Our big message for today: God is Relentless.

Praise God! You know, never in our wildest dreams we would ever think that we would take on such difficult teachings as the Torah—the first five books of the Bible.

Actually,10 years ago, if somebody approached us and said, “You know, why don’t we study Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy?” –we would think that the guy was high on cough syrup. Because it’s such a difficult teaching! I mean why would you teach this? And yet, here we are— and we are at the doorstep, finally finishing Deuteronomy.

We finished the Torah together! Are you happy that we finished the Torah together? It’s such a difficult teaching because, I mean, I’m sure that if I ask you this question, you will give me an honest answer.

Between the Old and New Testaments, which do you prefer studying?

I mean they’re both good, right? But between the New and the Old Testaments, which one would you prefer studying?

Let’s be honest– just to be brutally honest with you. We love the New Testament! Why? Because in the New Testament, it feels like God is kinder, sweeter, happier. Because in the Old Testament, that’s where God seems like He’s always angry. That’s the God who drove out Adam and Eve from the Garden.

The Old Testament is where God drowned the entire humanity and saved only one tiny family in a floating zoo, right? God seems to be angry in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, that’s the God who let an entire nation—the Israelites– to die in the desert.

Old or New?

So, between the Old and the New, yes, I prefer reading the New. But is it true that God is angry in the Old Testament?

Back in the day when I was first starting out in Ministry, I encountered one of our leaders. This is the kind of leader that I love to be under him. He mentored me, by the way, and he was the kind of person that you would love to be around– somebody who was so full of wisdom, full of humility, full of love. And this was the kind of person that whenever you’re with him, you feel like you’re a plant that’s being watered. You have people like that in your life? People who give life to you? That’s the kind of leader that he was.

And so, I loved him. Every time I was with him, I was always excited to learn something new. But then one day, I emailed him with a proposal that was for an event that was going to happen at The Feast a few weeks before Sunday.

A few days later, he replied to me and I tell you, for the first time ever, I was shocked because the email that he sent to me– that reply–it was the coldest reply ever and I kind of thought, “Oh no, he’s mad at me.”

And then I started justifying.

Why would he be mad at me? Maybe it’s because of that one time that while we were having a meeting and I was sitting in front, I fell asleep and my mouth was wide open. Maybe that’s the reason he was mad at me. And that went on for many days– I kept on thinking, what’s wrong? Why did he reply in such a cold way?

Until I saw him that Sunday.

And that Sunday, when I came to him face to face, I was shocked because everything was normal! I mean he was happy, he was jolly, he was good to be around! So, I realized this: That was the day that I finally understood that sometimes, the way people speak, and the way people communicate, is not directly revealing who they are as a person.

Lessons from the Torah

I mean, sometimes when we read something, the words that we consume are dependent on our values, our culture, on our experience. So, sometimes when we read a line, our perception is based on how we’ve experienced it before. So, if we’re used to seeing emoticons in the text and the person all of a sudden doesn’t send an emoticon, “Ay! Galit na yan sakin.”

Because that’s our experience, that’s the pattern.

That’s why when we read the Bible, sometimes, we encounter passages that are hard to comprehend. You feel like, God is angry at me. But the truth is, it’s not really true because God’s heart will always be for you.

The more that I read about Jesus, the more that I research and study His life, the more I realize that the heart of Jesus contains the Torah. Jesus loved the Torah. He quoted the Torah more than 80 times– plus all those hyperlinks, over and over again.

So, if Jesus loved the Torah, there must be a reason we also need to love the Torah, right?

Some of you are probably wondering why would I love the Torah. It’s not relevant to me. I can’t learn anything from the Torah.

I’ll teach you something today. Jesus will reveal in one story in the New Testament how He will summarize the entire teachings of the Torah with one parable: the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Let’s go back to where it all began– in Genesis. It says in Genesis 2:9 that the Lord God made all sorts of trees grow — trees that were beautiful, that produced delicious fruits. And in the middle of the Garden of Eden. He placed the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s the story of Creation.



The Garden of Eden and the Parable

of the Prodigal Son

I am going to give you six parallels between the Garden of Eden and the Parable of the Prodigal Son

That’s the first parallel. Adam and Eve lived in God’s abundance because in the original design, God created a place of abundance—the Garden of Eden, and in that place, in that Garden, His children were living with Him.

