Vol. 32, No. 5 May, 2008
THE FAR COUNTRY
By Dr. George Mills
“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a FAR COUNTRY, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” (Lk. 15:11-32)
“Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment.” (Lk 15:29)
“For ALL that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1Jn. 2:16)
I suppose that most of us, at one time or another, have heard about this story of the PRODIGAL SON. However, I believe that in this story we will read about TWO PRODIGAL SONS.
The youngest son was open, and did not try to hide his feelings. He was guilty of the sin of “the lust of the flesh.” The other son was filled with self righteousness. The eldest son was guilty of the sin of “the lust of the eye.” Both were guilty of the sin of “the pride of life.” One sin is as bad as the other. Today, let’s see briefly the story concerning the Father, the youngest son, the eldest son, and the far country.
1. WHERE IS THE FAR COUNTRY? According to v20 in our text, the FAR COUNTRY is a GREAT WAY OFF.
The FAR COUNTRY is “Away from the
Father’s house, and away from the Father’s will.” In the time of our text, young men, in order to reach the FAR COUNTRY would take their journey to Rome, or Athens, or Corinth, and there waste their substance with riotous living.” For sure, the night life was in full bloom in these cities of that time.
In our text today, the youngest son somehow, got a glimpse of the FAR COUNTRY, or, perhaps someone told him how wonderful the FAR COUNTRY is. But as he surveyed his surroundings, the work at the father’s house, the FAR COUNTRY sure seemed to be preferred. He asked his father to give him his portion of his inheritance, and the father divided unto THEM his living. The youngest son began his trip to the FAR COUNTRY. Let’s take an imaginary trip to the FAR COUNTRY with this young man.
The first thing that I notice is that the road to the FAR COUNTRY is well marked. It would be very hard for one to miss finding the FAR COUNTRY. I also notice that the road to the FAR COUNTRY is well lighted. Bright lights shine everywhere. They seem to have an hypnotizing effect on the travelers. The road to the FAR COUNTRY is very broad. It is a most beautiful journey. The landscape is manicured. I readily notice that there are many, many travelers on the road to the FAR COUNTRY. The signs along the way are so beautiful. They seem to paint lovely pictures of the far country. You know, the closer we get to the FAR COUNTRY, the louder the music becomes. Oh, this is quite a lovely journey to the FAR COUNTRY. But you know, I was not aware of the many “Toll plazas” along the road to the FAR COUNTRY. We stop at the first toll gate. “What is this toll tax for?” “This is a tax to help take care of the many abandoned children back there in the home country. Soon, another toll booth. “What’s this for?” “This is a tax to help build more prisons, more wards, more missions.” And another toll gate. “What’s this tax for?” “Oh, there are so many broken hearts, broken lives, broken dreams. Someone has to help fix these things.” Soon another toll gate, and another, and another. It seems to me that we will be broke even before we get inside the FAR COUNTRY. Boy, the taxing is rough. Abandoned children, missing parents, young lives all mixed up. No happiness. And the amount spent on paying for the improvements along the road to the FAR COUNTRY is astounding. And when we finally arrived at the FAR COUNTRY, I was never so disappointed at anything in my life. There, in the FAR COUNTRY, I saw souls laying everywhere. Some were craving alcohol, some drugs, some, more money. People standing in various lines seeking loans. Most of these loan “sharks” were located near the gambling casinos. You know, they have said that this is alright, that this is just another “harmless” activity. Pawn shops were everywhere. Abortion clinics are everywhere in the FAR COUNTRY. Clinics for treatment of the many and varied venereal diseases. I could go on and on describing the disappointments I saw in the FAR COUNTRY. Taxes were being raised in order to build more prisons for the thousands who have been fooled by the advertisements from the FAR COUNTRY. This is not a very pleasant place. However, millions of young people travel this road today. I wish that I had the ways and means to post signs along the way, warning young men and women, “HEY, YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!” There is no feast there, but famine? It’s everywhere. What an awful, ugly sight the young PRODIGAL SON found when he got to the FAR COUNTRY. He found himself broke, deceived, and starving in the FAR COUNTRY. The best thing that can be said about this young man is found in v17, “And when he came to himself..” For the first time the young man began to think for himself, and he thought about his Father.
