Sabbath, October 10, 2009

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace,…” Ephesians 2:13, 14.

A son goes his own way

1. Following the inclinations of his carnal nature, what request did the son in Jesus’ parable make of his father? How did he use the means that his father had worked so hard to obtain?
Luke 15:11-13 And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth 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 wasted his substance with riotous living.

“The prodigal son was not a dutiful son, not one who would please his father, but one who desired his own way. He wished to follow the dictates of his own inclination, and was tired of counsel and advice from the father who loved him, and who only wished him to act in such a way that his happiness would be insured. The tender sympathy and love of his father were misinterpreted, and the more patient, kind, and benevolent the father acted, the more restless the son became. He thought his liberty was restricted, for his idea of liberty was wild license, and as he craved to be independent of all authority, he broke loose from all the restraint of his father’s house, and soon spent his fortune in riotous living.” –The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1894.

2. What suffering came upon the prodigal son, giving him a completely different perspective on his initial decision? What does this tell us about adversities–whether they are a blessing or a curse?
Luke 15:14-16 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen 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.

“Starvation stared him in the face, and he joined himself to a citizen of the place. He was sent to do the most menial of work–to feed the swine. Although this to a Jew was the most disreputable of callings, yet he was willing to do anything, so great was his need. Miserable and suffering, he sat in the fields doing his task. Because he had been unwilling to submit to the restraint of home, he now had the place of the lowest of servants. He had left home for liberty, but his liberty had been turned into the lowest of drudgery.” –The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1894.

The divine path to repentance

3. How did his thought processes change when he faced the most critical and humiliating situation of his life?
Luke 15:17-19 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.

“Where now is his riotous joy? Stilling his conscience, benumbing his sensibilities, he had thought himself happy in scenes of revelry; but now, with money spent, with pride humbled, with his moral nature dwarfed, with his will weak and unreliable, with his finer feelings seemingly dead, he is the most wretched of mortals. He is suffering keen hunger, and cannot fill his want, and, under these circumstances, he remembers that his father has bread enough and to spare, and resolves to go to his father.” –The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1894.

4. What change of mind came as a result of his repentance and decision? What beautiful picture of heaven is seen in the father’s response when the young man returned home?
Luke 15:20, 21 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.

“We are to surrender our hearts to God, that He may renew and sanctify us, and fit us for His heavenly court. We are not to wait for some special time, but today we are to give ourselves to Him, refusing to be the servants of sin. Do you imagine you can leave off sin a little at a time? Oh, leave the accursed thing at once! Hate the things that Christ hates, love the things that Christ loves. Has He not by His death and suffering made provision for your cleansing from sin? When we begin to realize that we are sinners, and fall on the Rock to be broken, the everlasting arms are placed about us, and we are brought close to the heart of Jesus. Then we shall be charmed with His loveliness, and disgusted with our own righteousness. We need to come close to the foot of the cross. The more we humble ourselves there, the more exalted will God’s love appear. The grace and righteousness of Christ will not avail for him who feels whole, for him who thinks he is reasonably good, who is contented with his own condition. There is no room for Christ in the heart of him who does not realize his need of divine light and aid.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 327, 328.

The robe of righteousness

5. What clothing did the father order to be brought to his repentant son? In accordance with the subject we are studying, what did this rich robe represent?
Luke 15:22 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.

“There is fullness of grace in God, and we may have His spirit and power in large measure. Do not feed on the husks of self-righteousness, but go to the Lord. He has the best robe to put upon you, and His arms are open to receive.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 328.

“Your heavenly Father will take from you the garments defiled by sin. In the beautiful parabolic prophecy of Zechariah, the high priest Joshua, standing clothed in filthy garments before the angel of the Lord, represents the sinner. And the word is spoken by the Lord, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment…. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments.’ Zechariah 3:4, 5. Even so God will clothe you with ‘the garments of salvation,’ and cover you with ‘the robe of righteousness.’ Isaiah 61:10. ‘Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.’ Psalm 68:13.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 206.

A feast of joy

6. Did the father berate his son for his foolishness and for wasting his money? What moment of enormous joy was this for the father?
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

“There is no taunting, no casting up to the prodigal of his evil course. The son feels that the past is forgiven and forgotten, blotted out forever. And so God says to the sinner, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.’ Isaiah 44:22. ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ Jeremiah 31:34.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 10.

Self-righteousness vs. God’s righteousness

7. Who was not at all happy about the prodigal’s return and the great rejoicing that took place? What would our reaction have been under similar circumstances?
Luke 15:25-30 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

“Then is revealed in the elder brother selfishness, pride, envy, and malignity. He feels that favor to the prodigal is an insult to himself, and the father remonstrates with him, but he will not look upon the matter in the right light, nor will he unite with the father in rejoicing that the lost is found. He gives the father to understand that, had he been in the father’s place, he would not have received the son back, and forgets that the poor prodigal is his own brother. He speaks with disrespect to his father, charging him with injustice to himself, while he shows favor to one who has wasted his living. He speaks of the prodigal to his father as ‘this thy son.’ Yet, notwithstanding all this unfilial conduct, his expressions of contempt and arrogance, the father deals patiently and tenderly with him.” –The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1894.

8. Who is represented by the young man who was lost and dead in sin? Who does the elder brother represent? Describe the rejoicing in the father’s house after the prodigal son’s return.
Luke 15:31, 32, 23 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found…. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.

“Heaven is waiting and yearning for the return of the prodigals who have wandered far from the fold. Many of those who have strayed away may be brought back by the loving service of God’s children.

“Think of the Father subjecting Himself to sorrow, sparing not His own Son, but freely delivering Him up for us all…. O that we had a better understanding of His love!” –In Heavenly Places, p. 10.

“The prodigal made a full confession of his sin. He made no excuse for his wrong-doing, and he was forgiven, and reestablished in his father’s house.” –Review and Herald, March 5, 1889.

“By the elder son were represented the unrepenting Jews of Christ’s day…. They claimed to be sons in God’s house, but they had the spirit of the hireling. They were working, not from love, but from hope of reward. In their eyes, God was an exacting taskmaster. They saw Christ inviting publicans and sinners to receive freely the gift of His grace–the gift which the rabbis hoped to secure only by toil and penance–and they were offended. The prodigal’s return, which filled the Father’s heart with joy, only stirred them to jealousy.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 209.