The Pinch of Want

Friday: The Lost Son

Genesis 42:1-5 In this week’s studies, we see what the conscience is, how it works, and the need for our conscience to lead us in wise and righteous ways by the Word of God.
The Lost Son

There is one more great example of this theme in Scripture, but I have held it until now because of its outcome. It tells what should happen when God brings the pinch of want to bear on any person. It is the story of the Prodigal Son. 

Jesus said that a certain man had two sons. One day the younger of the two came to him to demand his share of the estate, and after the father had divided the inheritance the boy took off for a far country where he wasted his wealth in wild living. The story says, “After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:14-16). Fortunately, the son’s deprived circumstances got through to him, and he came to his senses. He said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (vv. 17-19). Then, having made his resolution, he put it into practice and went home. 

That is what the pinch of want should do to you, if you are in a far country, if you have squandered your wealth in wild living, if you have sinned against both God and man. It should bring you to your senses, send you home and produce a genuine confession. If it does do that, you will find your heavenly Father ready to receive you and joyfully to provide for you again. 

In Genesis 41, God blessed Joseph in Egypt after his many long years of suffering and gave him a son whom Joseph called Manasseh. Manasseh means “forgetting.” “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household,” said Joseph (Gen. 41:51). Joseph had the gift of forgetting. But the brothers? In their unrepentant state the brothers had no son named Manasseh. There was no forgetting for them. Egypt? Egypt? How could they ever forget what they had done to their brother? Still, God was working. The famine in Canaan was the first of His increasingly stringent measures designed to produce a genuine confession and return them to Himself. After that they too would be able to forget about the past. The far country would be behind them, and they would be together with their father and younger brother again. 

The pinch of want is never pleasant, but it is a gift when it brings us to our senses. David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your Word” (Ps. 119:67). May God awaken our consciences to that same obedience.

Study Questions
  1. How did the prodigal son violate what his conscience should have been telling him?
  2. What eventually brought him to his senses and led to his reunion with his father?
  3. What does it mean to trust God, even in the “pinch of want”?

Application: Is God using difficulty in your life to awaken your conscience and bring you to greater obedience?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Conscience: Its Nature and Origin.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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