The Rebellious Son

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PARASHAT KI TEITZEI (WHEN YOU GO OUT)
D’VARIM (DEUTERONOMY) 21:10–25:19

In this portion of D’varim (Deuteronomy), we read of the punishment of the rebellious and stubborn son, which is death:

If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18–21

Once again, it is powerful to see the connection between the stories of the Torah and the accounts of Yeshua in the New Covenant. In this blog entry, there are a few points I would like to highlight. The first point is the way the verses above gives us clarification of Yeshua’s words to John’s disciples in Matthew 11:19:  “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” As we see in the verses from Deuteronomy, the punishment for being a glutton and drunkard is death; is it possible that Yeshua was referring to this portion from Deuteronomy in a prophetic manner, where His death would be vindicated by the elders — the Sanhedrin? As we know, Yeshua was falsely accused by the elders; nevertheless, it was in order to fulfill that which was written and predestined by the Father.

The next verse gives us another striking point of connection to Yeshua:

“If the man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”
Deuteronomy 21:22–23

The connection in these verses to Yeshua becoming a curse by dying on a tree, and being buried on the same day cannot be missed. For a more in-depth discussion of this, please see a previous blog that I wrote: Parashat Ki Tetzei (When You Go Out).

My second point sheds light on the parable of the prodigal son. In this well-known parable, the son has dishonored his father and rebelled against him by running away and squandering his inheritance on a life that included being a glutton and a drunk. The son then returns to his father, humbly asking for forgiveness. The father compassionately receives him back, rejoicing that his lost son was found. Is it possible that the father’s joy over his son’s return was not just because his son returned, but also because the father knew that his son’s punishment, in accordance with the Torah, would have been death? What greater joy is there than a return from death to life?

In closing, let me encourage you to reread this amazing story with the verses from Deuteronomy 21:18–21 in mind (I emphasize some of the verses in the parable to highlight their significance to these verses from Deuteronomy):

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly 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 fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 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 became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.  But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;  but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead (in accordance to the punishment) and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.”
Luke 15:11–32 (emphasis mine)

There is always hope! We can return to the Father, through the Son that He gave for you and me to take the punishment that we deserved upon Himself!

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.