Similarly, if you think about it, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, how does the story start? The father lived in one house together with his two children.

So, it all starts with abundance. But then, here’s the takeaway lesson: It doesn’t end in abundance. It’s followed by what? By arrogance.

Here’s the first takeaway lesson for you. Abundance — if you do not marry that with appreciation, if you don’t marry that with thanksgiving and humility, it will lead to arrogance.

And I have seen people do this. I don’t even have to look too far. I just look at myself in the mirror. I know I’m talking to myself through this talk.

There comes a time in your life– and this happened to you when you were successful in your line of work, in your career– you thought, “Hey, I was able to do this on my own without God’s help.”

Have you ever felt like that sometimes? That you did it on your own and you became proud and you became arrogant? That’s what happens when you achieve abundance without God.

In the process, you become proud, you become egotistical, you remove yourself from that abundance that God originally designed for you.

So, in the first story, the parallel is that Adam and Eve lived with God the Father.

They were abundant.

But then, they said, “Okay, we choose to eat this forbidden fruit.”

So, in a way, they were saying, “God, I don’t need you anymore. I can do this on my own.”

And similarly, the youngest son in the Parable, when he asked for his inheritance early, he was saying, “Father, I don’t need you anymore. I can do this on my own.”

You see, that’s the first mistake. That we think

that we can do stuff on our own without God. That’s a very dangerous recipe to have. But I want you to know that in the beginning, God created abundance. A place where everything flows.

The second parallel is they insisted on getting their own way. They lived in abundance and then they started creating abundance for themselves– on their own.

Let’s go to the text. I learned this. This is amazing. Okay, I love reading the book of Genesis because even though this is my nth time to read this, I continue to learn something new. Does that happen to you sometimes? When you read the Bible over and over again? Yes, I’ve read this so many times but there’s a certain passage that God will use to give fresh meaning to you.

I’ll reveal to you something that I’ve never discovered until this week — about the Garden of Eden. There were many trees there, right? There were trees that they could eat from, and then there was one tree that they could not eat from. What was that tree called? The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

We Desire What’s Forbidden

But check this out: Not one time did the author say that Adam and Eve ate from the other trees. The only time the word ate was used was in Chapter 3 verse 6.

It says, and I quote:

Wait a minute… You mean to tell me that the entire time that they were in this lush garden, they never ate from the other trees? The only fruit that they ate was from the forbidden tree?

Isn’t this true in our own life? Like you’re already so richly blessed and yet you still want that one thing that you know you’re not allowed to have.

That’s the rule of life. The more that it’s forbidden, the more you desire it. You already have a good marriage and yet you’re still looking for that illusion… What if that person who got away from you…

You already have a good career and yet you’re still looking for that one job that you know you cannot have.

So many people buy stuff that they know they can’t really afford. They’ll buy on credit. Why? Because this is what happens to us. You know you can’t afford that iPhone but you’re willing to give up an arm and a leg and sometimes even a kidney just to get that iPhone. Am I preaching the truth?

We want what we can’t have and so what do we do? We try to create abundance on our own.

And that’s the story of Adam and Eve– when they chose the forbidden fruit. But it’s also the story of the youngest brother. He had everything in his father’s house. In his father’s house, he had servants. He could eat anything from his father’s house. He could have breakfast, brunch, lunch, merienda (afternoon snacks), dinner. He can even have late midnight snacks. But what did he do?

He said, “No, I want to create abundance on my own. I’m going to leave my father’s house.”

Are You Ready for the Blessing?

And then there’s the older brother. I mean, some of you might think:

“But yeah, the older brother did not leave the father’s house.”

Did you know that you can still sin against God even though you are in His Presence? Did you know that even though you’re living in His house you can still sin against Him?

Ask me how…

When you could continue to complain repeatedly about what you do not have– when you do not appreciate the blessings that God has

already given you. You’re always looking over the other side of the fence, and you’re always envious of what the others have and what you don’t have.

That’s what the older brother did. In the book of Luke, the older brother says:

He was living in his father’s house. His father said to him, “Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me and everything I have is yours.”

Let me say that again, “Everything I have is yours.”

I want to preach this to somebody right now: You’re struggling because you think that God is blessing the person beside you, and He’s blessing more people than you. He’s blessing that person who’s already married and yet you’re still single right now and your biological clock is ticking.

