The Pig Pen…
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.
But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had 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, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luk 15:17-24)
I have always liked Jesus’ story of The Prodigal Son. It is most often preached as though the prodigal son is a lost sinner, coming home to the Heavenly Father by way of the cross. The principles of compassion and forgiveness in the story certainly apply to lost sinners coming home. We often sing the invitation song: “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling; calling for you and for me. See on the portals He’s waiting and watching; watching for you and for me. Chorus: Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home. Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner; come home.” But, the story itself clearly states that it’s a genuine son who has wandered away and it’s a son who realizes in the pig pen that he must go home and make things right. I like McGee’s version of the story
“I see a father looking out the window. He's been looking out the window every day since his boy left. And do you know why he's been looking out the window? He knew that one day that boy would be trudging down the road coming home. Somebody asks, "Do you believe that if you're once saved you're always saved?" Yes. Somebody asks, "Do you believe that a Christian can get into sin?" Yes. "Can a Christian stay in sin?" No. Because in the Father's house the Father is watching, and He says, "All my sons are coming home. My sons don't like pigpens because they do not have the nature of a pig. They have the nature of a son. They have My nature, and they won't be happy except in the Father's house. The only place in the world where they will be content is the Father's house.
“And every one of My sons that goes out to the far country and gets into a pigpen—regardless of how dirty he gets, or how low he sinks—if he's My son, one day he'll say, 'I'll arise, and I'll go to my Father.'" And the reason he'll say, "I'll go to my Father," is because the Man who lives in the big house is his Father. Up until now, after at least 6,000 years of recorded human history, there never yet has been a human pig that has said, "I will arise and go to my Father's house." Never, never. Pigs love it down there. They don't want to go to the Father's house. The only one who wants to go to the Father's house is a son; and one day the son will say, "I will arise and I will go to my Father."
“Now the son starts home. Maybe you thought a moment ago that I was exaggerating when I said that this father had been looking out the window every day. But he had, and now he sees him coming. He has compassion, and runs, and says to his servant, "Go down to the tree and cut me about a half a dozen hickory limbs. I'm going to switch this boy within an inch of his life." Is that the way your Bible reads? Well, mine doesn't either. It ought to read that way. Under the Mosaic Law a father had a perfect right to bring a disobedient son before the elders and have him stoned to death. This father had a perfect right to say, "This boy took my name and my money, my substance, and he squandered it. He disgraced my name. I'll whip him within an inch of his life." He had a right to do this.
“But this father, rather, did something amazing. And when our Lord got to this part of the parable, and when He put this bright color on, it caused all those that were present to blink their eyes. They said, "We can't believe that. It's bad enough to see him hit the bottom and go down yonder with the pigs, but it's worse for the father to take him back home without doing something. He ought to punish him. That's the thing that we don't like. He ought to be punished." Will you notice what the father did.” (McGee)
I like to read what other people have to say who have studied the text more than me. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord & Zuck) gives us some background to the story.
“This section of the parable describes the actions of the younger son. He requested an unusual thing when he asked his father to give him his share of the estate. Normally an estate was not divided and given to the heirs until the father could no longer manage it well. This father acquiesced to his son’s demand and gave him his share of the inheritance.
The younger son took that wealth, went far away, and squandered it in wild living, involving himself presumably, as his older brother said, with prostitutes (Luk_15:30). The hearers immediately would have begun to understand the point of the story. Jesus had been criticized for associating with sinners. The sinners were considered people who were far away from God, squandering their lives in riotous living. In contrast with the younger son, the older son continued to remain with the father and did not engage in such practices.
A famine occurred and the second son ran out of money so that he had to work for a foreigner feeding pigs, something detestable to a Jew. Perhaps the far country was east of the Sea of Galilee where Gentiles tended pigs (cf. Luk_8:26-37). In his hunger he longed for the pods — the food he fed the pigs. As a Jew, he could have stooped no lower. The pods were probably carob pods, from tall evergreen carob trees.
In this low condition, he came to his senses (Luk_15:17). He decided to go back to his father and work for him. Surely he would be better off to work for his father than for a foreigner. He fully expected to be hired by his father as a servant, not to be taken back as his son.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Children are easy to deal with because most of them are still soft and pliable. But when they get into their teens and begin to show independence it’s a different matter. The further they progress in their age, the harder they get. To them, it looks like living is quite simple and that there are no consequences for decisions they make. They begin to step into holes and become soiled. They are steeped in self-will. Many of them will not turn to God until they are at the end of their row, the end of their rope.
So many times, prison is the best thing that ever happened to them. Thousands of young people have testified of the blessings of prison, where they found the Lord. Such is the nature of one’s straying away from the voice and authority of God. They will not turn until they hit bottom; until they are in the pig pen. I wish it were not that way. Our stubborn will is the problem. We turn better when we are broken and helpless.
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (Psa 119:67) It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psa 119:71) Someone has said that God will save a man in the pig pen, but He loves him too much to leave him there. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
MARCH 3, 2017 – FRIDAY
A.M. Numbers 30-31 P.M. Mark 9:30-50
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Memory Verse This Month:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psa 19:14)
Song for Today:
ACAPELLA CHOIR: Softly and Tenderly (S.E. Samonte, Producer)
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Read – Unless we were endowed with fantastic health genes, we must read if we want the best health possible. We may have the best doctor but he is limited to a 15-minute session with us. Doctors vary in knowledge and insight. Our childhood habits will take us a long way if they are good habits. My mother thought oat meal and chewing my food were good health habits. She finished the 8th grade and was a reader. She inspired me to read.
Today, Mr. Google is a marvelous teacher if we want to learn. Today, I read in my Home Remedies book from People’s Pharmacy while I was waiting on Barbara at Tangles. I read the section about Acid Reflex (GERD). It has been going on since Hippocrates (460 BC) and there are many things that help and hinder in dealing with it.
Omeprazole is the standard today but it creates problems. Stomach acid kills bacteria and helps digest your food. But, the easy thing for the doctor and patient to do is to stop all stomach acid. Not good! So, I’m reading and praying and I’ll listen to my doctor. But, I’m the one who must suffer the consequences and I must decide. Reading is important.