Title: What every child should know… because his or her father taught it to them.
Text: Genesis 12-50
Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series entitled His Story. His Story spans the length of the entire Bible. Every little story, from the story of creation all the way through to the prophecy in Revelation, is about Jesus.
We began with a look at creation and it’s perfection. Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship… no, a fellowship with the Father that we can only dream about. No hindrance, no deception, no confusion, no struggle, no sin. In the perfection of the garden there was a state of existence that you and I can only imagine. But that perfection was interrupted with the decision on the part of both Adam and Eve to believe the lie of the devil. Their actions would destroy that perfection. And, there would be a quest by humanity to seek that utopia from then on… Last week, we looked at life in the fall. Honestly, we’re still living life in the fall, but the circumstances have changed a little.
After the flood, God scattered the people and confused their language. We meet those folks in chapter 10 of Genesis which is known as the Table of Nations. Chapter 11 explains it the story of the Tower of Babel. As the people are scattered, they move throughout the Mesopotamian World and settle in various places. After 10 generations beginning with Shem, we meet Abram – henceforth called Abraham. At the end of chapter 11 and continuing all the way through Genesis, we get the stories of the Patriarchs. There is:
- Abraham. He is a father with many sons, but it is his son with Sarah
- Isaac, who will carry on the line. Isaac becomes a father of two sons, Esau and
- Jacob, who is the younger. Jacob will carry on the lineage of Abraham as chosen by God.
- Jacob will have 12 sons, who in essence will become the nation of Israel. One son, Levi, will become a tribe of priests and so won’t be numbered with the nations as a tribe. One son, Joseph, will then have two sons who will take their places. Their names are Manasseh and Ephraim.
Each of these 12 sons will father many other sons and daughters. Etc. Etc. Etc. 400 years later, you have the descendants of Israel who live in Egypt as slaves. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today, I want to talk to you about fathers.
1st, it is Father’s Day and this message just happens to coincide with the date.
2nd, this section is about fathers. Namely, these guys: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Gad, Joseph and Benjamin. That’s a lot of fathers to look at in one sermon. So, here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’ve decided to list, “What every child should learn from their father!”
- This list isn’t exhaustive. It is just a list I’ve gathered from these stories.
- I know not everyone has a father. What I mean by that is not every man who sires a child is a daddy. Some of us become orphans for different reasons. Some Dad’s die, some leave. Fathers are special because of who they are and what they do. Today, we’re in Genesis 12-50 where we’ll meet the patriarchs or forefathers to the Hebrew Children. I’m taking these lessons from them and from our Heavenly Father who gives the best example of what a daddy should be.
So let’s get started: the first bit of information a child gathers from his or her father should lead them to say…
- I am loved
exp.: John 3.16; Romans 5.8; 1 Jn 3.1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. Deut. 10.15 – 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Jn 16.27 says, …the Father himself loves you. There are countless verses and examples of the Father’s love for you.
In Scripture, God chose a man named Abraham to father his people. Abraham remained childless for many years; however, his brother died and so he took his nephew in as his own. Abraham brought him with him when God called him to leave his country and kindred and go to a place God had planned to give to his descendants.
In Genesis 13 and 14, tensions begin to grow between Abraham and Lot. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough pastureland for both families. Rd 13.5-11; Abraham’s actions toward his nephew are righteous and demonstrate the love of God. God then blesses Abraham in the same manner that Abraham just did with Lot; rd v 14-17; As Abraham had demonstrated his love toward Lot, God, in turn, demonstrates his love to Abraham, giving him the land as far as the eye can see.
app.: Here is then a good application that we see in a good father…A good father gives good gifts. It isn’t so much that gifts are given, but rather that when these gifts are given, they are good gifts. They are good because they good for your child – they make your child better and they demonstrate your love for your child.
Transition: Every child should know they are loved because their father has demonstrated that love toward them. Let me say, that each point from here on out is an extension of that love. For example: 2ndly, every child should know they are safe.
- I am safe
ill.: Some years ago, I was headed to bed and Lisa asked, “Am I safe? It was a good question. So, I started a ritual with her of when I’d go to bed, I would ensure the house was closed up and locked.
One night, not too long ago, Anna Grace was afraid. I don’t remember why exactly, but Lisa told her of my job to make sure the family was safe and how I made my rounds to ensure everything was locked up tight. Out of curiosity (or maybe just to put off going to bed for a couple of minutes longer) she asked if she could accompany me on my rounds. Sometimes, she still likes to accompany me, but mostly she just asks if we’re safe. She asks because she knows that’s my job… to keep them safe and to make them feel protected.
