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FATHERS

FAMILY DEVOTIONS

    God intends for every family to gather together in the Lord Jesus Christ for teaching, prayer and worship. Each father, as spiritual head of the family, has a duty to command his children to follow God.   As we consider the verses below, keep in mind that the Hebrew term "father" may include grandfather and great-grandfather as well.

 

ABRAHAM:

THE FATHER OF MANY NATIONS

    Abraham, originally named Abram, lived one hundred and seventy five years (Genesis 25:8).  He was born in Ur of the Chaldees, around 2165 B.C.  In Genesis 12:1-3, God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him: (1) a land, (2) that he would be a great nation, and (3) all the families of the earth would be blessed in him.  The Jews of the New Testament considered Abraham to be their father  (John 8:39).    God preached the gospel of salvation by faith to Abraham and selected Abraham and his offspring to bless the nations (Galatians 3:8).

Genesis 18:19

 

"For I have chosen him, so that

he may command his children and

his household after him to keep

the way of the LORD by doing

righteousness and justice, so that

the LORD may bring upon

Abraham what He has

spoken about him."
 

    As you can see from the verse above, God directed Abraham to command his children and his household after him to keep "the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice . . . "  (Genesis 18:19).  In this verse, God highlights righteousness.  This term for righteousness signals that even Abraham found righteousness with God by faith alone (Romans 4:9-15).  The application here means that fathers must teach their children about salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and the spiritual life based upon faith righteousness.  Righteousness refers to a quality of Yahweh that means upright, morally and ethically perfect.  Notice the verse speaks of "doing."  We walk in the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness.  Fathers teach their children by doing, that is, by example, and also by teaching with words.  Therefore, in addition to salvation, and the entire spiritual life of righteousness based upon faith, God also commands fathers to teach their children about justice.  The righteous rejoice in justice and it refers to doing the correct thing before God (Psalm 32:1).  You can wear justice as a robe (Job 29:4; Isaiah 61:10). God repeatedly placed a duty upon fathers, as spiritual leaders of the family, to be sure their children followed Christ.  In the New Testament, God included even gentiles in the promise of salvation made to Abraham: "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendents, and heirs according to promise" (Galatians  3:29).   Just as God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, so we gentiles have been brought into the family of God (Romans 4:16-18).  As children of Abraham, we should do the works of Abraham, including the obligation to learn righteousness and justice at home, from our fathers (John 8:39).  Just as God commanded Abraham to teach his children, so also God commanded Moses. 

 

MOSES:

THE FATHER OF THE EXODUS

    Moses lived one hundred and twenty years (1525-1405 B.C.).  When he died, "his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated" (Deuteronomy 34:7).  Originally, the people of Israel fled famine in Canaan and moved to Egypt, and enjoyed the protection of Joseph, a Jew elevated to a high office in the Egyptian kingdom.  The Jews continued to live in Egypt, but long after Joseph died, a new Pharaoh enslaved and persecuted them.  About 1445 B.C., God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and back to the promised land.

Deuteronomy 6:7

 

"You shall teach them diligently

to your sons and shall talk of

them when you sit in your house

and when you walk by the way

and when you lie down and

when you rise up."

     As God instructed Moses about having a relationship with the living God, He told Moses that all Israel should know that Yahweh is their only God, and all of them must love Him with all their heart and with all of their soul and with all of their might (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).  Yahweh then gave Moses a specific command on how to pass the faith from generation to generation.

Five Lessons for Fathers

 

 

Lesson One

Children learn to love God, or not,  by watching Fathers  

 

Lesson Two

God commanded fathers to command their children to follow Him

 

Lesson Three

Fathers teach always, so always be careful about what you teach

 

Lesson Four

Fathers teach from their hearts directly to the hearts of their children

 

Lesson Five

Fathers must have absolute love joined to absolute grace

 

Yahweh commanded the people of Israel to teach His commands.  Fathers must diligently talk of God's commands to their sons when they sit in their house and when they walk by the way and when they lie down and whey they rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7). The teaching takes place all day, every day, so that the children will be well taught to love Yahweh, known in the New Testament as Jesus Christ (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).  Furthermore, Yahweh always intended for the children to learn from their parents so that one generation would teach the next (Exodus 12:26-27 (teaching children about the Passover); 13:8 (teaching children about the Feast of Unleavened bread); Deuteronomy 31:12 (teaching the general assembly, specifically including the children, to hear and obey the  Law). Fathers must discipline their sons (Deuteronomy 8:5) and the rebellious and disobedient, gluttonous and drunkard sons were to be stoned so that the evil would be removed the midst of Israel and all Israel fear (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).  God gave specific instructions that fathers should not put up with disobedient sons.

