Hidden Nuggets Series #55 – “And the younger of them said…Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.” – Luke 15:12
Inheritance in the Bible is a hot topic with the word being mentioned over 200 times. There are some unique and compelling stories that involve the assets of one generation being passed on to the next. We find everything from women receiving an inheritance – which was uncommon in the culture of the time (Numbers 27), a younger brother “stealing” it from another (Genesis 27), and a woman being redeemed in an inheritance transaction by a man who would become her husband (Ruth 4).
Fun, fun stories that show not only how lives can be changed and futures altered but the passion, tension and questions that can surround the wealth transfer process.
For my money, the most memorable passage about inheritance in the Bible didn’t even literally occur. It was a parable, a fictitious story told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. While the ultimate message of the story was to expose the corrupt and selfish nature of the religious leaders of the day, it brings other memorable truths that can’t be ignored.
I Want It All and I Want It Now
Jesus begins the parable in Luke 15 by saying:
“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.”
What a request! Can you imagine the looks of the father and older brother when this bomb was dropped at the dinner table?
Reading between the lines the request says a lot about the attitude of younger brother:
1. He was relinquishing all future claims to the estate with his “have it now” attitude. What would have happened if the elder brother had died? The younger brother would have been next in line to receive the entire estate instead of just a portion. He didn’t care about his responsibility as the next in line.
2. He was tired of his father’s authority and control over the family estate. If he had been respectful of his father’s authority he would have been patient enough to wait.
3. He had an inflated view of and excessive pride in his own abilities. In essence he is saying, “Father, I don’t trust your management skills. I can do a better job on my own.”
Despite this extreme request (and probable poor attitude) the father relents and gives the son his portion.
I’m Outta Here…Oops!
The story continues:
“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.”
Like we didn’t see that coming – an immature, young man longing to satisfy the immediate pleasures of life. Food, wine, expensive clothing, sex with prostitutes…no indulgence was beyond his grasp.
“But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his field to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”
The once great inheritance has now been turned into a curse. As a result of his live-it-up lifestyle the money is gone and he has no assets with which to barter. Ironically, no one from all those parties he attended cares enough to lend a helping hand.
A Father’s Love Saves the Day
Amid the pig slop, the young man remembers home. He recalls that even his father’s servants are well dressed, have plenty of food and a place to lay their head at night. There will be great shame in returning home but the desperate nature of the situation offers no other hope.
With hat in hand, he starts the journey homeward, hoping that his father will take him back as one of his slaves.
“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to the him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
And they held a party that brought the house down.
The Ultimate Inheritance in the Bible: God’s Love
This inheritance story in the Bible speaks to more than something found on earth. It’s about what God (represented by the father) is offering you, something far greater than any wealth you could accumulate on earth…
When accepted, that love brings with it an inheritance in the afterlife. As I said in the first post of this inheritance series, an undeniable fact of life is that we will all die at some point. However, that moment, whenever it comes, does not mark the end. It really is the beginning of the next chapter. We do have eternity to consider. Have you thought about where you will be spending it?
God is offering you the gift of His love. Despite what you may have heard or feel, He really does love us despite all the junk we get involved with. He wants to give you the ultimate inheritance of riches – an eternal life in heaven with Him.
Where does life have you today? Are you slopping around in the pig pen, hungry for something deeper? Do you feel lost, like no one cares? Is there no place to turn?
Just like the father in the story, God’s arms are open and He would love to rush to meet you. Won’t you reach out to him today? Give your life to him and you will experience the abundance of peace and eternal riches He provides. If you don’t know how to do that, you can contact me here.