Servants on Horseback and Egyptian Shabti

Wealthy Egyptians were buried with many hundreds of little figurines, called Shabti. These in the picture are displayed at the Manchester University Museum. The word means ‘answerer’ and it was thought that the little figures would come to life and answer the deceased’s call to work and grow food. An agricultural economy like that of ancient Egypt required a large labour force. Rich folk then, like now, despised manual work and wished to enter the afterlife with slaves and servants to spare them any trouble. For them, eternity was just a continuation of this life, with the same social divisions. 

Henry Smith, the great Elizabethan puritan preacher, addressing a congregation of wealthy people in his own day, thundered:

Mighty and gracious lords, I will tell you to what your honour shall come; first, ye shall wax old like others, then ye shall fall sick like others, then ye shall die like others, then ye shall be buried like others, then ye shall be consumed like others, then ye shall be judged like others, even like the beggars which cry at your gates: one sickens, the other sickens; one dies, the other dies; one rots, the other rots: look in the grave, and show me which was Dives and which was Lazarus. This is some comfort to the poor, that once he shall be like the rich; one day he shall be as wealthy, and as glorious as a king; one hour of death will make all alike.

In Jesus’ account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, it is interesting to note that even in hell, the rich man expects poor Lazarus to pop across the great chasm and drop water on his tongue. Father Abraham corrects Dives’ faulty application of earthly logic to an eternal reality. 

The splendid riches of heaven will be enjoyed only by those who are in Christ and who laboured for His glory. In heaven, there will be no slaves or beggars, only members of the royal priesthood. In Ecclesiastes 10:7, Solomon surely glimpses the truth of eternity:

I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.