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The parable of the prodigal son in the last half of Luke 15 is the third in a series that Jesus told in answer to the grumbling scribes and Pharisees. It is longer than the first two parables, and for the first time Jesus compares two brothers. In the broader prophecy of the Kingdom, these two brothers are Israel and Judah. In the local application, the prodigal son represents those who repent, and the elder son represents the religious leaders who grumble at their repentance.
Luke 15:11 says,
11 And He said, “A certain man had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ And he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.”
As a Kingdom parable, this story is drawn from the history of Israel and Judah, which separated into two nations after the death of Solomon (1 Kings 12:16). Thereafter, the two brother nations showed much sibling rivalry. After 210 years, Israel was then cast out of the land, and Assyria settled the captive Israelites north between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (2 Kings 17:6).
Jesus portrays this younger son as going on “a journey into a distant country.” Their “journey” correlates with the lost sheep and the lost coin. Their physical departure from the land was the result of their spiritual departure from God and His lawful way of life.
(These lost Israelites are the main topic of C. S. Lewis’ books, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. All of his books are historical allegories, but these two deal with lost or invisible people who are meant to portray the Israelites who disappeared in the area near the Caspian Sea. He shows how they will be found in the end.)
About a century after Israel’s exile, the prophet Ezekiel was sent to them as a missionary. His commission came in Ezekiel 3:1 and 11,
1 Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel… 11 And go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not, “Thus says the Lord God.”
In fact, it appears that he was transported to the far north in a supernatural way, for we read in Ezekiel 3:14, 15,
14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage [chemah, “heat, anger, displeasure”] of my spirit, and the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
The prophet appears to have been reluctant to go, on account of the difficulty of the mission. The Israelites were “stubborn and obstinate children” (Ezekiel 2:4), and so he knew that preaching to them would seem like a waste of time. In those days, when travel was difficult, he did not want to make this trip. But God told him in Ezekiel 3:18, 19,
18 When I say to the wicked, “You shall surely die,” and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet if you have warned the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.
This instruction is repeated in Ezekiel 18:20-27. While Ezekiel was unsuccessful in causing Israel to repent, God expresses His heart plainly in Ezekiel 18:31, 32,
31 “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
This appeal for repentance is, of course, the main theme of Jesus’ Kingdom parables. But this repentance would not come on a large scale until their sentence had been completed.
In Luke 15:13 we see how the prodigal “squandered his estate with loose living.” Such had also been prophesied by Moses in the Laws of Tribulation when he spoke of Israel’s future captivity. Deuteronomy 28:64 says,
64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
This describes the prodigal’s “loose living” during the time of their captivity. Ezekiel’s intercession for Israel and Judah indicates that Judah was given 40 years of grace (Ezekiel 4:6), while Israel was given 390 years of grace (Ezekiel 4:5). Judah’s grace period extended from Jesus’ ministry in 30-33 A.D. to the destruction of Jerusalem and Masada in 70-73 A.D.
Israel’s 390-year cycle turned out to be a period of 7 x 390 years from 721 B.C. to 2010 A.D. The final 390-year cycle began in 1620 with the arrival of the Pilgrims to America in order to worship God in good conscience. These were the first fruits of the prodigal’s return to God, which we are now seeing 390 years later since 2010. I believe that the time of Israel’s “loose living” is soon to end. The prodigal is coming to his senses, but the journey home will take time.
There are other prophecies that speak of Israel’s ultimate repentance, especially Isaiah’s words of “comfort” beginning in Isaiah 40:1. Isaiah lived to see the dispersion of the House of Israel when the northern tribes were taken to Assyria, and so the second section of his book deals largely with Israel’s future return as the prodigal son. Isaiah 27:13 says,
13 It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord in the holy mountain at [New] Jerusalem.
Isaiah distinguishes between the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17) and ties this to “Jerusalem” in the next verse; however, like the other prophets, he never distinguishes clearly between the two Jerusalems. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Jerusalem in Isaiah 65:18, 19 is not the old Jerusalem, but the new. Likewise, “Jerusalem” in Isaiah 27:13 is the heavenly city, even as “Assyria” is no longer the land of Israel’s captivity. Most of the physical Israelites emigrated from there into Europe many centuries ago, and have now settled in many parts of the world.
The divine plan for Israel’s regathering was revealed to King David at the height of his kingdom. God told David in 2 Samuel 7:10,
10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly.
