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Raising a Righteous Standard of Fathering for the Glory of God XIV

Updated: 4 days ago

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglas


I would agree with Mr. Douglas that children who have not been repeatedly wounded and corrupted by sin, the world and the devil over a period of years have a far better chance of achieving wholeness in Christ than men who much later in life begin the journey towards wholeness in Christ. (There is wholeness nowhere else).


But for strong children and grandchildren to be built we must have strong men (in Christ) to build them. And God’s desire is that all of the men in His ever expanding family be involved in this process, no matter how late their journey kicked in.


I’ve recently read through the book of Judges. This book is certainly not my favorite book in the Bible – nor anyone else’s that I have ever talked to about the subject. And yet it has some great relevance for our day and for our topic of building or re-building men so that children and grandchildren can be properly and effectively fathered and grandfathered.


The societal context of Judges is the people of Israel were at an all time low spiritually. The great leaders that had led God’s people through the times that the book of Joshua chronicles were all dead, as were all those who closely walked with them or followed them. Israel on the most part had fallen back into full scale idolatry and the consequences were devastating.


But even at a time of such spiritual desolation, God was still at work.


One of the men God chose to help deliver His people was a man named Gideon. We are introduced to him in Judges chapter 6 at a time when Israel was being conquered and oppressed by Midian because as vs. 1 says, “…the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” and thus God “…gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.”


God knows how to get His people to the bottom of their foolishness and self righteousness, so that they finally turn to the only One who can deliver them. This He did once again with Israel and when they once again cried out to Him (see vs. 6) He responded by first calling a prophet to make the gravity of their sins known to them (vs. 8-10), and then by calling Gideon to be their human deliverer or the facilitator of God’s deliverance (see vs. 11-24).


Gideon wasn’t called because he was strong. To the contrary as he sought to remind the angel of the Lord his “…family was the least in  Manasseh..”, and he “..was the youngest in his father’s house.” (vs. 15).  This principle or way of God – strength through weakness - that Paul explains in II Corinthians 12:7-11 is very much in play here with Gideon and will continue to be.


The Lord doesn’t disagree with Gideon’s assessment of his weakness. Rather He replies that He will be with Gideon and that will make all the difference (vs. 16). But Gideon has no grid for this encounter with God. Neither his parents or any of his siblings had a relationship with God. They were all evidently mired in the idolatry that had plagued Israel for some years now. So Gideon pleads with the Lord to confirm via a sign that He really is the one true God and this is not all a bad dream or hallucination and that He is indeed calling Gideon into His service (vs. 17,18). God, knowing Gideon had no grid, mercifully and patiently went along with this arrangement, which caused Gideon to worship Him via a sacrifice offering (vs. 18, 19). The angel of the Lord performed an unforgettable sign with the offering and then all of a sudden “…vanished from his sight” (vs. 20, 21).


This whole process with the angel of the Lord and the Lord Himself had quite an impact on Gideon as can be seen in vs. 22-24.


But the real test of his ability to be God’s servant and instrument was whether he was willing to stand up against his father’s idolatry. God was patient and understanding of Gideon’s need for a sign. But He hated the idolatry His people were engrossed in. And He, like Jesus would do later with His disciples, on the front end of His relationship and partnership with Gideon, demanded that Gideon “hate” his father by standing against the idolatry of his father, “Now on the same night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it;” (vs. 25). Gideon was not only to tear down the altar and the Asherah, he was to tear it down with one of his father’s bulls, and then he was to take another of his father’s bulls and offer it as a burnt offering to God with his father’s wood from the Asherah.  This was far more than just a polite disagreement with his father’s views.


Now God could have told him to do this with someone else in the community to “preserve” his family relationship. Most everyone in Israel was idolatrous at this time in Israel’s history. But no one in Gideon’s life had the influence on his life that his father had. God knew that. And God knew that unless he was willing to see idolatry for what it is in his father and take a righteous stand against it, which included building an altar to God right where this altar of Baal was (see vs. 26), then Gideon would not be able to be God’s instrument of deliverance.


Did God hate Gideon’s father and care nothing about Gideon’s relationship with his father? No and no! While Gideon probably figured his relationship with his father was forever over, God knew this violent act would actually get his father’s attention and cause him to see the evil and foolishness of his idolatry and turn from it, which he apparently did (see vs. 29-32).


Compromising with our idolatrous fathers may keep some kind of peace in the family, but it will not bring them into the peace they need with God. By the way, if you are not as familiar as you might be with the problem of idolatry in our day – even in the church – you might want to see these two posts about that subject:

Ultimately idolatry is anything we put our hope or trust in or try to find satisfaction and delight or escape in rather than loving God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind and finding in Him everything we could ever want or need or desire.

Please know that when God begins to help you see the idolatry in your father’s life, it is crucial that you wait on Him and look to Him for what you are to do about it. In my experience He is mostly concerned (especially in the beginning) about our agreeing with God about everything He says about it and then turning from it and being cleansed from it ourselves – not our trying to change our fathers or put them in their place. The key is hearing His voice and doing what He says – nothing more and nothing less.


God is doing a wonderful work on the earth of restoring fathering to its rightful and powerful place per the prophecy at the end of Malachi (4:6). A significant part of that process is allowing the Holy Spirit to identify in His unique way with each of us what it is about our father’s fathering that was displeasing to God and that we must therefore turn from and be cleansed from if we are to father our children and grandchildren in a way that He is pleased with and that brings Him glory. Few of us realize on the front end how much we have been negatively impacted by our father’s sins. Our great Savior can be trusted to finish the wonderful sanctifying work He has begun in each of us as we learn to obey His will and way.

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