I was scheduled to teach last evening at my home church however because of the weather conditions the service was cancelled. Still, I am persuaded that the lesson I was to teach is timely considering we are embarking on a New Year. I am convinced it is time to return to the standards of God. I trust this lesson will be one that draws many back to holiness.
Time to Go Back
Springs of Refreshing Fellowship
1932 Gwynn Oak Ave
Baltimore, MD 21207
2 January 2014
Prepared by: Eld. William James Carter, The 1st
© Copy Write 2014 The Christian Perspective
Time to Go Back
There are many times in this life that we find ourselves on certain paths and a realization comes that we are on the wrong path. Take for instance when driving in unfamiliar territories. We follow the directions until we get to a point where we are sure there is a short cut, so we veer off the established road and find ourselves far from the desired place.
When in such a perilous state, the best thing to do is to turn around and get back to the main road. In turning there is a realization that an error has been made. Continuing along the same path will only result in further harm, and so it is mandated that a turn-about be made.
This is the idea the prophet Zachariah had. Once again the Israelites found themselves off the path ordained by God. They were following the path their fathers traveled earlier. It was a path that led to destruction and death. It was a not ordained of God, and in fact went totally against the teachings prescribed by God. So, God called His man-servant in Zachariah 1:1-6.
1In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 4Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
Re-read Verse 3
Time to Go Back!
Discuss some of the evil ways of the fathers:
- Ø Idolatry
- Ø Worshipping of false gods
- Ø Whore monging
- Ø Any and all of the Ten Commandments
These problems are part of the reason Solomon pray so in II Chronicles 6:26-27which reads:
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.
Solomon was pleading for the people that had given way to sin. He realized that without God’s intervention and mercy that all would be lost. So, Solomon poured out from his bowls in pleadings to God.
And God heard the cry of His servant and responded in chapter seven versus 12-14 with assurance that He hears His people when they cry out to Him.
And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
It is evident that God heard the prayer of Solomon. But, a heard prayer is not necessarily an answered prayer. In fact, God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer is conditional. The conditions are
1. That God’s people would humble themselves – Humble – bring ones self under subjection
2. Pray – intervene, stand in for another
3. Seek His face – Seek – to seek to find; to desire presence
4. Turn – return unto; go back
5. Wicked ways – malignant (hateful, spiteful) course of life
These wicked ways are the same predicament the prodigal son found himself in. He required of his father that his inheritance be given to him prematurely. And, while the father disagreed with it, he allowed his son to receive what was stored up for him. And so, the son took the money and began to live in a fashion that was not taught by the father. The money was spent on drunkenness, wild women and complete riotous living.
This son went into a far land. He went to a place where he was not required to answer to his father. He did not have to adhere to his teachings. This is because in far lands there is no restraint and no need for discipline. This is much like people today. There is a coming of age and so there is often a leaving of what was taught. There is a putting away of what the father has taught because, after all, once out of the father’s house his rules are no longer applicable.
After a while the son ran out of money. Even worse, there was a famine in the land. The famine was that there was no sound teaching. There were no truths to hold on to. There was no safety in the father’s house. There was no security. And so, with the lack of money and famine he also ran out of friends. So he was found alone and according to Luke 15:14 he began to want.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want
The son wanted to be where he once was. There were some things missing and the realizations of his father’s teachings were becoming clear. He lacked the sound teaching. There began to be a longing for the truths he left behind. He once again hoped for the safety of his father’s care. The desire for the father’s security was pushing to the heart of the son’s predicament.
But, he still was not ready to turn back to his father. So, he joined himself to a citizen of that strange land. This is a similar problem reflective today. Those who leave home because they are tired of the father’s house and come across hard times attach themselves to strangers that really do not care for them. All the stranger wants is to get whatever he can out of the prodigal. So, he is sent out to do the work others would not find themselves doing.
Thus, he is found in the pig-pen of life. There is:
- Ø Loneliness – a desire to get back to the father
- Ø Alone – no one available to point you back to the father
- Ø Misunderstood – no one having understanding of where you have come from
- Ø Despair – being left in a hopeless situation; the appearance of no way out
- Ø In want – having nothing needful to persevere
- Ø Hungry – strong desire for life sustaining sustenance
- Ø Dirty – covered with the stench and filth of a fatherless lifestyle
- Ø Sorrow – mourning and regret
This son found himself in all these states and then some. It was in such a bad way that nobody gave to him. Not the citizen he joined himself to. Not the male friends and helped him spend his money. Not the females with which he had such a good time. There was nobody there for him or with him. With this, realization began to set in deeper. His father’s servants were doing far better than he was and they were in his father’s house.
The boy finally came to his senses. He came to himself and began a plan of attack to get back into his father’s graces, even if it meant laying aside his sonship and becoming a servant. He realized it was time to go back home.
Verses 17-19 read:
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And so the son got up, pulled himself together and headed home. He knew he had to make amends. There was no one that could help him but the father. He turned his back on the lifestyle that was contrary to his father’s teachings and began, once again, to head to the stability of his father’s house.
In his father’s house there was no more:
- Ø Loneliness
- Ø Being alone
- Ø Misunderstanding
- Ø Despair
- Ø Want
- Ø Hunger
- Ø Dirt
- Ø Sorrow
The loneliness was replaced with companionship (the love of the Father)
He would no longer be alone but encompassed with a great cloud of witnesses.
Misunderstanding would become a thing of the past because the witnesses knew all of what had happened and were compassionate.
The despair turned to hope and anticipation of things to come
Want would be translated to fulfillment.
Hunger would cease to be and be turned into total fulfillment.
The dirt left behind by sin would now be washed in the Blood so that the son would no longer be permeated by the sin but refreshed in the forgiveness of the Father.
Sorrow would be made joy.
Sure enough, all the son hoped for was at home. His father was waiting for him and saw him afar off. The greeting was tremendous. A robe was placed on his back. A ring was placed on his finger. The fatted calf was killed in celebration of the lost son having found his way home.
This turning back is what God was saying back in Chronicles. The son had to humble himself. There is no doubt that prayers were said. He sought the face of his father and turned from his wicked ways.
It is time to go back, back to the first love, back to the teachings of the Father, back to where you first believed. It is time to go back.