ELI:

SONS OF SIN

    Eli served as a priest of God at Shiloh, where the tabernacle of God had been pitched for many years during the time of the Judges (Joshua 18:1; Judges 18:31).  Before the Israelites entered the promised land, God had appointed the tribe of Levi to serve as priests for Israel, and God alone was their inheritance in the promised land (Deuteronomy 10:9).  Aaron, the brother of Moses, served as a high priest during the Exodus from Egypt.  Aaron had two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar.  The story of Eli centers around the final and tragic end of the line of priests through Ithamar.  Because of sin in the family, and disobedient sons and a lax father, God terminated a family line from serving Him any longer as priests.

1 Samuel 3:13

 

"For I have told him that I am about

to judge his house forever for the

iniquity which he knew, because

his sons brought a curse on

themselves and he did not

 rebuke them."

    God described the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, as worthless men who did not know the LORD and the custom of the priests with the people (1 Samuel 2:12).    Apparently, these children despised education in the ways of God, and spurned salvation from God.  In those days, God had commanded that priests take meat from offerings by using a three-pronged fork to lift out portions from a boiling pot (1 Samuel 2:13; Leviticus 7:29-34).  God also directed that, before boiling,  the fat of the meat be removed and burned separately as a soothing aroma.  But Hophni and Phinehas wanted the meat raw, with the fat still intact.  Through their servants, they forced the people of Israel coming to Shiloh to give them the offerings as they demanded.  Those children of Eli corrupted all the sacrifices offered at Shilon while they were in charge. 

    Hophni and Phinehas also polluted the morality of people coming to Shiloh.  Many of the pagan temples in the land had male and female prostitutes.  The evil sons of Eli "lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting"    (1 Samuel    2:22).   The Bible implies that the priests consented to the  immorality and freely participated in the same.  They thoroughly disregarded the holiness of God and their position as priests to serve God through their daily work.  Instead, they viewed their position as an opportunity to satisfy their own hungers and lusts.

    When he was old, Eli confronted his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, because he heard of their sinful behavior from other people (1 Samuel 2:22).  This verse indicates that for many years Eli had been completely out of touch with his sons and neglected fatherly care.   If you want to have children like Hophni and Phinehas, repeat the mistakes of Eli:  do not educate your children about serving God according to their calling, do not keep in touch with your children, do not honestly evaluate the work of your children, make sure you get so busy doing God's work you have no time for your adult children, and, in short, let your children do what they want without your guidance.

    When Eli finally confronted Hophni and Phinehas, he told them that he had heard the bad report from the people.  He warned his sons that no one can intercede for them before God, because they had sinned directly against the LORD (1 Samuel 2:25).   The sons compounded their sin by refusing to listen to their father's words (1 Samuel 2:25).  God did not grant them repentance from their sins because God intended to put them to death (1 Samuel 2:25).

    Eli himself not only failed his sons, but he also participated in the abuse of the sacrifices and offerings.  One day a man of God confronted Eli, after he had rebuked his sons for their sins against God.  Through the man of God, Eli heard about his sins: (1) he was "kicking at" the sacrifices and offerings of God in His holy dwelling; and (2) he honored his sons above God (1 Samuel 2:29).  Eli loved the choicest of every offering, and took it, growing extremely fat in the process. 

    The other major sin of Eli concerned his own devotion to his sons.  God said Eli honored those boys more than Eli honored God.  God commands fathers to love their children, but they must never honor children above God.  The word "honor" here means to glorify, to esteem highly.  Instead of the children following the commandment to honor their father, this father chose to honor his children above God (cf. Exodus 20:12; 1 Samuel 2:29-30).   God also observed that Eli knew about the iniquity of his sons, and that they brought a curse upon themselves, but Eli did not rebuke them (1 Samuel 3:13). 

    In consequence of the sin of Eli and his sons, God told Eli that He would break the strength of Eli and his house so that "there would not be an old man in your house" (1 Samuel 2:31).  God also cursed Eli by making him watch the holy house of God fall into distress, and the death of the increase of his house in the  prime of their lives (1 Samuel 2:33).  God told Eli that he would cut off every man of Eli from serving at the altar of God ( 1 Samuel 2:32).

