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And they shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” (Deuteronomy 21:20)

As I mentioned yesterday, the severity of this command has fueled objections to the usefulness of the Torah and has been used as an argument, by some, to portray God as cruel and bloodthirsty. Therefore, I want to expound upon the notion that, in reality, this command is addressing the fact that we are the ones with an evil inclination. We are the ones who refuse to behave in a way that brings us closer to God and abundant life. He, on the other hand, is the One who continually reaches out to save and deliver us from ourselves. So then, in describing such a difficult situation and how it would have to be dealt with, God was making a greater point. In that vein, let’s focus on the statement, “he is a glutton and a drunkard.”

Solomon addressed this issue saying, “Hear, my son, and be wise … Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty” (Proverbs 23:19-21). In Hebrew thought, the phrase — “a glutton and a drunkard” — is used to describe debauchery in general — i.e. “riotous living.” Perhaps that sounds familiar to you — it should. It is terminology used by Messiah to describe the Prodigal Son — “(He) wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). Interestingly, the Greek word translated as “riotous” is synonymous with the Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 21:20 to describe the rebellious son. That means it is very likely that, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Messiah was alluding to the rebellious son, the glutton and drunkard.

So what is the emphasis of the parable? Obviously, it describes the foolishness of those who think as the younger son and the consequences of riotous living. Yet, through the father in the parable, it also reveals the heart of the Heavenly Father, ever ready to receive those who have walked in rebellion but have turned their hearts back to Him. The greatest point in all the parable, at least as far as I’m concerned, is when the father sees his son at a distance, rather than waiting, the father runs to him. Instead of requiring the son to come all the way to his house, groveling before him, the father closed the gap and brought him the rest of the way home. This is the true nature of our Father — not the cruel bloodthirsty God some would have Him to be. And this is the point I wish to focus on today — He is always good, forever kind, eternally compassionate and ready to forgive.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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