Monday, January 18, 2016

Swimming In The Cesspool

The first time I ever really listened to the parable of the prodigal son and heard with my ears and understood with my heart, I saw myself for the first time as I actually appeared to God, it was ugly. Realizing this story is about how we conclude that there are shameful parts of our lives that no one knows about, things that would upset and disappoint our parents while never considering that God sees all, even into the shadows and darkest corners of our lives. This story is applicable in some way to every human being as we all have an innate propensity to make poor choices rather than do what we intrinsically know is right.

(Luke 15: 11 - 24) “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 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.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring 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 make merry. 

The parable is a perfect picture of God's patient endurance and there are other insights to be gleaned from this story as it becomes evident that the son had been raised by parents who revered the word of God. 
(Proverbs 22: 5 - 6) Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards himself will keep far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. 

They do depart though, the temptations of the world are at times overwhelmingly alluring, but those grounded at an early age in biblical truths will always have a solid foundation to fall back on when they eventually realize their ways have become woefully errant and painful and is eating a hole in their soul.
It also becomes obvious as we read the story that the father, though disappointed continued to love that son in spite of his behavior, and although he allowed him to go far off to misbehave, he never gave up on him and most likely continued to pray fervently for that child. It is evident in the father’s joy as he realized that the child had turned the corner and had experienced a change of heart and had repented in tears and in misery. The prophet Isaiah speaks to the truth of this parable knowing full well about the fallen nature of man and having foreseen Christ the coming Messiah as the only antidote that can eradicate the poison eating at mankind’s soul when he said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 

Isaiah provides us with one of the most astounding prophecies of the bible when this prophet from the 8th century BC foresaw the coming of Christ from afar and envisioned His suffering and death as retribution and payment for the sins of all of God’s prodigal children past, present and future who would repent and receive Him through faith as Savior and Lord. This is how we leave the hog swill and pods of our lives behind and return to the open arms of our Father.

(Isaiah 53: 1 - 12) Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

For those of us that have decided to turn the corner, forsaking the cesspool of this life, the pods and hog swill that this world has to offer, we have a new hope for a brighter future knowing that we have Jesus the risen Messiah standing as our advocate before the Father.

(John 1:12) To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 

(1John 2: 1 -2) My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

(Titus 2: 11 - 14) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

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