2. THE FATHER’S HURT. I am aware of a Mother’s love and concern for the welfare of her children. I can see her tender feelings. I can only imagine her hurts. I also know that a loving Father hurts. He expresses his hurt in a different manner. “Like as a father pitieth his children..” (Psa 103:13) A loving father will care for and provide for his family. I have seen fathers work two and three jobs, drive an old car, and do without things in order for his children to have what he never had. I thank God for every Mother out there who cares for her children. I thank God for every Dad out there who does not mind working to provide for his family. Today, we are plagued with “missing mothers” and “missing fathers” I believe you can find most of them on the road to the FAR COUNTRY. Thank God for the ones who are not going that way. Yes, the Father HURTS when the young prodigal wastes and squanders his life and livelihood in the FAR COUNTRY..
3. THE FATHER’S HEART. I believe that our text teaches us that the Father kept his eye on the road that leads away from the FAR COUNTRY.. Every day he looked that way. “Perhaps today I will see my boy returning. I don’t care what he looks like. It matters not to me how he may be dressed. The only thing that matters to me is that one day, perhaps today, I will see my son returning home. When I see him, I will run to him. I will welcome him. I have a robe and ring waiting for him.”
4. THE FATHER’S HOME. This young man thought of home. “My father’s servants eat better than the citizens of the FAR COUNTRY. Every day there is a feast at my Father’s table. My Father’s home is a place of love and happiness, and real joy. At my Father’s table there are bowls of laughter, plates of peace, and glasses of cool spring water. And in the middle of My Father’s table is a great big bowl of Grace. Sufficient Grace. Saving Grace, Sanctifying Grace, Serving Grace. How many young prodigal sons have I seen walking away from the Father’s table only to find themselves ensnared in the FAR COUNTRY. You know young people, it’s not as far back to the Father’s house as you might think. In fact, if you start back right now, you may very well find him waiting for you along the way. I do not believe that you will have to try to impress him with your cleaning up, and changing clothes. I believe that he would welcome you “Just as you are.”
5. THE SON’S RETURN. While in the FAR COUNTRY, the young son finally came to see some things.
(A) RECOGNITION.. He began to see himself. He began to see the waste. He saw the life about him and he recognized that “this is not where I belong.” When a young person begins to recognize his/her condition, there is hope. The problem today is that so many will not recognize where they are and are content to stay where they are. This young man saw himself as he really was.
(B) REPENTANCE. Repentance is a changing of the mind. A genuine regret of what I have done. “I will say unto my Father, I have sinned against Heaven, AND before thee.” “I have broken God’s law, and I have broken my Father’s heart.” “I am no more worthy to be called thy son.” There’s hope, when a man begins to see himself as he really is.
(C) RETURN. “I will arise and go to my father” (v18) “And he arose, and came to his father. BUT when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (v20). As I have stated, I believe that the Father kept his eye on this road. He watched every traveler who passed that way. “Is this Him?” “This kinda looks like him,” but no, not today. One day the father looked down that long road and saw a figure coming that way. “Can this be him? He is about the size of my son. He doesn’t seem to weigh as much as my son would weigh, but he does walk like my son. Oh yes, IT’S HIM! I must run to him. And the Father, with open arms greeted his son. At the son’s RETURN He found…
(a) REJOICING. “Strike up the band. Let the music begin. Kill the fatted calf. Get the fires started. My son was lost, and is found. My son was dead, but he’s alive again.” (v24, v32)
(b) ROBE. The best robe (v22) This is the robe for the honored guest! “Give this boy the best place at the table.” This boy had been dressed in a garment of disgrace. Now he is dressed in a robe of righteousness. Before this boy left home he said “GIVE ME.” Now, at his return he says, “MAKE ME.”
(c) RING. A RING meant sonship. This young man has been restored to his place in his father’s house. What a beautiful picture of our Salvation in Christ.
5. THE FATHER’S OTHER HURT, THE ELDER BROTHER. While the young brother was guilty of the sin of the lust of the flesh, this boy was guilty of the sin of the LUST of the eye. . “I have never done anything wrong. I have never broken any of my Father’s commandments. I have served. Now this brother has returned after living with harlots, there’s music and laughter, and I’m mad.” This boy reminds me of the Pharisee who prayed thus with himself, “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess, and I am certainly NOT like this publican.” It is good that this boy stayed to work with his father. But this boy’s inward ATTITUDE is as bad as his younger brother’s outward ACTIONS.
His was the sin of self righteousness. He said “I” “Me” and “My” over again.
His was the sin of contemptuousness. He could only think the worst of his brother.
His was the sin of bitterness and anger. There is no rejoicing that his brother has returned to the father’s house.
