The parable of the Prodigal Son is a lesson in life for each of us, and to see how it applies to you and me we must know a little about the old Hebrew law governing the use of inheritances.
Before Moses died in 1250 B.C. he had the whole of the Promised land surveyed and divided into twelve portions of roughly equal value. He then had the heads of each of the twelve tribes draw lots to see what portion of the whole that was to belong to his tribe forever. The ritual was repeated within each tribe, with the heads of families drawing lots to determine what acreage would belong to their family forever.
When a man’s sons reached maturity the father turned the farming of the land over to them, with the oldest receiving an extra share that was known as his “birthright.” The sons then had complete freedom in regard to the type of crops and methods of plowing they employed.
However, the sons had no right to sell or give away any of his family’s holdings. It is helpful to use two words to demonstrate what a son could do. One word if Freedom, the other Independence. The Prodigal Son had the freedom to manage his father’s land as he thought best, but he was guilty of sinful independence when he turned the land into cash.
We, likewise, have freedom in choosing our paths through life, but we cannot live in independence of the Father.
The turning point in the story came when, after hitting the bottom, the Prodigal said, “I will go back to my Father.”