And some people here are praying for children and you see your friends give birth again and again, and then you’re complaining…

I want to say this to you: God says, “Everything I have is yours.”

Here’s how I would look at it. Remember how the youngest son asked for his inheritance early, prematurely? Everything that the father owned was his but

the problem was he wasn’t ready to wait for the blessing. He wanted the blessing right away.

God’s Timing

See, some of us mismanage the miracle and mismanage the blessing simply because we’re rushing for the blessing. Meanwhile, God is preparing you for the blessing because He knows that you might not be ready for it yet.

But if you continue to trust God, you’ll understand that He knows the right time for when you’re ready for that job promotion. He knows the right time for when you’re ready for that spouse.

He knows the right time for when you’re ready for that healing. He knows the right time for that blessing to be given to your life.

So, what do you do? You trust in the Father. You remain in His house He says, “Everything I have is yours.”

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that Adam and Eve did not trust in the Lord.

What happened? They were exiled from the Garden.

The young son did not trust in the Lord.

And now God says, “The land that you will walk on is cursed. Everything that you do from here on will be cursed. You have to work for it, you have to toil for it.”

And that’s what we’re doing every day. We work six days a week. The seventh day is a Sabbath. But for six days a week, what happens? You work hard.

Why? Because that’s the stuff of life. That’s what happens.

But you see, here’s the key: All this time, Adam and Eve weren’t working with God anymore and what happened was that they bore three children, and two of them we know of — Cain and Abel.

What happened between Cain and Abel? Abel was favored by God and Cain was envious of his brother. So, what did Cain do? He killed his brother.

Isn’t this how life always is? When you see God blessing the other person, in your head, you’re also killing that person with envy. But you see, one key takeaway from this is that if only Cain was able to realize that God loved him, maybe he would have done differently.

The problem with all of us is that we always think that God loves the other person more than us and so we complain. But you forget that God is also your God and He also loves you. So, the key here is to receive God’s love. Because when you realize that God’s love is relentless, it won’t matter how much God is blessing the other person. Because you know that God is also blessing you.

The truth is, when you walk around in this world with an empty love tank, you’re always chasing blessings, you’re always chasing love. Sometimes, you’ll find love but you’ll find it in the wrong place. When you walk around with an empty love tank, you’ll always war with your neighbors because no matter how much you are richly blessed right now, always, there’s something to complain about.

That’s the second parallel: That they created abundance on their own.

But here’s the crazy part: Even after they were exiled from the Garden, even after the son walked away from his father, here’s how crazy God is– in a good way:

God continued to run after them. He did! Let me show you back to Genesis. The story says that after Adam and Eve fell, God started looking for them.

There are two ways to ask a question. The first way is this: You ask a question simply because you want to understand. That’s the first way.

The second way is you ask a question because you want to argue and debate over that statement that the person said, you know…

So, I want to ask a question– and as a husband. All the husbands raise your hands. Husbands, I’ve learned this free tip for you: I’ve learned that whenever my wife asks me the question, “Where are you?” there are two ways of deciphering that. The first way, listen to me, is this: When your wife asks you Where are you?, it simply means that she misses you. She cannot stand the sight of the absence of your presence. So, she’s asking where you are.

The second reason– and oftentimes this is really the reason– she wants to ask you to do something, some errand. Oftentimes, No. 2 is for me too.

God Hurts When Children Leave

And so, what does it mean when God asked Adam and Eve, “Where are you?”

The first time I read that– I preached this a few times– the first time, I realized that maybe God is asking where they are because He wants to reprimand them for eating the forbidden fruit…Until this week… I came across this word in the original Hebrew language… Get ready to be blown away!

In the original Hebrew language, the phrase where are you is alyekah. It simply means, in English, “Woe is me!”

In Tagalog, “Kawawa naman ako!”

God was there looking for Adam and Eve not because He wanted to punish them. God was looking for them and He said “Where are you?” not because He was mad. He was actually weeping in pain— because He lost his children!

Woe is me! Kawawa naman ako!

My children, here’s the truth: Parents, you know this: Whenever your child leaves home — because of a fight or because of a disagreement– isn’t it true that there is a part of you that hurts? Is this true: You might be angry, you might be bitter but deep inside you, there’s that part that hurts?

