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Fireheart 1945


"Defend your clan, even with your life." - Warrior code, Warrior cats novel series

More Blog Posts223

  • Wednesday
    Sin affects others, not just ourselves

    In Chapter 7 of the book of Joshua, a soldier named Achan steals some of the treasures of Jericho. It had been commanded of Israel that they would either destroy with fire what they could or, if the material in question (such as gold or silver) could not be destroyed by fire, it would be given into God's treasury (6:18, 24). Achan stole a mantle (NIV translation says "robe"), 200 shekels of

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    1 comments · 16 views
  • 2 weeks
    On knowing God

    One of my Christian professors once said that they were a skeptic about God. He continued, saying that he was skeptic about God in the sense of us - humans - ever being able to know God exhaustively. There is no shame in saying, "I don't know," regarding God if we cannot know the concept in question, or in admitting that we can't know it completely. Even with eternity to know God, those who are

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    0 comments · 17 views
  • 2 weeks
    The Assyrian Invasion of Judah and its implications

    In 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37, King Sennacherib of Assyrian invades Judah. Given that King Hezekiah of Judah had rebelled and stopped paying tribute (2 Kings 18:7), this was not surprising; the Assyrians were brutal in dealing with rebelling peoples, dealing cruelly with war captives and deporting rebellious nations in an effort to kill future rebellion and destroy their

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    1 comments · 19 views
  • 3 weeks
    How the devil ensnares us

    In Chapter 4 of Charles S. Stanley's book, "When the Enemy strikes," the author relates a story to the reader. A pastor teaching a group of children had one strong boy come up to the platform. He then told the boy to break the string, which he easily did.

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    0 comments · 35 views
  • 3 weeks
    My Favorite part of War of the Worlds

    7:37 and beyond;

    To paraphrase a meme;

    HMS Thunderchild; teaching Martian [invaders] to respect the Royal Navy since 1897.

    2 comments · 25 views
Mar
21st
2020

Deconstructing the Parable of the Prodigal Son · 6:24am March 21st

For a reminder, lets see what this parable says (ESV);

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

A lot of the significance of this parable goes over our heads, given the sharp contrast between today's society and the culture of yesteryear. Lets start all the way back at verses 1-2 of Chapter 15 of Luke; "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The outcasts of society were coming to Jesus to hear the message of salvation. In response, the Pharisees and scribes "grumbled." They saw these outcasts of society and believed (or maybe even hoped) that Jesus' welcoming of them reflected badly on Him. These were people who were considered too unrighteous to have any reasonable chance when it came to God.

In response, Jesus told them three parables. The parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin are told first. In them, something (a sheep or a coin) is lost, and the owner searches frantically for them, and rejoices ecstatically when they are found. This represents the joy of God and the angels when a person was and is saved.

The parable of the Prodigal Son, however, is much more explicit. Verse 3 tells us that Jesus told them the Lost Sheep parable because of the grumbling of the Pharisees and scribes, so while others were certainly invited to hear, the primary target audience were the religious leaders.

In verse eleven, the parable begins. A man has two sons, the older of which is ignored until verse 25. Both sons represent two different people, which will be discussed later. The younger son essentially says to his father, "Give me what will be mine when you die. I don't want to wait." This is just as rude as you might expect. The younger son shows no affection towards his father, who nonetheless does what his younger son demands. it might be noted that to give a share of the inheritance to a younger son on request was unusual, as my NASB Study Bible says. Given that the ancient inheritance laws in Israel gave a double portion to the firstborn, and given that the man had two sons, that means that (if the note from my ESV Bible is right) perhaps a third of the property (probably including animals as well as land) was gifted to the younger son, who then presumably converted that property into money and then left (v. 13). He promptly wasted that money recklessly; we don't know precisely what he did (this is a parable, after all, not a nursery rhyme, meant to teach morals), but given the older son's objection in verse 30, this probably included fornication. The younger son didn't want to be governed by his father's rules, and wanted to live the fancy life, full of self-centered pleasure.

But, upon spending all his money, a famine strikes the land. Having wasted his money, the youngest son can find no friends or indeed anyone to give him anything (v. 16), so he accepts work feeding pigs, which to Jewish people were (and are) unclean animals, making one ritually dirty (Lev. 11:7). This would have been a repugnant job, and it shows how desperate he was. In fact, he's so hungry that he actually longs to eat the pods that the pigs were eating.

Finally, he comes to his senses. Even his father's servants, who were not of the family, were given bread to eat, while the son was now starving and on the verge of death (v. 17). He decides to go back to his father, admit his sin against God and against his father, and plead, not to be welcomed back as a son but as a servant (v. 18-19).

