I want to address the topic of A Father’s Responsibilitythis morning because I will be in Florida on Father’s Day and since I addressed the ladies last week, I wanted to give the men equal time.
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 20, 2001
I want to address the topic of A Father’s Responsibility this morning because I will be in Florida on Father’s Day and since I addressed the ladies last week, I wanted to give the men equal time.
Fatherhood. It is a concept that is quickly being lost in our society. We are all aware of the increasing number of single mother families. The statistics for 1999 released this past April 17 showed that 33% – 1/3 – of all births in the U.S. that year were to unwed mothers. In some segments of the population the rate was as high as 69.1%. Where is dad?
I watch very little television, but I do read the reviews of what is going on in Television. Let me ask you, “How many prime time shows present a traditional nuclear family?” Almost none. The American family is becoming a fractured unit. Even within families that have a father and mother present, it is often a fractured family structure of Mom/step-dad or dad/step-mom. Children can be quickly confused at who is who, and the same is true for the parents. Exactly what is their role? Add to this confusion the influence of modern Psychologists and feminism whose ideas have radically changed the typical American home and the way our children have been raised.
Just a quick word of encouragement to those who are single parents or have a blended family. God is gracious. Your family structure may not match the ideal or God’s original intent, but God is greater than any circumstance that you face. He is a Father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5) and can enable you to raise your children properly regardless of the circumstances. In addition, He can provide you the support and help you need through His people.
Now the concept of fatherhood is very important in the Bible. Primarily this is because God refers to Himself often as our Father. A distorted concept of fatherhood may also distort our concept of God. I have noticed over the years that there is often a correlation between those people who have grown up with a bad father (i.e. immoral, drunk, abusive, neglectful, etc.) and those who struggle to believe that God is good, kind, merciful, gracious, just, etc.
The concept of fatherhood is also important in the Bible because God has a specific design for how the family is to operate, and at the center of it is the father. There are many different aspects of fatherhood I could concentrate on, but for today, I want to concentrate on the Father’s role as a spiritual teacher to his children.
Just as background, let me point out that the concept and system of learning for the Israelites was related to the concept of fatherhood. A Hebrew boy would be apprenticed or trained by his father in that father’s trade – whether it be farming, carpentry, fishing, business, etc. The son had to be able know his trade well enough to earn his own living at an early age. He might be married in his mid/late teens. The father would also teach the boy the practical aspects of everyday living and the basic truths of the Law of God. The son would have to be able to understand and communicate the truths of God’s word before he could go through his bar-mitzvah, meaning “a son of the law,” and join the adult community. It was the responsibility of the father to teach his son all of these things.
Underlying the concept of the Rabbi as a teacher of the Law was the concept of fatherhood. The word Rabbi is based upon the Hebrew word “Ab” or “Abba” which means daddy. Boys who were going to study the Law would attach themselves to a Rabbi, and that Rabbi would become as a father to him. This was true of Paul and his relationship with Gamaliel. This was also true of Jesus and his relationship with the disciples. Jesus taught them, directed them, rebuked them and lived with them. His father image can be seen very clearly during the last supper which was a Passover meal. Jesus took the position that a father would take with his family during that meal.
The concept of fatherhood, and in specific the concept of the father as the spiritual teacher of the children, is demonstrated throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
Overview of Responsibilities
Now a father has many different responsibilities. Some of these are a great joy and others are a little harder to accomplish. A father is responsible to:
2. Instruct his children (Prov. 1:8)
3. Exhort, encourage and implore children (1 Thess 2:11)
4. Punish unruly children (Dt. 21:18-21)
6. Discipline his children (Heb 12:7)
7. Love his wife (Eph 5:25,28,33)
Of course a father also gets the benefits of:
1. Children commanded to obey (Eph 6:1)
3. Children directed to seek his advice (Dt 32:7; Prov 4:1; 23:22)
4. Children directed to care of him, if unable to do so himself (1 Tim 5:8)
This morning we will concentrate upon the responsibility a father as the spiritual leader of the home and in particular the responsibility of rearing the children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. Now before those of you who are mothers, and those of you who do not have children tune out, let me encourage you to listen closely too. While I may be directing this message primarily at the fathers, most of the principles that I am talking about will apply to the rest of you in some way as well. Moms, you also have a direct responsibility for the rearing of your children, and in fact, in many ways your influence over them will be greater than dad’s. To those of you without children, these principles apply to any role you may have as a teacher of children. In addition, some of you will have children in the future, and those of you who have already raised your kids need to be godly advisors to those currently in the midst of parenting. You grandparents will also have an impact upon your grand children. Now that you all know that you need to listen, what are these principles?