Since Israel was already living in the land of Canaan, it is plain that God spoke of another place. Israel was certainly “disturbed” and “afflicted” by many wars and by the Assyrians from the time of David until the people were deported from that land. So the old land was NOT what God had in mind. Ultimately, the prophecy confirms the promise to Abraham in Hebrews 11:13-16, where those who have faith “are seeking a country of their own,” that is, “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
Hence, the return to God of the repentant ones is not to the old land, for Heb. 11:15 says,
15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had oppor-tunity to return.
The “country from which they went out” on their far journey into captivity was not the promised land to which they would return, for the children of Abraham have the revelation of “a better country.” It is a spiritual country primarily, but yet also those who become citizens of the Kingdom and of the New Jerusalem will yet inhabit the earth. The better country is not heaven, but a heavenly country on earth, for the meek will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).
America’s prophetic purpose is to be a physical type of that heavenly country. It is not the ultimate fulfillment, but it is certainly a prophetic manifestation of the place that was revealed to King David. For this reason we see the “seven times” captivity of Israel ending with the founding of America. Israel was taken captive in sections from 745-721 B.C., and “seven times” later (2,520 years) bring us to 1776-1800 A.D. America’s independence was first declared in 1776, and its capital was built in 1800.
The arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 was a good start toward the long-term repentance manifestation of the prodigal son. But during the next 390 years, America degenerated into lawlessness once again, because God still had to deal with Judah and Jerusalem in a second stage of captivity. Judah’s captivity began in 604 B.C. when Nebuchad-nezzar of Babylon took Jerusalem.
This “seven times” captivity would have ended in 1917 with General Allenby’s capture of Jerusalem. But because Judah and Jerusalem were independent for a full century from 163-63 B.C., the “seven times” allotted to the beast empires must be extended to 2017. Even so, the transfer of authority to the saints of the Most High occurred in 2014, which is “seven times” from 607 B.C., when God gave Babylon the dominion mandate to capture Jerusalem.
Jesus always drew his illustrations from the Scriptures when giving parables. Though He applied it in a local context to the people of his day, the parables did not lose their prophetic character in the larger picture. In fact, the two levels are similar to what we have observed even today, where people walk out some Bible story, usually without realizing it.
In this case, the scribes and Pharisees were playing the role of the evil figs in Jeremiah 24 and were the hypocritical Judahites in Jer. 3:10, 11. The publicans and sinners (and harlots) were playing the role of faithless Israel, the open harlot of Jer. 3:6 and the entire prophecy of Hosea. The prophets foretold of the repentance of Israel, as God would remake the nation into another vessel (Jer. 18:4). But the hardened clay vessel of Judah and Jerusalem was to be smashed in gehenna, the city dump (Jer. 19:11).
For this reason, as we will see shortly, the prodigal son is said to repent and to return to the Father, while the elder brother grumbled. Like the nation of Judah, the elder brother had not gone on the far journey that his brother (Israel) had taken. Judah did not lack for the word of God, for it was available everywhere, even though understanding was limited. And so, as we will see, the Father tells the elder brother in Luke 15:31, “My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
Yet here we must understand that only the good figs of Judah would actually receive the inheritance of the Father. Jesus’ parable is incomplete, in that it does not deal directly with the two types of figs, nor does it distinguish between inheritors and those who are judged when God destroyed the nation, city, and temple.
It is only when we come to the final parable of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus openly reveals the fate of the two nations. In that parable, Lazarus is the equivalent of the prodigal son, and the rich man is the elder son—the evil figs of Judah. We will discuss this in further detail later at the appropriate time, but this preview may allow readers to anticipate the flow of revelation as we progress.
Luke 15:14-16 says,
14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 And he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
This is the famine prophesied in Amos 8:11, 12, saying,
11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. 12 And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”
When Israel was cast out of the land and exiled to Assyria, they began to experience a famine of hearing the word. During their time in Assyria itself, Ezekiel was sent to give them the word of God, but God made it clear to the prophet that the people would refuse to hear. After being transported supernaturally to the Israelites in Assyria, the prophet remained seven days in a stupor (Ezekiel 3:14, 15). At the end of seven days, which prophetically represents the “seven times” of their captivity, Ezekiel 3:24-26 says,
24 The Spirit then entered me and made me stand on my feet, and He spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself up in your house. 25 As for you, son of man, they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. 26 Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be dumb, and cannot be a man who rebukes them, for they are a rebellious house.”