Some of you might not agree with this, but I’ve shown my girls the guns I have and the rifles and shotguns, too. They know those weapons are locked away, but within my reach should the need arise. My girls know that I would use them to defend them. I pray that never happens – that I never have to…
exp.: this very thing happens to Abraham in Genesis 14. Abraham’s nephew, who was more like a son to him, had been kidnapped by an army from the north. Abraham covered a lot of territory in Israel and up to Syria to rescue Lot from this enemy. Rd 14.11-14; rd v 15-16;
Photo of the Gates of Dan at the time of Abraham (cf.: Gen.14:14)
Transition: While we can’t always guarantee safety, we can always fight for our kids… grandkids. We can take steps to make sure they’re safe: look the doors, set the alarm, buckle their seatbelts and car seats, etc. This communicates to them that they are loved and protected.
Thirdly, every child should know that whatever they go through, a good father will always do his best to go through it with them.
- I am never alone in this:
exp.: in Gen 28 Jacob is forced to flee to his mother’s homeland. It is the land Abraham and Sarah came from and it is the land Isaac got his wife, Rebecca from; And, because God worked it this way, it is the land from which his wives would come from. I said Jacob fled to his mother’s homeland. The ploy was to find a wife. The truth is that his brother Esau wanted to kill him – And you can blame their mother for that! Rebecca would have to send her son away for his own safety – if you read through the stories, you find that she dies before he comes back. She never sees her son again. We pick up the story in 28.10. rd 10-11; This place is the place Abraham stayed and built an altar when he came into the land. rd 12-15; I will not leave you. What a promise!
ill.: God will make this promise to many of his children throughout the generations; Moses, Joshua, In Hebrews we read it as a promise to us… His Children today.
app.: And we as fathers make this same sort of promise to our kids. I want you to know that I’m here for you. Yes, there will be journeys you must take without me – but I’m here for you. I’ll be the wind beneath your wings. I’ll be your loudest cheerleader. I will give advice and counsel if you ask for it and as long as you’re following the Lord, You can count on me to go through whatever you’re going through, too.
Transition: which leads me to the next statement that every child should know because of their father
- I don’t have to worry about things…. He’s got it covered. Father’s provide for their children. At least they should. I’m not talking about a check in the mail. I’m not talking about provision of goods alone. What I’m talking about is an everyday thing. In Genesis 30, God provides for Jacob by causing him to prosper. He did the same for Abraham. When he went out to rescue Lot, it says he gathered the men who worked for him and his household. He led forth his trained men, men who were born to his household – 318 men. In Genesis 30, Laban does everything he can to thwart the growth and prosperity of Jacob, but God isn’t deterred. We’ll see the same with Joseph.
David will compose a beautiful song about the Father’s provision for his children. He will write: I once was young, but now I am old. And I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread. God knows how to care for his children and give them good gifts.
I think of the times I needlessly worried my kids about things that were too big for them. Come to think of it…I shouldn’t have been worried myself, because God has given me a great record of faithfulness to hang my hat on. Would you say the same thing? Where are my young men and women here this morning? Trust God! He is faithful.
Turn to Gen. 50.15; rd 15-17; funny how they bring God up; rd v 18-21; when you consider God is sovereign, let me ask you children, what do you really need to worry about? In Gen 15, Abraham was told that he would have a son and a nation would come from his line. Furthermore, he said they would be sojourners in a land that wasn’t their own, but it would all be ok, because after 400 years, God would bring them back to this land where Abraham was listening to God speak.
That text says in v 1-6 that God took Abraham outside and gave him a visual aid. God told Abraham to look out at the stars and to count them if he could. Then God said, “So shall your offspring be.” And the amazing part of Abraham’s story is that he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Ill.: one of my favorite war stories is about a couple of buddies who were in a horrible battle. One of the men went down when he was critically wounded. His buddy started to move out into the open to retrieve his friend. Another soldier grabbed him and said, “What are you doing? He’s critically injured. He’s gonna die anyway!” The friend pulled away and went out into the open, dodging bullets to get his friend and pull him back to safety. When he had pulled his friend back out of the fire, the soldier yelled at him, “See he’s dead… you risked your life for nothing! Was it worth it?”
