A (Perhaps) Parabolic Prodigal’s Preferential Proximate Predicament Produces Patient Prosperous Passionate Persistent Protective Paternal Pardon

October 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Luke | 4 Comments
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Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

Luke 15:8-9

In the previous parable, about the lost sheep, the sheep was foolishly wandering away, but the coin did absolutely nothing to lose itself. This lady losing a piece of silver would be like a person with a thousand dollars losing $100. It’s only a small percentage, but it’s still a lot of money. If you lost it, you would rejoice when you found it.

The parable about the lost sheep highlights the Son. The parable about the lost coin highlights the Holy Spirit. The story about the prodigal son highlights the Father. Lost sheep and lost coins are out of place. People who are out of God’s will (especially lost sinners) are “disjointed,” they are out of place and not considered “useful” as long as they remain lost. They are also in danger.

The “parable” of the prodigal son may be a made-up story, as most of the parables of Jesus are thought to be, but the stories about the sheep and the coins are specifically called parables (Luke 15:3), whereas the one about the prodigal son starts off with:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Luke 15:11

Jesus may have taken the account of an actual event and used it for a spiritual lesson.

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

Luke 15:12 (emphasis added)

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

Deuteronomy 21:17

Under the Old Testament system an older son got two thirds and younger son one third, but this is talking about inheritance rights, and inheritance rights aren’t triggered until the father dies, so the younger son in Jesus’s story wanted the portion of the goods that would “falleth” to him. He was tired of waiting for his father to die. He didn’t want to be around him. He didn’t want to live with him. He didn’t want to work for him. He just wanted his money. In essence, he wished his father was dead. The younger son’s preference was to live without the father’s presence.

As Christians, let us never feel oppressed by our Father’s presence. When we deal with lost people, remember that they have no desire for God’s presence. We often hear of people “seeking God,” but, apart from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, they are seeking God the way bank robbers seek cops.

In the story of the prodigal son the father divided unto THEM his living. He didn’t argue and he didn’t plead. He just did it, but we can imagine that there was much drama before this day. We find out later on this was a loving father, and it did not appear that the son was planning on ever coming back.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Luke 15:13

How predictably heart-breaking. As soon as he could pack up his stuff and cash his dad’s check, he headed straight for the far country. He didn’t want his father’s presence, and, in fact, he didn’t even want his father’s proximity. As Christians, we must never stop drawing near to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8

Drawing close to God involves cleansing, but lost people have no way to get clean apart from Christ.

The father divided to the younger son his “living” – his bios – the things necessary for life, and the son soon started selling those things to support a depraved type of “living” – zao – a vain “lifestyle.”

So, here’s the picture of the prodigal lifestyle. First, you have enough cash for “riotous living.” You don’t think about earning, much less saving. You spend, and you party, and you make tons of fake friends. Then you use it all up, and you start to lose your furniture, your car, your clothes, even your home. Then it’s not a question of whether you should work – it’s how are you going to eat? To make things worse, in the case of the prodigal son, it appears that the economy crashed while he was in this condition. Swayed by his own selfish preference, and not wanting his father’s presence or proximity, he found himself in quite a predicament.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

Luke 15:14

He had no more friends, no more resources, no more family, no resume’, and no credit. We might expect the father to come to his rescue at this point, but he didn’t. By withholding material provision the father was actually providing somthing better: the opportunity for transformation through brokenness. He was waiting for the son to come back to him.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

Luke 15:15

This was an especially terrible job for a Jewish man, for whom swine were considered not only physically, but religiously, unclean.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Luke 15:16

Our Heavenly Father knows exactly how bad things have to get for his children before they are forced to face reality and/or learn their lesson.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Having seen an illustration of the Father’s patience, we now see His prosperity. Even when we squander His resources, God’s supply never runs out – or even runs low. The first things the younger son thought of when he came to his senses were the father’s goodness (he fed his servants well) and the father’s greatness. God is good – willing to be gracious – and great. He has enough grace to spare for the worst sinner. We can’t out-sin God’s grace.

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

Luke 15:18

Sinners always sin against someone, but first and foremost sin is against God.

