Today I am headed home after a great conference and ministry time in Porto Rico. Thank you to all of my friends here for being hungry for what God wants. I pray that God will guide you all to the now expressions of life in Christ’s kingdom. Let the body of Christ rise up in this land!
So far I have addressed four values found in a culture of honor as revealed in Exodus chapter 20. Our honor is first to God, for He is the One who brings salvation and the liberty of life in every day and in every way. Secondly, as the likeness and the image of God our Father, we have a need to worship Him. We don’t worship Him to get His blessing. We worship Him to be like Him. When we worship Him it changes our world. Thirdly, we are a family of purpose in this world. We bear God’s family name and we must never take His name in vain. We honor His character, nature, way, power, and authority in all that we are and do. Fourthly, we are a place where God rests in this world. Every aspect and every season of our lives begins with God’s presence in and with us. It is from a relationship with God that we face the challenges of our lives. We find our identity in Him, thus we can give identity to all that we touch in this world. Now we come to a fifth characteristic of a culture of honor.
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
Of the ten values of honor in these commandments, this is a very unique one. It is number five and it is a bridge between two testimonies. Jesus said that the Law could be summed up in two commandments. The first was to love God with all your heart, soul and strength and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. These ten things that are revealed in these commandments can be said in two statements. Love God with all your spirit, soul and life and in the same way love your neighbor as you love yourself. This fifth value of honoring our father and our mother is a bridge between loving God and loving people. This is the bridge to know the value of who we are and the value of knowing the value of one another. It has to do with the family name.
A family begins when a father and mother come together and the fruit of their love produces a baby. That baby grows up and becomes an adult who finds another adult, they marry and become one and have a baby. The same pattern repeats over and over again and there is an expansion of families in the earth. This is the reason a man leaves his father and mother. But in each generation the family name increases. That family name includes a family testimony, a family authority, a family inheritance, and a family purpose.
When something comes into the earth at a third and fourth generation it becomes an influence that establishes a permanence and an expansion of certain values. The world is smarter at this than the church. I have found that very often the church doesn’t live for a third and fourth generation, but the world does. In the world there are even strategies of control and manipulation behind the scenes to produce a change in the culture of the people in a third and fourth generation pattern. I am not advocating for a strategy of control or manipulation to be embraced by the church, but I am presenting that there is need to embrace the inheritance of family that has the power to transform the influences of the world.
The parabolic story of the father and the prodigal son is not a story about a prodigal son. It is the story of a dad and two boys. It is a story about a family, a family name, and a family business. In the story the father in the family knows who he is. He knows the value and the purpose of the family name. He knows his purpose and his destiny in the earth. He knows the possibilities and realities of the future, but who he is and his influence in the earth requires a revelation in the hearts and minds of his sons. He cannot impose his inheritance upon his sons. He can only invite them to desire it and to receive it, because inheritance is given to those who receive it. It cannot be taken and it cannot be given against someone’s will. If it is taken the purpose of the inheritance fails and something less than destiny transpires. Without an honor of father and mother the testimony, authority, inheritance, and destined legacy of the family name falls dead into the soil of today. The destiny of inheritance can only be expanded in the earth when its value is recognized and honored by the successive generations.
In the story of this dad and two sons, the youngest son came to the age of inheritance and he didn’t understand honor for the family inheritance. He didn’t know who he was. This was likely because the other four things I have addressed where lacking in his life. The younger son has come to the age where he can be given a share in the family inheritance and he asks his father for his portion. The problem is, the son doesn’t know what to do with it. He doesn’t know the purpose of the inheritance. The father knows, but he agrees to give the son’s portion of inheritance to him. The son then leaves home and he squanders his portion on crazy living. He loses it all and he has to get a job. He finds himself in a position of doing the unthinkable for a young Jewish man. He has lost his family pride and has now become willing to obtain a job feeding pigs. He finds himself in a situation where the pigs serves are eating more food than him and he even thinks that the pigs are eating better than himself. He remembers that on his dad’s farm the workers were treated better than the way he was being treated. He reasons in his mind that he will go back to his dad and beg for a job. He no longer believes that he has a right to be a son to his father and he just simply wants to get a job working for his dad as a servant.
Back home the father is still the father and the family name is still the family name with all the destiny of the family. The younger son doesn’t know it, but every day the father has been at the edge of the road looking to see if his son is coming home. The father doesn’t know if his son is a success or a failure. He doesn’t know if he’s gotten married or if he is still single. He doesn’t know if he has a successful business or if he is in poverty. He doesn’t know if he has children or no children. He doesn’t know if he is straight or gay. In all of this, the father doesn’t care. The family name is still the family name. Not once has he thought that his son is not his son anymore. The father was just waiting for his son to come home. One day he sees his son afar off and he runs to embrace him. When he reaches him he kisses him and hugs him with great love. He didn’t ask him any questions about what he had done, he didn’t care. He just wanted his son home in the family business. By the time he reached the son he could probably smell him, but it didn’t matter if he smelled like pigs or expensive cologne. The son may have forgotten who he was, but the father had not forgotten who they were as a family. Upon embracing his son, the father orders his servants to bring the young man the father’s robe and put it on him. He told them to get his ring and put it upon the young man’s finger. He told them to get his sandals and put them on his son’s feet. He then instructed them to kill the cow they had been fattening for the feast and make a great feast. The father wanted the son to wear his anointing and testimony. He wanted him to bear the authority of the father’s name. He wanted him to walk in the father’s inheritance. The father wanted the son to eat the family’s best food – to be and do the will of the family in the earth. The father wanted the son to be a part of a family name that was to be long in the earth.
The older son heard the noise. He asked the servants what was going on. The servants said, You haven’t heard? Your brother who was missing has come home. Your dad has ordered we kill the fatted calf and celebrate! The older son likely thought, Dad is killing the cow that I have been feeding! He is giving the cow I have been waiting to eat to my unfaithful brother! I have cleaned its stalls of manure. I have been feeding it in preparation for the feast and now my dad is killing it and giving it to my brother. He goes to the father and expresses his frustration. I have done everything you required of me! I did everything you expected of me! I have been to church every Sunday and when there were special meetings I went to those as well! I have given tithes and offerings! I went to leadership training classes on Friday’s and Saturdays when others were going to parties and having fun! I went to morning prayer meetings. I did everything that was required in this family culture!
The father said, what are you talking about. It is not about any of those things. You could have this anytime you want. Do you know who we are son? We are the family of God and we are the source of an inheritance of life for the whole world!
In this story the father wanted both the younger and the older son to be part of his purpose in life. He wanted both of the sons to know the testimony, the authority, the inheritance and the purposed destiny of the father’s kingdom. The father’s testimony, authority, and inheritance were enough to celebrate every day with him if they desired. All they had to do was to honor the family inheritance for their days to be long in the earth.
Ted J. Hanson