Jesus told stories and parables to shed light on significant kingdom truths. Sometimes stories cut through confusion, clarify questions, and expose lies. Allow me, today, to frame our subject with a true story, garnered from the themes of scripture.
I have a nephew who had a school assignment years ago to interview my elderly father to ask him about our family’s history and what life was like “back in the old days.” My dad told him story after story that none of us would have known, had Drew not taken the time to interview him. Two matters inspire the following little story — my nephew’s interview of my dad and the Holy Spirit waking me up in the middle of the night, giving me this idea.
We are part of a family with lots of history and many stories. We have been adopted into God’s family, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. What a glorious change this is in our lives. A new family! A new way of living! A new love in our life! We all can testify how wonderful this new adventure is in Abba’s family. (Read one of my previous blogs, Personal Revelation, Part 10 for an expansion on this.)
We need to know about our new family, especially our Father (I will call him Dad if you allow me.) We want to know our family’s history and hear Dad’s stories because the more we know Dad the more we love him. He is love and we want to know him more and more.
It doesn’t take long running around our new house to find out that we have an elder brother in the family. We see pictures of him everywhere. We wonder to ourselves “why is he never around” when there so much evidence of him all over the house? We will have to ask Dad about this. Is this one of those dreaded family secrets that so many families have?
As we gain more confidence in our new surroundings, we begin to ask Dad some questions. At the top of our list is our curiosity about this brother of ours. One night over dinner, Dad slowly opens up. From his slow beginning and the hesitation in his voice, we can tell our question has brought back painful memories. He tells us that he and our elder brother have had a stormy relationship over the years. Is that a tear we see in his eyes? We offer him the opportunity to remain silent, but he declines our offer, saying “you need to know the story because, after all, he is your elder brother. This is family business and you are now part of the family.” We are saddened by this but curious to know more.
Hesitatingly Dad opens up and tells us story after story. We can hear the tender love in his voice and from time to time a twinkle in his eyes. We can tell he is pleased with himself in some of the creative and miraculous things he did for our brother. We especially love to hear the miracles. “Dad, tell us all of them!” He goes way back to the beginning and tells us how he chose Abram. “Dad, why did you choose him out of all the other possibilities?” we ask. He told us it was all about love … something we didn’t understand at the time, but will grow in our appreciation as we go along. He told us the amazing story of how he put Abe to sleep and made promises to him, in that old fashioned way of making blood covenants. That seems kind of funny to us now, but Dad was deadly serious as he told us the story. For him it was almost as if it happened yesterday.
The stories continued late into the night, too many to retell all of them now. I especially loved the story of saving our brother from Egypt. What amazing miracles. How creative Abba was. We wonder how Dad was able to work it out that Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in that basket? “He is so clever,” we think to ourselves. I would have loved to be a fly on Moses’ staff when he raised it over the Red Sea and it parted. Our brother escaped while the enemy was drowned. What a close call that was! Then all the miracles in the wilderness. Can you imagine water out of rocks and bread on the ground? We cannot believe Dad was confident enough in himself to take millions into a hot and desolate desert knowing he could provide for them. Wow, Dad is so cool. He tells us how he allowed Moses to see his glory on the mountain and how he led him through the desert with the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. He told us the way he gave amazing plans to Moses on how to build a tabernacle. What a surprise it was to Moses and the others when Dad filled the tabernacle with his glory! We were told so many stories of miracles that night that we feel asleep listening. Dad had quite a relationship with our brother.
Despite all this our brother rejected every advance Dad made. We were stunned to hear this. There was something in his heart — Dad called it rebellion. He even left home many times looking for other families he liked better. This made no sense to us. After all, how could anyone not love Dad? All of this is a strong warning to us that we never want to give rebellion a place in our heart. Come to think about it, I think Dad may have told us all these stories so we would be forewarned, and not be tempted to do the same thing. “That will never happen to us,” we assure Dad.
As we now know, our brother was warned time and again by men Dad sent to him, even his son in the flesh, Yeshua. Ultimately, Dad was forced to let him go his own way. It grieves Dad’s heart to see all the trouble he has gotten into, more grief than we will ever know.
Our elder brother is a natural born son whereas we have been adopted into the family. Because he is never around the house, it would be easy to think we own the place. I’m shocked to find out that some of us actually think we have replaced our brother in Dad’s heart. Can you imagine that? We can see this only serves to hurt Dad and expose the hidden pride and arrogance in our heart. Dad has had to raise his voice a few times to warn us not to have this attitude nor make fun of our elder brother. In fact, during family discussions we discover that Dad hopes very much our love for him and our close relationship will make our elder brother jealous and cause him to want to return home. You can tell from the twinkle in Dad’s eye and the love in his voice that his heart is big enough for both of us. Well of course it’s big enough. We decide we better watch our P’s and Q’s and pray for our brother to return home!