Israel’s “seven times,” as I have said, ended from 1776-1800, at which time America and its capital was founded. This prophetically marks the time when the prophet would stand on his feet. However, as the biblical account shows, the people were still a rebellious house, and so the word of the prophet was still bound. Prophetically speaking, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth.
I believe this indicates that the famine of hearing the word would continue throughout American history (and, by extension, the world as well).
It was not until late summer of 2013 that we were led to engage in a prayer campaign to break the famine of hearing the word. Our revelation at the time connected this word-famine to the famine in the time of David. 2 Sam. 21:1 tells us that there was a three-year famine toward the end of David’s reign. It was not caused by David’s actions, but many years earlier in the time of his predecessor, King Saul, who had broken Joshua’s treaty with the Gibeonites.
Because Saul was a prophetic type of the Church under Pentecost, having been crowned on the day of wheat harvest that was later known by the Greek term Pentecost (1 Sam. 12:17), his actions established the prophetic pattern that America followed later in all of its broken treaties with the Native Americans.
Unfortunately, the Church largely supported the government in breaking these treaties. There was insufficient protest coming from Christian people to demand an end of such treacherous governmental practice. Christians had too much to gain by the prevalent view that it was their Manifest Destiny to claim the land and to displace any Native Americans who got in their way.
Hence, the famine of hearing the word continued, even though the “seven times” of Israel’s captivity had ended. Because of continued lawlessness, God then put America (and the world) back into captivity to private banking oligarchs through the Federal Reserve Bank in December of 1913.
Our prayer campaign a century later has addressed the problem in the divine court. We now await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which (we believe) will truly end the famine of hearing the word.
A century ago, the Pentecostal outpouring might have ended this famine, if they had known what to do in the divine court. But few—if any—understood the source of the problem. No one, it appears, understood that Saul was a Pentecostal. At any rate, the prophetic pattern shows that Saul’s house would not resolve the problem. We would have to wait for the death of “Saul” in 1993, after the close of the Pentecostal Age.
Saul’s forty-year reign in Israel prophesied of the 40-Jubilee reign of Pentecost from 33-1993 A.D. And so the problem could not be resolved until prophetic “David” was given authority some time after 1993. The prayer campaign served that purpose in 2013.
When Jesus said that the prodigal son had to find work feeding swine, the impact upon those listening to the parable was far greater than it is upon most people today. Jesus’ listeners would have been horrified, for to them it represented the lowest depths to which a man might fall.
But swine were also symbolic of people who had no appreciation for the word of God or the revelation of the word. We see this in Jesus’ statement in Matt. 7:6,
6 Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
In the natural world, swine have no appreciation for pearls, even as swine-people have no appreciation for the revelation of the word. For this reason, Jesus said in the next verse,
7 Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
In other words, if you wish to shed a swine personality, ask, seek, and knock, so that the word might be given to you. The significance of swine is seen in the food laws in Lev. 11:7. Swine are unclean because they do not chew the cud. That is, they do not meditate on the word. They do not take the time to ask the Holy Spirit to turn the word into a spiritual revelation. They simply eat what is dispensed from denominational creeds or from the pulpits, but do not ask, seek, or knock on the doors of heaven to receive the pearls of revelation.
And so, in the parable, Jesus has the prodigal son feeding swine in the time of famine. It prophesies of a time where the famine of hearing the word would turn men into spiritual swine, people who have no revelation of the word, even though they “eat” the Scriptures every week from men who dispense the word from the pulpit.
This parable may have been directed against the grumbling religious leaders in the local application to Jesus’ listeners. They too had rejected the revelation of the word. Although they were the custodians of Scripture, their traditions of men developed with little revelation from the Holy Spirit. Hence, we see the conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus Himself, which was really a conflict over the word of God itself.
Luke 15:17-19 continues,
17 But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”
Here is the essence of the parable. God is not looking for righteous men, but for repentance. Luke 5:32 clarifies this principle, saying,
32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
The series of Kingdom parables in Luke 15 and 16 was sparked by the religious leaders who grumbled that Jesus was receiving sinners and eating with them. The truth was that these “sinners” were returning to God because they were repentant. Just because they had not been reinstated officially by the temple priests did not mean that they were outcasts before God.