Turn to Deuteronomy 6. Moses is near the end of his life. He has led the children of Israel to the plains of Moab, just across the Jordan river from Jericho. The first generation has died in the wilderness, and the second generation is poised, ready and waiting to conquer and posses the land before them. But Moses has a problem. Many of those in this second generation were not yet born when God gave His law from Mt Sinai. Moses also knows that he will soon die and would not cross over into the land with them. How will he teach these people the Law of God so that all the future generations to come will know God, obey His commandments, and live prosperous and successful in the land? The name, “Deuteronomy,” means “second law.” In this book Moses retells the laws of God. Look at verses 1-3.
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply grea
tly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Notice the reasons for the giving of the law, so that by keeping it:
1. Your life might be prolonged
2. That it might be well with you
3. That you may multiply greatly
Notice as well that this is for you, your son and your grandson. Three generations. Moses was also interested in the generations to come. How was Moses going to accomplish this task if he was not going to be there to teach them?
First, Moses reduced all of God’s law to its essential essence of a basic statement that encompassed all of the law. This is the Shema.
“Hear, O Israel, The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4,5)
This is the passage that Jesus quoted in Matt 22:35-40 when asked by a lawyer which was the great commandment in the Law. Jesus added that the second was like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and that the whole Law and the Prophets depended on these two commandments.
How to Carry Out the Command
After reducing the whole law to its basic precepts, Moses gives his instructions on how this will be transferred from generation to generation in verses 6-9. It is from this section that we will draw our principles of how a parent can raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is how a father can rear his children in the Lord’s way.
1. The parent must love the Lord
2. The parent must teach his child diligently
3. The parent must model this life to his child
“And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and 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. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write then on the door-posts of your house and on your gates”. (Dt 6:6-9)
1. The Parent must love the Lord.
2. The parent must teach his child diligently.
3. The parent must model this life to his child.
Now I say parent instead of just father because the responsibility is upon both parents. If one parent is not a Christian, or just not following the Lord as they should, the other parent is still responsible to train the children as best they can in the Lord’s way. The father has a greater responsibility before God for the spiritual welfare of his children, but this does not reduce the mother’s responsibility for the same thing in any way. For example, in Prov 1:8 states, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching”
The father’s greater responsibility is seen in a number of different passages. In Ephesians 6, children are commanded to obey and honor their parents in verses 1 & 2, but verse 4 is addressed to the fathers specifically; “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is repeated in Colossians 3:21. The principle is also found in that men are specifically designated as the head of the household in Ephesians 5:23. 1 Cor 11:3 also bring this out saying, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,” The husband has the responsibility of directing the family.
1. The Parent must love the Lord.
Look back at Deut. 6:6. “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” This is a very profound statement. In our society we have a strong tendency to separate what we think from what we truly believe. This is wrong. It is not enough to make an intellectual assent to divine truth, i.e. to think in our minds that these things are true. The truths we claim to believe must also affect our very being and change the way we really are. You say you love God? You claim to love Him with all your heart, soul and might? How has that claim affected the way you really are? Has your life changed as a result of these beliefs? If a father or mother wants to teach their child God’s truths, they first need to have been affected by those truths themselves. God’s truths are not to be left in the intellect, but are to result in a changed life.
How often parents fail in the proper rearing of their children precisely for this reason. They may even greatly desire for their children to grow up to be moral, responsible, productive adults, but because they have no foundation in God’s word on which to stand, they cannot pass on a stable foundation to their children. The children grow up and start challenging the parents’ value system. They want to see that what mom and dad have been saying is true. Too often mom and dad say one thing, but do another. Why? Because mom and dad do not really love God with all their heart, soul and might. They have not committed themselves totally to God. Mom and dad love themselves more than God, and that fact quickly becomes evident to the children. I guess I react a bit strongly to this because it has so strongly affected my generation. I cannot begin to recount all the people I have grown up with that basically want nothing to do with the church now. For many of them, a large part of the reason is that neither their parents nor many of the other adults in the church actually lived out what they claimed to believe. These children came to believe that it was all just a farce, a big lie, and they developed their own moral code of conduct (or I might say for my generation, their own immoral code of conduct).
How blessed are those raised by parents who have the Word of God on their hearts. They want good for their children and so they also want their children to know God and follow Him. They strive to demonstrate in every way that God is the most important thing in their own lives. They live what they say they believe. Not only are their children blessed, but so are their children’s friends who will see this as well. The parent has something that is real to pass on to the child.
If a parent wants to raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the truths of the Word of God must be on their heart affecting their lives and not just in their minds.
2. The Parent must diligently teach his child.
Deut 6:7 “And you shall teach them diligently to your sons”
The word here for “teach” is not a passive impartation of knowledge. It is not simply giving information to your sons. The root meaning of this word means “to sharpen.” The idea is an active piercing of your son’s heart and mind with these truths. This means that there is work involved in teaching your children. You have to actively look for opportunities in which to teach both the information and stress the practical application of the lesson as well as the consequences of failing to apply the lesson.
