The Prodigal Returns
There are no words that more accurately encapsulate the true meaning of Sabbath rest than the words of the Messiah, “yet not My will, but Thine be done.”
And [Yahshua] withdrew from [Peter, James, and John] about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done."
We have seen how Lucifer was the first Sabbath breaker as he repeatedly declared “I will.” In absolute contrast we see the Son of God proclaiming, “Not My will.”
This is the position of rest that was surrendered in the Garden of Eden. Adam went from a place of contentment with the Father’s will, to being dissatisfied with His will. Adam wanted to direct his own path. He wanted to decide for himself how he would lead his life.
Adam was the original prodigal son. As he was abiding in the place the Father had chosen for him, an unrest began to grow until finally it gave vent to action as he set himself to do that which was not the will of God. In a sense, all of mankind is represented in the prodigal son. We have all left the place of rest with our Father and have gone seeking our own fortune. We have lived either riotously or self-righteously. In either case we have directed our own course and have chosen to go a way that was not the Father’s will.
The Father has waited for us to come to our senses and to realize that things were better before we left His side. That which we thought was so confining and unbearable begins to look good after we find out how hollow life is apart from the Father. After we endure shipwreck and enslavement, moral destitution and abasement, we begin to consider how far we have fallen. The story of the prodigal son is the story of mankind.
And He said, "A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' And he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need. And he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."' And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' And they began to be merry.”
The prodigal’s realization of his status was correct. Mankind is no longer worthy to be called sons of God, yet the Father is still willing to consider us sons. The son goes back to his father with the intent of willingly submitting himself to be a servant. He knows that the righteous thing is for him to live to do the will of his father.
When the saints of Yahweh realize that they too have taken the inheritance given to them and they have spent it as they pleased, according to their own will and desire, they will see that it also leads to a spiritual famine. It is quite possible to gain all that our soul desires and yet to remain destitute spiritually. Like the Laodicean church, we can appear wealthy and lacking in nothing, yet a true appraisal reveals that we are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
The father’s words upon greeting the son hold much meaning; “For this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again.” When we are living according to our own initiative, our own will and desires, we are dead. When we are being guided by the innate soulish sense of good and evil we are dead. The story of the prodigal son goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden for it is a retelling of the fall of man and an unveiling of the nature of the two trees that are named in the Garden.
The scriptures are full of contrasts: darkness and light; good and evil; rich and poor; love and hate, etc.. In the opening chapters of Genesis we see many contrasts. The light is separated from the darkness. The dry land is separated from the water. Should we not expect that there should be a distinct contrast between the only two trees named in the Garden of Eden?
And out of the ground Yahweh God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
At first appearance these trees may not appear as opposites, but they are. One tree is called the tree of life, and we have this report concerning the other tree.
“but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."
One tree is named the tree of life. The other tree brings forth death. These trees are truly opposites set in contrast to one another. By knowing this we can identify the nature of the trees.
We know that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents man living independent of Yahweh and His rule. This tree brings man to a place where he attempts to govern himself independently of His Creator. By eating of this fruit Adam and Eve had birthed in them an ability to determine right and wrong, good and evil within their own beings. But in gaining this ability they became separated from Yahweh.
The tree of life represents the exact opposite of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life brings one into union with the Father where all knowledge of good and evil finds its source in Him. The tree of life represents man in union with Yahweh. The tree of life is a place of rest where man has his head covered, where man refuses to act or speak of his own initiative, but where he receives every command, every direction from the mouth of God. The tree of life is the Sabbath tree.
In the parable of the prodigal, the wayward son represents every man. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one of us to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). When we come to our senses we are led to return to the Father and we determine that we will now live to do His will. We know the righteous thing is to present ourselves as servants, knowing that we are not worthy to be called sons. Yet in His mercy Yahweh does call us sons. He declares, “This son of mine was dead: (he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; he went and lived according to his own will and desires and he walked in death.) Now my son has returned alive: (he has forsaken his own way and he has returned with the heart of a servant to do My will. Now My son is eating from the tree of life.)”
There is great hope for this son that was lost. He has discovered how barren and hopeless life is apart from the Father. He has discovered that living a self-directed life leads to death. He is able to see what true life is. He understands that man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. By experiencing the depths of his own depravity and his inability to govern himself he has seen his need and great dependence upon the Father. There is great hope for this son for he has now come to make a similar confession as did Yahshua; “No longer will I live for my will... I will live for You Father.”
Much of the church has missed the point of this parable of Yahshua. It is not enough to simply realize that you are headed for hell and you are in need of forgiveness for your sins. It is not sufficient to pray a sinner’s prayer if you do not have a similar heart change as did the prodigal son. What is needed is a realization that we are unable to govern ourselves. It is no solution at all to make a confession of Christ and then to continue to direct one’s own life according to the leading of the soul.
Much of the church remains in this place, however. They renounce the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they proclaim the praises of the tree of life, but even as they do so they are still eating of the tree that brings death. Much of the church proclaims Yahshua to be the Son of God. They know that He alone led a life that was pleasing to the Father, but they have failed to identify what made His life so pleasing. Yahshua said, “Not My will... but Your will be done.” This was the chief characteristic of Yahshua’s life. He lived to do the will of the Father. Yet many saints continue to live to fulfill their own desires. They look to Yahshua for salvation, but they have not identified what they truly need saving from.
Many saints wish to continue living their lives much as they did before they heard about Yahshua, but they want to know that their sins will be forgiven and they will go to heaven when they die. Little do they realize that the Father wants to conform their lives to the image of the One they look to for salvation. It is no salvation at all to remain in independence from the Father, being led by one’s own soul. Such a saint is still walking in spiritual death. The Father wants His elect to confess, “Not my will... but Your will be done.” The Father wants His elect to forsake the tree that leads to independence that it might be said of them as it was the prodigal son, “This child of Mine was dead, but now they are alive.”
This is an excerpt from the book Sabbath.
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