His was the sin of not considering his Father’s feelings. Could he not see the joy on his Father’s face, or the gleam in his Father’s eye. Could he not rejoice because his Father was rejoicing? His only consideration was for HIMSELF. I wonder, did he not hope that the younger brother would be forever out of the picture, and the whole inheritance would be his?
It is very easy to deal with the returning prodigal son who wasted and squandered his money. It is not so easy to deal with the self righteousness man who seems to have “never done anything wrong.”
This story could go on and on. But I trust that we can see the tender Loving heart of our Heavenly Father. His heart is broken over our wandering from His Love for us. As the Father in our story waited for his boy, so our Heavenly Father waits patiently for us. Have you wandered away? Have you spent your time in the Far country? Have you found yourself, so to speak, “in the hog pen?”
I met a Prodigal Son one night years ago. Back in those days I was in Law Enforcement. Late one night, the vehicle in front of me was being driven in an erratic manner. From one lane to the next, then back again. Having seen enough to convince me that this vehicle must be stopped, I proceeded to do so. As I approached the driver’s door, I could smell alcohol. I proceeded to tell the driver of my suspicions, that he indeed was driving under the influence. I asked him for his driver’s license. When he handed me his license, I noticed his last name; BURDETTE, then his first name, PRODIGAL, and middle initial, S. I then asked, “Mr. Burdette, What does the S stand for in your middle name?” “Son” was his reply. There, late one night, I met a real PRODIGAL SON. MR. PRODIGAL SON BURDETTE had been in the FAR COUNTRY that night. Oh how many times I have watched young men go to the FAR COUNTRY. It is never a pleasant sight. Today, If I could read the name on YOUR driver’s license, would that name be; PRODIGAL. SON, JONES, or SMITH, or BROWN, etc?
I believe that the journey to the FAR COUNTRY began with just a glance in that direction, the journey to our Heavenly Father’s home begins with a glance at Calvary’s Cross. The message is “Look and Live.” Our heavenly Father waits for your repentant call to Him. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.” (Jn 1:12. “How do I receive Him? The Bible is clear. The Bible says, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” The journey home is not far, nor is it hard. You will find the Father waiting with open arms. May God bless you. May today many “Prodigal sons” come home.
AND THE WORLD IS A WILDERNESS…It is no friend to the Christian. The world glitters and dazzles with it’s enticements and promises. But the promises of the world can never satisfy like the safety and security of our Father’s House.
THE FAR COUNTRY…By Pastor George Mills
“And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat. (Lk. 15:16)
In this FAR PLACE and away from my home
With no food, and no one to care.
My labor is vain,
And my body in pain,
And these husks are just too much to bear.
I will return to my Father’s house,
There food is abundant and free.
But if I go there,
Will he see my despair,
And will he not welcome me?
Here in this place of shame I reside,
I have ruined my Father’s good name.
Will he pardon my wrong?
Will he welcome me home?
This one, who has caused so much shame.
Perhaps just a servant, now I can be,
No longer his good name to bear.
I’ll return to my place,
And just seek his face
“Make me as a hireling there.”
Will the journey be long, will the way be hard?
Money for clothes, I have none.
Will my Father be there,
Does he still care?
Will he welcome me home as his son?
As I journey to home, to see his dear face,
A figure ahead do I see.
Could this be him?
But the light is now dim,
He runs, with arms open for me.
There as I kissed him, he saw my tears,
“My son is alive again,
Let music begin,
Let’s welcome him in,
No longer does my heart feel pain.”
My Father’s house is where I belong,
Here pardon is abundant and free.
His Ring I do wear,
His home I do share,
That FAR COUNTRY has nothing for me!
THE LAND THAT IS VERY FAR OFF…By Pastor George Mills
“Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.” (Isa 33:17)
This text, (Isaiah 33-35) pictures the restored land of Israel after the tribulation time. “The desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose. Please read Isaiah Ch. 35:1-10.
The King in His beauty is Christ in His Royal splendor as He reigns. I would like to borrow this text to speak of another land where Christ also reigns in all of His Glory and Beauty.
“There’s a land that is fairer then day,
And by Faith we can see it afar,
For the Father waits over the way,
To prepare us a dwelling place there.”
1. WHERE IS THIS FAR OFF LAND?
This is NOT the Far Country of Luke 15:11-32. As we have seen in another message, the Far Country is a place of sin and shame. This FAR OFF LAND is that land Jesus spoke about when He said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn. 14:2-3) We can read about this Prepared place in Revelation, Chs 21-22.
