THE PRODIGAL; An Ancient Parable for a Modern Dilemma
(Asking the question: “Are we Living in God's Grace and Reality, or in our own Prideful Denial?”)
Okay. So, bear with me here. I know that familiar passages of scripture make some folks drift off into a lethargic fog of, “oh no, here it comes”. We're so used to being “preached at” that we've sort of tuned out, and have, therefore, largely, missed the point of the Truths that Yeshua was trying to clear up for us! This is unfortunate, as there is SO much wisdom that we so badly need encapsulated in those teachings!
So I ask you to capture your wandering mind, make it sit down, read this blog, as lengthy as is it, and take the time to really read and consider the extreme contrast between the following two passages of Scripture. Also, please keep in mind, when reading the parable of the Prodigal Son, that Yeshua was VERY aware of the first portion of Scripture from the illustrious Torah/Law.
The first portion is from Deuteronomy 21: 18-23, detailing the chastisement of a Rebellious Son, and the outlining the severe consequences of rebellion according to The Torah/Law, which Moses received on Sinai.
“If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and, though they chasten 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 to death with stones: so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Wowsers! Sheesh! God was not playing! He wanted a HOLY nation following Him. He did NOT want His name denigrated by flesh and foolishness! He had delivered Israel, had freed them from the bondage to a cruel, relentless Pharoah, from slavery and humiliation – bondage which THEY had caused by their rebellion, by the way (Nationally speaking, centuries earlier)! He had gone to some extraordinary means to give them another chance to be a nation whichwould reflect His LOVE to this planet ! (Any of this sound familiar?) So, He was not about to have any unrestrained flesh running rampant! His attitude was “Nip it in the bud!”.
We have forgotten, though, that He has also freed us from our own personal “Egyptian Bondage”, where we were held captive. From birth our flesh is manipulated by it's lower nature, as well as bludgeoned by the enemy of our souls, into trying to build a micro-kingdom to ourselves without God! So that he, the enemy, Ha Satan, can usurp our loyalty, and another motivation of his is that God would be mocked and robbed of His Creation. He wants God's power! And since he can't overpower GOD, he robs Him through His premium Creative effort – humans!
Individually, and as a nation of so-called “believers”, we are “HERE” - exactly where the original people of God were - on the mall-map of life. God is moving by His Spirit to FREE us! AGAIN. So that we can be His People, and He can be our God. And the enemy thinks he has us trapped. AGAIN. But we all know what happened to the pharoah in the first story.
However, we forget, I think, that “Freedom” is NOT the “right to do what we WANT”, or even what we mistakenly think we want! Our precious Liberty was not fought for, at so great a price, so that we can now “be” whatever we deem doable, or cater to the desires of the despicably stupid, evil-bent , fallen nature, most often referred to as “the flesh”, but it is the “Right and Power to do as we SHOULD” - meaning those thoughts, words and actions which are most beneficial for all involved. God was after that form of freedom then, and He has not changed His mind on that!
Paul writing to the followers of Yeshua at Galatia, reminds us of why Yeshua came, and what His being sacrificed on the cross was meant to achieve - (Galatians 3:13-14 reminds us that) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The POINT of which is that we can not keep The Law in our own efforts, so HE came to enable us to do so! The wilderness wanderers proved that in spades!!! Hence the heavy burden of Torah that was heaped upon them, and the incessant sacrifices, made daily, by the priesthood of that time! But Yeshua's intention was not to free us FROM The Law, but to free us IN IT! He is the embodiment of His Father's WILL, which The Law was sent to achieve. A Holy people unto Himself! But the human flesh was too frail, too infected with evil. The Law could not purge it thoroughly enough! The blood of animals was not enough! But His blood WAS ENOUGH, and HIS divine sacrifice on our behalf DID accomplish what GOD intended – and has made keeping that Law not only doable, but practically effortless – if we allow His Nature to be formed in us by His Spirit!
Yeshua Himself clarified things for us a bit in His famous parables. He was always story telling. It was His way of putting things into a familiar format that people could understand, to make an eternal point, that wasn't so familiar. It was His way of clearing up the misunderstanding caused by spiritual leadership who weren't in touch with the heart of a loving Creator, as He was.
As in this one, The Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 (11-24) Please contrast THIS response of the Father of a rebellions to the one required in the above Scripture!
