Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 16: "Lost, and is Found"
Based on Luke 15:11-32
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The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the
prodigal son, bring out in distinct lines God's pitying
love for those who are straying from Him. Although they
have turned away from God, He does not leave them in
their misery. He is full of kindness and tender pity toward
all who are exposed to the temptations of the artful foe.
In the parable of the prodigal son is presented the Lord's
dealing with those who have once known the Father's love,
but who have allowed the tempter to lead them captive at
|The Prodigal Returns.—Davis Collection.
"A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them
said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that
falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And
not many days after the younger son gathered all together,
and took his journey into a far country."
This younger son had become weary of the restraint of
his father's house. He thought that his liberty was restricted.
His father's love and care for him were misinterpreted,
and he determined to follow the dictates of his own
inclination. [p. 199]
The youth acknowledges no obligation to his father,
and expresses no gratitude; yet he claims the privilege of
a child in sharing his father's goods. The inheritance that
would fall to him at his father's death he desires to receive
now. He is bent on present enjoyment, and cares not for
Having obtained his patrimony, he goes into "a far
country," away from his father's home. With money in
plenty, and liberty to do as he likes, he flatters himself
that the desire of his heart is reached. There is no one
to say, Do not do this, for it will be an injury to yourself; or,
Do this, because it is right. Evil companions help him
to plunge ever deeper into sin, and he wastes his "substance
with riotous living."
The Bible tells of men who "professing themselves to
be wise" "became fools" (Rom. 1:22); and this is the
history of the young man of the parable. The wealth which
he has selfishly claimed from his father he squanders upon
harlots. The treasure of his young manhood is wasted. [p. 200] The precious years of life, the strength of intellect, the
bright visions of youth, the spiritual aspirations—all are
consumed in the fires of lust.
A great famine arises, he begins to be in want, and he
joins himself to a citizen of the country, who sends him
into the field to feed swine. To a Jew this was the most
menial and degrading of employments. The youth who has
boasted of his liberty, now finds himself a slave. He is in
the worst of bondage—"holden with the cords of his sins."
(Prov. 5:22.) The glitter and tinsel that enticed him have
disappeared, and he feels the burden of his chain. Sitting
upon the ground in that desolate and famine-stricken land,
with no companions but the swine, he is fain to fill himself
with the husks on which the beasts are fed. Of the gay
companions who flocked about him in his prosperous days
and ate and drank at his expense, there is not one left to
befriend him. Where now is his riotous joy? Stilling his
conscience, benumbing his sensibilities, he thought himself
happy; but now, with money spent, with hunger unsatisfied,
with pride humbled, with his moral nature dwarfed, with
his will weak and untrustworthy, with his finer feelings
seemingly dead, he is the most wretched of mortals.
What a picture here of the sinner's state! Although
surrounded with the blessings of His love, there is nothing
that the sinner, bent on self-indulgence and sinful pleasure,
desires so much as separation from God. Like the ungrateful
son, he claims the good things of God as his by right.
He takes them as a matter of course, and makes no return of
gratitude, renders no service of love. As Cain went out
from the presence of the Lord to seek his home; as the
prodigal wandered into the "far country," so do sinners seek
happiness in forgetfulness of God. (Rom. 1:28.)
Whatever the appearance may be, every life centered in
self squandered. Whoever attempts to live apart from [p. 201] God is wasting his substance. He is squandering the
precious years, squandering the powers of mind and heart
and soul, and working to make himself bankrupt for
eternity. The man who separates from God that he may serve
himself, is the slave of mammon. The mind that God
created for the companionship of angels has become degraded
to the service of that which is earthly and bestial. This is
the end to which self-serving tends.
If you have chosen such a life, you know that you are
spending money for that which is not bread, and labor for
that which satisfieth not. There come to you hours when
you realize your degradation. Alone in the far country
you feel your misery, and in despair you cry, "O wretched
man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this
death?" Rom. 7:24. It is the statement of a universal truth
which is contained in the prophet's words, "Cursed be the
man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and
whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like
the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh;
but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in
a salt land and not inhabited." Jer. 17:5, 6. God "maketh [p. 202] His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45); but men
have the power to shut themselves away from sunshine and
shower. So while the Sun of Righteousness shines, and the
showers of grace fall freely for all, we may by separating
ourselves from God still "inhabit the parched places in the
The love of God still yearns over the one who has
chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation
influences to bring him back to the Father's house. The
prodigal son in his wretchedness "came to himself." The
deceptive power that Satan had exercised over him was
broken. He saw that his suffering was the result of his
own folly, and 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 may father." Miserable as
he was, the prodigal found hope in the conviction of his
father's love. It was that love which was drawing him
toward home. So it is the assurance of God's love that
constrains the sinner to return to God. "The goodness of
God leadeth thee to repentance." Rom. 2:4. A golden
chain, the mercy and compassion of divine love, is passed
around every imperiled soul. The Lord declares, "I have
loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with
loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Jer.31:3.
The son determines to confess his guilt. He will go to
his father, saying, "I have sinned against heaven, and
before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
But he adds, showing how stinted is his conception of his
father's love, "Make me as one of thy hired servants."
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