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roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


 A Most Unreasonable Father

[img align=left]http://www.thewayback.net/Images/art/prodigal.jpg[/img]To me, the parable of the prodigal son is one of the most absurd stories in the Bible. A father is seen lavishly spoiling a rascally son who, a short time before, had wished his father dead. Well, that’s essentially how the son treated him when he demanded his inheritance.

The son’s motivation to return was hardly honorable. It was his stomach more than his heart that prodded his inclination to return. He thought. “Why, maybe home isn’t totally bad – at least there is plenty food there for me.” What kind of an attitude is that! How much more self-centered can one get! Dare he take advantage of his father yet again?!

The son did not willingly sacrifice anything – not the pleasures of the world, not cherished friends, no, nothing! He put nothing on the alter because he had nothing. He offered himself as a slave, mainly to get his stomach filled. There is no heroism or saintliness in this character. His remorse was half-hearted at best.

And then, upon his return, he receives no reprimand from his father, no accountability, no request for amends, and not even any hint of, “Well, son, I hope you learned your lesson.”

Clearly, this parable is not a model for parenting - it is far too lenient. But, perhaps, that is exactly the point. Jesus is trying to get across an idea that is radically “off the wall” - that defies all logic or sensibility. Jesus is not trying to teach us about parenting, but about the nature of God. And by setting up the characters as he did, he pushes the point far beyond good reason.

My friends, we have a very unreasonable God!

The sub-heading of the parable in most Bibles is “The Prodigal Son”, but I believe that heading takes all the “fizz” out of the story. It misses Jesus’ purpose for teaching it. It is better to label it, “A Most Unreasonable Father”.

If we apply sound reason to this story, then the older brother should have been the hero. He was the only sensible character. He was the one who understood the importance of abiding by the law. He had a keen sense of justice and discipline. He could see how badly his dad was handling the scoundrel. Can’t you hear his mind thinking, “Now, how will that kind of treatment teach the fellow anything? He’ll just keep on taking advantage of his dad!”

The older brother represents, not only the Jewish religious leaders, but something within each one of us. They, just like us, grew up in households that taught fairness, justice, and consequences for disobedience. They too remembered their “spankings” when they disobeyed. And they did not forget the horrible judgment that fell on their ancestors because of their failure to obey the law.

However, the Jews had difficulty seeing beyond justice. They could not understand the power of God’s mercy - how effective it is in transforming lives. And that makes absolutely no sense to us either. Mercy seems like permissiveness. Surely it fails to teach the sinner a “lesson”. Surely mercy cannot make people want to obey God’s laws.

Really the opposite is true. Guilt is not an effective motivator for change. Mercy is! And that makes no sense to us. But God understands humanity better than we do, thankfully! Mercy is God’s way for mankind, because it is the only thing that works. It is the provision through Christ for all who choose to abandon their useless ways. It is the message of the gospel.

“For God has bound all men over to disobedience, so that he may have mercy on them all.” Rom. 11:32

What kind of sense is that?!

That is Good News - and it is very unreasonable! We are called to proclaim that very message. May God keep us from the temptation to defile his remedy for sin with our penchant for human reasonableness.

Diane

Image: The Return of the Prodigal by Rembrandt


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Diane

 2006/3/15 10:14Profile
h2oboy
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Joined: 2006/3/12
Posts: 89
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 Re: A Most Unreasonable Father

Good word sister Diane.
When we follow human reason we will most often find ourselves contrary to the heart and character of the Father.

Jeff


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Jeff Smith

 2006/3/15 10:29Profile
ANewInHim
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Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 54


 Re: A Most Unreasonable Father



[i]There is none like you -- no one else can touch my heart like you do -- and I can search for all eternity lord and find -- there is none like you...[/i]

(Lady Unknown)

God has never changed his mind concerning His Promises. They are Yea and Amen to those that believe. God is the same yesterday and forever. To doubt HIM is sin. All unbelief if sin. So we have to believe he can heal, save, fill with the Holy Ghost, and transform us altogether.

Are You Ready? What For? That you might be so chastened by the lord, so corrected by HIM, that as you pass through the fire, as you pass through all temptations, you may come out as Jesus came out of the wilderness, filled with the spirit.

Are You Ready? What For? That you may be so brought in touch with the Fathers will that you may know that whatsoever you ask, believing, you recieve. This is the promise, this is the reality God brings to us.

Are You Ready? What For? That you might know yourself no more after the flesh, not yield to the flesh, but be quickened by the spirit, living in the spirit without condemnation, your testimony bright, cheerful, and full of life. This is the inheritance for you today.

By Smith Wigglesworth


-ANewInHim



 2006/3/15 11:27Profile
rookie
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Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4807


 Re:

Psa. 52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.

Have you ever noticed that very little is said about the mercy of God. Most seem to believe that the grace of God and the mercy of God are one. Yet few seem to come to an understanding that is spoken of in Psalm 52:8.

Sister Diane, I believe this precept is like the others that you bring up, little is taught because little is understood.

God Bless
In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2006/3/15 11:35Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


 Re: the wonders of God's judgments

Rookie said,

Quote:
Have you ever noticed that very little is said about the mercy of God.


Perhaps because voices of the "older brother" still linger in the conscience.

I would like to further examine Rom. 11:32 "For God has locked all people in the prison of their own disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

There are many parallel references, and I would like any of you to post them if you know them.