Yeshua was teaching His followers, “And he said, 'A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of the inheritance that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.
But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.' ”
Wow. Quite the contrast! Paul writing to the followers of Yeshua at Galatia reminds us that this contrast is exactly why Yeshua came, and that His being sacrificed on the cross was meant to achieve this shift for US - (Galatians 3:13-14 reminds us that) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
So, you see, God's Law has not just been “set aside” as irrelevant. It being fulfilled does not mean that it just disappears! That could never be! His standards have not changed! His requirement of HOLINESS has not been removed! It has been fulfilled IN YESHUA. And, therefore, is now POSSIBLE for US to KEEP! With HIS HELP! The help of His Spirit and Anointing! BECAUSE now we are able to receive HIS VERY NATURE and BE HOLY AS HE IS HOLY! If we choose to actually follow His lead!
So the question which we must ask – as we “come to ourselves” - is this - “Am I living in a Grace based REALITY about who I am, or a pride based, selective denial?” Because, we need to understand that Shame and Self-denigration; OR Prideful Self-exaltation; are NOT a part of God's program of self-realization! Simply ignoring our flesh, or even admitting the futility of it, will not fix our issue here! Nor will attempting to exalt ourselves above the knowledge of God, trying to override our Creator! That is a ridiculous concept! But all too common in the human history!
We must, however, be willing to acknowledge the foolishness of the fallen flesh, before we can move on to the bigger and better business of becoming more like our Creator! Of course! Denial is NOT a Fruit of The Spirit! But – on the other side of this issue - we must not get stuck there and dwell on it either! Wallowing in our failures until we despise ourselves so badly that we can't come near Him! We must let our failure, which is inevitable as we are being transformed, run us toward The Father, not away from Him!
The problem is that His image has been jaded by His earthly representatives. Many leaders choose to focus on the locked gates of the Law, more than on the Key that now gives us entry! Meaning that, most focus on the sin – and the consequences - more than they focus on the solutions of The Savior!!! I have personally been abused by spiritual leadership almost as much as I've been helped by them! Nobody's perfect! Yet. Except Yeshua! I get it! But more people need to be cooperating in the process by which we are perfected! Before getting into leadership! That would be great!
The whole point of "coming to ourselves", however, of finding self-realization, like the prodigal did, was to realize that WE CAN'T REALLY DO THIS WITHOUT HIM! Nor should we want to! The prodigal went “crawling back” to his father expecting to get mercy, but not willing to expect anything more than he deserved! The scriptures state that he had "come to himself", which meant that he finally realized how badly flawed his way of doing things was. He had come into a stark reality of what his flesh would get for him, and had wisely decided that this was not how he wanted to continue!
As he became aware of the startling realities of the results of going his own stubborn way, however, he didn't just wallow in his despair! He REPENTED. Which simply means that he decided to go in the other direction! To RETURN to The Father! So he simply turned away from his methods, and ways of doing things, and went back to His Father, for help. He humbled himself enough to admit, to acknowledge, to grasp, his reality. To then own, and take responsibility for, the mess that he had caused for himself. He became, suddenly, painfully, self-aware of the results of his own methods.
It broke him. But not in a bad way! The part that most people miss, is that it also brought him hope! Hope that maybe, if he could appeal to his father, that he was not “finished”, as it seemed. There was hope that his Father would take him back, if only as servant. He knew that even the servants were treated well at His Father's house. So back he went. But instead of the resistant tolerance he was expecting, he got a surprising, royal, reception!
I think, again, largely because of some significant misrepresentation, we have sold God way short. And have, without meaning to or knowing it, despised, ignored, or denied His mercy, time and again. We just don't expect mercy! We shrink away, expecting those rocks to start flying any minute!
But this issue is also largely because we stupidly keep trying to fix the flesh! It will never work! We say, "You can't fix stupid". But then, stupidly, we keep trying to fix it! “The flesh” - our “human nature, that earth-bound, humanoid way of being and doing - is irreparably broken, and terminally stupid! It is taking us each toward the grave, and the eternity in hell, beyond the grave, as fast as it can! It doesn't know anything else, and can't be trained out of its hell-bound tendencies! That is just not possible! Not happening! So then, what is the point of life? And where is any hope of achieving any good?! We all stand around scratching our heads!