“Yes, it was. When I got there he said, “I knew you would come.”
I think learning not to worry is born out of the faithfulness of the one you trust. As daddies, we learn that from the faithfulness of our father – and our children and grandchildren learn it from us…
Transition: I am loved, I am safe, I am never alone, I don’t have to worry about this and #5…
- I am forgiven.
Your child should know the grace of God in your life. If you’re perfect, well then, you don’t need the grace of God. But, if you’re like me, if you’ve failed time and again, then demonstrate grace for them.
I see this happening in two ways:
- When you’ve blown it as a parent, go to them and ask them to forgive you. As fathers we have disciplined without knowing the full extent of the problem. We’ve divvied up and doled out punishment unfairly and without ‘due justice’. To be honest, sometimes the punishment did not fit the crime. Man, I’ve beaten myself up over this particular one. That’s why your children need you to go in and get down on their level and apologize when you’ve been wrong or when you’ve wronged them. That’s one way they learn grace. But there’s another and it is even harder for a dad to teach by example.
- If you have sinned and they’ve witnessed it, let them see your need for repentance and the grace of God at work in your struggle. This one is really tough. Most of us don’t want to admit this. We’d rather call it something other than sin. But if your language was less than exemplary, if your actions were dishonorable, if you mistreated someone with your actions or your words, if you hit your hand and used a word… not found in the dictionary – your kids need to see your repentance and confession toward God. I’m not saying confess all of your sins to them. Don’t tell your children all of your nasty failures. But here is your gage, your standard – your repentance needs to be as public as your sin. No, your kid doesn’t need to know everything. We don’t need to know everything. If you’ve sinned only against God – then let your repentance be only to God.
The greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us is the gift of forgiveness found in His Son; 1 Jn 1.9 says, if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness. Your children will learn this truth when they see it demonstrated in your life.
Transition: and this goes so well with my last statement…
- I have a better understanding of who God is because of who my dad was.
ill.: in “Confession of a Part-time Mom”, Lara Bazelon explains why divorce suits her and having shared custody gives her a bit of a refresher when her two little kids are with their dad. In some respects I understand where she is coming from: as parents we all get tired. But in other respects, it saddens me. I read her article and was saddened – not for her, but for her kids (Yeah, maybe her a little, but more so for her children).
I don’t think Ms. Bazelon understands what being a parent is all about. There are goals in parenthood – at least there are supposed to be – that go way beyond the selfish tendencies we all have. I’m not saying you don’t need a break from your kids. I’m sure you do. In her article she says that at the end of 5 days she is fed up with them and ready for their father to pick them up. And, when they’re gone 5 days, she is refreshed, but getting lonely and missing them.
The purpose in rearing children isn’t to fix a loneliness you have. The purpose in rearing children and being a parent isn’t so that those kids will serve you. Children don’t exist simply for our pleasure – although, they do bring us great pleasure. My dad used to tell me to be quiet. Children are to be seen and not heard. And sometimes, not even seen. Children aren’t simply used to get you the remote or something out of your reach. Get off your lazy… can I say that in a sermon?
Did you know though, that your presence and activity in your kid’s life demonstrates the presence of God? Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t ship you off every five days?
- Your love demonstrates the love of God.
- Your presence demonstrates the presence of God.
- Your patience demonstrates the patience of god.
- Your care demonstrates the care of God.
Here’s the simple application: It makes it so much easier for a child to grasp our heavenly father when they have a good earthly father as an example. And, the converse is true, as well. A poor example of a father can turn the hearts of children away from God.
Fathers, your marriage is a picture of the Gospel that your kids will see – and hopefully hold in high regard. Dads, when you work through your relationships as struggles come, you’re teaching your kids about loyalty, faithfulness and what is truly important. You’re teaching them that love is unconditional. You’re teaching them about God. Your kids will learn more about God through your behavior then they ever will learn about God through what you say.
As we look at these dads… Isaac and Jacob, and the 12 brothers, we see men who didn’t always behave the way fathers should. We see favoritism. We see manipulation. In these men, we get a lot of bad examples – probably more bad examples than good!
Conclusion: Sometimes I think to myself, it is too late for me. For the most part, my kids are grown and gone. But it really is never too late to let your kids know they are loved, to let them know you’re there for them – in whatever way you can best help them. Isn’t that a true demonstration of what God does for us?
God is our example of a good, good father. Invitation.