October 2010


I was thinnking about the blog entry about the Prodigal Son as well as this hymn shared by a friend to me.

I realised that the writer wrote this hymn inspired from the Parable the Prodigal Son.. It talks about the only time God ran is to recieve the prodigal son.

Well. I guess enough is said about the parable in my previous post, so lets enjoy this hymn together.

Title: When God Ran
Artist: Benny Hester

Almighty God,
The Great I Am
Immoveable Rock,
Omnipotent powerful

Awesome Lord,
Victorious Warrior
Commanding King of Kings
Mighty Conquerer,

And the only ti…me,
the only time I ever saw Him run
Was when

He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said “My son’s come home again”.
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
He said “Son, do you know I still love you?”

It caught me by surprise when God ran

The day I left Home,
I knew I’d broken His heart
I wondered if
Things could ever be the same,

Then one night,
I remembered His love for me
And down that dusty road, ahead I could see
It’s the only time,
the only time I ever saw Him run

Was when He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said “My son’s come home again”.
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
He said “Son, do you know I still love you?”

It caught me by surprise, He brought me to my knees
When God ran
I saw Him run to me
And then I ran to Him

Instrumental Bridge

Holy God, Righteous One
Who turned my way
Now I know, He’s been waiting
For this day

{Repeat Chorus}

And then He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said “My son’s come home again”.
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
I felt His love for me again

{Repeat Chorus}

He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said “My son’s come home again”.
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
He said Son, He said Son, My Son!
Do you know I still love you
oohhh…He ran to me
When God ran

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Yesterday there was a discussion about the people who are lost in the world, and why Christians are supposed to be Gods ambassadors to the world that has strayed from him . We were reading from Lk 15, the 3 parables of Jesus

1. Parable of the Lost Sheep
2. Parable of the Lost Coin
3. Parable Of the Prodigal Son

Initially they felt that the Parables had no relations with each other, but in my opinion. They are not just related, but Jesus is trying to build on the concepts already learnt in the previous parable. If A Christian were to master this, he will have a deeper understanding of the love of God.

Before we begin reading the chapters, let us remind ourselves of the Gods love for the world. Which is spoken by Jesus in John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – Jesus (John 3:16)

Once there was someone who asked me, how much does God love us? And I shared with him the words of Apostle Paul

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Paul (Rom 8:6-8)

Then, some of us may wonder, well.. whats so precious about a sinner? In fact, we are not the only one who had this question. Many Pharisees and Scribes posted this question to Jesus. (Lk 15:1-2)

During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees and Scribes are the religious leaders of the time, they are very well verse in the Law of Moses, and they are being respected whenever they go. Such respect are often denied to Tax Collectors. Who are viewed as helpers of the Roman Empire to exploit the local populace.. There are many tax collectors who became rich by forcing the people to play 2-4 times the tax they are suppose to be collecting (Lk 3:12-13, Lk 19:8-10). Thus arousing the hatred of the people against them.

To the eyes if the Pharisees and Scribes, these people deserve to go to hell for what they have done and do not deserve God. Jesus, being a teacher who teach the truth with love, started to share the parables before them.

Personally, the explanation of the parables are purely my interpretation of the words of Jesus, I would love to receive comments from others .

1. Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7)
Note: Jesus use this parable twice, once to address the Scribes and Pharisees in Luke 15, The second time address to his disciples, which was used to answer the question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”(Matt 18:1). I do not know the order which is first or second. Perhaps someone might want to comment.

 

 

Jesus was talking about a shepherd who had 100 sheep, grazing safely in the hills. When he realised that 1 of the sheep is missing, he went on great lengths to search of the sheep, he retraces his steps, until he found his poor sheep out in the open. When he found it, he carried the sheep on its shoulders (Lk 15:5) and return rejoicing. In fact he was so happy, that he called together all his friends and neighbours to celebrate because he found his lost sheep. (Lk 15:6)

As a conclusion Jesus shared that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents vs having 99 who does not need repentance.

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The Shepherd is God himself (Ps 23:1, Jn 10:11)
2. The Lost sheep can refers to the sinners of the world, who do not know God, or his love (Lk 15:2)
Here it specifically refers to the tax collectors and other sinners that are despised by the scribes and pharisees
3. The 99 sheep can refers to
a. Existing believers in God
b. Scribes and Pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

In fact, There is nothing more precious to God then a sinner who repents. God does not like to punish sinners. He will rather that he do not need to execute his judgement and the people repent and do the right things. (Eze 33:11)

1 sinner repenting is worth more than 99 people who are already in the flock of God.

