In dealing with the subject of the family, there is one vital point that must not be overlooked. In the Word of God the fatherhood of God is clearly taught. In the Old Testament we do not find it as often as in the New, but it is there. In the song spoken by Moses he states, referring to Jehovah, “Is not He thy Father?” (Deut 32:6). The opening words of the epistle section of the New Testament declare “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” From the pen of Peter we read “If ye call on the Father” (1Peter 1:17). His fatherhood extends to all believers. Into this family “we are born anew” (John 3:3 JND). We also are described as being “sons by adoption.” Unbelievers, however, do not enjoy that relationship, as the Lord confirmed to those Pharisees who opposed Him, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44) and to Elymas the sorcerer, “thou child of the devil” (Acts 13:10).
Before looking at how “God our Father” deals with His “family” it must be recognized that His feelings and actions are lessons for all fathers to take to heart.
The Father’s Desire (Gal 1:4)
That He might deliver us out of the present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.
A father’s desire is to see his children delivered out of this present evil world. His prime wish is to see them saved, understanding that the world is evil. Even in Christendom the Anglican Archbishop Richard Trent declared: “All the floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power …” The will of the Father was that we should be plucked out of that power. The prime wish of a father ought to be that his family will be delivered from this “present evil world,” such a desire revealing him to be godly and to display the character of His Father.
The Father’s Love (1John 3:1)
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.
The quality of the love of the Father for His children is clearly set out by the language used by John. “Behold” indicates the wonder in the heart of the recipient, and “hath bestowed” indicates that such love is given permanently. A father loves his children even at times when they may cause grief. Any sorrow that he feels does not extinguish his love. The father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) reveals to us a father’s love in action. Among the many lessons is that his love was not dependent on the son’s response. Note that the father, in dealing with the son, did not condone his actions or support his “lifestyle” in any way. When the prodigal repented he was met by a warm fatherly response. A father’s love ought to be deep and never faltering, as is the love that we, as Christians, enjoy from our Father.
The Father’s Guidance (1Thes 3:11)
Now God Himself and our Father … direct our way unto you.
Paul’s desire was to travel to Thessalonica, and that the Father would make the way strait for him. His longing was to see the saints there face to face (3:10) but he had to wait, possibly until Acts 20:1. But, just as Paul relied on the Father to open up the way, so a father desires to guide and lead his children as they seek in their desires to serve the Lord. As Paul had to wait, so a father may have to teach his family to wait on the Father to open the door and make the way plain.
The Father’s Compassion (2Cor 1:3)
Blessed be God … the Father of mercies” (compassion JND).
Every father ought to have a compassionate heart; “to have pity and compassion for the ills of others” (W.E. Vine). The Father of mercies does not have a hard heart, nor is His relationship with His family one of cold indifference. He is the “God of patience and consolation” (Rom 15.5). If we truly know our heart we understand that we have been the undeserving recipients of our Father’s compassion.
This must also be displayed towards others. The Lord Jesus used the same expression when He taught the multitude to “be … merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). This does not allow a father to overlook every fault in his family, but it does involve the responsibility to recognize the ills and problems being faced by his children. He will encourage them by showing genuine care and compassion. He is not indifferent.
The Father’s Commandment (2John v4)
Walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
This brings before us the rightful authority of a father, supported by his wife. It is for him to ensure that the Word of God is read and obeyed in the home, and that his conduct does not contradict Scripture. He is responsible to ensure that children are taught to acknowledge his authority, just as the believer must acknowledge the authority of the Father. What a joy it will be for him to see his family “walking in truth” as did the children of the “elect lady.”
The few examples to which I have drawn the reader’s attention show that the relationship of the father with the family is of vital importance. The divine order of how a family ought to be ordered is not left to fathers, or to mothers, to determine by their own will. The teaching of the Father’s way and how He deals with His family is vital, an ideal pattern not to be ignored. May all fathers seek to follow the example of our God Who is the Father of that great spiritual family of which every believer forms a part.
– To be continued