A parable: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for parabol? (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for parabol? )
Stacy reports that in the pseudepigraphical document known as the Book of Enoch that the following story, conspicuous parallel to the parable in Luke occurs, which may predate Jesus' account.
Woe unto you who gain silver and gold by unjust means;
you will then say, "We have grown rich and accumulated goods, we have acquired everything that we have desired.
So now let us do whatever we like;
for we have gathered silver, we have filled our treasures [with money] like water,
And many are the laborers in our houses.
Your lies flow like water.
For your wealth shall not endure but it shall take off from you quickly for you have acquired it all unjustly, and you shall be given over to a great curse. (Stacy 287)
Stacy relates another similar parallel that appears in the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach, an Apocryphal document:
There is a man who is rich through his diligence and self-denial, and this is the reward allotted to him: when he says, "I have found rest, and now I shall enjoy my goods!"
he does not know how much time will pass until he leaves them to others and dies.' (Stacy 287)
The theme of the rich fool is also recorded in the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible. Stacy recounts that Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 as well as Psalm 39:6 caution the wealthy that the "stuff" they leave when they die will be "stuff" others, like the man who feared he would lose his inheritance, will likely argue about. Stacy explains that the perception "that wealth can seduce us to embrace a false sense of security only to be thwarted in the end by 'the great equalizer,' death, was widely traveled, both in the Greek and Jewish worlds" (287). The Arabs remind individuals that a shroud does not have any pockets. Americans state that one cannot take what he owns with him/her or that hearses do not pull U-Hauls with the possessions of the one who died to the cemetery.
Deffinbaugh purports that Luke's account of Jesus' parable reveals a number of "foolish" elements inherent in the rich man's actions and philosophy. These include:
1. The rich man foolishly failed to recognize where his wealth can actually come from. No evidence in the parable indicates whether and not the man was educated or perhaps not so particularly smart. The story does not reveal whether he worked hard or had others who did his work for him. Jesus pointedly states that the man's ground, not the man, produced a great harvest. The rich fool apparently did not recognize
God to be the ultimate source of his prosperity. From what Jesus told, the rich fool apparently did not have any regard for God whatsoever (Deffinbaugh).
2. The rich man erroneously perceived the purpose of wealth. Not only did he not understand where his wealth evolved from, he did not realize what he was to do with the rich as he had been given. The foolish man thought that wealth was something to be to store up, hoarded and saved, rather than for investing and/or using it to do good.
He appeared to believe that wealth, if/when it were used, was to be used for his personal comfort and ease. Contrary to the teaching of the Old Testament Law, the rich man did not perceive his wealth as the opportunity to serve God, or the way to offer sacrifices and offerings. He did not consider using some of his wealth to help others (Deffinbaugh).
3. The rich man foolishly perceived his possessions as the basis to cease being productive and also as his security. He looked forward to the best in life; including eating and drinking the finest. He appeared to plan to enjoy whatever he wanted for the rest of his life (Deffinbaugh)
4. The rich man foolishly presumed the following two false points about his future:
a. He assumes...
He assumed that he would if continue to live to enjoy what he possessed, that he would continue to live in the future. He thought that he would go to sleep that night and wake up with his "things" the next morning (Deffinbaugh).
5. The rich man foolishly held onto a short-sighted view the future; excluding God;
God's work and the kingdom of God. He did not consider that his future would include death, or the ensuing judgment. His future, however, only lasteds long as his earthly life (Deffinbaugh).
In the end, the rich man ultimately proves to be foolish not only in the way he perceived to life but also in what he considered the way to obtain life. Deffinbaugh points out that Luke uses the word "life" often in chapter 12. He explains further:
To the rich fool "living" or "life" was defined in terms of ease and pleasure, in terms not just of eating and drinking, but of doing so in a way that was enjoyable. And life was obtained by putting oneself and one's wealth first. One found life by seeking life for oneself and by ignoring others, including God. Jesus told His disciples that the way for a person to obtain "life," to save his life was to give it up. (Deffinbaugh 9)
Jesus taught his disciples that Satan, the murderer, leads men to death as he deceives them into pursuing the wrongly defined "life" (Deffinbaugh). The rich man foolishly lived his life exactly opposite of the way Jesus lived and taught.
In the article, "Earthly Stories; Heavenly Meanings the Parable of the Rich Fool," Rick Metrick, Pastor, agrees that the rich man foolishly mishandled the blessings God had given him. His destiny, Metrick, depicts that of anyone who similarly sets his face to hoard blessings instead of seeking God. Metrick relates the following spiritual life principles from Jesus' parable.
1. God deposited a blessing into the man's life just as he deposits blessings into each person's life. Metrick asserts that the rich man was likely as high as the offended brother who confronted Jesus was low.
2. Man's first, and most tragic, fatal flaw involves entertaining the question, "What shall I do?' When a person focuses on "I" and excludes God, things go bad. Rather than praying to God, the rich man chose to talk to himself; in a sense, making himself to be a god. Everything belongs to God. The rich man did not recognize this fact (Metrick).
The parable of the rich fold presents a way of life that would be best avoided. "The rich fool is so preoccupied with gaining and maintaining his possessions that he is in fact idolatrous. According to the psalmist, "The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). Arland J. Hultgren, Professor of New Testament at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, St. Paul, stresses in the book, the Parables of Jesus: A Commentary, that the rich man's actions not only reflect idolatry but also practical atheism, recognized in Jewish tradition. The Testament of Judah (perceived to be second century BC) states that the "love of money leads to idolatry,' for those who are led astray by such love 'designated as god's those who are not gods'" (Hultgren 108). The Testament also states that this love of money makes the one who possesses it to go out of his mind.
In some ways, the rich man portrayed in the parable of the rich fool, lived an exemplary life. He worked, saved, and sought to protect what he owned as he made plans to make his future secure. In the contemporary world, most people perceive individuals who live their lives in a similar manner as good managers and good stewards of what they have worked for; of what God has entrusted to them. Many people consider the individuals who do not plan for or appear not to think about the future for themselves and their loved ones has reckless. Some courses of life, are in fact, albeit, are "better and wiser than others. The way of work, planning, and saving is obviously better and wiser than the way of sloth, failure to plan, and waste" (Hultgren if 109). The rich man's flaw was not that he lived a life of work and prudence, but that he let his possessions consume him to the point that the meaning and value of his life depended on what he owned, or perhaps what owned him. As Stacy suggests at the start of the exegesis, the story may seem to be a rather simple one, but then again -- is it? The rich man's story reminds others not to live like…
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