From a Father – Both a Natural and a Spiritual Father
Malachi 4:5–6 (ESV) 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
It seems a good time to speak about ‘Father’ as father’s day in Australia has just past.
I spoke with a young man yesterday who, while waiting for his wife to finish work, talked about his recent marriage. The two had lived together for two years and finally decided to marry. He then went on to say how surprised his parents were because they were not told of nor invited to the wedding. But, he concluded, they ‘are happy for him’ and looking forward to meeting his wife soon.
I said to my son Dale later that this man thinks he is ‘in control’ of his life without realizing he is a pawn of principalities and powers in these last days. While thinking he is a man of his own making and destiny, in participating unconsciously in the destruction of family he fulfills the purpose of Satan established in the Garden of Eden.
In the Beginning
God’s ultimate purpose for Adam and Eve was that they would come to know Him as Father. Not simple as an emotional, romantic idea – as the world has reduced it to, especially during the ‘celebration’ of father – but to know God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Heavenly Father who is the source of righteousness, joy and peace.
Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
As the children of God Adam and Eve would then pass on to their children the light of the true Father and they too would live in righteousness, peace and joy in God’s family.
Satan wanted to ‘birth’ something far more destructive into God’s children. He became to Adam and Eve the source, or father of unrighteousness, enmity, and angst rather than joy. Satan deceived Adam into becoming a father to himself. That is, man as his own god, the source of his own righteousness, his own peace and his own joy.
The god of this age wants men to know themselves as ‘father’ – being to themselves the source from which joy flows. Life outside of The Father, or more specifically, when the image of Father on earth is destroyed, so disappears the knowledge of genuine righteousness (Rom 1:19-23), so disappears peaceful living of men towards God, men with each other and men with the environment, and so disappears the joy of life having been overtaken by lustful self-ambition.
Adam was created to be a father, and through him fatherhood would be passed down. This fatherhood was meant to emulate The Heavenly Father, to reflect His nature as father to the children, as are all fathers to come.
Before “the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” there will be an amazing phenomena – he will turn “the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers”. (While I am focusing here on fathers, it is noteworthy that children are not exempt in their relation to fathers. They too require their hearts to ‘be turned’ to their fathers. We live in a world – and I think this is indicative of political correctness – where ‘victims’ are free to act as they please. While true victims need to be restored, they are not excused from themselves living righteously. You cannot sin because you have been sinned against. Such perpetuation of unrighteousness dishonours Christ who died to bring us to the Father. Similarly, because of this idea that victims are to be somehow exempt from responsibility – but now are elevated over all who somehow resemble the perpetrators that made them victims, people actually seek victim-hood. A criminal is a victim of the environment, family or society they were raised in; an adulterer is victim of a ‘loveless marriage’ so the spouse is guilty, homosexuality is not sin but natural and they are victims of judgmental others, and so it goes on…)
The miracle of these last days is the restoration of ‘right’ relationships beginning with family. Not simply in a natural sphere but in a spiritual. God is restoring His Fatherhood to an orphaned world. This is the work of the cross. (Mat 5:45; Rom 8:15-17)
The result of the restoration of children to The Father is the birth of the church – The Church, while usually describe as the citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, is the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19).
Ephesians 3:14–15 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
Psalm 68:5–6 (NIV84)
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
A brief word before looking at what father is in relationship to family. It is important to note that the preeminent restoration of the gift of father on earth is given through the gifts of Christ Jesus to the church.
1 Corinthians 4:15 (ESV) 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
So as we look at the role of ‘father’ in family, for those who are in Christ and are fathers, you have a responsibility to ‘be’ like your heavenly Father to your family. But this can only truly be effective if your heart has been turned as a child, to the father. If your heart is still at war with father figures (authority figures) you will struggle to be a father to your natural children and you will never be a father to the fatherless.