Five Sins of Fathers

 

Lesson One

Fathers sin when they lose track of their adult children

 

Lesson Two

Fathers sin when they participate in the sins of their children

 

Lesson Three

Fathers sin when they honor their children more than God

 

Lesson Four

Fathers sin when they overlook their children's sins

 

Lesson Five

Fathers sin when they despise God and His purpose for their children

 

  God brought unceasing grief upon the last days of Eli.  In one day, both Hophni and Phinehas would die as a sign to Eli (1 Samuel 2:34; see the ark of God taken from Israel, the sons of Eli killed, and how Eli, old and heavy, died when he heard the news 1 Samuel 4:1-18).  Fathers should rebuke and correct their children, as often as needed, and avoid participating in the sins of the children.  As Eli staggered under the curse of God, a young boy grew up before him to serve God as a judge, prophet and priest, and he would do according to what was in the heart and soul of God (1 Samuel 2:35).   Meanwhile, Eli's remaining offspring would have to bow down to the new priest and seek a priestly office from him so that they may "eat a piece of bread" (1 Samuel 2:36).  From exalted priests to lowly beggars, so are the people who despise God and sin against Him.  God remains true to His plans, and sin will not overcome God's eternal will.  He had chosen Samuel, and Eli had counseled Samuel's mother and he raised the child as a priest.

 

SAMUEL:

                      SONS OF EVIL

    Samuel had a wonderful mother named Hannah.  She and her husband, Elkanah, went to Shiloh every year to offer sacrifices and to pay his vow (1 Samuel 1:21).   Please remember that Hophni and Phinehas were priests there during this time.  Elkanah's other wife, Peninnah, had children and would provoke Hannah bitterly "because the LORD had closed her womb" (1 Samuel 1:6).  Even so, Elkanah loved Hanah, gave her a double portion, and was better to her "than ten sons" (1 Samuel 1:8).    Hannah really wanted a son, and if God would give her one, she vowed to God that she would "give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head" (1 Samuel 1:11; compare the law of the Nazarite in Numbers 6:1-21).  

    One day Hannah was praying before the LORD and Eli watched her.  He thought she was drunk and told her to put away her wine (1 Samuel 1:14).  Notice here that Eli had no problem confronting Hannah, but neglected Hophni and Phinehas.   She replied that she was not drunk, but praying because she was oppressed in spirit and pouring out her soul before the LORD.  She spoke out of her great concern and provocation.  Eli comforted her:  "Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:17).    As she went away, Hannah's face lifted.  Shortly thereafter, Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel, the child of his mother's prayer and devotion.  She named him Samuel "because I have asked him of the LORD" ( 1 Samuel 1:20).

    After Hannah weaned Samuel, she and Elkanah went to Shiloh, and offered a bull as sacrifice for the boy (Leviticus 1:5; Luke 2:22 ff.).  She then presented herself and Samuel to Eli and dedicated him to the service and worship of the LORD (1 Samuel 1:28).  Samuel then ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest (1 Samuel 2:11) and his mother brought him a "little robe" from year to year when she and Elkanah came to offer the yearly sacrifice (1 Samuel   2:19).  The LORD blessed Hannah and she gave birth to three sons and two daughters (1 Samuel 2:21).  Samuel grew before the LORD.  In Hannah, God saw a woman who honored Him by keeping her vow and presenting the child to the LORD for His service.  She had faith that God would keep His word and that her Son would prosper in His service (1 Samuel 2:1-11, the Prayer of Hannah).  

    The LORD used Samuel to deliver a message that would tingle the ears of everyone who heard it (1 Samuel 3:11).  But the message was of woe and doom for Eli and his household.  Because Eli had failed to rebuke his sons, and participated in their evil, the "iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever" (1 Samuel 2:14).  Eli took this prophecy from the LORD by Samuel with grace: "It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him" (1 Samuel 3:18).  Samuel had been afraid to tell Eli about that first prophecy, but Samuel obeyed Eli's urging and did not hide the terrible news from him.  As a result, Samuel grew before the LORD, and the LORD was with him and did not let any of his words fail.  All Israel knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD, and the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD (1 Samuel 3:19-21).

    Even though Samuel had been chosen of God to deliver the terrible prophecy of disaster to Eli, Samuel had problems with his children too.  When Samuel had grown old, all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to him.  They had a simple message: your sons do not walk in your ways and so we demand you appoint a king like all the nations (1 Samuel 8:4).  The elders and people had great respect for Samuel, but absolutely none for his children.  His sons, like Eli's sons, did not follow the good example of the father.  With Samuel, the period of Judges of Israel ends and the era of kings begins.  God told Samuel that the people of Israel, by asking for a king, had rejected God as their King.  They specifically asked for a "king to judge us" (1 Samuel 8:6).  But really, they also wanted a king to lead them in battle, like the other nations.  God told Samuel to grant their request, but required Samuel to warn them of the great cost of having a king.  In closing, Samuel declared that because the people had chosen a king for themselves, the LORD would not answer in the day they would cry out because of their king (1 Samuel 8:19).

