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The Heart of the Father, Part 4

Blog -> Bible

Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. 

So far we looked at the first two parables, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. (I haven't sent out an email for the last Blog Entry when I covered the parable of the Lost Coin. If you are interested in reading that one, then please click the following link: http://www.simplesecrets.info/blog.php?blogid=48)

Now we've come to one of my favorite parables in the whole Bible. The Prodigal Son, or as I call it, the Parable of the Waiting Father. It's an amazing story that so speaks from my heart. I can so very well relate to both brothers, because I've been like both of them in different seasons of my life.

Again, I want us to remember that the two sons are a representation of the two groups of people that Jesus is talking to. The tax collectors and sinners are being represented by the younger brother. When Jesus talks about the older brother, He actually talks about the religious leaders that are also in attendance. 

So let's dive in.

A father has two sons. And the younger one comes to him with a weird request:

Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. 

Now we have to understand: This request is absolutely out of line. Basically what this younger son is saying to his father is this: "Dad, I know you have a lot of riches. And you know, one day you'll die. On that day everything that belongs to you will fall to me and my brother. But you know what? I don't have time to wait. The clock is ticking, and I'm ready. I have plans for my life, I have some business ideas. I have a lot of things that I want to do with my life. If I wait for you to die, then I will miss a lot of opportunities while waiting. But if you give me my share of your inheritance now, then I can get going right now. So Dad, what do you think?"

What a crazy request by this younger brother. I just imagine myself being in the Father's shoes. Let's say 15 years from now my son Noah were to come to me with such a request. He would get a HUGE lecture that he could NEVER forget.

So the younger son is obviously extremely confident in himself. He thinks he is old enough, wise enough and strong enough to be on his own. But why did he feel the need to leave? As the Father will state later, the motto in his household is simply to share everything. In the Father's conversation with the older brother later in the parable, He states:

Luke 15:31 And he said unto him, Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours. 

So the younger son had everything he ever needed if only he stayed in the Father's house. The Father has endless resources, and He is willing to share ALL his resources with both his sons. So the younger son really has absolutely no reason to ask for his inheritance unless he plans on leaving. I can't think of any other motivation the son could have for asking for his inheritance. And the Father knows that. The Father knows exactly why the son is asking for his share of the inheritance.

So what would cause the son to want to leave the Father's house? Well, probably multiple reasons. First of all, he thinks that he is missing out. He's probably listening to the tempter's voice, telling him: "You're missing out here, in this religious system. Being obedient to the Father means that life is just passing by you. One day it'll be too late to do the things you can still do today. So leave the Father's house, go out into the world. You can do it!" The devil is enticing the younger brother to disobey the Father and go out into the world. The lie is: "You're missing out on all the good stuff that is going on out there, outside the world of the Christian boundaries, outside the framework of Christian living."

Part of the reason why the younger brother felt the need to leave was probably his older brother. He was obviously not someone attractive. And part of what the younger brother was thinking was probably that he didn't want to turn out like his older brother. "If I stay here and live here a few more years, then I'll become like him. And that's DEFINITELY NOT going to happen!"

The tax collectors and sinners at the time probably felt like that about the religious system at the time as well. "If I come under the leadership of these Pharisees, then I'll turn out like them. So thanks, but no thanks." I'm sure that many people at the time rejected the religious system for exactly this reason, not wanting to turn out like the religious leaders.

Unfortunately, the same is true today as well. Many people reject the church because of harsh, legalistic and unforgiving leaders. I was one of them in my childhood. The religious system, the religious duties I learned in my childhood caused me to have a completely wrong understanding of who God is. And I completely rejected Christianity for many years. 

So here we are, having a young man who feels that he is wasting his life in the Father's house, desperately wanting to get out and asking the Father for his share of the inheritance.

So what does the Father do? Of course, He simply squashes the idea. Lectures the Son, probably on different levels. First of all He lectures the son about the inpropriety of his request. Secondly He warns him about the dangers of "the world". And then thirdly He probably makes an emotional appeal, how much He would miss the son, etc. Right?

Well, that's what I would do. But not so our heavenly Father. He does the most outrageous and unbelievable thing: He grants the son's request. And He divides his property among His two sons. (That's a very important detail, as we will see in the later part of the story, when the Father talks with the older brother)

Do you realize that our Father sometimes listens to and answers prayers that are not good for us? If you ever thought that "God only answers prayers that are absolutely holy and pure" then think about this passage. Here comes a young man, totally out of time, with totally selfish motives, bringing shame on the Father with His request, not being ready to deal with the consequences of his request, not knowing what he is doing, bringing himself into a situation that he won't be able to deal with,... and the Father simply says: "Yes, I'll do what you asked for!" Can you imagine the pain that must have been in the Father's heart? He knew that the son was going to leave. He knew that the son was going to get beaten up out there in the world. He knew that the son was going to squander all His posessions. He knew that the son was going to get hurt. YET: The Father says "I'll do what you ask for." Unbelievable.

Do you realize that we have to be careful what we ask for from God? Sometimes we might not like it. We might ask for seemingly good things. But if we simply ask God for what we think is right, then we might really hurt ourselves a lot. Because the Father sometimes has the audacity to grant us our requests and lets us deal with the consequences of our requests. That's what happened when Israel asked for a king. 

1 Samuel 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, you are old, and your sons walk not in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 

Eventually, since the people insisted, God granted their request. And it had all kinds of bad consequences that God warned them of in the first place. But they asked, they insisted. And God granted their request. 

Same with the younger brother. He asked for something that could have killed him. But the Father decided to allow His request. 

Why does God do that kind of stuff? Well, because what He wants us to do is to choose Him. That's why He put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden. If Adam and Eve didn't have a choice, they couldn't choose God's ways. And if they can't choose, then they can't love. Unfortunately, they made the wrong choice (I would have too! I would probably have eaten the forbidden fruit within 1min, without the serpant having to tempt me!)

So when we ask God for things, we really need to be careful what we ask Him for! Because what we think is best for us might not really be best for us. And just because God does answer our prayer doesn't necessarily mean that it's good for us. 

Instead, we need to seek God first. One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is this one from the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Instead of simply asking God for things that we think are best for us, we should truly go to Him first and ask Him questions: God, what do you want? What is best for me? What is your plan for this situation? What are your thoughts on this decision?

If we don't approach God that way, we might ask for things that are not good for us. And God might actually grant our request. 

And you know what many people do afterwards, when things turn bad? They curse God! They pray for a relationship that is not meant to be. God grants their request. Then the relationship fails (because it was never meant to be). And then they curse God: "God, why did you allow this to happen? What did you do to me?" He didn't do anything. You brought this upon yourself, by pursuing something that was never God's will.

Or maybe in a job. We pray for a job that was never God's plan for our lives. Then we get it. 6 months later we hate the job, because it was never what God wanted for us. But instead of acknowledging that we went ahead of God, many of then curse God: "God, why did you give me this bad boss? Why did this job situation turn out so bad? I hate you!" Well, He didn't do it. You did. You went after something without seeking God first.

In this story, the younger brother brought a lot of trouble upon himself by asking the Father for his inheritance. We'll look at the consequences of his request in the next blog. But my point for today: The son asked for something inappropriate. The Father granted his request. And the consequences were severe.

What about us? Are we asking for something inappropriate right now as well? Are we pursuing something that we ourselves think is good for us? Or are we truly going to God first, asking Him: "God, what do you want? What is best for me in this situation?"

The difference between these two approaches in prayer will determine the trajectory of our lives from this day onwards.

I choose to seek God first. How about you?

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