This is a land of no more’s. No more tears, no more death no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain. No more curse…for the former things have passed away. This is the Land where The King of kings and the Lord of lords rules in all of His Glory and Majesty.
2. HOW DO I GET TO THIS FAR OFF LAND? You get to this wonderful place by Faith alone. There are two “receives” in the Gospel of John. “But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.” (Jn 1:2) The very first thing is to RECEIVE Jesus Christ, that is, we trust Him alone as our Saviour. He is THE way to Heaven. After we have RECEIVED Him, He promised us that one day, He will return and RECEIVE us, to take us to this land, very far off.
3. IS THERE A PRICE THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY? HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME? First, the price is beyond human means. The wealth of the world could not buy one of the gates to this Heavenly city (Rev 21:21).
And second, the price has been paid. Paid in full at Calvary. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Christ paid the price for us. Our part is to receive His payment for our sins upon the cross. Revelation 20 says that our name must be in the Book of life in order for us to enter there. Is your name there? It is there, if you have received Christ. And if this is not true in your case, Ask Him into your heart and life today. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
4. THIS FAR OFF LAND IS A REAL PLACE. Not a dream, or fantasy, but a Real place. Please take a few minutes and read Revelation, chs 21-22. The LAND FAR OFF is described in detail. The City is foursquare. About 1500 square miles, as high as it is wide. There is but one street there, and the street is paved with gold. Everybody there lives on the same street. There are no side streets, or back alleys. There is a river there, called the river of life. On either side of the river, the tree of life grows. And there is no need of the sun neither the moon for the Lamb is the Light thereof.
5. HOW CAN WE KNOW FOR SURE ABOUT THIS FAR OFF LAND?
We know absolutely nothing about Life, about where we came from, or how we got here. We know nothing about death or life after death apart from the Holy Book, the BIBLE, (KJB) that God gave to us. The various ‘theories” of man can do little to assure us of anything. Evolution has no answer for us. Search all of the books in all of the libraries of the world and you will find no other book that will tell you about this Wonderful FAR OFF LAND. Thank God for the Bible. The Old Testament Patriot Job said, “Yet in my flesh I shall see God. Whom I shall see for myself.” David said, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. Abraham, by faith, looked for a “city that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.”
As sure as the Bible is True, there is this FAR OFF Land the Bible teaches us about.
6. WILL I MEET YOU THERE? I will, if you have received Christ as your Saviour. I sure hope that I meet you. Do not delay in your decision to receive God’s only remedy for sin. Just tell God, in your own words that you receive Him.
I cannot tell you words to say. This has to come from your heart. God always hears the cry of the repentant heart. Do that today. Begin TODAY, to live FOREVER.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” (Lk 19:10)
THINK ABOUT IT…In Revelation, Ch. 5, we can read about an innumerable host in Heaven. These are the redeemed from every tongue and nation. If you will carefully examine that great host you will not be able to find one good one in the crowd. There you will find those who were liars, thieves, robbers, drunkards, harlots, adulterers, murderers, whoremongers, the moral, and the immoral. All of that great host have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lord Jesus. Not one in the crowd deserves the right to be there, but they are there by GRACE alone. They have defied all human reasoning and said “YES” to Christ.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the Kingdom of God. AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, but ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor 6:9-11)
“One of the dirtiest blows that Jesus Christ; the Son of God ever had below the belt was this RSV that some Fundamentalists who want to be classified as scholars are saluting. The devil went as far as he could in that translation to soften up this generation for another translation later on to pull off something else. Just continue to stick by the KJ Bible. Read it. Stand by it. There is nothing wrong with it. The King James Translation is, after all, the best translation we ever had. You do not have to be a scholar; you do not have to be a great authority on languages. You do not have to be a literary genius.”
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. 1955.
(The Fundamentalist Digest)
AND THE WORLD IS A WILDERNESS…it is no friend to the Christian, and it is no friend to your Bible.
Just to list a few that come across my desk in the last few weeks include, ESV, GNT, HCSB, NAB, NJB, NLT, NKJV, NIRV, RSV, ASV, NWT, TNIV, AMP, CEV, NASV, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRS, PHPS, TEV, TLB, TM,
And so many more. I read somewhere, that since the English Revised Version of 1889, over 200 “versions,” all from the CRITICAL TEXT have been produced.
GOD IS NOT IN ALL OF THIS CONFUSION OVER THE BIBLE. The greatest issue of today is the issue of The Bible. KNOW YOUR BIBLE! (KJB).