Luke 15:11-12(NKJV) 11Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
Luke 15:20(NKJV) 20“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
We have been looking at how our Heavenly Father Chastens us. We have discovered that he chastens because he loves. He never chastens because he is annoyed with us. He is not an abuser. He chastens us for our good and our good alone. I believe there is a progression of how our Father chastens us. First he deals with us inwardly. Then he causes us to lose the sense of his presence. Finally, he will remove his anointing upon our lives. This is a highly simplified way to describe this process, but most Christians have experienced it at one time or another.
Paul speaks in two places of people who ignored God’s chastening being turned over to the devil. In one case it says so they may learn not to blaspheme. In another it is more extreme. Paul says he has released them to the devil for the destruction of their flesh so their souls might be saved. I do not want to get to that point.
In these extreme cases, it was not God who actively punished these people. When we go outside the protection of God by ignoring his chastening we expose ourselves to the devil. God will not force us to do what we should do. When we do not respond to God’s chastening we inevitably find ourselves in sin. If not right away, eventually. The wages of sin is death. That does not mean physical death immediately although that can happen. It always means that we open the door to the death that came into the world with sin. We expose ourselves to the devil. I do not believe God does bad things to us. I do believe that we tie his hands with our behavior and the result can be devastating.
The most famous and graphic example of this is in the parable of the Prodigal son. As we begin the story, Jesus tells us there was a man who had two sons. The older boy was faithful and hard working. However, the younger son decided he no longer wanted to work the land with his family. He went to his father and said, “I want my inheritance now.” In Jesus’ parable, the father chooses to give in. There are some things we need to understand about the son’s request.
In bible days, the father could not just figure what he was worth at the moment and give the younger son his share. The older son would get a double portion or two thirds of the estate. The younger would get one third. The only way the father could do this is to execute his will as if he died. If the father complied with the younger son’s request, he would no longer be involved in his own business. He would have to give up all that he had. He would be cared for, of course, but he would own nothing. This is why the bible uses the term “living” to describe what the father divided to his sons. The Greek word actually means “life.” He divided his life between them.
The older son stayed home and continued to run the family business. The younger son went in search of adventure. The bible says that he squandered his father’s “life” in what the King James Bible calls “riotous” living. Webster defines this word as; given to or marked by unrestrained revelry; loose; wanton: boisterous or uproarious. In other words, he partied as long and as hard as he could.
I am always taken by the severity of what this son did. He used up one third of all his father had accumulated in his whole life. All of his father’s hard work and creativity was gone in a very short time. The son “joins himself” to a citizen of the country he was in. This term “joins himself” is interesting. One translation says he persuaded the man to hire him, but he was not being paid. He was starving. The Greek word actually means to stick like glue. The picture I get is that he has latched onto this man in hopes that he would get something from him. This man sends him to the fields to feed the pigs. This is even more than humiliating for a Jew. Pigs are unclean. By doing this, he is separated from his identity.
We have no record that this father had gone through the process of chastening as I have described it. However, any father would try to raise his sons the right way. I am sure he taught them both about “riotous living.” The younger son probably disobeyed the father many times and the father disciplined him. We can see he must have done so by the behavior of the older son. He was faithful, stayed home and took care of business like an adult.
The father controlled the younger son’s weakness as long as he could. When this gown son came to his father asking for his inheritance, he could either disown him or do as he asked. He could not control him. God will not disown you but he will let you walk away if you choose. You remain his son and all the benefits of being his son are yours. However, sin will block your access to them.
Remember, this is a parable not an historical story. It is meant to portray spiritual truths. The treasure we squander is the grace of God. It does not run out as the son’s inheritance did. It will stop protecting us if we choose to ignore the chastening of the Lord. That is what happened to this young man.
The bible says he comes to his senses. Finally! I have been there. I have experienced the consequences of not responding to chastening. Not to the extent that this foolish young man did, but to a lesser degree. When you finally wake up you think, “What was I doing? How could I have been so foolish!” This young man had such an “ah ha” moment.
He finally realizes that it is better to be a servant in the father’s house than to be “his own man” in a pig pen. He decides to go home and beg his father to hire him as a servant. He rehearses a speech. He will tell his father how he does not deserve to be called his son anymore, but he would ask his father to receive him as a hired servant. He will work hard if only he could have enough to eat.
The scene shifts in Jesus’ parable. We see the father back home. What is the father doing? I am not sure since he was virtually retired, but we do know that he saw the son coming from a long way off. Could it be that the father was watching for his son’s return? At any rate, he runs to meet the son as he is coming down the road. The son begins to give his speech, but the father does not let him finish. He falls on him and kisses him welcoming him home.
The father gives the son three things that have great significance. He gives him a robe. This is a robe of righteousness or right standing. The father is saying to the son, “You have been forgiven. You are restored to your status as my son.” He also gives him sandals. Only slaves went barefoot. He was saying to the son, “You are not a slave here. You are my son.” Finally, he gave him a ring. This was not just a piece of jewelry. It was a signet ring. It had the father’s seal on it. This seal was the father’s authority. With this ring, the son could do business in the family name. He was saying to the son, “You are restored to the authority of the family name.”
Our Father chastens us because he loves us. Hebrews 12 makes it clear that chastening is not a pleasant process. The process I have described may not seem all that difficult but anyone who has experienced it knows that it is. When we ignore it we make ourselves vulnerable to the devil and the evil of life. That is our choice. The wonderful truth revealed in this parable is that even if we find ourselves in a pigpen, our Father is waiting for us to return.
Many times, we see repentance as a hard thing. Repentance is simply “coming to our senses” and going home. The Father is there waiting for us and he will receive and restore us when we come. Why not come home today? Your Father loves you and is waiting for you.
(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36193846. I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom. I may be partial but it is awesome!)