2. Parable of the Lost Coin (Lk 15:8-10 )
This parable is mentioned in Luke and is used as together on the occasion where Jesus was sharing with the scribes and pharisees. To understand this better, perhaps we need to understand why Jesus uses the 10 coins and not 100 coins (as contrasted to 100 sheep). So far there are 2 possibilities

 

1. Whenever a Jewish girl is wedded, she will have a necklace or ornament made up of 10 coins, it is part of the dowry for her wedding
2. The 10 silver coins is roughly Thea day wages of an average worker which is representing family savings.

Personally i am more inclined to agree with the 10 coins refers to the necklace ornament, as that will explains why the lady will put in so much effort to find the lost coin, as well as her joy in finding it.

In this parable, the lady light a lamp, went through great lengths to sweep the house and strains her eyes to find the coin. (Lk 15:8) When she found it, she calls her friend and neighbour to celebrate with her, that she has found the lost coin, (Lk 15:9)

As a conclusion, Jesus said, that the joy of the woman in this parable is similar to joy of the angels of God in heaven over one sinners that repents (Lk 15:10)

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The Woman reference here would refer to God (similar role as the shepherd)
a. Personally i will think the woman can also refer to the church of God because
i. The church is often referred to as the bride of the lamb of God (Rev 19:7)
ii. Believers are often referred to as betrothed to God (2 Cor 11:1-3)
2. 1 Lost coin refers to the lost sinners
a. If using the church as the woman, the 10 coins all refers to members belonging to the church
3. 9 coins referred to the scribes and pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

Similar to the parable of the lost sheep, except now the numbers has decreased 1:9 no longer 1:99
But if I were to use the context of the woman as the church, It can also teach us that we must put in effort to seek out the lost believers in our church.
For any lost members that we managed to bring back will also clause the heavens to rejoice.

The 10 coins to me represent completeness, can we imagine the bride to be married with a necklace of 9 silver coins? would that not look weird. Therefore, only when the 10 coins are all present, can the bride be complete.

3. Parable of the Lost Son (Lk 15:11-31)

This parable was describe in great details by Jesus, with all the characters. It serves as a conclusion from Jesus regarding why he spends so much time with sinners.

Here it mentioned of a father, who had a disobedient son, the son demanded his portion of the inheritance, and left home willingly with all his possession. This broke the fathers heart as inheritance are only divided upon the fathers death. Yet out of the love, the father still gave him his inheritance and let him go. So this son went away ,wasted his inheritance in prodigal living.. until one day, famine strike the land.. he ended up working for someone. He was sent to feed the swines, and he was so hungry, that he wanted to feed himself with the pods that the swine ate.

It was only then he realise how well his father had treated him.. he thinks that he is no longer worthy to be called his son… so he decided to return home, and to asked his dads forgiveness and be his servant. But little did he know that just when he was afar off.. his father, seeing him from a distance came running to him and kiss him. The father gave him his ring, his robes and sandals. He ordered for a fatted calf to be killed and everyone to celebrate.

Then along came the older brother who return.. he got angry and he refuse to come into the house. His father was sad, and he came out to plead with him, the older child replied.

“Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” (Lk 15:29-30)

That is when the father replied
” Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (Lk 15:31)

Who are the Parable Characters representing?
1. The father refers to God, no doubt about it.
2. The younger son refers to all sinners (Esp refer to Christians who left God and have the desire to return to God)
3. The older son refers to the scribes and pharisees

What is the parable trying to tell us?

Similar to the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, except now the numbers has decreased 1:1. Here Jesus finally explain the reason for the joy.

The child wanted to go away from the father, this is a very typical scenario we have in church, where people left the church and decided to lead a live away from God. In the context of the tax collectors and sinners, they have chosen to lead a life that is different from what it suppose to be.

Alot of times, we do not know, the sadness of God, and sometimes we can be like the older son, we kept Gods command out of fear, we like the Pharisees, we despise people who have lost their faith. Sometimes I wonder how many times did the older son saw his dad staring at the horizon where his younger brother has gone. I guess, like all humans, he had a resentment to that younger brother. Sometimes we fail to see the heart of God.. that he will rather wish the younger son is back.

For the younger son, I think that there are certain times in our lives that we suddenly decided to stay away from God, thinking that life is better without him.. We wanted to enjoy the world, before one day God comes and destroy it. But alot of times, only when calamity strikes, that is the only time we can think about God goodness. There are people who thinks that, since they have strayed, they are no longer good enough to be Gods child, (Lk 15:17-19), But sometimes that feeling is invoke by the devils to tell us that we no longer qualify for God forgiveness.. which in my opinion is a big lie.

How often does God look out and wait, for his prodigal son to return? How ever willing is he to take the son back and to love him like he always had been.

