Scripture Queries and Answers: The Unclean Spirit or the Man; Younger Brother; Thorn in the Flesh

Matthew 12:43; Luke 15:11‑32  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 12
Q.-Matt. 12:4343When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (Matthew 12:43), Who is it that walketh through dry places seeking rest and finding none—the unclean spirit or the man? If it is the man how do we rind the spirit coming back to the empty tenement, and, with his companions, making his abode there? J. G.
A.-It is the unclean spirit of idolatry which having, since the Babylonish captivity, departed from the Jewish nation, for “many days” (Hos. 3:44For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: (Hosea 3:4)) still running their course, will at the close of this present period of grace, return in an aggravated form. For the Jews having rejected the Lord Jesus who came in His Father's name, will receive another who shall come in his own name (John 5:4343I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43))—the lawless one whose coming or presence will be according to the working of Satan, with every kind of power and signs and wonders of a lie. The Lord Himself gives the interpretation, of the passage, “Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation” (cf. Psa. 12:77Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. (Psalm 12:7); Matt. 24:3434Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matthew 24:34)), thus showing “the man” to be representative of the Jews once “possessed,” then delivered, and finally in their last stage of continued unbelief, re-possessed with the spirit of idolatry in its most egregious form—the reception and worship of the false Messiah, the antichrist!
Q.- Luke 15:11-3211And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13And 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. 14And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17And 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! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20And 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. 21And 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. 22But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 29And 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: 30But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32It 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). Who is represented by the younger brother t Jew or Gentile? J. G.
A.-The one who repents and returns to God, and is thus given to know the Father's joy in welcoming the poor sinner who comes as he is in all his rags and disgrace, and receives the kiss, the best robe, the ring and sandals, and shares, in his measure, the joy of the Father's heart and house. This we, believing Gentiles, have, in His rich mercy, been given to know; whilst the elder son in his self-righteousness, is like the Jew (Rom. 10:1-31Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1‑3)), who remains a stranger to this grace of the gospel, Believing not in mercy to the Gentiles, he refuses it for himself (Rom. 11:30-3230For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:30‑32)) and comes not into the blessing of those who now receive the fullness of the gospel.
A.-The “thorn,” in the apostle's case, was a messenger of Satan for buffeting in order to the putting down of the flesh,” and as it would seem, was such as made him contemptible in the eyes of others, and produced also physical weakness (1 Cor. 2:33And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. (1 Corinthians 2:3) 2 Cor. 10:1010For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. (2 Corinthians 10:10); Gal. 4:13-1513Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 14And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. (Galatians 4:13‑15)), “My infirmities” —or weaknesses of body—became an occasion for the special exercise of divine power and grace enabling him even to take pleasure in weaknesses for Christ's sake. Thus the excellency of the power was seen to be of God. As the Lord assured the apostle of the sufficiency of His grace, and the perfecting of His power in human weakness, so would he rather glory in his (bodily) weaknesses that this power of Christ may have its dwelling-place on him. The outer man might perish, but the inward is renewed day by day, and he fainted not. Thus our physical weaknesses are triumphed over (not renewed) by spiritual power— “the power of Christ”