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Luke 15:19

None of us are “worthy” to be called God’s children, and we can’t work our way into his favor.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

We thank God for His patience and prosperity, but we must not forget His persistence. The prodigal son’s father was watching and waiting. As an earthly father, he was hoping, but our Heavenly Father KNOWS. We also see an illustration of His passion, as the father in the story RAN, no longer waiting. The simple act of a wayway son coming home filled him with joy.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

The Father’s protection from the penalties of the Law may be another facet to the story. Did the prodigal son’s father run and embrace the son to keep him from being stoned? If so, his protection was met with the son’s proposal:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

But here he was interrupted by the father’s pronouncement:

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

The father’s response were the gifts of imputed righteousnesss (the best robe placed on the son), ordained authority (a ring placed on his hand), freedom (shoes placed on his feet), temporal joy (a command to feast), and everlasting joy (a recognition of figurative resurrection, “was dead and is alive again).

longing for God

The Husband of One Wife – Part 1

September 23, 2010 at 9:02 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
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Why did some of the Old Testament patriarchs have multiple wives?

I. What God Authorized

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:18-25

From what part of Adam was Eve taken? Not from his head or his foot, but from his side. This symbolizes equality, protection, and proximity to his “heart.” How many ribs did God take from Adam? Not two, not three – just one. Adam named the fish and the birds first. They could do things he couldn’t do: live underwater and fly. The land animals were doing something that Adam couldn’t do alone: mating with the females of their kind – and the fact that Adam did not have a mate was not good. God created man so that one woman is sufficient to meet all his needs. That’s God’s plan. That’s His standard. That’s what He authorized. God made it very clear: one man; one woman; two people; one made for the other; becoming one flesh.

However, note that they became one flesh – not one spirit. Marriage is a physical, earthly union, not a spiritual, eternal union. Marriage is an earthly institution ordained by God. God’s rules for it are to be obeyed. He does not want us tampering with them. When God ordains something there are blessings in doing it right. There is danger in doing it wrong. The same principle applies to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Church.

Are there people who were married on earth who are in Heaven right now and are still in a marriage relationship?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:17

Marriage relationships in Heaven would require divided affections as spouses would still owe allegiance to each other. In Heaven all allegiance, service, and worship will be directed toward the Lord alone. My wife is God’s daughter first and foremost.

So, what about the polygamy that we see in the Old Testament? It’s always good to look in the Bible and see the “firsts.”

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23

The Lamech from the ungodly line of Cain was the first bigamist. (He may have also been the author of the first sinful poem or song.) The “and” in Genesis 4:23 does not denote two separate killings. It is like when I say, “I went to the store and I went with my shoes on.” That does not mean that I went to the store twice. It is parallelism for emphasis. The same kind of “and” connects Genesis 1:1 and 1:2: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Lamech not only celebrated his killing with a little ditty, but he made a mockery of God’s mercy to Cain.

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Genesis 4:24

Jesus made a mockery of Lamech, though, when He said that His followers were not to get revenge to a degree of seventy times seven, but are to forgive to the degree of seventy times seven.

What God authorizes (what He “wills,” in one sense) and what God allows are two different things.

II. What God Allows

Remember, God destroyed the world, saving only Noah and his family, but at the tower of Babel men turned to idolatry and paganism. God called Abraham at a time when there weren’t that many Godly women around. When we read about the patriarchs of the Old Testament we have to remember that Old Testament examples are given for good and bad examples. God did use bigamists and polygamists at times. Who is He using today? “Great men of God?” No, He is using liars, adulterers, murderers, idolators, blasphemers – broken, pitiful, sinful, wretched men of a great and merciful and loving and holy God: trophies of His grace. Therefore, we can not assume that because God used polygamists in the Old Testament to do His will that He condoned their polygamy.

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

Deuteronomy 21:15, emphasis added

This is a case where the first wife has died.

Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

Deuteronomy 21:16

Now the husband is focused only on his living wife, but God is saying that he must not forget his firstborn child.

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. If a man have [present tense] a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them [present tense]:

Deuteronomy 21:17-18, emphasis and parentheses added

To say that polygamy is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:15-16 is the same as saying that having a stubborn and rebellious son is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:17-18.

Many times the New Testament clarifies the Old Testament.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:29-30

God, in patience, longsuffering, and love, overlooked the iniquities of men. But where Christ is proclaimed, God will not wink at idol worship.

Consider the Words of Jesus:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:4-8

Some Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives and appeared to be blessed: Jacob, David, some of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Here are some men greatly used by God that had one wife: Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, Job, Isaiah, Hosea, Joseph, Jesus (His “bride” being the Church).

The practice of multiplying wives grew and increased under Saul. David engaged in it. It culminated under Solomon.

We have seen:
I. What God Authorized

Next time we will finish looking at:
II. What God Allows,
and discuss:
III. What God Accepts


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