by James Greene
†††††††††† In this season of Lent we are called to be reconciled to the The King in our lives and in the universe.† We need to remember our focus on God, and on Godís standards.† We are to remember how Christ has come to reconcile us to the Father, so that we may have life and hope.† He came to show us Godís heart and how we are to live in, and to be in Godís Will, as part of the people of God in our being reconciled to God.
In the reading from Joshua, we see Israel, camped at Gilgal.† This is right after they have crossed over the Jordan on dry land.† The Tribes gathered 12 large stones, from the riverbed to build a memorial.† The word Gilgal means circle of stones.† It was a† memorial of their entering the Promised Land.† In our †hymn ďCome, Thou FountĒ, we hear the words ďHere I raise my EbenezerĒ.† The word Ebenezer, is a stone that is a memorial of divine help and deliverance.
Israel celebrated the Passover to remember their redeemption from slavery, out of Egypt.† They had been saved in Godís economy.† God had provided for them in the wilderness with manna.† Now God fulfilled the promise and provided for them as they entered the Promised Land.†
It is the first time that they ate food from the Promised Land in the form of un-leaven bread and roasted grain.† This celebration was also re-dedication, with the circumcision, of all those who were born during the 40 years in the desert.† This is all in light of their being redeemed by the Lord, and given the Promised Land.
†††††††††† In Psalm 32 we see the theme of redemption and being reconciled to God.† It is an illustration of Godís grace, when we repent, and turn to righteousness.† We see Godís counsel, when he says ďI will instruct, teach, counsel, and watch over you.Ē† It is illustrated in how the Lord wraps His love around those who trust him.† It also demonstrates our response in being called to rejoice, to be glad, and to sing in our relationship with God.† It is in thankfulness for our redemption.† It is an honest repentance, and seeking or asking for the Lord ďwhile he may be found.Ē†
We are given the freedom to choose, to seek the Lord, but we are also to be† instructed by the Lord in the way we should go.† We are shown the way, but we have been given the freedom to choose the way we go.
When we hear God's instruction in our lives, we cannot help but respond, like the Psalmist, in praise and singing, yearning to be in tune with creation and the Creator.† It is realized in this reconciliation to God.
In Paulís second letter to the Corinthians, is his ministry of reconciliation.† We see how we, as The Body of Christ, are called to be reconciled with those around us.† We are called to love our neighbor as ourself.† We are to be Godís instruments by representing his standard of excellence to the world.† We are to be Christís ambassadors and called to be in relationship with all people; even the sinners.† We are to show forgiveness, even Godís forgiveness, to those who are in need of it, because God is making his appeal, through us, to those around us.† We are to be an active participant in helping to reconcile people to God.†
How can some one forgive, if they have never experienced forgiveness?† With that experience, they can be freed from their guilt and able to respond to God, in honesty, in a spirit with out deceit, and turn to the Lord, and the Lord will save and protect them.
It reminds me of what my parents used to say, to me, when I was younger and still in school.† ďWhen you leave home to go out and set the world on fire, donít slam the door too hard.† You may have to come back for more matches.Ē† It reminds us of the younger son.
The Story reminds me of contemporary thought in the importance of birth order and the relationship of siblings.† I discovered in an article the following:
The First Born, or older child had the hardest job.† They are the one, who has to brake the trails for the others to follow. They were the dependable ones.† They are the one who follows the rules.† They are, hardworking and had a stick-to-it-iveness in their focus on school, work, or any project.† They also want to control the younger siblings.† They make good engineers, with an attention to details.
The next born were a free spirit type, and the rules were only guidelines that needed to be tested.† They learn from the older childís mistakes and perfect the technique of getting around the regulations.† They were more of a social personality, and developing people skills.
†††††††††† Now in the Hebrew culture and law the first born male had a distinct roll and identity within the family.† They were known as the Go-el: the Kinsman Redeemer. As the eldest son, he would receive a double portion of the inheritance.† He was to redeem a kinsman that was in debt, or enslaved.† He was called to redeem and save them.† He was to buy back property and save the lost relative.† He was also to accomplish blood revenge for a murdered kinsman, and vindicate them, and he was called to raise up children by the widow of a brother who had died.
