Lesson Two – God’s Prodigal Children

God’s Prodigal Children

Lesson Aim:  To show how God used the faithful Jews to evangelize those who were lost and that all people are equally important to God.


In our last lesson we learned “One like the son of man was coming” during the Roman Empire.  This had reference to Jesus Christ who was to be given the rule over God’s kingdom.  From the following prophecies we learn He would rule over all people and not the Israelites only.

And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.  Dan. 7:14

The other people are the Gentiles.  The inclusion of the Gentiles with the Jews is not a new thought for in the Genesis account we read, “And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”  Gen. 49:10.  Daniel said, “The stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”  Dan. 2:35.  The Gentiles have always represented the greatest number of the people on earth.  In this lesson we will view the Jew and Gentile in their proper perspective from the standpoint of God’s eternal kingdom.


Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, “you are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”  Hos. 1:10

The Apostle Paul commented on Hosea’s prophecy in his letter to the Roman church.  He assured the Gentile Christians that, although they were once not God’s people, they were now sons of God (Rom. 9:24-26).  However, he gave the following dismal view of the role of the Gentiles in the Old Testament story.

Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  Eph. 2:12

As Paul said, the Gentiles did not have much going for themselves during the two thousand years from Abraham to Christ.  Most of them had given up God for idols; however, some were saved because they lived by instinct and kept the law of life (Rom. 2:14).  In this way they fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses (Rom. 2:26).  Some Gentiles evidently became Jewish proselytes by subjecting themselves to the Law (Matt. 23:15; Acts 2:10).  Also, there were men like Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who were accepted by God although they were not Israelites (Ex. 18:1).  Cornelius, a Gentile and Roman soldier, prayed and God answered his prayers (Acts 10:1-3).  Still most were without hope; however, during all this time God was working His plan to have them for His children.  According to the following scripture, He was using Israel to keep His name before the nations.

‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nation’, says the Lord of hosts.  Mal. 1:11

God’s very nature demanded that He work out a plan for all people on earth.  Paul declared, “For there is no partiality with God.”  And James added, “Neither is there any variation, or shifting shadow.”  Rom. 2:11; James 1:17.  If God, as Peter said, “Is not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” then He was unhappy about the Gentiles when they were without hope (II Pet. 3:9).  Their situation at that time had happened because of their own degradation.  God was planning to help them overcome their problems.  With the foregoing thoughts in mind we will have a true perspective of the Israelites’ and Gentiles’ relationship to God’s kingdom.

By way of review, when Noah and his family walked off the ark, God was dealing with all His people on earth on the same spiritual level.  About five hundred years later He declared Abraham’s seed through Isaac and Jacob were His children.  What happened to the rest?  They gave up their Creator; consequently, God gave them up (Rom. 1:21).  He gave them up until they accepted their role as sons of God; therefore, the role of the Gentiles from Abraham until Christ can be classified as prodigal sons.  However, it is not difficult to see that when God called Abraham, He had the Gentiles in mind.  He said to Abraham, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Gen. 12:3According to Isaiah, Israel would become a light in God’s evangelism plan to bring back His prodigal sons (Isa. 42:6).

He says, “It is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.  Isa. 49:6

The kingdom prophesied by Daniel must include the Gentiles; otherwise, we Gentiles are left out.  God did not leave us out because Isaiah was very definite about our inclusion in the following prophecy:

Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.  Isa. 11:10

It is imperative that the Gentiles be included in this kingdom promised to David’s household.  If it was the kingdom for the Jews it must also include the Gentiles because it was said, “Through Abraham all nations would be blessed.”  He is the father of many nations (Rom. 4:17).  The prophets did not speak of two different kingdoms through Abraham’s seed.  Only one was spoken of, and it would be through a “shoot from the stem of Jesse.”  Isa. 11:1.  David is the son of Jesse (Ruth 4:22).  People of all nations must have access to the same kingdom promised to David’s household.  If the kingdom spoken of by Daniel is still in the future, then the Gentiles are yet without a king or kingdom.  But, if it was established during the Roman Empire, and it was, then we all have access to God’s kingdom in and through Jesus Christ, today (I Cor. 8:6).

Please take note that when we speak of establishing God’s kingdom, we must retain the concept of its eternalness (Psa. 145:13).  Please review the remarks in the introduction of Part Three about the “already, but not yet concept.”  Therefore, we mean to say the kingdom was made available to mankind in a different manner in order to accomplish God’s purpose in the creation.  For instance, during the Roman Empire Jesus was given all power over God’s eternal kingdom; consequently, we can say Jesus’ kingdom was established.  But, we must not forget, Jesus had already told the Jewish leaders this same kingdom would be taken from them and given to another people (Matt. 21:43).

God’s kingdom, over which Solomon was king, was the same one Jesus said would be taken from the Jews (I Chron. 28:5).  He gave it to the people over whom Jesus now reigns.  He is king of the kingdom and head of the church.  The reason the kingdom needed to undergo a change in its administration was to produce the fruit God desires.  The faithful church members are the people who will be God’s fruit (Eph. 3:8-13).  When Jesus comes again He will turn this same kingdom back to God with children for God (I Cor. 15:23, 24).

Let us now return to the aim of our lesson.  We now know why God worked so closely with physical Israel for two thousand years from Abraham to Christ.  Israel was important, but no more important than the Gentiles.  God used the Jews as an evangelism tool to help bring back His prodigal children, the Gentiles.  As Stephen testified, Israel was indeed “stiff-necked” and resisted the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).  This was one of the reasons God disciplined them with their captivity in Babylon.  Even this was a lesson for the Gentiles.  In the following scripture Amos prophesied about a rebuilding that would take place.  The Gentiles would again be benefited.

In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this.  Amos 9:11, 12

“The fallen booth of David being raised up” has reference to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after Israel’s seventy-year captivity.  It happened in the fifth century before Christ and we can read about it in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Sustaining the Jewish nation was a part of God’s long range plan of evangelism to save the Gentiles.  Even today God is using His church, spiritual Israel, to bring back His prodigal children – both the Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16; 11:1-6).  God’s desire is now and always has been, for all people to be His children and worship Him as our Father.

All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord, and they shall glorify Thy Name.  Psa. 86:9

A church that is not functioning in Jesus’ evangelism mission may be compared with Israel in her periods of degradation.  There were many times in the history of Israel when they did not serve God as a light for the Gentiles.  Let it not be said of us, as it was said of the Jews, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, just as it is written.”  Rom. 2:24; Isa. 52:5.

Questions for Discussion 

  1. How did the Apostle Paul project the general condition of the Gentiles from Abraham to Christ?
  2. How will our awareness of why God created mankind help us keep the Jew/Gentile relationship in proper perspective during the above period?
  3. What caused a change in the way God dealt with people from Noah to Abraham?
  4. How long does God refuse to accept people?
  5. What is the word that best describes the role of the Gentiles from Abraham to Christ?
  6. What role did God plan for Israel to play in relation to the Gentiles?
  7. List the scriptures that reveal how God always had the Gentiles in mind.
  8. Why is it imperative for the Gentiles to be included in the promise God made to David’s descendants?
  9. Give the concept the Jewish people needed to understand in order for them to have a proper view of their role?
  10. Identify a Gentile who was accepted by God after Israel’s separation.
  11. Has God accomplished His goal, as it is stated in Malachi 1:11?
  12. Why does the eternalness concept of God’s kingdom need to be retained, in order to understand the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom?

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