He gets up and walks back to his father's house. His father must have been watching for him day after day, because Jesus notes that the son was a "long way off" when he saw the son. Throwing aside all cultural conventions (according to my ESV Study Bible's notes, running was not dignified for an elderly person nor for a wealthy person, which this man apparently was), he runs to his son and embraces him (literally, "fell upon his neck" in the original text). The love and longing of the father for his son is unmistakable. The son tries to give the speech he had prepared (admitting his sin and asking to be made a servant), but the father interrupts and calls for his servants to welcome the young man back into the family; he is given the best robe, a ring, and shoes, which all indicates that he was welcomed back as a full member of the family. In addition, the father orders that the fattened calf (kept for special celebrations) to be killed and cooked, and for everyone to celebrate. The younger son had been assumed dead, but was alive; he had been lost, but now was found.

The celebration kicks off. The older son, having worked in the fields, comes back to the house and wonders what's going on. A servant tells him. The older son sulks, refusing to go to the party. His father comes out and pleads with him, only to receive an indignant and ungraceful reply ("Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends"). He then refuses to acknowledge the younger son as his brother ("But when this son of yours came") and accuses his father essentially of being unfair. Despite the bad attitude of his eldest, the father affectionately calls him "Son (v. 31)," appealing to him, showing he still loves him. He says that it is a good thing to celebrate, because the youngest had been lost, and as good as dead, and now he is back, safe and sound (v. 32). It seems that Jesus is appealing to the Pharisees and scribes "to repent and accept the good news," as the note for this final verse says in my ESV Study Bible. Or, as my NASB Study Bible puts it, "The parable might better be called the parable of 'The Father's Love' rather than 'the Prodigal Son.' It shows a contrast between the self-centered exclusiveness of the Pharisees, who failed to understand God's love, and the concern and joy of God at the repentance of sinners." The younger son represents the "tax collectors and sinners" who were coming to Jesus and at least some of whom were accepting His message, and the older son represents the Pharisees, who were so convinced of their own righteousness that they failed to understand God or notice their own hypocrisy.

This parable, in connection with those preceding it, tells the story of a God who, despite the sins of His children, loves them and desires to forgive and welcome them. The father in the parable doesn't hold his son's previous transgressions against him, and indeed is looking day after day for him to return. When he does, he orders that his returned son be welcomed back into the family and for a celebration to take place in joy and thanksgiving. To put it as Jesus did in verse 7, after the parable of the Lost Sheep, "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (In light of Luke's message on all people needing to repent, and on human depravity, according to my Study Bible, "righteous persons" here probably means "those who think they are righteous and have no need to repent," an ironic description of the Pharisees that illustrates that they too need to repent and believe in the gospel.) There was still time for them to change their minds and accept the Good News.

Now, this might sound like a message of absolute liberty - that God will just forgive people no matter who they are or what they've done, whether they believe or not. But the son's admission that he sinned not just against his earthly father but "against Heaven" (a common euphemism for God, as many pious Jewish people at the time were afraid to use any direct name for God) is key to understanding the proper message of this parable. The youngest son admits he sinned, and deserves to be removed from the family. His response to recognizing his sin was not to seek for the consequences to be removed but to accept those consequences and accept that what he did was wrong. In addition, Jesus tells the tale of the Rich Man and Lazarus not long afterward (16:19-31), a message that includes eternal punishment for those who continue to live their lives with no regard for God or man, so this message can't be taken to have any meaning that universalism (the belief that at worst people will only be in hell for a while before they "suffer enough" and will eventually be admitted to God's kingdom) may seek to push.

It's a message of God's desire for sinners to repent and be saved and to accept His lordship over their lives, not an allowance for human sin. We will still sin even after being saved; it's not a question, it will happen. But the saved person feels the grief; they will feel awful not because of the consequences but because they have sinned against a HOLY, generous and graceful God who gave them salvation through Jesus' death on a cross (along with their very lives), and will seek God and confess (agree with God that their actions/lack of actions were wrong) what they've done instead of continuing to run away, and will repent (turn away) from those sins. This is a message of a Heavenly Father who watches and waits for people to realize that they can't live without Him and return to Him, not an allowance for people to tromp all over his unmerited favor under the idea that they can do that and still be in communion with God.

The God of the Bible loves us, to the point where He sent His Son to first teach us the rightful way to live (and the right way to interpret the law) and then perish in the most ignominious, painful way to pay the infinite price for sin that none of us, even combined, could pay. I ask that all who read this consider the desire of God to reconcile as many people to Himself as possible before its too late. His invitation is still there, for all who would hear it.

As I was finishing this, I thought of what might have been if the son had died before being able to reconcile with his father. Surely, his father would have been deeply grieved and mournful if that had been the case. I do not believe that God enjoys the fact that hell is the only outcome outside of believing in Him and accepting Him as Lord of one's life. A removal is necessary, but that doesn't mean that God wants to punish people. I am reminded of Ezekiel 33:11, a phrase I think of often; "Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?"

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Comments ( 1 )

Also known as, when your son is a douchebag, but you somehow still love him so you let him come home without any nagging after he flunks college.

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