Pause for a moment to consider the indescribable condition of this man, which Jesus yet conveys in imaginative terms that we might be able to grasp and comprehend a little of his ghastly plight.
Deceased, his body now on earth and he, in spirit, in a disembodied state, he is full of remorse as to how he spent his brief uncertain time on terra firma. His remorse is immense, but it is also quite pointless. For it is too late.
The time for remorse was when he sailed past the beggar at his gates in his carriage, busy with his riches, busy with his privileged life (he had gates, he was isolated from the general public) busy with his business which made him rich.
And to what profit ? What is the point of riches if they are not to the benefit of those in need ?
Now, he lifts up his 'eyes'. But he has no 'eyes' - he is disembodied, for now, until the time when he shall be raised from the dead (in what kind of ghastly state is not yet revealed in scripture).
So this is all going on within himself, for there is no physical state . It is a spirit world in hades.
He 'sees' Abraham. He 'sees' Lazarus. He desires that it were possible for Lazarus to go and tell his brothers (yet on earth ; yet alive in the physical realm) to prevent them coming to this awful, fearful, ghastly place.
But it is not possible. 'Abraham' (or that which, within himself, apprehends a being called 'Abraham') says, no, it cannot be.
There is a great gulf. Of this he is conscious. But he has no eyes to see and it is not a physical, three-dimensional gulf. It is a spiritual gulf and more real, more gulf-like, more a barrier than could any physical gulf on earth be. It is an absolute barrier. A total prohibition.
And the thirst !
Oh, the burning within of 'thirst' !
It is internal. It is within. It is within his spirit, in a disembodied state that is far more intense than if the body were, actually present. (If one shuts one's eyes in pain to shut out the outside world, the pain is more intense.)
There is a fire within. He calls it a flame. No fuel, just a flame. A burning. In the resurrection there shall be a physical lake of fire and an external flame and real bodies raised from the dead.
But for him, prior to that state, the fire, for now, is only internal.
So he cries out - to a person who is far, far, far removed from him and he wishes - oh how he craves ! - that, just for a moment, it could be possible for that one-time beggar to touch his tongue (an internal organ) with just a drop of cool water.
But it cannot be.
For in life, he never once thought to even sling a few coins from his carriage as he whizzed past the beggar whose family were so poor they had to leave him at the the rich man's gates, while they went to work - were unable to earn enough for the whole family to eat, so they left him all day to see if he could beg something for the evening meal.
(This is the better likelihood. The worse is that his family - or his landlord - were cruel and merely dumped him at the gate to 'earn' his keep.)
Just the dogs to lick his sores. Drops of saliva were all the medication he got as he lay, defenceless, while they licked off the pus as their 'treat'.
Oh that Lazarus could now just touch his tongue with a drop of liquor ! Ironic, that in his present, awful state, he, like one of the dogs, would just have a lick of something damp from the beggar Lazarus !
But it cannot be.
And there he still is, two thousand years later. He is still there.
He knows nothing of the history that has passed. He has been there every hour for the past two thousand years. Craving, gasping, burning inside.
The only change to his condition will be a resurrection in which his resurrected body joins company with his disembodied spirit - only for both to be cast into a lake of fire that can never be quenched and the burning shall - then - be inside and outside, all at once.
They shall, said Jesus, gnaw their tongues (real, resurrected tongues) for pain.
Oh pause, for just a moment, and consider this rich man, who still exists in this very second of our own time.