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Luke 15:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Against heaven - Εις τον ουρανον ; that is, against God. The Jews often make use of this periphrasis in order to avoid mentioning the name of God, which they have ever treated with the utmost reverence. But some contend that it should be translated, even unto heaven; a Hebraism for, I have sinned exceedingly - beyond all description.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I will arise - This is a common expression among the Hebrews to denote “entering on a piece of business.” It does not imply that he was “sitting,” but that he meant immediately to return. This should be the feeling of every sinner who is conscious of his guilt and danger.

To My father - To his father, although he had offended him, and treated him unkindly, and had provoked him, and dishonored him by his course of conduct. So the sinner. He has nowhere else to go but to “God.” He has offended him, but he may trust in his kindness. If “God” does not save him he cannot be saved. There is no other being that has an arm strong enough to deliver from sin; and though it is painful for a man to go to one whom he has offended - though he cannot go but with shame and confusion of face - yet, unless the sinner is willing to go to “God” and confess his faults, he can never be saved.

I have sinned - I have been wicked, dissipated, ungrateful, and rebellious.

Against heaven - The word “heaven” here, as it is often elsewhere, is put for God. I have sinned against “God.” See Matthew 21:25. It is also to be observed that one evidence of the genuineness of repentance is the feeling that our sins have been committed chiefly against “God.” Commonly we think most of our offences as committed against “man;” but when the sinner sees the true character of his sins, he sees that they have been aimed chiefly against “God,” and that the sins against “man” are of little consequence compared with those against God. So David, even after committing the crimes of adultery and murder after having inflicted the deepest injury on “man” - yet felt that the sin as committed against “God” shut every other consideration out of view: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” etc., Psalm 2:4.

Before thee - This means the same as “against” thee. The offences had been committed mainly against God, but they were to be regarded, also, as sins against his “father,” in wasting property which he had given him, in neglecting his counsels, and in plunging himself into ruin. He felt that he had “disgraced” such a father. A sinner will be sensible of his sins against his relatives and friends as well as against God. A true penitent will be as ready to “acknowledge” his offences against his fellow-men as those against his Maker.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Having viewed the prodigal in his abject state of misery, we are next to consider his recovery from it. This begins by his coming to himself. That is a turning point in the sinner's conversion. The Lord opens his eyes, and convinces him of sin; then he views himself and every object, in a different light from what he did before. Thus the convinced sinner perceives that the meanest servant of God is happier than he is. To look unto God as a Father, and our Father, will be of great use in our repentance and return to him. The prodigal arose, nor stopped till he reached his home. Thus the repenting sinner resolutely quits the bondage of Satan and his lusts, and returns to God by prayer, notwithstanding fears and discouragements. The Lord meets him with unexpected tokens of his forgiving love. Again; the reception of the humbled sinner is like that of the prodigal. He is clothed in the robe of the Redeemer's righteousness, made partaker of the Spirit of adoption, prepared by peace of conscience and gospel grace to walk in the ways of holiness, and feasted with Divine consolations. Principles of grace and holiness are wrought in him, to do, as well as to will.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 260.3

God invites us to come to Him with our burden of guilt and our heart sorrows. Sin fills us with fear of God. When we have sinned we try to hide ourselves from Him. But whatever our sin, God bids us come unto Him through Jesus Christ. It is only by taking our sins to God that we can be freed from them. Cain, under the rebuke of God, acknowledged his guilt in killing Abel, but he fled away from God, as if he could thus escape from his sin. Had he fled to God with his burden of guilt he would have been forgiven. The prodigal son, realizing his guilt and wretchedness, said, “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18). He confessed his sin and was taken back to his father's heart. TMK 260.3

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 53-4

God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. He says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” Isaiah 55:7; 44:22. SC 53.1

“I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32. Satan is ready to steal away the blessed assurances of God. He desires to take every glimmer of hope and every ray of light from the soul; but you must not permit him to do this. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say, “Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish. I have a compassionate heavenly Father; and although I have abused His love, though the blessings He has given me have been squandered, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say, ‘I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants.’” The parable tells you how the wanderer will be received: “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.” Luke 15:18-20. SC 53.2

But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by His prophet, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. While the sinner is yet far from the Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love. SC 54.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 100-4

When the woman found the silver, she called her friends and her neighbors together, saying: “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” If the angels of God rejoice over the erring who see and confess their wrongs and return to the fellowship of their brethren, how much more should the followers of Christ, who are themselves erring, and who every day need the forgiveness of God and of their brethren, feel joy over the return of a brother or a sister who has been deceived by the sophistry of Satan and has taken a wrong course and suffered because of it. 3T 100.1

Instead of holding the erring off, their brethren should meet them where they are. Instead of finding fault with them because they are in the dark, they should light their own lamp by obtaining more divine grace and a clearer knowledge of the Scriptures, that they may dispel the darkness of those in error by the light that they bring to them. And when they succeed, and the erring feel their error and submit to follow the light, they should be received gladly, and not with a spirit of murmuring or an effort to impress upon them their exceeding sinfulness, which had called forth extra exertion, anxiety, and wearisome labor. If the pure angels of God hail the event with joy, how much more should their brethren rejoice, who have themselves needed sympathy, love, and help when they have erred and in their darkness have not known how to help themselves. 3T 100.2

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Ellen G. White
Messages to Young People, 408

The lesson of the prodigal is given for the instruction of youth. In his life of pleasure and sinful indulgence, he expends his portion of the inheritance in riotous living. He is friendless, and in a strange country; clad in rags, hungry, longing even for the refuse fed to the swine. His last hope is to return, penitent and humbled, to his father's house, where he is welcomed, forgiven, and taken back to a father's heart. Many youth are doing as he did, living a careless, pleasure-loving, spendthrift life, forsaking the fountain of living waters, the fountain of true pleasure, and hewing out to themselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water. MYP 408.1

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