Our Father in Heaven
Text: Luke 11:1-13
“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty."” (II Corinthians 6:16-18).
If we will separate ourselves from the wickedness of this world, God promises to be a father to each of us. But have you given thought as to why God selected the role of a father to describe His relationship with us? He didn’t call Himself a mother, sibling, or even a best friend. There are things about the role of a father that better describes how God cares for us, but in order to understand it, we need to understand what a father does for his family.
If I asked you what a father gives to his family, one of the first thing most people say is that a father loves his children.
Fathers do much more than just provide love for their children. Ephesians 6:4 tells us several things that a father does for his children: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
The phrase “bring them up” is based on a Greek word that means “to nurture.” In other words, fathers provide the things their children need to grow up to be adults. A part of this would be seeing that his children have the necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8).
We need food, clothing, and shelter in order to physically grow up, but children also need the comfort of security and protection from harm to develop well mentally.
Yet, Ephesians 6:4 tells us that God expects fathers to be responsible for their children’s education. This is not say that only dads can teach their children, but that they oversee what their children learn and see to it that they are taught well.
But effective teaching must contain corrective actions along with encouraging direction. If we listened to all our lessons and did just what we were told to do, there would be no need for correction – but how many of us have actually done this? I know I wasn’t always a good student. It is in the nature of children to want to see things for themselves, to exert independence, and as a result, to get into trouble. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. ... My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:5-8, 11-12).
God told David that He would watch over David’s son, treating Solomon as His own child. “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men” (II Samuel 7:14). At first, you might not think this would bring comfort to David, but it was. God was saying that He loved David’s son enough that he cared how Solomon turned out. He cared about his welfare and his moral standing.
A father who doesn’t deeply care about how his children turn out won’t bother to correct them when they do something wrong. Such a father is wrapped up in his own life and only does things that are convenient for him. A father who loves his children will punish their wrong doings because he wants them to live and live properly. It is not fun disciplining your own child. You would rather be buddies with him. It is the same for God. Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
The writer of Hebrews talked about this at length: “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Discipline is not fun for the receiver or the giver, but it does produce peace in the long run. Several studies over the years have noted that neighborhoods without fathers in the homes have higher crime rates. It would be natural to expect this. Good fathers teach their children the way to live righteously. They enforce that teaching by punishing their children when they stray. As a result, they mold their child’s character.
- Some of the passages call God a “Rock.” What is meant by such a description?
- What is an illegitimate child? Why would a father’s attitude toward an illegitimate child be different from his attitude toward a legitimate child? Could it be related to his attitude toward the child’s mother?
- Why is the willingness to punish evidence of love?
- How do earthly fathers punish? How does God, the Father, punish?
- Even though God provides for us, does that mean a Christian will never face hardship, hunger, or even death? (See Philippians 4:11-13 and II Corinthians 11:23-31.) How could God be a Father and allow these things to happen?
- Find songs which speak of God being our Father. Ask some of the boys in class to lead a song.