Ah. But you see, that's the point of the Parables Yeshua taught. The point is that there is HOPE for US, when we come to a realization of the futility of our own ways – and become humble enough to RETURN to The Father! We must, at some point, come to see the utter futility of the flesh, and our own dysfunctional ways of doing and being, which are foredoomed to failure, being irreparably broken. And when we do, we must put that “old life” firmly down and make a different choice. CHOOSE HIS LIFE. The high life! In Yeshua The Anointed One!
The problem for most people is that we didn't realize that there's a choice! Most think that since we were just born this way we're just stuck with whatever is in, or not in, our gene-bank! Thankfully, mercifully, that is just not so! Our Heavenly Father has a whole other level of inheritance for us, a whole other way of living, that we can not perceive with our natural senses, and can not achieve with our natural effort. No matter how stubborn, dedicated or gifted we may be.
Where “the church” (or the system which has been known by that name) has failed is that it isn't getting Yeshua's message of compassion, hope and love out there! It hasn't made people aware of the choice that is there – waiting - before them! They aren't led back to The Father, or made aware of His infinite mercy! They are merely threatened by the consequences of their sin! Repentance has failed as a teaching, because in completed repentance one must not only “turn away from the sin”, but must have something to turn TO! If The Father is painted as some angry dude waiting to stone us we'd rather just get stoned on our own and be done with it!
We've gotten sort of a religious bait and switch! We're led to Salvation by being told that Yeshua has covered our debt, and we are free to serve God now, and not be bound to the law. But THEN, most of us are led into some form of religiosity which binds us to the exact same system of laws and restrictions that God's people were bound to in their wilderness! Keeping us limited to what was available before Yeshua came! And in constant fear of failure. Which of course leads to more failure!
However, having stated that obvious truth, may I point out that even that failed system is better than nothing, on a level! At least we have a hope of heaven, and some social boundaries that keep utter chaos at bay! I don't know about you, but for me, living on this planet of stupid-heads, this little bit of consolation just isn't going to cut it! It doesn't take us from the pig sty to the palace! I mean, of course, “Pie in the sky, in the sweet by and by” IS better than the expectation of the hell which most people live in – especially since that possibility would be extended to all eternity! But it is small consolation here! We were never meant to endure this life. We were meant to rock it! To do so, however, we must leave that system of dead religion behind and return to a Living God! We must RUN to our FATHER! We must revere His Torah, learn it, and live by it!
HOWEVER – what we've been seriously missing is that we can't DO THAT WITHOUT YESHUA and HIS SPIRIT which enables us with HIS ANOINTING! Let's face another reality here! If we COULD achieve all of that glorious obedience and freedom in the flesh, then Yeshua's sacrifice was both foolish and worthless! It was an extravagant offering poured out for nothing! We (most of the “church” going masses) have lived and acted like that, to our shame, but we need to stop doing that now.
Today is the Day of Salvation – YESHUA. Yeshua's very Name MEANS Salvation! HE IS OUR SALVATION. Yes from hell – as an eternal destination. But also from the minute to minute, agonizing hell, of failure and torment, that tries to engulf and inflame our lives here! The enemy is always trying to make God look like the liar, when we are clearly warned that he is the father of lies! Why we believe him, so often and so readily, is not only an insult to our faithful Heavenly Father, but a strong indication that we have seriously missed something!
We should be ecstatically Happy ever day!!!! We're in The Father's HOUSE! We're accepted IN The Beloved!!!! Adopted! Loved! We have access to all He IS! Instead of moping around wallowing in every perceived failure, kvetching about our lack of peace and blessing - every five minutes!!! It is time that we, like that other prodigal in the parable, came to our senses, realized our pitiful condition, and ran back to our Father with all haste! Every time our flesh separates us from HIS Joy, Love and PEACE!
Listen, if you think you've failed so badly that you just don't have the faith to live as a son, then at least have the sense to go live as His servant! He is so kind and loving to all who serve Him in any capacity! But I can tell you from the few times I've got it right, “going HOME to our Father”, is TOTALLY worth any effort! And, spoiler alert, He probably won't just let you slide in as a servant. There is a “favorite child's” mantle waiting for you.... so what are you waiting for? PRODIGALS GO HOME!
And …. as always, wishing you,