As we observe our new father, we learn so much about how godly parenting operates, a wonderful blend of love and discipline. We can see that a parent loves a child (even a grown son who is rebellious) because the son is his, not because of what he does. Of course this is true, and all of us parents can attest to that. It is this parental love that lives forever and can even outlive a child’s rebellion. Even though our elder brother has rejected Dad, he never gives up. Through some behind the scenes reading and research we find that Dad has some things up his sleeve! He is so clever!
Dad reminds us that he has made promises to our brother in years past. Lots and lots of promises in fact. “Remember the story you thought was kind of funny when I put Abe to sleep?” he reminds us. We see in scripture how he has loved him as a father, how he has loved him as a faithful husband loves an unfaithful wife and how he has loved him as a shepherd loves his sheep. Dad has done everything — brought him into his family, shown our brother his glory, given him a national life, promises and covenants, laws to live by that will bless him, given him the privileged position of being the first born son, and even given him some property. Amazing.
As we try to make sense of all this we are stunned by how blessed and fortunate we are as the youngest son. We are humbled by our own blessings. We know Dad intimately, receiving his love and responding in return. He shares everything with us. At the same time we are struck with grief for our brother. He has forsaken this love, not because of Dad, but because of his own rebellion. Suddenly we are struck by the urgency to pray for our brother, that he will return home soon. All of Dad’s story telling seems to have made him so desirous to see his first born son home again, safe and sound.
There is another reason to pray as well. Dad tells us that his great adversary, the devil, hates both of us kids. He tells us about a murderous spirit Satan is using in the world to kill us, especially our elder brother. He explained to us how this spirit operated through Haman in the book of Esther, planning and scheming to kill our brother; how the same spirit was working in King Herod trying to kill the baby Jesus, which would cut off our hope of salvation. The same spirit working more recently through Hitler to kill our brother. Right up to our present day the same thing is working through our brother’s enemies — lying about him, scheming to destroy him utterly, and trying to steal Dad’s promises from him. Satan is always trying to stop Dad’s plans. Tragically, we can see, some of us are agreeing with his enemies and hating our brother. We must pray.
On another occasion we had yet another talk with Dad. We wanted to know more about the future and what Abba has up his sleeve. He showed us that one day soon the whole world will turn against our brother. He will have no friends at all. Every nation will turn against him and come to make war with him and kill him. Dad says he will have to step in to defend him. Then he tells us the best part of all — one day all of us who are adopted as younger sons will come into the family and that will be the signal that our brother’s rebellion will come to an end. Enough is enough! Brother will return home and the family will be complete. Hallelujah! Dad is so excited about the prospect of this that he seems to find it hard to wait! Dad seems to be impatient, if that is possible. He goes on to tell us that we will not be able to imagine what unspeakable blessing this will be for the whole world. Imagine that. The whole world will be blessed. The angels in heaven will rejoice. Jesus will return to Jerusalem and reign for 1000 years.
What an exciting future we shall have when our elder brother returns home. This is not a side issue for us as younger brothers. It is intimate family business.
Our adoption into Dad’s family: Rom. 8:15; Eph. 1:5
Our brother is a son, a first born son: Ex. 4:22-23; Hos. 11:1-4
Dad’s love for elder brother: Deut. 7:6-9; Jer. 31:3-6; Hos. 2:23, 11:1-3; Is. 49:13-16, 54:7-8 …………
Knowing Dad better: Eph. 1:17-18; Col. 1:10
Evidence of our brother around the house: Jn. 4:22; Rev. 21:12; Rom. 11:17
Stormy relationship/Dad emotional: Jer. 2:9-13, 17-22, 32; 3:1, 14-18; Hos. 2:14-16, 19-20; 4:16; Rom. 9:1-3
Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-21
Miracles: Ex. 7-11; 14:13-31; 15:22-27; 16:13-35; 17:6-7; 19:4-6, 16-26; 24:15-18; 25:8-9; 33:11, 17-23; 40:34-38; Ps. 107:1-43
Dad’s warning to us: Rom. 11:20
Dad has given so much to our brother: Rom. 9:4-5; 15:8-11; Eph. 2:11-12; Gen. 12:1-3; 15:9-12; Ps. 105:7-11
Dad loves brother as a shepherd: Is. 40:11; Jer. 31:10; Ez. 34:11-16, 28-31
We are to make our brother jealous: Rom. 11:11
Satan is both our enemies: Rev. 11; 20:4; Matt. 24:15-26; Lu. 21:20-24; Thess 2:4
Our brother returns home: Is. 11:11-12; Jer. 23:3-8 Hos. 5:15; Zech 12:10; Matt. 23:39; Rom. 11:23-33
All nations coming against our brother: Ez. 38:16; Joel 3:1-3; Zech. 14
Dad will step in: Zech 9:16; 13:8-9
Whole world blessed: Rom. 11:11-12, 15; Joel 2:28; Is. 27:3
Jesus returns and reigns: Zech 14:4; Rev. 19:11