Ex: 'He gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear. Rom 11:8

I think King David understood God mercy, and that's why he prayed for sinners: "May their table become a snare, and a trap, May their eyes becoem darkened so that they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." Rom. 11:8

In other words: "may they be LOCKED IN THE PRISON of their disobedience." Rom. 11:32 ISV

Why?.. so that God could HAVE MERCY ON THEM!

These days what we often hear about God's judgment is downright ugly and unhelpful. It is always about disaster falling in some way. Not only that, the way it is persented gives little hope. It is fatalistic. I ask, where is the GOOD NEWS message in that. Where is the mercy?

Perhaps many Christians (and professing prophets) are grossly misunderstanding God's judgmnet - and do not see it as the path to God's mercy. Nor do they do not view it as something that is going on WITHIN the sinner. (bound over to disobedience)


Wny would Paul say, "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.! How unsearchable his JUDGMENTS(!!!!!!!!!)and his paths beyond tracing out! Rom 11:33

This sounds like he marvels at God's judgements.

Maybe we are on to something big here! .. new insight?

Any thoughts?
Diane



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Diane

 2006/3/15 12:42Profile
lastblast
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Joined: 2004/10/16
Posts: 528
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 Re: A Most Unreasonable Father

Quote:
The son’s motivation to return was hardly honorable. It was his stomach more than his heart that prodded his inclination to return. He thought. “Why, maybe home isn’t totally bad – at least there is plenty food there for me.” What kind of an attitude is that! How much more self-centered can one get! Dare he take advantage of his father yet again?!

The son did not willingly sacrifice anything – not the pleasures of the world, not cherished friends, no, nothing! He put nothing on the alter because he had nothing. He offered himself as a slave, mainly to get his stomach filled. There is no heroism or saintliness in this character. His remorse was half-heated at best.



I see something very different in this story. I see that the Son DID come to the end of Himself. He then realized that although he sinned greatly against heaven and his father, that his father was a man of mercy. Surely, he would allow him to become a servant so that he would then have his needs met. When he came to his father, he was REPENTANT, begging just to be allowed in his house---as a servant. His demanding nature was GONE. Though he KNEW he was a son, he did not demand to be treated as a son, but was willing to give that up to be a servant to His father. That to me, is laying your life upon the altar. He did forsake all---most of all his pride---to return to the Father, asking only for his mercy and receiving so much more. Our "Life" is what the Father wants. That is what we need to put on the altar---and the son did, in my opinion.

When one "comes back", at the end of himself/herself, willing ONLY to be a servant, demanding nothing more, the Father restores---JOYFULLY!! That is such a wonderful promise to those who belong to the Lord, yet go astray, abusing the "inheritance" and living worldly. When we come to the end of ourselves, repentant and broken, returning to the Father in such a condition, there is full acceptance and restoration!!!! Blessings in Him, Cindy


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Cindy

 2006/3/15 12:55Profile
madmatg
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Joined: 2004/5/25
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asia

 Re:

I praise Him for these forums again!


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matt

 2006/3/15 12:57Profile
roadsign
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Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3777


 Re: repentance

Quote:
he was REPENTANT,



Thank you, Cindy. That is the entire point. Repentance is turning around, facing a new direction, and that is what the son did - nothing more. It doesn't seem like much, as you say, but it was just what the Father wanted.

( I'm trying to paint the story through the eyes of the older brother - in order to help us identify with the possibility of "older brother" thinking within us. Repentance does not impress the "older brother" He was looking for justice and good behavior)

The son, repented, even before he had full awareness of his sinful nature, and just how seriously he sinned against the Father. But it was just the beginning.

Oh how amazing is God's mercy!

Notice, that first the father bound him over to disobedience just like it says in Romans 11:32

Diane


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Diane

 2006/3/15 13:12Profile
lastblast
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Joined: 2004/10/16
Posts: 528
Michigan

 Re: A Most Unreasonable Father

Quote:
The son did not willingly sacrifice anything – not the pleasures of the world, not cherished friends, no, nothing! He put nothing on the alter because he had nothing. He offered himself as a slave, mainly to get his stomach filled. There is no heroism or saintliness in this character. His remorse was half-heated at best.



This is where I differed with you Diane. I DO believe the son's repentance is genuine, not half hearted. I believe when he came back to the Father he was ready to FULLY submit to the Father----he was FULLY committed to being his servant. That is TRUE repentance and most of us would agree that it takes this type of heart attitude to be Fully repentant---we can never come to the Father with "conditions" and convince ourselves truthfully that we are truly repentant.

As for the older brother, he, although a partaker also of his Father's grace, didn't understand it or understand His father's mercy directed at the erring AND repentant brother. Also, he just did not get the importance to his Father of reconciliation and restoration.......he kept his eyes on the past sins of his brother and not on the "new" son who leaving his sinful life behind, returned home broken, needing mercy, and willing to serve completely without condition.

How the Father responds is how ALL true believers should respond to those who [b]have left their sin behind[/b] and stand before God and the Body of Christ broken and ready for reconcilition and restoration. If we respond as the older brother does, not accepting one who has left their sin behind, then we are forsaking the calling to be "ministers of reconciliation".

Blessings in Him, Cindy


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Cindy

 2006/3/15 16:47Profile
h2oboy
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Joined: 2006/3/12
Posts: 89
Georgia, USA

 Re: mercy

Diane do you see Paul's admonition

"to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" 1 Cor 5:5 ASV

as a 'locking away' in their disobedience?

I have thought of this as an admonition to the church to cease praying protection over a brother who persists in disobedience so that the consequences of his sin would come upon him that he would become desparate enough, like the prodigal, to repent.

Jeff


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Jeff Smith

 2006/3/15 17:07Profile





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