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IMPORTANT BIBLE TOPICS

Photograph by Ben White from Unsplash

God as a Father

Let’s begin with a quotation from a Psalm of David: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'"

  • Psalm 14:1

In contrast, those who recognise that there is a God, endeavour to learn more about Him and His dealings with us. In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews we read: " ... he who comes to God must believe that He is (exists) and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him"

  • Hebrews 11:6

So, why would people who do not believe that God exists be considered foolish? The Apostle Paul, when writing to the believers in Rome, gives the answer: "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

  • Romans 1:20 NIV

The best way to sum this up is for us to understand and recognise that everywhere creation carries the hallmark of design, purpose and perfect planning. Whether we are looking up at the vast universe and how it operates, or down at the smallest living things under a microscope, design is clearly seen. So, when it comes to us personally, we can consider any part of our body and only conclude as King David did: "I will praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

  • Psalm 139:14

Why did David say this? Partly because he wanted to express how people have a different and superior mind to the animal creation, enabling them to have a sense of morality and conscience, being able also to discuss and progress ideas; to recognise truth and God’s purpose in creation. This was God’s plan from the very beginning, as we read in the first book of the Bible: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

  • Genesis 1:26

God’s existence

As we cannot see God, it might seem an impossible task to decide who He is when we read of Him being from everlasting to everlasting, everywhere present, all-knowing and the Creator of everything.

  • Psalm 90:2 and Psalm 139

These attributes, when considered from a human perspective, are beyond understanding, because everything we experience has limitations, with a beginning and an ending. Many people are led to dismiss the fact of a higher being, because they cannot understand these concepts. In life we often accept circumstantial evidence that something exists which cannot be seen. Simple logic helps us to come to that conclusion, e.g. the force of gravity and the air we breathe. The evidence all around us is clearly seen in nature. Without a Creator, how can we understand the origin of life or the precision of the planets and the workings of our galaxy, although we set our clocks by their movement? God is the great Creator and Sustainer of all life, who established the earth with all its eco-systems, and created mankind to populate it. He has a long-term plan ultimately to populate it only with God-fearing people who will live for ever. We read in the book of Acts: " ... He has made from one blood every nation… so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being."

  • Acts 17:26–28

The fulfilment of the promise of God about the future of the earth is still awaited, and the good news is that we can be a part of that future by God’s grace.

God the Father

How does focussing on God as a father help us to understand Him? This is something the Almighty thought about. As a result of His creativity and foresight, He made human beings different to the animal creation with a purpose in mind. He has given us this family model to think about and understand His characteristics, and His ultimate purpose in creating us. God has told us to call Him Father, to recognise Him in this role. Jesus also made this clear when telling us how to pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name"

  • Matthew 6:9

Throughout the Bible God is referred to as a Father, which you can check out using a Bible concordance. The interaction within families, between a father and his children, and children and their siblings, helps us to relate to God’s dealings with us and is one of the main ways we can begin to appreciate or understand God.

Photograph by Derek Thomson from Unsplash

Let’s explore this Further

Think about the general workings of a family unit, and I know there are exceptions. Modern ideology may wish to present a different view to that held in most families, but in the main we have either been part of a family or now have our own family:

  • Father being considered wise and ready to give advice.
  • Children part of the family for life.
  • Family members being caring, loving and protective towards the others.
  • Family members being dependable, ready to listen and show sympathy and empathy.

That certainly has been my experience with my parents, and I hope my children and their families see it the same way, and yours do also.

Love is the ‘glue’

When we think about the bonds that can exist between family members, we recognise that the ‘glue’ which holds it all together in a tightknit family is love. You probably know the saying to demonstrate this: "blood is thicker than water"! God's love for His children is clearly stated in scripture: "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

  • 1 John 3:1 NIV

We must note that God's love is conditional and specifically directed towards those who reverence Him and become recognised as the children of God in His special family. The Psalmist wrote: "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy towards those who fear Him."

  • Psalm 103:11

We know how much we are, or were loved as children, or love our children. That is how God the Father displays His feelings, which in turn leads Him to be recognised for His compassion. Yes, how easy it is to forgive our children for their misdeeds, even when they need discipline.

Compassion

How many times have you experienced as a child the compassion of your father when you have done wrong and been chastised for it? Or as a parent being cross with your child, yet the reprimand is only for the good of the individual and given in love. The overriding bond of love allows us to understand God's dealings with us, and we can understand how we can have empathy with our children. The Almighty views us in the same way if we genuinely love and respect Him as our Father. The Psalmist wrote: "As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them."

  • Psalm 103:13–14,17–18

Discipline

As a child I was disciplined on many occasions, but looking back, I can see that it was necessary for my wellbeing as I grew into a mature adult, although I did not always appreciate it at the time. Were you never disciplined as a child, or if you are now a parent, have you never found it necessary to discipline your children, not an act of spite but one of love for the child's wellbeing? Does this help us to understand God's dealings with us? We could wonder why we have suffering and difficulties in our own lives at times, but does it have a purpose in God's dealings with us? The writer to the Hebrews puts it like this: "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 the father does not chasten? ... 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? Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

  • Hebrews 12:5–11

Photograph by Liane Metzler from Unsplash

Dependable and a protector

A good father is someone who always protects his family and is dependable in all circumstances. We know how we must keep a close eye on our children to try to protect them from harm. In the same way God will protect those who trust in Him: "I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust'."

  • Psalm 91:2

We can look to our heavenly Father for wisdom, for the Bible is full of instruction for our wellbeing. Indeed, if we recognise Him, then that understanding enables us to have true dependence and trust in Him as our rock in life. The wise man Solomon gave his children this advice: "Hear, my children the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. When I was my father' son ... he also taught me, and said to me: 'Let your heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding!'"

  • Proverbs 4:1–5

A father is always approachable, someone who is prepared to listen, and this characteristic is also referred to in the Bible as the following verses show: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

  • Philippians 4:6–7 NIV

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us."

  • 1 John 5:14

I hope after our brief consideration we can see why God has taught us to see Him in a fatherly role, and has given us family relationships so we can comprehend His characteristics. Unlike human family interaction, where our parents have done their best, God’s relationship with those who acknowledge His very existence as part of His family, is perfect for the eternal wellbeing of his children. Knowing God gives purpose to our lives, and gives us the assurance that we can depend on His promise to offer eternal life to those who respond to Him. " ... this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

  • John 17:3
John Carpenter
Kent, UK
Source Light on a New World reprint from Volume 33.3

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