Posted by: forfreedomalone | 05/11/2017

Progressive Revelation.

Often, when I am teaching about Progressive Revelation I will use the story of the Prodigal Son as an example.
Most Christians will know the story, in Luke 15, about the young man who asks for his inheritance, while he is still young enough to enjoy it. He then squanders everything and ends at, what would be for any good Jewish boy, the bottom of bottom, working as a swineherd. Waking up to this reality he decides that if he goes home to his father he may, perhaps, obtain a job as a servant in the household. When he finally arrives back home his father throws a party and welcomes the young man back as his precious son.

This story has, at least, three levels of revelation into the nature and character of God, and our relationship to him, but it is usual for only one to be explored.

1. The son represents the person who has rebelled against God and the father represents God himself, who will welcome any repentant sinner back to himself.
There is nothing wrong with this. This is totally true and the first level of understanding.

2. In the second level we look at the son and see that, when he was at home with his father, he was never really a son at all. He was a son by birth, he was born into that position, but it was never a position he embraced in his heart. His heart was rebellious and far from his father’s love. The young man needed the experience of being at rock bottom to ‘repent’, to change his mind and heart toward his father and to become a true son. A son who loved and served his father from the understanding of one whose heart has been touched to the depths of its being by the love of a father.
This can be looked at as, again, a believer understanding that there is more to being a son of God than just accepting God’s existence, or Jesus sacrifice on our behalf. It is complete surrendering of the heart to God.
It can also be looked at as the story of the legalist who follows rules, rites and rituals, but is never a true son of the heart.
The descendants of Abraham were given the rite of circumcision of the flesh as a sign of the covenant God made with them through Abraham, but later, in Deuteronomy 10:16 he tells those same people to circumcise their hearts. Paul, in Romans 2:9 tells us that one is not a Jew because one is outwardly circumcised, but because one’s heart has been opened to God by the circumcising away the hardness towards him. This is the making of a true son.

3. In the third level we can see that there are two sons one who was born into the household and remains there out of duty to his father. He is a good son, but he is not a true son of the heart, as is made evident when his brother returns and he angry about the way he is received. In this level we see the two sons are representing the Jews and the Gentiles. Gentile is the Greek version of the Hebrew “goyim”, ‘nations’. The boy who has remained with his father (the Jewish people) is angry that the other son (the goyim, the people of the nations) is welcomed into the family. He wants the younger son to be made to earn his place, but the father does not see things that way. He loves both his sons equally and rejoices over the younger son’s return.
N.B. the younger son RETURNS, he is not a new born son, he is a younger son who RETURNS.

Around 721 BC the 10 tribes, who lived in the northern part of the country and were, collectively, called Israel were taken into captivity after their defeat by the Assyrians. We don’t hear anything of them again. In the south the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, collectively called Judah, continue and become the people we call ‘Jews’ today. A ‘Jew’ is, technically a descendant of Judah. But what of the others?
It is my belief that they are the ‘goyim’, the nations who will return to God. We, who believe, are RETURNING to God, not discovering someone we never knew about. Our father who has grieved over our loss is now overjoyed at our return.

As you read through this you see that there are layers of meaning in this story and we have only scratched the surface, this is how it is with God. There is on end to the depth of his character, his love, his mercy, his justice, his compassion. Do not stop at what is obvious when you look into a matter concerning the Lord, you will leave with only a fraction of what you could have had, had you dug a little deeper.


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