†††††††††† The Younger Sonís inheritance by custom (Deuteronomy 21:7) is 1/3 of the fathers wealth.† If the Father distributes the inheritance too soon, he runs the risk of falling into debt, and being dependant upon someone.† He risks loosing his sovereignty as the head of the family.†
†††††††††† He wants to be reconciled to the Father.
†††††††††† The Older Son is angry at the fatherís joy of the returned younger son.† (But let us look a little deeper).† The Older Son did not fulfill his role as the Kinsman Redeemer.† He did not go and try to save the lost brother.† Like Cain he asks the question ďam I my brotherís keeper?Ē† The Older Son separated himself from the feast refusing to join in the joy of the return of his brother.† He, like the Pharisees, murmurs and lists all his works and faithful service, forgetting his requirement for righteous deeds.†
He is resentful of his fatherís provision for him.† He does not remember the fatherís fairness and justice with both sons, he does not see Godís economy of redemption and reconciliation.† Finally, he demands the fatherís loyalty because the Younger Son has done everything wrong and squandered the wealth of the family.† He is resentful because some of his wealth has already been given up to this undeserving and sinful brother.† He does not love his brother.† The older son, who already has access to all that is the fathers, and full rights as a son, if he ďasks for itĒ.† The key word here is ďasksĒ.† He must humble himself, in his demands and requirements, to the father.† The father is considered dead to him, and he only wants the fatherís wealth.
He is outside of his fatherís and Godís Will with the focus of his heart.
In the Hebrew culture if a son was rebellious, the father could take the son to the city elders, and the son would be stoned to death.†† But,- the Father, in his love for the Younger Son, released him with his inheritance.† He gives both sons the freedom to choose who they will serve and who they will follow.† He is reserved in his response to the older son.
The father has not done well with his relationship with both sons.† He has been stingy with his money.†† The Older Son Ė by not letting him have a kid to celebrate.
The Younger Son Ė in making things so hard he leaves home.†
†††††††††† The father wants relationship with his sons.† His relationship with the younger son has caused him to leave home taking his inheritance.† His relationship with the
older son is strained and he has hardened the sonís heart.
The younger son is reassured by his father of his redemption, and is restored to position in his fatherís house. The father rejoices, in the family being reunited, and calls for reconciling between the sons.
Finally like the father in the parable, even though both sons were outside of the Fatherís Will they were never beyond his love.† He strives for reconciliation between the sons, and within the family.†† He loves them, as they are, and where they are, in their lives, and in his wisdom. ††
We also see how God as the redeemer rescues and restores Israel.† We know that Christ our kinsman redeemer buys us back from sin and slavery (like the younger and older brothers) to reconcile us to the Father.† He has come to show us that we have hope with our resolve to confess our sinfulness and return to relationship with the Father.† He calls us into community as a people who can forgive and realize they are redeemed in joy, and reconciled with God the Father.† We know and are reassured that God will be our shield and shelter through out all of our lives.† We are called into relationship with God and with each other.††
Christ is the way and the one, who calls us that we may be, reconciled to the fatherÖ..
†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.† Amen
The alliteration of the parable Ė The R factor
†††††††††† Rebels against the father
†††††††††† Recognizes his state
†††††††††† Resolves to confess his sin
†††††††††† Returns to the father
†††††††††† Requests only Grace
†††††††††† Reassured by the father of his redemption
†††††††††† Restored to position in his fatherís house
†††††††††† Rejects the fatherís joy of the returned son
†††††††††† Removes himself from the feast
†††††††††† Refuses to join in the joy of the returned brother
†††††††††† Recites his works and service
†††††††††† Resents the fathers provision
†††††††††† Remembers not the fairness and justice of the father
†††††††††† Requires the fatherís loyalty
†††††††††† Relinquishes his responsibility as the family redeemer
†††††††††† Restrained in his judgment of the sons
†††††††††† Releases the Younger Son in his freedom to choose
†††††††††† Reserved in his response to the Older Sonís resentment
†††††††††† Rejoiced in the family being re-united
†††††††††† Reconciling the Older Son to the Younger Son
†††††††††† Receiving the Younger Son back to his position in the family
†††††††††† Reminding the Older Son of his full rights as a son if he asks.
Even though both sons were out side of the Fatherís will, they were never beyond the Fatherís love.