Jesus Reveals The Father
Jesus Christ has shown us The Father. His walk on earth was as The Son, and he revealed that the Father and the Son were always toward each other. John 1:1, speaking of the relationship of Jesus – The Word – and God – The Father, says, “The Word was with God”. The Greek word translated ‘with’ is the word ‘pros’, which means: before; near; towards. As ‘Son’ his heart was always toward the Father, even when the demands of the Father were to cost him dearly. Yet never did Christ react/act like a victim, but rather rejoiced in being ‘FREE’ to do the Fathers will. Never did he for a moment thin that anything the Father required was not inclusive of His own good. At the cross we see a righteous Father of peace and joy (such a contrast to this victim-filled world) and a victimless son obediently walking in His Father’s will.
No matter our experience, if The Father is our father then we can trust that our way is in fact His way. We can be righteous toward His family, and at peace with God, men and the environment rejoicing in His rule.
In light of this revelation of Father then fathers, both spiritual and natural, should be the gift of righteousness, peace and joy in and to the family.
Fathers demonstrate, teach, exhort and admonish righteousness in the family.
Righteousness is that which is right and fathers are the guardians or watchmen of righteousness in the family how the children should live righteously. This includes instruction on what is right, exhortation to live rightly, rebuke when righteousness is disregarded and ultimately discipline and correction to restore children to righteousness.
Satan wants ‘right’ to be that which is right in our own eyes. This is the prevalent theme in Israel’s wandering from God (jg 17:6; 21:25).
Deuteronomy 12:8–9 (ESV) 8 “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, 9 for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you.
Righteousness is the right of God, and the right of man is to seek out His righteousness. The responsibility of a father is to bring that righteousness to family.
In the family of God it is the same. Spiritual fathers bring God’s righteousness to the house of God. Adopted children of God come to fully appreciate God’s authority in and through spiritual fathers, but foster children never seen to settle in any house always being wary of fathers, always rebellious towards authority. The tragedy of this is they never enter into God’s rest and enjoy the righteousness, peace and joy found in His presence.
Fathers are responsible for peace in and for the family.
Peace is not the absence of conflict or the absence of diversity. In truth family exists in this fallen world. Peace is primarily the restoration of the family to The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace comes from the assurance that our families are in Christ and at peace with God. Then, as we work, and walk and live in this not-yet-restored world, we work, and walk and live as the already-restored-now children of God. As such fathers teach their children peace. They give of themselves for peace to reign and rule in the family and they protect them from the enmity that Satan desires to produce in family.
Men, fathers; Satan wants your family to be at enmity with God. And so he will work to bring angst into the house. Principalities and powers are at work to destroy peace and Father’s bring the righteous peace of Heavenly Father to bear in the home.
In the church, God’s family on earth, peace is an essential expression of the Father’s presence. Love is expressed in the peaceful living of brothers.
Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)
1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
John 13:35 (ESV) 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Fathers bring joy to the house
Acts 16:30–34 (ESV) 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
Joy is not the levity of drunkenness, or the revelry of supporters of winning sportspeople, it is the inner disposition of those who have found the salvation of God. Fathers do not let worldly pleasures become substitute for Kingdom joy. They bring to the fore “the joy of the Lord [which] is your strength” (Neh 8:9)
What more can be said of true joy than this:
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I long for the days when we see Malachi 4:6 being revealed in greater measure. It requires, I think, a work of the Spirit in revealing the intimacy of the love of the Father and Son to the hearts of orphans.
The great obstacle is that we have men and women who seek, perhaps graciously though ignorantly, to father ‘sons’ from the perspective of their own fatherless experience. They live as victims, foster children in God’s house (the church), rebelling openly or inwardly against the revelation of ‘Father’ but seeking to ‘father’ from a place of abandonment.
Men and fathers, to become a father firstly demands sonship, and to become a son requires death – else how can you truly be born again? Only in self-death can the Son’s life become your life. Only in His life can sonship be found and only in sonship can the father’s heart be received (from God and from spiritual fathers), and only then can the father’s heart become truly evident in you and given to others in grace.
The heavenly Father, through the Spirit of His son, is raising up a generation who long to father – albeit in the weakness of their own humanity – desiring for the Spirit to reveal through their frailty a window to the everlasting Father.
What an amazing phenomena, the hearts of the fathers being turned to the children and the hearts of children to the fathers!
Even so Lord Jesus come.