Losing the lost, a prodigal season

Day 2 – Losing the lost, a prodigal season

Today we will piggy back off of Day 1, and look more into Luke 15 and the Lost Parables.

First, review Ecclesiastes 3:6 –
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;”

The word translated as “lose” in the ESV above, is translated a few different ways by other versions. Let’s take a look:
NASB – to give up as lost
NIV – to give up
HCSB – to count as lost
NLT – to quit searching

While many Hebrew scholars would argue for one text being more reliable than another, it gives us a good snapshot of what could be chosen from the original Hebrew word le-abad.
(Normally transliterated with various accents and such things that are missing here.)

The essence of the phrase is that there is a time when you had something, and it is now lost to you. There was a time of searching for it even, but that time has past. There is a time to search no more, to throw your hands in the air and say, “Done.”

In yesterday’s post we were seeking God. He was seeking us before we could even begin to consider Him. He is a seeking kind of God. But I do not want our desire to understand a seeking God, keep us from understanding the fullness of God. This week we will address again and again the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. We’ll get to know Luke 15 pretty well, so find a bookmark. When we look at Scripture, God not only gives us a clear Law/Gospel message. He also gives us pieces of who He is. This is vitally important when we look at the Word.

Let’s read Luke 15 and see who is seeking and who has reached “done.” –

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

The people in the first two parables do not give up. There is no quitting in these stories. They search and seek until the sheep and the coin are found. In the third parable we get a bigger picture. The third parable helps us to see that there is a time to stop searching. We can reach and seek and search, but sometimes God calls us to stay home, and wait, as He, Himself has done.

Have you ever had that relationship with someone? Have you ever felt God speaking to your heart to just stop? To let it be? To leave that work to Him now?

Here is a hard truth that might be a stretch, but I think it’s worth exploring. There are passages in the Old Testament where our hebrew word for lose (le-abad) literally means “to destroy” and the root of the word (abad) can mean “to perish” even.

The prodigal Father knew the risks. He knew the heartache at the end of the prodigal road for His son. He loved Him, desperately, deeply. But He watched Him walk away. He let him walk the path of destruction. He knew that his son may even perish. He metaphorically raised His hands in the air and said, “done” or, maybe more appropriately, “Thy will be done.” He let him be lost. He did not give up on him. He gave Him up, so that He could be found.

Sometimes there are those people and relationships and plans and ideas in our lives that God calls us to say, “done” to. He does it for a purpose. Don’t misunderstand, God’s variety of done is never uncompassionate. We can pray and ask and seek Him, while He works on the details. Sometimes, we experience the pain of heartbreak, we see the one we love, or the plans we held so tightly to, fall into destruction or even perish.

Fear not. We have a God who knows infinitely better than we. Who has each of our names written in His book and Who is waiting on the road. Rest in Him.
Discussion questions:
Have you ever lost something dear to your heart or of value in another way?
Have you ever felt called to say “done” in a search or in a relationship or with a plan?
How did you do it? How can it be done well? (These things are not mutually exclusive.)

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