Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us
and we respected them for it. How much more should we
submit to the Father of spirits and live!
- Hebrews 12:9 NIV
Emotionally unavailable. Physically absent. Unaffectionate. Authoritative. These are words my parents have used to describe their fathers, and perhaps it's how you would describe yours. Throughout the years I have had brief conversations with my dad regarding his own and he once said to me, "I didn't want to grow up to become a father like mine was, I wanted to be better." I am grateful to say that he is a loving, invested, supportive father to myself and my siblings. We were baptized together in April 2000 and since then I have witnessed him grow into an amazing man of God, a man worth looking up to and a godly example.
When I think of fathers in Scripture, Abraham comes to mind. At ninety-nine, he was a husband to Sarah but they could not bear children, and yet God gave him a promise, declaring, "My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you." (Genesis 17:4-6) Now that's quite a promise and sure enough, within a year's time, Isaac was born. Can you imagine Abraham's joy? He and Sarah had been trying and praying for years for offspring and finally a son. How cherished Isaac must have been. But that's not the end of their story.
In Genesis 22 we read a story that would probably horrify parents. God asks Abraham to take his son with him to the top of a mountain to offer him as a burnt offering, to sacrifice him to God. I am not a parent but I cannot imagine that a parent, a father, would take their only heir that they have waited decades for and sacrifice them. Yet, here's the shock - Abraham gets up the next morning and obeys without question. He takes Isaac, grabs some wood, and heads up the mountain. They build an altar, lay the wood, Abraham binds Isaac, lays him down, and just as he lifts the knife, an angel of God appears saying, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (verse 12)
Abraham was a devoted believer of God who trusted Him, trusted His plan even when he didn't understand, even if it meant giving up his own and only son. I try to think about what may have gone on through the mind of Isaac. Was he afraid? Was he now scared of his own father? Or did he respect his father's decision to obey God? Did he too have deep reverence for God that he felt at peace?
I know this world is fallen and full of broken people. I know that not everyone is blessed to have a father who doesn't just claim to be a Christian but fully lives in obedience to Scripture. Regardless of how our earthly fathers may be, how they may fall short or how they rise above, our heavenly Father is perfect. He is holy and just, compassionate and forgiving. Abraham wasn't perfect, he was a human like the rest of us, but here in this story he does display a shadow of our perfect Father in heaven. Hundreds of years later God the Father would sacrifice His own Son on the cross for the sins of all mankind. His Son, whom He loves deeply, died for our salvation. It must've broken God's heart, but the beauty of Christ's death is that it wasn't permanent - He rose from the dead! The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, God's only Son, is proof of how much God loves us, His beloved creation.
Whether you have a father who is emotionally unavailable and physically absent or one who is loving and invested, remember that God the Father is better and greater than any man on earth. Time and time again in Scripture, as well as in our own personal lives, He proves this. Obeying and honoring God the Father, like the example displayed by Abraham, is the wisest and best thing anyone could do.
1. Do I view God in the same way that I view my earthly father (and how do I view my biological father)?
2. Do I truly believe that God the Father desires the best for me; for me to be holy, to obey Him in full, no matter what that may cost me here on earth?
Father God, I thank You for being such a loving Father that You would willingly give up Your Son to die on the cross for me. Thank You for Your forgiveness, compassion, and grace. Help me to always remember that obeying and honoring You is the best thing that I could do and what I should do. Give me a deeper desire to be with You in Your Word and by prayer daily so that I may better know You and Your voice.
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