The Prodigal Son
Another parable worthy of elaboration is the story of the prodigal son: “A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, gather 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, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him to the fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, 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 my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy Son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said unto his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath recovered him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. and he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:11-32.
Those who say “I see, I see,” but do not see merely think this parable exemplifies two typical sons, one good and faithful and the other wayward. It is true that this is the surface meaning that Jesus intended to convey, but he was also illustrating several larger truths for those who “search the scriptures”.
The most obvious inner meaning is that of the “Father.” This represents “Our Father in heaven”.
The Father had two sons. The two sons represents two classifications of beings who dwelt in his presence. The one group was happy to stay in the Father’s presence at all times and did not want to venture forth into the lower worlds of material creations which would bring sin and separation from God. The other son said: “Father, give me the powers and gifts of my Sonship and I will go forth to the material worlds of creation and use these powers to bring honor and glory to thy name.”
The Father said in return: “As you will my son, for this is the path I chose in a previous round. But, be careful that the material worlds do not affect to great of hold on thee else ye fall and forget your inherit Godhood and think yourself only a material creation.”
Thus the son ventured off to “a far country” which was the planet earth, but instead of honoring the Father’s name he misused his powers and “wasted his substance in riotous living”.
Here we are talking about not one son of God, but a group who came here thousands of years ago to be the seed of Adam, for unknown to many there were men on the earth before Adam. For instance Hyrum Smith said: “There were prophets on the earth BEFORE Adam, and Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets.” Mill Star Vol. 23:Pg 406.. Orson Hyde said: “The world was peopled before the days of Adam as much as it was before the days of Noah.” JD 2:79.
The last Adam came and brought with him many righteous spirits who were to incarnate as his posterity and were to use the great gifts of the Spirit and Priesthood, or their inheritance from their Father, to be a light to the world of men who were in darkness. But instead of his posterity showing themselves to be true sons of God they “fell” into materialism and became trapped on this planet in an apparently endless series incarnations where they found themselves to be as other men spending their time in riotous living until they wasted all of their inheritance so it appeared as if they were no more sons of God.
Next a great famine arose and the son began to be in want. Instead of looking to his father, for he no longer felt he was worthy and was not sufficiently humble, “he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country.” In other words, he relied on the arm of flesh in his hour of spiritual need, but in looking to man for the gifts of the Spirit he found that he about starved to death for the unspiritual man inherently despises the true son of God and “sent him to the fields to feed swine.” Thus the son Of God walked in the low places of the earth unnoticed by the great and mighty of the earth and the authorities in the various religions.
The Son became desperate so that “he would feign have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: no man gave unto him.” This elect Son of God was almost deceived by the craftiness of men to the extent that he almost accepted the doctrines of men completely for “no man gave unto him” the gifts of the Spirit. finally in the midst of this bottomless pit a great thought entered into his consciousness: “When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” The Son finally comes to himself after numerous lives of feeding the swine and living in the mire of materialism. It dawns on his consciousness that there has to be something better than the doctrines of men. He realizes that he no longer has to rely or! the arm of flesh for his food, that he doesn’t have to go through his priest or bishop or even a church to obtain access to the Father, but that he can go direct and receive spiritual gifts just as any servant of the Father can receive so he says to himself: “I will arise and go to my father.”
However, going direct to the Father, considering his past unworthiness, seems to him to be a bold thing and he feels unworthy in doing so and thinks to himself: “I Will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”
Thus the son arises to go to the Father in anticipation of merely being a servant of God, but as soon as he aspires to be a true servant of worth having true humility he draws the attention of the Father even though his views were “a great way off”.
“But when he was yet a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
We are told that the Father had compassion because the Father was aware of the son’s experience with the pigs in the mire and the great famine and of his son’s “fall”, and because he had a similar experience as a youth he “had compassion” and rejoiced at his return. At this point the son received a glorious surprise. He was not met with scorn and ridicule by his father, but with great rejoicing and whereas he thought he would be lucky to be considered a servant, he was again proclaimed to be a son and since the resources of the Father are inexhaustible the son finds himself restored to all the Father has. They had a great party or the marriage feast of the lamb and the Father said: “This my son was dead (was subjected to the spiritual death or the fall) and is alive again.” (brought back into the presence of God).