Did you know that whenever you leave your Heavenly Father, He is hurting?

God hurts when you leave home.

But here’s the fourth parallel– and I hope you’re receiving this the way I received it. Adam and Eve, they hid in agony.

I’ll show you…

When God asked “Where are you?” here’s how Adam replied:

That’s why He says, “Where are you?”

Adam said, “We’re hiding from You, Lord, because we’re naked.”

What does that mean? Were they hiding because they thought that God was going to be repulsed by their nakedness? As if God was shallow. Like, were they afraid because they were ashamed? Yes, I think that can be given as an explanation or definition.

But here’s the key again. We go back to the original

Hebrew language of the word naked.


In the original Hebrew language, naked means agony.

Now, here’s the message: God was hurting because His children were lost. But when Adam said, “We hid because we were naked,” he was saying,

“We hid because we too were in agony.”

When children leave their parent, there’s also a part of them that hurts. Why? Because they know that they have broken the person who loves them the most.

I mean, you can take it out on your parents because you say, “Well, my father hurt me or my mother hurt me.”

But deep inside, you’re hurting because you do know that you hurt your parents — just like if you know that you’ve hurt somebody who loves you so much, it hurts you.

Isn’t it that’s what Adam and Eve were saying?

“We were in agony simply because we’re not with you.”

And the prodigal son felt that so much, if you think about it. When he realized that everything was in his father’s house, he said, “I’ll go back to my father.”

But he said, “If I go back to my father, I know that he’ll accept me. But I’ll go back not as a son but as a servant.”

He was willing to go back to his father’s house not as a son anymore but as a servant.

And I’m wondering who among you here is so afraid to go back to the Lord…

And you’re not going to Confession or receiving Communion because you’re so afraid.

But I want you to know that fear has a name. It’s called agony.

You’re hurting deep inside because you know you’ve been separated from God.

Stop that. You need to come back to the Lord today. You need to return to Him. You are a prodigal child and you need to come back.

Now, Adam and Eve had been separated from the Garden, and they were about to experience the barren life outside of the Garden.

Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden. It was also true with the Israelites– how they lived as slaves.

That’s what happens when you get exiled from the Lord– when you get disconnected from Him.

The youngest son, what happened to him? He started serving the Gentiles.

He started eating pig slop.

In the Father’s house, everything is there. But the moment you walk out, and you start doing things on your own, here’s my question– think about this:

In the life that you live, in the work that you do, are you working with God or are you working on your own?

How do you know, Bro. Audee, if I’m working with God, or if I’m working on my own?

When you work with God, you get physically tired. When you work with God, you get problems, you get stress. But at the end of the day, there is fulfillment. There is that sense of purpose, a sense of gratitude: “Even though I don’t have rest today, I’m coming home with fulfillment. I know my purpose.”

But when you are not working with God, it feels like it’s just a pattern over and over again. It’s like a recurring theme and you feel like there’s no purpose in your life.

So, work with the Lord. That’s message No. 5: Work with the Lord. If you’ve left the house, maybe it’s because you’re stressed right now.

Here’s No.6: Let’s go back to Luke. Adam and Eve left, and the youngest son left. But they trekked the long road back home. They returned.

All of the Torah and all of the Prodigal Son stories are summed up by this one statement in Luke 15:20: “So he returned home to his father.”

The author didn’t say how long it took for the journey for them to go back home.

He left us room for imagination: Jesus, when He told the Parable, He wanted to point us back to the Torah, how long the Israelites took to get to the Promised Land: 40 years!

You want to know why it took them 40 years to get from Egypt, from slavery, to the Promised Land?

I’ll show you. We pick up the idea from the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:13:

God Allows Foolish Decisions

Prodigal means foolish. It took the Israelites so long to journey from the desert, the wilderness, to the Promised Land because they were foolish.

Did you know that God is so good that He will allow you to make your own decisions in your life even if it’s a foolish decision? He will do that. That’s why it’s so scary sometimes to make a decision.

Why? Because if I am making a wrong decision, God’s not going to stop me. He’s going to allow me to go through that decision because He wants me to learn a lesson.

So, for the Israelites, it took so long for that trip back home. Why? Because they were foolish.