Lastly, i would also think about the older brother.. Whether do we become judgemental to our brethren who had left the church and finally return? Yes indeed we had been serving God faithfully during the period of their absence.. do we still judge in our hearts that these people are not worthy for salvation?

Let us all have the heart of God, to be willing to accept all sinners to his fold, let us be rejoice like the angels of heaven, whenever we see a sinner returns to God.

As a conclusion, I would like to quote from Elder James

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” – James (Jas 5:19-20)

Lately, I been revisiting the story of Pontius Pilate and the part he played as a the person who serve the death penalty to Jesus.

 

Sometimes, this is a character often sidetracked whenever we read about the Passion of Christ. As most of us would be focusing the attention on the central character, our Lord Jesus himself.

 

But if we would to examine this character in details, sometimes I think we can see ourselves in Pontius Pilate. His story could be found at the trial of Jesus recorded in Matt 27, Mk 15, Lk 23, Jn 18).

 

The Difficulty of Governing Judea as a Roman Governor

  

The role of a Governor of Judea is a difficult role as he is governing one of the toughest province in the Roman empire.

He is facing a land where there are constant uprising and rebels who wanted to much to chase the Romans and their Legions out of Judah and to reestablish the Kingdom of David.

The people understood the OT prophecy that a Messiah will come to Israel and he would rebuild the kingdom of David. Some of the famous rebels at that time are the Zealots, One of their famous groups were known as Sicarii (AKA Dagger men). They were also known to kill fellow Jews who oppose their war against the Romans.

 

Eventually these Zealots led a revolt known as Jewish revolt which clause Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Where they fled to Masada and died fighting the Romans.

 

This Romans way of governing the people is by keeping them distracted but happy, this is seen in the many theatres, chariot race course and Colosseum built to entertain the people. However, this tactic did not go too well with the Jews that well.

 

In fact the prime motivation for Pilate to convict Jesus and to crucify him (what he will do to rebel easily) stamps from that Roman way of keeping the populance happy.

 

Usually, they crucify rebels and insurrector so as to serve as a deteriant for any one else who wants to try. They usually do that openly at the highway and uses fear to help them control the populace.

 

Pilate Vain Attempts To Release Jesus

  

Pontius Pilate knows that Jesus was innocent (Lk 23:4, Jn 18:38). His wife suffered dreams because of it and also sent messenger to Pilate warning him against hurting Jesus (Matt 27:19).

 

He knew that the Jews wanted him to kill Jesus and they just needed him to pass the order to crucify him. After examining Jesus he knew that Jesus is innocent and is just a religious leader that they do not like.

 

Initially He decided to push the responsibility to King Herod (Lk 23: 6-7) Later on when Herod sent Jesus back to him, he was stressed.

Now he thought to himself, since he had to release a prisoner during the Jewish festival, he can put Jesus beside Barabbas who is a famous criminal and he hopes that the people would be wise enough not to request him to release Barabbas (Jn 18:39)

But to his horror, they demanded Barabbas to released to them. So in his final desperate attempt to do the right thing, he wanted Jesus to be flogged and set free. (Lk 23:13-15). Unfortunately, the crowd started to be louder and more rowdy.

They slowly drowned his voice (Lk 23:23). When Pilate realise he cant change it, he decided to use his own method to lessen his guilt by washing his hand (Matt 27:24-25)

 

There are tradition that suggested that he went crazy in the last part of his life, he was seen washing his hands again and again, claiming there was blood on it. But if one were to google for it. It is evident that there was no known record of Pilates death.

 

My Thoughts Regarding Pilate

 

Personally, I think Pilate was someone who knew the good he ought to have done, but lack the moral courage to follow through (Rom 7:14-25).

He thinks that by washing his own hands he is guiltless in killing an innocent man by Crucifixion.

In a way, sometimes we are very much like Pontius Pilate. Can we recall the last time where we saw injustice and yet lack the courage to speak against it? Do we allow the masses to force us to commit sins that we did not wish to commit, telling ourselves that “it is alright, since everyone wants it”

If Pilate were to stand at the side of Justice and not yield to the demands of the people, perhaps he need not bear that guilt for harming an Innocent man.

 

Therefore, as Christian living in a wicked and sinful generation, let us continue to stand by our belief and the teaching of God, and not be swayed just because the world demanded it. Let us learn from the story of Pontius Pilate, that we would never allow ourselves to do the wrong thing, just because the crowds demands it.

Recently a friend recommanded me to read a book about Spiritual Intimacy, and the Author was sharing about spiritual intimacy from the perspective of the friendship of David and Jonathan. She said that God took Jonathan away from David so that David might learn intimacy with God and be soul tied to Him.