Not much has changed today. Much of my ministry is to those who have been cast out by one or more churches. It was the same with David while he was being hunted down by King Saul. His men were the oppressed, the dispossessed, the cast-out ones, and those generally discontented with the rule of Saul, the Pentecostal. 1 Sam. 22:2 says,
2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him [David]; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.
These are the kinds of people who make up the Kingdom of God. These are the ones who follow David (Christ), rather than Saul (the church). These are pictured collectively by the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable of the Kingdom, because the same category of sinners and publicans had gathered around Jesus, the Son of David.
Jesus was looking for repentance, not righteousness. The elder brother in the parable was the “righteous” one (in the estimation of the temple and its priests). So the decision of the prodigal son to return to the Father was Jesus way of answering his religious critics who grumbled that He would fellowship with such sinners.
The prodigal son, representing the house of Israel, had come into a famine of hearing the word of God (Luke 15:14). He squandered his inheritance (the birthright of Joseph). He joined with a citizen of another country (Luke 15:15), suggesting that he had lost his citizenship in the Kingdom of God. He ended up with a job feeding swine while he himself was starving because no man would feed him with the word of God.
Hosea 4:10 prophesied to the house of Israel, saying,
10 And they will eat, but not have enough; they will play the harlot, but not increase, because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord.
The prodigal was reduced to eating the food that was being used to fatten up the swine for slaughter. The food is called “husks” (KJV) and “pods” (NASB). The Greek word is keration. Gesenius Lexicon says its primary meaning is “little horn.” Its secondary meaning is also given as well:
“The name of the fruit, Ceratonia silqua or carobtree called also John's Bread [from the notion that its pods, which resemble those of the "locust", constituted the food of the Baptist]. This fruit was shaped like a horn and has a sweet taste; it was and is used not only for fattening swine, but as an article of food by the lower classes.”
In other words, the lost sheep of the house of Israel would “eat” the “little horn.” What does this mean? It means that they would assimilate the teachings of the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8, which was the religious extension of Imperial Rome and the final beast in the progression of beast empires.
In Daniel’s prophecy, the little horn was the final system of bondage by religion. It taught that the only way for men to be right with God was to be in unity with the Church. It was the same teaching which, in Jesus’ day, was set forth by the temple priests.
Both Jerusalem and the Roman Church had this in common: they ruled over a bondwoman—“Hagar,” as the Apostle Paul put it. No one had the right to have a direct relationship with God, for the Church assumed power to excommunicate any who disagreed with the official creed that had been adopted by carnal bishops who engaged in threats and political wrangling at Church Councils in order to win the majority of votes in establishing “truth.”
Such carnal tradition differs little from the traditions of men coming from the temple priests in Jerusalem. Those traditions clashed with Jesus’ truth. Jeremiah’s answer to Church Councils is found in Jer. 23:20-22,
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; in the last days you will clearly understand it. 21 I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.
The fact that the Church Councils did not bring righteousness to the earth or even to the Church itself shows that those bishops had not stood in the Council of Heaven. But this will change “in the last days,” when we will clearly understand the distinction between Church Councils and Heaven’s Council.
As a Kingdom parable, the prodigal son shows us that the lost House of Israel would come under the dominion of Papal Rome before coming to their senses and returning to the Father, where good food was plentiful. So Jesus says in Luke 15:17-20,
17 But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” 20 And he got up and came to his father.” …
Recall that God had brought a famine upon the land of Canaan to induce the sons of Jacob to go to Egypt, in order to unite them with Joseph. Likewise, the famine was used to reunite Joseph with his father and to reunite Joseph’s birthright with the scepter of Judah.
All of this prophesied of a later time, when the word of God would become scarce, where people would search for it from sea to sea and not find it (Amos 8:11, 12). In America, where the Bible has been the best-selling book for many years, there is yet a famine of hearing the word. Reading the Bible is not the same as hearing the word. It is not the word to any man until, after “eating” it, he chews his cud, meditates on it, and the Holy Spirit turns it from flesh to spirit, from words on a page to revelation in the heart.
In other words, we might say that the famine of hearing the word is caused by a lack of spiritual revelation of the word. During the Dark Ages, the people were deprived of the word, because only a few were literate, and the Bible was known only in Latin, a language that the common people did not understand. When they went to church, the main course was ritual, rather than teaching the word. The rituals gave the people the sense that they were in submission to God, but in reality, they were submitted to the Church first, and God second. If any man received revelation that differed from the Church creed or that criticized Church practice, he was pressured and even threatened to give up his divine revelation and accept only the Church’s decision.