Just like us– just like you, just like me. As it was also for the Prodigal Son. But eventually, he found his way back home. Now, how did the Prodigal Son return?

How did the Israelites return?

I’ll read it to you. The Prodigal Son story says:

The first step is to get back to the father’s home. Here’s what it’s called: It’s called admission.

The author of the story, St. Luke, wrote that in His Parable, Jesus said when the Prodigal Son finally came to his senses, he admitted that he did something wrong.

If you need to go to the Lord, back to His home, the first step is always admission. You admit your sin, you acknowledge your sin.

Here’s the second step: it’s called contrition:

First step is admission: “I admit I have sinned against you.” Second step is contrition: There must be repentance

Go Home!

Fr. Bob McConaghy preached this earlier for us: to repent and confess to the Lord: “Father, I have sinned against both You and Heaven.”

And you know, sadly, Adam and Eve never did both. They didn’t admit. They didn’t confess and they left.

But thank God, we’re shown the way today: Through the life of the Prodigal Son.

Adam and Eve, they never went back to the Lord. They couldn’t find their way back to the Garden. Because they never admitted, they never confessed, they never acknowledged what they did was wrong.

But you see, the youngest son, he did something that I believe we should do.

This is something Adam and Eve never did: That is, the son came to his senses that he sinned against his father and he confessed, “Father, I have sinned against both of you and Heaven.

He said “I will go home to my father.”

He didn’t say, “I’m going to stop by my friend’s house so that he can give me good advice. I’m going to go to my leader first, so that he can pray over me.

Those are good steps, by the way.

But the son said, “I will go home to my father.”

He did not have any stopover. He went straight to the father’s house.

And I know what some of you are thinking: “Is it that easy? I can go straight to my father? I don’t need Church anymore? I don’t need my Christian friends anymore?

You do need them. But there’s sense in which when you realize you’ve sinned against God, you go straight to Him. Go home to the Father first.

That’s what the son did: “I will go home to my father.”

And here’s how the father greeted him:

My dear friends, no matter which path you take in life—can be the right road, can be the wrong road, can be a U-turn, whatever area of life right now or whatever season you’re in—here’s the message: Every road that you take, no matter if you’ve gotten lost, when you acknowledge Jesus in that path, that will lead you straight home. Amen.

Where You Belong

No matter what road you are taking—can be the wrong road. And yet when you say, “Lord, today, I will walk with You,” that becomes the right road. Amen.

And guess what: Every road that leads to Jesus, it leads back to the Father’s arms where you belong.

That’s where we belong. You don’t have to wait for your friend to pray over you. You don’t have to wait for somebody to affirm you, to push you forward. No. All you have

to do is to make a decision today: “Lord, I want to take that step towards You.

Can you do that with me? Just put your right foot forward, and try your best to balance. And then on the count of 3, put that foot down—signifying your step toward the Lord. Are you ready? Yes. Here we go: 1- 2- 3.

Doesn’t that feel good?

You take that first step. Sometimes, your knees are weak. Sometimes, you’ll trip. But I guarantee you that when you take that step towards the Lord, He’ll be the first One to open His arms for you today. Amen.

Father, look at Your children—how and who they are. We are all sinners in this place—I, most of all. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior. In this moment, we bow to You, to Your Sovereignty, to Your Lordship, and to Your Kingship.

And we say, forgive us for all the ways that we hurt You.

Now, we know, Lord, that the reason it’s so hard to come back is we’ve been hurting. And in that hurt, we were led to different places and situations that we did not plan for. But we thank You, God, for Your Son Jesus whom You sent. That now we have a way back to You. And all we have to do is reach out to Him, and receive Him, and accept Him, and embrace Him. And then, we are back in Your Home.

Today, this is Your Upper Room, Father– where Your Presence will be felt by everyone. I pray that You descend upon the heart of Your child in this moment and speak to each one.

We thank You, Lord, that You never gave up on us. We thank You that You never quit– not even once—on us. Even though we were unfaithful, You continue to be faithful. Even though we were selfish, You continue to be selfless. Thank You, Lord, that Your grace abounds and that Your mercy never ends, and that Your love is overflowing. Let Your love overflow in this place today. May goodness and mercy follow us the rest of our days and may we walk forever in Your love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen and amen.

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine

Published by THE FEAST (October 8, 2023)


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