Like A Vapour

Like A Vapour
Vol: 17 Issue: 21 Friday, February 21, 2003

Like A Vapour

A tragic fire in a Rhode Island nightclub once again demonstrates how fragile life truly is. Of three hundred people attending a “Great White” heavy metal concert, at least thirty-nine died and the death toll could rise as high as forty.

(“Great White” is a 1980s heavy metal band whose hits include “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Rock Me.” I looked it up)

One hundred and sixty-four people were rushed to local West Warwick, RI hospitals. At least 19 are critical, with more than thirty in serious condition.

The fire was believed caused by malfunctioning pyrotechnic display that turned the club into a fiery inferno in seconds.

Fire Capt. Russell McGillivray said many of the victims were found near the front door after they frantically ran towards the exits. It is feared that many more were trapped inside.

“The place went up within a matter of two minutes,” witness John Kudryk told the Providence Journal.

The fire comes four days after 21 people were killed and more than 50 injured during a stampede in a Chicago nightclub that began when a security guard used pepper spray to break up a fight.

Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer couldn’t speculate on the specific cause, but said a flame from the pyrotechnics display hit styrofoam in the ceiling.

“Everbody knows there were pyrotechnics used in there,” he said. “We found people in a corner of the building. So there are dead people in there.”


One thinks about the victims. How many of these young people were securely in the arms of Jesus when they stepped out into eternity? How quickly they were here, and then they were gone!

According to the witnesses, within minutes, all the exits were jammed with people, some of them on fire, and nobody else could get out. Bodies were stacked ‘like cordwood’ when firefighters got into the blazing building.

No time to run, no time to think — and no time to pray.

The Apostle James writes, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (Jas 4:14)

In terms of eternity, James tells us, the periods of our individual lives are, in the grand scheme of things, like a puff of smoke.

Eternity is a long time. A good analogy of eternity goes like this. If a sea gull on the West Coast picked up a grain of sand and dropped it on the East Coast, and then came back and repeated the process every ten thousand years, when all the beaches of the West Coast were on the East Coast, well, that s the first ten MINUTES of eternity.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 12:16-18

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

The lesson is the same for the rich man as for the victims of the twin nightclub tragedies as for you and me.

You and I, everybody you meet, from the mailman to the guy next to you at work, has an eternal destiny. That destiny is either a joyful existence in the presence of God, or a Christless eternity in the place prepared for the devil and his angels. It is a real place.

In Luke 16, Jesus tells of Lazarus and the rich man.

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,”

Stop there. Note Jesus did NOT say, ‘Learn the parable of the rich man’. He said ‘there WAS a certain rich man.’ Jesus was speaking of a literal event of which He, as God, had knowledge.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

Stop there. Note the following from Jesus’ account. Before their Pardon was paid for, the righteous dead, like Abraham, Moses, etc, did NOT go directly to heaven, as do Blood-bought Christians of the Church Age.

Instead, they went to Paradise. Hell was at that time divided in two, one a place of comfort, (Abraham’s bosom) the other a place of torment, but both located physically in hell.

Note also that the rich man can see Lazarus, that he speaks of literal torment and literal flame. Abraham explains the division of hell, and that Lazarus cannot come to him.

The rich man cries out, “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” Stop here again.

Note that the rich man remembers his life on earth. As he will for eternity. He remembers his loved ones, and is conscious of their destiny. He begs Abraham to do something, but Abraham simply tells him that “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

Now note something EXTREMELY revealing about the exchange. Abraham is Abraham. Lazarus the beggar, is Lazarus.

But the rich man has no name. He has his memories, he has his awareness of his surroundings, he knows the hopelessness of the situation and the only thing he wants more than a drink of water is to save his five brothers.

But HE HAS NO NAME! Why is that so important? Because he doesn’t need one. Nobody will ever speak it again. There is no reprieve, no visitors, no hope and no need for a name. To all intents and purposes, he is dead, although eternally aware of it.

Remember the sea gulls and the first ten minutes of eternity? Assuming Jesus was speaking of a rich man of His time, then his condition remains the same, except hell is given over to torment now that the righteous dead have been redeemed and taken to Heaven.

From the time of Jesus until now, the rich man has experienced the first five SECONDS of hell. A hell as hot as the Rhode Island nightclub tragedy, a place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Eternal, conscious, perpetual, lonely torment, dead forever, yet alive, remembering that one time when you could have escaped the torment.

That is what awaits the mailman, or the guy next to you, or your friends or relatives of whom we say, “I’ll talk to him when the time is right” or when he says, “I’ll think about it. Maybe tomorrow.”

Then God says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

These are the last days. The Rapture is coming, the Tribulation is almost upon us, the King is coming! But He isn’t here yet. And there are plenty of people alive today who won’t be here then, either.

Like the 39 Rhode Islanders in last night’s inferno.

The mission of the Omega Letter is not so much to preach Christ to the lost (although that is part of it) but mostly, to equip a world-wide army of personal evangelists prepared to “give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)

The end IS coming.

But for many, it will come sooner than they think, like the poor victims that are the subject of this column.

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12)

This entry was posted in Briefings by Pete Garcia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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