God the Father and the Very Human Dad
God the Father and the Very Human Dad
With Father’s Day this last Sunday, it’s important to remember just how much of an influence the fathers and father figures in our lives have on us. The impact a dad has spreads so much further than just his family, and that impact stretches everywhere from the school pickup line to Sunday morning worship and everywhere in between whether he likes it or not. Being a dad is incredibly difficult (See: Abraham in Genesis 22) and coming to terms with how to lead a family to follow Christ is no easy task either. Thankfully, we’re given important aspects of leading as a father through the stories of men like Abraham, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, the prodigal son’s father, and the list goes on. Mordecai was Esther’s uncle who filled the role of a father for the future queen, and of course, we see the perfect model of God the Father. Below are some examples I think are especially important to remember in the modern day.
The Protector Dad
“19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, afor he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:19- 21)
We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood, but we do know that Joseph, who was only engaged to Mary at this point, stuck around after Christ’s birth and still took Mary as his wife. What we see in the passage above is an example of priorities in fatherhood. The family unit is a model God put in place, with the man at the head as the leader and protector. Joseph was in a very difficult predicament, where the family unit he was supposed to lead looked like it was heading for a shameful end before it had even begun! However, Joseph rightly assumed that, even though he did not understand the situation, he must protect whatever bit of Mary’s reputation he could. By the Law, Joseph had every right to shame and divorce Mary for perceived unfaithfulness, and yet Joseph chose to prioritize the protection of the very family he thought might have betrayed him. Verse 19 states Joseph was a just man, and all throughout Matthew’s gospel account, we see the word “just” to describe someone who is truly righteous, filled with compassion and mercy. Before the angel of the Lord appeared to him, Joseph still put the needs of those in his care above his own sense of retribution or the need to protect his own reputation, and he instead was going to minimize the damage a divorce could cause. Joseph’s short but impactful story tells us that the protector who follows God’s example is characterized by compassion and mercy. He puts those in his care above his own needs to exemplify the forgiving nature of God. It also shows that those who are under the protection of a father figure ought to respect the sacrifices he makes to give that protection.
The Mentor Dad
“5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5)
I grew up homeschooled, and I was lucky enough to have both my mom and dad take an active teaching role in my education. While the Bible calls fathers to teach their children, it is obviously not a call to teach algebra or writing (kids everywhere rejoice!). In the passage above, we see instead that faithful fathers like Job teach the importance of following God. Job frequently fulfilled the role of a priest for his family, and like so, a father in the church takes up the role of spiritual leader for his family. Obviously, Job was not sinless and a father can’t be either, but we see throughout Job’s story that his desire to serve God first was consistent and devoted, just as a dad should teach his children to serve the Lord. Job 31 is a particularly good chapter for anyone looking to remember the importance of keeping to the path, especially for fathers and husbands. It gives a great account of how Job adhered to the duties of a father, despite having his children taken by Satan, and the perseverance of a husband when beset on all sides by spiritual attacks. A Christian father is a teacher and an example to his family and everyone he meets.
When Dad’s Best Isn’t Enough
22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And He went with him. (Mark 5:22-24)
We look to dads for answers. It’s one of the best things about fatherhood (from what I’m told). Dads can seemingly answer any question, whether they actually know the answer or not. The ability to conjure up a convincing enough answer that fools the kids into silence and earns countless eyerolls from mom is just part of the fun of a family. However, when a serious situation arises that a father can’t solve or give an answer for, the importance of humility cannot be emphasized enough. Jairus the synagogue leader was most likely a man who was looked up to, not just by his sick daughter, but by the Jewish community at large. It takes a lot of strength to say, “I don’t know” or “I can’t do anything,” especially to those a father is charged with protecting and teaching; And the strength Jairus shows in admitting his helplessness is an example of fatherhood that’s rarely seen in the secular world today. A Godly father knows his limits, and he knows that any crisis, any sickness, any event is ultimately up to the Father in Heaven to oversee. It’s not an easy thing to confront, but sometimes a father’s best earthly efforts are not enough. Jairus understood that no doctor other than the Great Physician could heal his daughter and placed her in His care. A Christian father might one day have to place the lives of those under his protection, tutelage, and guidance into the divine hands of the Father, and by doing so, puts his family in greater protection than he can provide and teaches a greater lesson than any other. That lesson is to trust in God and His word.
Let’s remember to thank a father figure in our lives, and for the dads, remember to lead as the examples above and found elsewhere in the Scriptures. -Robert Grode