 

DAVID:

SONS OF THE SWORD

     In 1010 B.C., David became king over Judah and then in 1003 B.C. he became king over all Israel.  David had the following children, starting with the firstborn son: Amnon, Chileab, Abasalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, and Ithream.  The story of David includes the violent death of several sons.  But to understand those terrible losses, you must understand the sins of David.    

Sexual Sins of Fathers

 

Lesson One

Adultery today will bear evil fruit both today and tomorrow

 

Lesson Two

After triumph in your greatest battles, beware of sexual sin

 

Lesson Three

Your sexual sins affect both your marriage and your children's lives

 

God chose David, a shepherd boy, to succeed Saul as king of Israel.  After Samuel anointed David, God formed a special covenant with him, and promised him that David would never have to fear that his offspring would be replaced by God as God had replaced Saul with David.  In 2 Samuel 7:8 ff., God promised David peace and prosperity.  God also promised that He would raise up a royal line from David to sit upon the throne of Israel.  God declared he would be a father to David's son, and God's loving-kindness would never depart from David's descendants.   

     Not long after God gave David these tremendous promises of great blessing, David fell into sexual sin with Bathsheba.  After he committed adultery with her, David then murdered her husband and valiant warrior, Uriah the Hittite.  God sent Nathan the prophet to David to confront him with his sin.  David had despised God and His blessings, opting instead to live in wild rebellion.  God spared the life of David, but pronounced a sentence upon the family of David commensurate with David's crimes.  First, because David had killed Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites, so the sword would never depart from the the house of David.  Second, evil would rise up against David from within his own household.  Third, David's wives would be taken under the sun and given to his companion, even before his own eyes.  Upon hearing the sentence, David confessed his sin against the LORD.  But a final blow remained.  The son of adultery with Bathsheba would also die (2 Samuel 12:1-15, Page 509).   God then records the fulfillment of the prophecy of the sword among David's sons. 

Amnon.  David's son, Amnon, loved Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom.   Even though Amnon and Tamar had David as father, their mothers were Ahinoam and Maacah (a daughter of a king herself), respectively.  The incestuous heart of Amon burned for his half sister, and he and Jonadab (his evil frined) concocted a plot to get her for Amnon (2 Samuel 13, Page 511).  Amon pretended to be ill, and arranged for Tamar to bring him food.  As she brought the food to his bed, he grabbed her and violated her, despite her protests.  But then, Amnon hated her with a violent hatred and sent her away.  She went to Absalom, told him the story, and remained desolate in the house of Absalom.  Two years later, Absalom had his revenge upon Amnon. Absalom had a great feast for his brothers, and then sent his servants to kill Amnon.  The sword had just devoured its first victim, Amnon, the firstborn of David, and Absalom had wielded it in retaliation for sexual  and incestuous sin in the house of David. 

Absalom.  At this point, Absalom had the blood of his half-brother Amnon on his hands and he fled to Geshur and the protection offered by Talmai of his mother's family.  David mourned for the loss of his son every day (2 Samuel 13:24-37, Page 513).  After a period of three years, Joab conceived a plan using the woman from Tekoa to convince David that Absalom should be brought back to Jerusalem, and allowed to live (2 Samuel 14:1-20, Pages 514-515). The plan worked, and David permitted Absalom to return.  Over  a period of many years, Absalom fomented rebellion and stole the hearts of the men of Israel away from David (2 Samuel 15:1-6, Page 516).  Absalom then seized power and David had to flee Jerusalem.  Absalom took possession of both the city and his father's concubines.  He set up a tent on the roof, and used those concubines to make himself odious to his father David (2 Samuel 16, Pages 519-520).   David gathered his forces, and sent them against Absalom under  the command of Joab.  Twenty thousand men of Israel fell in the ensuing battle, and Joab killed Absalom, disregarding the direct command of David to spare the life of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:1-19, Pages 522-523).  Upon hearing the news of Absalom's death, David lapsed into grief-stricken depression.  The sword had now struck down the second son of David, but had not yet departed from his house.  Furthermore, just as prophesied, what David had done sexually in private, Absalom had done to his concubines before all Israel.

Adonijah.  As David grew old, Adonijah his son exalted himself and Joab and Abiathar the priest supported his bid for the throne.  Meanwhile, Bathsheba heard of the rise of Adonijah and immediately sought an audience with David.  She reminded David that he had promised her that their son Solomon would be the next king.  David directed Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon king over Israel (1 Kings 1:1-37, Pages 539-541).  He immediately took the throne and Adonijah begged for his own life.  Solomon spared Adonijah's life, but told him "Go to your house."  Adonijah then sent his mother, Bathsheba, to Solomon and asked for Abishag, the maid of David, to become his wife.  Solomon discerned the rebellious motives of Adonijah and dispatched Adonijah by the hand of Benaiah.  The sword had now taken a third son of David.