However, when the older son found out about the merriment over the return of the fallen son he became angry because the Father had never killed a fatted calf for him that he might make merry with his friends. In other words, the first son had never fallen so deeply into matter and experienced the great sorrows that he may know great joy, but the Father said unto him “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” Even though the first son shares all that the Father has he does not appreciate it and partake of as great joy as the second son for he had not experienced the great battle with opposition; thus the second son actually achieves the greater experience, joy and glory by descending below all things that he might rise above all things.
This earth is sometimes referred to as the battleground of the gods for it is a planet of unique sorrows and sufferings which can bring in the end, great joy to him that overcometh. Other beings of a fairly exalted nature who are timid to venture forth into this battleground tend to look upon the victors here with awe and an almost godly type of jealousy at their conquest and return home.
As the Lord was discussing various kingdoms and heavenly bodies he gave a parable to Joseph Smith: “Behold, I will liken these ‘kingdoms unto a man having a field, and he sent forth his servants into the field to dig in the field. And he said unto the first: Go ye and labor in the field, and in the first hour I will come unto you, and ye shall behold the joy of my countenance. And he said unto the second: Go ye also into the field, and in the second hour I will visit you with the joy of my countenance. And also unto the third saying: I will visit you; and unto the fourth, and so on unto the twelfth. And the Lord of the field went unto the first in the first hour, and tarried with him all that hour, and he was made glad with the light of the countenance of his lord. And then he withdrew from the first that he might visit the second also, and the third, and the fourth, and so on unto the twelfth. And thus they all received the light of the countenance of their Lord, every man in his hour, and in his time, and in his season- beginning at the first, and so on unto the last, and from the last unto the first, and from the first unto the last; Every man in his own order, until his hour was finished, even according as his Lord had commanded him, that his lord might be glorified in him, and he in his lord, that they might all be glorified. Therefore, unto this parable I will liken all these kingdoms, and the inhabitants thereof – every kingdom in its hour, and in its time, and in its season, even according to the decree which God hath made. And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near.” D&C 88:51-62
Again the meaning of the parable is multifold. For instance on the earthly scale there are twelve divisions among mankind, symbolized by the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve signs of the Zodiac. God visits each nation in its time as the prophet says:
“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.”
II Nephi 29:12
Each nation and people have their hour when they are visited by a messenger of God representing the Christ. Every people has their holy words and scriptures. Even though they are not recognized by Christians, they are still the words of God through visitation of the Spirit adapted to the capacity of the various peoples.
On a larger scale there are divisions of twelve, seven and three, many of which are unknown to us, but all will be visited by a higher life performing the work of redemption. And what is that?
The name of Jesus Christ means “anointed to deliver.” Jesus did not intend to keep the name just for himself, but advised all of his followers to take the name upon themselves. All enlightened souls are anointed to deliver those of a lower vibration. When we have been “saved,” or elevated, by someone above us, then it is our mission to lift or deliver others to higher ground. There is a universal rule which tells us that we cannot go higher until we have given out what we have learned and assisted in lifting our brethren to where we are. When we have done this, then another will come along and lift us to higher ground. This is the principle behind the name of Jesus Christ. To believe on His name is to believe on this principle, that there are higher lives in the universe waiting to help deliver, or “save” us when we are ready.
When we are visited by one representing the office of Christ this Being will seek to lift us up to the next kingdom which we call the Kingdom of God. But then there are a “higher order of kingdoms” (D&C 130:10) than even the celestial, and beings in the higher order of kingdoms representing he redeeming power of Christ on an still higher level “visit” the celestial kingdom and seek to deliver them from the lower to a yet higher.
And thus the work of eternal progression goes forward within twelve kingdoms, yes, verily, twelve times twelve times twelve – eternal lives on the eternal worlds.
Copyright 1996 by J J Dewey