearly his spirit and soul are there in heaven awaiting the resurrection. When the children of God die, they are immediately taken to heaven. This is a place where there is no more sorrowing. It seems to me that if those who are with Christ were able to see those in hell or on earth, there might be plenty of events to concern or discourage them. In heaven, there will be no sorrow or crying, as we see in Revelation 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  Thus, I believe that those in the glory are not able to see those in torment…nothing that would bring sorrow or worry. On the other hand, I do believe that in heaven, there must be an awareness of when a sinner comes to Christ (see Luke 15:7).

But now, I do want to clarify what I believe to be the thrust of the Lord Jesus’ message when He spoke

of this event. As we read in Luke 16, this rich man apparently was all about his riches, and indeed, in the

time of our Lord Jesus, the Jews in Israel did apparently feel that riches on earth were a sign of God’s

favor. Clearly, this rich man despised the poor, and Lazarus was exceedingly poor and sick.

His behavior concerning the need of Lazarus for relief clearly shows that the rich man had not the least

spirit of kindness nor generosity towards the poor, and I believe this was the heart of the lesson for the

Jews of that time, and certainly for us today who may be blessed with riches by God. Riches and social

status are not to be used as the sign of God’s favor, but rather are blessings from a gracious God, and

these blessings are not to be used for self-aggrandizement, nor are one’s blessings in material things to

be hoarded for one’s own pleasure. Rather, there is a responsibility to use such blessings graciously, as

the Lord Jesus has taught us to do. The child of God is expected to be kind and generous to the poor,

and to use our God-given resources to bless those who have need, rather than to hoard our riches to

ourselves and scorn the poor (see James 2:6-8; 15,16). Thus, when the rich man died, he went to

torment, not because of his wealth, but rather because he had not the love of God in his soul. He was

not a child of God but lived only for himself and to gratify his own desires. He was clearly not faithful to

the Lord, nor was he thankful for what God had given him.  Consequently, when he died, his soul went

to a place of torment, with full consciousness of his situation. Lazarus, on the other hand, did not go to

heaven because he was poor and oppressed on the earth, but rather it is understood that he trusted in

God’s mercy and grace, even though he had nothing in this life. I wanted to mention this so that there is

no misunderstanding about how one is saved.  We are not saved because of our wealth or poverty on

earth, nor by our good works. But rather salvation is based entirely upon faith in the redemptive

work of the Lord Jesus Christ, through His shed blood on Calvary’s cross. And yet, a signature

characteristic of Christians is that we demonstrate our faith in our kindness and mercy to others. The

Christian does good works because of the love of Christ Jesus in us; but we are only saved through faith

in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His finished work of redemption for us on Calvary’s cross (Ephesians 2:8,9).

(SF)  (544.1)