A good example of this in action is in Joshua 4. Joshua takes command in chapter 1 and encourages the people for the task that is ahead. In chapter 2, Jericho and the surrounding land is spied out. In Chapter in 3, the children of Israel cross the Jordan river. In chapter 4, something odd happens. One man from each of the 12 tribes goes back into the river and picks up a stone. These stones are than all piled together in the place they made camp. Why? Joshua 4:6 – “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
The stones of remembrance were set up so that parents could teach their children about the L
ord God of Israel. This is the diligence which we need to have in looking for and making opportunities to teach our children.
3. The parent must model this life to his child.
Deut. 6:7-9 “and 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. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontalis on your forehead. And you shall write them on the door-posts of your house and on your gates.”
Notice the time and place that the lessons are to be taught to the children. It is during the course of normal daily activity in the common places and situations of everyday life. That is quite different from what we think should happen for our children to learn about God and how to live for Him. We have this idea that such sacred thoughts are only to occur at a sacred place, so it is supposed to happen at Church. Isn’t that what the Sunday School is for? Isn’t that why we have an AWANA program, Jr Church and Vacation Bible School? Isn’t the church responsible for teaching the children about God? Yes and no. These are opportunities for your children to learn about God and how they should live, but they are not substitutes for the home. In reality the church can only assist the parents in their responsibilities. These programs are meant to be supplemental to the parents teaching, but too often they become the only place these kids are taught anything about the Lord. We rejoice in the opportunity to bring the Gospel and some of the basic truths of God’s word to children whose parents are not Christians. But it is sad when Christian parents neglect this aspect of raising their children thinking that some church program will take care of those needs.
Look at where Deuteronomy 6 says parents should talk about God and teach their children spiritual lessons.
A. When you sit in your house. Do you have a time of family devotions? What is the subject matter when your family gets together? What is discussed around the dinner table? Has the TV, sports activates or whatever else divided the interests of your family so much that you do not talk as a family? Frankly, I find it most irritating to go somewhere for a meal or to visit with someone and the TV is left on the whole time. Ever try to have a meaningful conversation with someone who is looking past you to the TV? I am very grateful that in my parents home, the TV and radio were turned off during meal time so that we could talk together as a family. It helped to strengthen us as a family, and it is amazing the things that we would learn during dinner conversations. If TV or something else is keeping your family from having meaningful conversation, then try something radical. Sit together during a meal time and talk about the things of the Lord. Do you talk of the Lord when you sit in your house?
B. When you walk by the way. When you travel with your children, do you talk about things of the Lord? Do you point out the things God has made, or point out the site of someplace where the Lord worked in your life or in the life of someone you know? Do you look for opportunities that will spark the interest of your child so that you can teach them some truth about God and how he wants them to live? Do you talk of the Lord when you walk by the way?
C. When you lie down. Are your thoughts centered on God when your ready for bed? Do you spend the time to put your children to bed and pray with them? Or for that matter, do you take the time to pray with your spouse before you go to sleep? Seek to make the last act of the day one of worship. Psalm 4:8 says, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.” What pleasant and restful sleep there is knowing that the Lord is in control. Do you speak of the Lord when you lie down?
D. When you rise up. What is on your mind when you first get up? Are you one of those people that seems to consistently get up on the wrong side of bed? Are you one of those people that everyone runs away from (including the cat, dog) when you get up? I know, you’ll be fine once you have had your first cup of coffee. Why not be like David who says in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.” Why not put the day into the Lord’s hands and seek out ways to bring him praise in the coming day? Do you speak of the Lord when you get up?
And notice verses 8,9 of Duet. 6, “And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontalis on your forehead. And you shall write them on the door-posts of your house and on your gates.” It is from these verses that Jewish folks base the use of Mezzuzas and Phylacteries. A Mezzuza is the little ornamental box found on the doorpost of a Jewish home, and Phylacteries are the boxes that Orthodox Jews strap to their foreheads and hands. Inside them is written the Shema – Deut. 6:4,5.
But what was Moses after? What was the result that he wanted? Moses wanted the people to have the word of the Lord before them at all times. He wanted them to be thinking about the Lord God at every opportunity. So these things were to remind them whenever they went into or out of their home or their yard that they were to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul and might. They were to bind it to their forehead that it might continually remind them to be thinking on the Lord and His commands. And they were to bind it on their hand so that even as they did their daily work, they would be reminded to love the Lord and serve Him.
This requires a life given over to the Lord. This requires a heart after God like David’s. The parent that wants to raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord must model that life before his child, because every area of life is involved. This is what the Lord desires from you. This is what he requires of parents.