In 1453, when the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Europe was flooded with refugees, including many churchmen who carried with them Greek copies of the New Testament. Soon Greek began to be taught in Western universities, and men soon began translating the New Testament directly from Greek into the common language of the people, instead of from the Latin Vulgate.
This was the end of the Bible-reading famine. Men soon studied its pages to formulate new creeds and also to learn the laws that could be the foundation of a truly Christian nation. Men studied the writings of men like John Calvin and John Locke, and eventually, America was established largely on those newly-discovered principles of divine law, true justice, and righteous government.
But Bible study alone was insufficient, though it was a good start. The “cow” was eating grass, but it would yet starve unless it stopped to chew its cud, sending the food to a second stomach. The problem was that most Christians were still “swine,” because they were not chewing their cud. So we see that in the parable, the prodigal son was still eating with the pigs.
In the early 1900’s, the Holy Spirit was poured out in a replay of Pentecost. This was designed to end the famine of hearing the word. But as time passed, most of the people became so enamored by the miracles being done that they neglected the word. They failed to see how the law of equal weights and measures forbade treating other ethnic groups with partiality. Native Americans continued to be mistreated and black people remained oppressed, while at the same time there arose a new belief that the Jews were to be elevated even above other believers! Partiality remained rooted in the Church.
Many saw how previous generations had studied the Bible and saw that mere Bible knowledge failed to bring righteousness. Many concluded that Bible study was the problem, and with the new spiritual outpouring, they saw this as the solution. So they rejected the word itself, claiming that Bible study was just eating from the tree of knowledge.
They were half right in their assessment. The Word itself was not the problem. The problem was that they did not understand the food laws and how we are supposed to meditate on the word (chew the cud) in order to turn it from flesh to spirit. In fact, if they had read the food laws in Leviticus 11, they might have received the revelation of chewing the cud.
And so the rule of the “little horn” was extended for another century to the present time. In spite of all the miracles done through Pentecost in the past century, it has not served to bring godly government to America or the world. The law was viewed with suspicion, and few dared study it. Even fewer meditated upon it to learn the spiritual principle behind it. Those who did study the law tended to become legalistic, because most of them rejected the Holy Spirit, who alone could show them how “the law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14).
Hence, the prodigal son has remained famished, competing with swine to keep from starving, and has remained in captivity in a country far from the Kingdom of God.
There were a few great leaders arising from the Pentecostal movement who put great emphasis on the word. One such leader was Smith Wigglesworth. In December 1941 his teaching was published in Revival News, where he said,
“On any line or principle of your faith you must have something established in you to bring that forth. And there is no establishment outside God’s Word for you. Everything else is sand. Everything else shall sunder.
“If you build on anything else but the Word of God—on imaginations, sentimentality, or any feelings, or any special joy, it will mean nothing without you have a foundation, and the foundation will have to be in the Word of God.
“We must have something better than sand, and everything is sand except the Word.” (Smith Wigglesworth, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, compiled by Roberts Liardon, p. 778.)
R. T. Kendall wrote recently of a prophecy from Smith Wiggles-worth about the next great move of the Spirit and how it will differ from the various Pentecostal and Charismatic movements:
“I believe many have underestimated what God is going to do next. It is my view that the next thing on God’s calendar is the Word and the Spirit coming together as seen in the book of Acts. Smith Wigglesworth prophesied three months before he died in 1947 that the next great move of God would be the coming together of the Word and the Spirit. That is what I am saying. I have given it the name Isaac. I plan to write an entire book on this.”
He says that “the next move of God would be the coming together of the Word and the Spirit.” Past revivals have seen the Spirit in abundance, but somehow none of them broke the famine of hearing the word. Each revival had a specific revelation accompanying it, but it did not change the government or the judicial system, nor did it break the bondage of the little horn. No doubt each revival changed many individual lives, but each failed to bring home the prodigal son as a prophetic nation.
He says also that the outpouring of the Spirit through Pentecost is Ishmael, while that which is coming is Isaac.
Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, then, is about how the House of Israel was exiled to Assyria (and beyond), and how they experienced a famine of hearing the word even throughout the time of the Little Horn of Daniel 7:8.
The local application would have been more relevant to Jesus’ audience at the time, showing how the publicans and sinners had been exiled, or put out of the temple, thus depriving them of the word of God. Jesus came to search for those lost sheep and to feed them with the word in fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:23.