This statement got me curious and i decided to revisit the story of David and Jonathan to test the statement, in summary i discovered the following point

1. David is “soul tied” to God long before he met Jonathan
2. Jonathan is a man of exceptional faith in God
3. David and Jonathan are “soul tied” due to the fact that they are of the similar heart and mind in their journey of faith.
4. They understood the will of God and was willing to support it.

(Authors Note: I know that “Soul Tie” means something special to my friends in the Charismatic faith, please understand that I personally do not believe in their defination of “soul tie” and here i am just borrowing the term for introduction purpose)

I remember when I was younger, there was a huge discussion on the question, why God allow a good man like Jonathan to perish in battle.

To understand the Characters, lets take a look at the bible

The Faith of Jonathan
“Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few.”
– Jonathan (1 Sam 14: 6)

Jonathan’s faith is best seen in the battle recorded in 1 Sam 13. It was the second year of the reign of King Saul where they fought against the Philistines at Gilgal. Then the Philistines gathered 30 000 chariots and 6000 horseman with infantries that as numerous as sand. While the armies of Saul were without weapons. 2000 men were with Saul and 1000 man were with Jonathan. This is the famous battle in which Saul lost his faith and offered sacrifices before Samuel came.

Jonathan had faith in God, and his armour bearer and him sneaked into the camp of the Philistines. They placed their lives in God’s hand and started to attack the camp. when they appeared before the enemies

Philistines said,
“Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.”
Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said,
“Come up to us, and we will show you something.”
Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.” (1 Sam 14:11-12)

They managed to kill 20 man in a Acre of land, and God helped allowing a huge tremble int he camp. Where the Philistines suddenly retreated ( 1 Sam 14:15-16)

From here, we can see the faith of Jonathan, as it is difficult to face the enemy alone. All Jonathan depended on was his faith in God. His feat is similar to one of the mighty man of David. Shammah. (2 Sam 23:11-12).

From here you can see the strong faith of Jonathan and his relationship with God

The Faith of David

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” – David (1 Sam 17:45-47)

This is the famous words of David, who similarly place his life into the hands of God when he challenge the Philistines Champion Goliath. Goliath was insulting the camp of the army of Israel and challenging them for a duel. In this battle, Saul’s courage were all lost. Although Saul is much taller than the Israelites (1 Sam 10:23). Saul did not dare to challenge the giant.

That was when David was filled with anger at the giant for insulting the God of the Israelites, when he wanted to challenge Goliath, he said this to Saul

“The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:37)

I guess we all knew the story of David and Goliath so I would not give the details of the battle.

Friendship through faith

Looking at the similarities of David and Jonathan it is no wonder that their souls are tied to each other in the Lord. and its not surprising that they respected and loved each other because of their faith in God. (1 Sam 18:1-3)

In a way, they have a bond which is found upon God.

Jonathan knew his father trying to kill David and his complaints against David was unjust, that is why he helped David to make an escape. When they parted. They embraced and cried.. And David cried even more so. 1 Sam 20:40-42.

They made a covenant with each other in the name of God.

Understanding the Will of God.
Personally as I was reading the story of 1 Sam I am sure Jonathan is aware of Gods rejection of his father Saul and also the fact that God has appointed another king of Israel. (1 Sam 15:28-29)

Perhaps Jonathan can see the same will of God, just like the brave Warriors of David who joined David even before he was king, when he was fleeing from Saul and hiding in Ziklag. These people immediately joined David as they can see that Gods will is for David to become king (1 Chron 12:1-8)

I dare say this because of Jonathan’s comfort to David while David was hiding in the desert of Zip, where is their last encounter with each other in person. Where Jonathan came to comfort David faith. He said

“Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 1 Sam 23:17

From this verse we can know that Jonathan is well aware that he will not be king and Gods will is that David to rule the kingdom.

Why did God allow Jonathan to die in battle?

God taking of Jonathan life in the battle is more of to allow David to fulfil his duty as the king Of Israel earlier. it is interesting fact that when David was appointed king over all Israel initially .. The people refuse to accept him as king, he ruled in Hebron for 7 years 6 months and assumed kingship only when everyone accepted him (2 Sam 5:1-4)

If Jonathan is alive, I am sure the people loyal to King Saul will push him to be the next king of Israel against his will (2 Sam 2:8-12) .. and David will wait until Jonathan his friend died before he take on his duty as the king of Israel.

Therefore I believe that God will for Jonathan is that to die in battle (this is similar to the story of King Josiah where Gods will is for Josiah to die and to be gathered with his ancestors before his judgement(2 Chron 34: 23-28, 2 Chron 35:20-26) . Gods judgement is imminent despite Josiah’s effort to rebuild the faith of the people.

For a saint to die in the Lord is always precious in Gods eye Ps 116:15.

I hope that through this sharing, we can have a different perspective about the lives of David and Jonathan.