From a very practical standpoint it is necessary that parents be role models for their children. In fact, they are role models of some kind whether they care to be or not. The question really is, what kind of life are they demonstrating? Do they reflect a life devoted to the Lord, or devoted to satisfying their own needs? Do they show how to live a life pleasing to the Lord, or of self seeking and pleasing to one’s self? Your life is demonstrating something to your children, but what?
A godly father will
1. Love the Lord with all his heart, soul and might
2. Be diligent in teaching his children Biblical truths
3. Be a positive role model of a man living for God in every area of life
There are positive examples of fatherhood in Scripture. There were men who put these principles into practice. Men such as:
*Seth (Gen 5), descendants were the righteous men of their age.
*Job (Job 1) who sought God while looking out for the spiritual welfare of his kids
*Abraham (Gen 22) whose life of faith was reflected in the life of Isaac
*Joshua (Josh 24) who committed himself and his family to following after God
*King Asa (1 Kings 22:43 – Good king Jehoshaphat followed his example)
There are also the negative examples such as:
*Cain whose descendants sought evil continually (Gen 6)
But note also that even those who were generally good fathers, often had their sinful traits picked up by their sons. Abraham is an example of this.
We know that Abrahm was a Godly man. He is called the father of the faithful, the friend of God, etc. Yet he had a real weakness in his charact
er demonstrated in the sin of lying. We first see it in Genesis 12 right after God makes His covenant with Abram, Abram goes down to Egypt, and instead of telling the truth to Pharaoh that Sarai was his wife, he lies and says she is only his sister. Abraham does the same thing with Abimelech, king of Gerar in Genesis 20. Instead of telling Abimelech that Sarah is his wife, he again lies and says that she is his sister. We see this very same trait in his son Isaac in Genesis 26 when he does the exact same thing as his father to Abimelech, king of Gerar. Instead of admitting that Rebekah was his wife, he lies and says she is his sister. The exact same sin as his father Abraham. Isaac’s son Jacob carries the same trait and so much so he is called a deceiver. Jacob lies in order to steal the birthright from his brother Esau in Gen. 27. And we see it continue into Jacob’s sons both in Gen 34 and later again in Gen 37 when they lie about the fate of Joseph saying that he had been killed by a lion, when the truth was they sold him into slavery. This could be traced to later generations, but the point is already demonstrated that the parents are role models for their children, and the children will have a great tendency to follow after the example of their parents. What are you modeling to them?
A final point I need to make is that a proper perspective of responsibility must be maintained. We find from Ezekiel 18:14-20 that regardless of the father’s actions, the father and the son will each be held accountable only for their own actions. Each person is responsible before God for his own sins and cannot blame someone else for them. You cannot blame your mom and dad for your sin. But mom and dad can do a tremendous amount to help you in your fight against sin.
The question left for you here – fathers, mothers, teachers, relatives, friends – is this: Are you following God’s command? Are you diligent to teach those under your care about the Lord God setting and example of your own love of God in your life? I pray that you are for both your sake and for the children you influence.
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “father” or “dad” is mentioned 2) Talk with your parents about the responsibilities God has given to fathers.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What are your observations of our society’s concept of fatherhood? Why is the concept of fatherhood important in the Bible? What would a Hebrew boy have to demonstrate before he would be accepted into the adult community? List out as many Biblical responsibilities of a father that you can think of? If you are a dad, evaluate yourself in each of these areas? What is the purpose of the book of Deuteronomy? What is the Shema and how does it fulfill Moses’ purposes? What are the benefits of keeping the law? What is the great commandment? What three things must be present for a parent to raise their children in the Lord? What is the mother’s responsibility in raising the children? Why is the parent’s love for God so important? What effort must a parent make in raising their children? What is effect of the parent’s example on the child? Where & when should a parent teach their children about the Lord? What is the church’s responsibility in teaching children? Describe how you could teach a child in each of the following situations – siting in the house; walking by the way, lying down and rising up? What does it mean to “bind them as a sign on your hand . . . write them on the door-posts of your house? In what way do you practice this concept? What role model are you giving to children? How can you improve?
Sermon Notes – 5/27/2001 A.M.
A Father’s Responsibility
In 1999, 33% of all births in the U.S. were to unwed mothers.
Overview of Responsibilities
2. (Prov. 1:8)
3. (1 Thess 2:11)
4. (Dt. 21:18-21)
6. (Heb 12:7)
7. (Eph 5:25,28,33)
God’s Command – Deuteronomy 6:1-10
How to Carry Out the Command
1 The Parent must love the Lord
If a parent wants to teach their child God’s truths, they first need to have been affected by those truths themselves.
2 The Parent must diligently teach his child
3 The Parent must model this life to his child
The Setting for Teaching
A. When you sit in your house
B. When you walk by the way
C. When you lie down
D. When you rise up.