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Raising a Righteous Standard of Fathering for the Glory of God – Part XIII

“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” German philosopher Georg Hegel

One of the primary roles of the prophets of old was to call God’s people back to devotion and obedience to Him. God’s people Israel and Judah often strayed from their love for and devotion to God, pursuing instead the idols illusory pleasures of their day. When God called the prophet Zechariah - the first thing he wanted him and them to know was, “The Lord was very angry with your fathers.” Zech. 1:2  For any of the Israelites who wanted to live a life pleasing to God, they must not lose sight of or forget their history as a people – checkered as it was. They were to learn from and avoid the mistakes of their fathers, whether it be their biological fathers or in this case the men of Israel of prior generations. 

Based on the reality that God was very angry with their fathers, God continues with His prophet Zechariah in vs. 3, “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts."  Implied is the very real danger that if they did not return their plight would be that of their fathers, whom God disciplined severely as we read about in books of Exodus and Numbers.

But how were they to return? He answers that in vs. 4,“Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me,” declares the Lord."  It is absolutely crucial that God’s people learn to respond fully and completely when God raises up a prophet to call them back to Himself. It is absolutely crucial that God’s people learn from the sins of the prior generations who “…did not listen or give heed to Me/God”.

One of the things in our day that confuses us and can mislead us I’m afraid is sometimes God’s anger towards our fathers might not have been as obvious as it was for say the Israelites whom the ground swallowed up in Numbers 16. Unless we are giving ourselves to knowing our God and His will and ways, we can easily observe the prosperity our fathers enjoyed and the apparent blessing of God financially and materially on them and deduct that God was pleased with them. When in fact He was not at all.

Again one of the reasons we need the ministry of prophets even today is we so easily draw wrong conclusions or we can so easily think that things are fine with God when in fact they are not.

In the prophet Malachi’s day even the priests were walking in spiritual blindness,  “…..O priests who despise My name. But you say, “How have we despised Your name?’   “You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.” Malachi 1:6b,7  The priests couldn’t imagine that they could have “despised God’s name”. So God gets more specific through  the prophet Malachi in vs. 8, “But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? ….” Twice God calls the religious activities of the priests “evil”! Malachi’s dealings with them continue throughout chapter one and into the beginning of chapter 2. What I want you to see is how God is going to punish and discipline these priests in chapter two vs. 3, “Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.”  Why not rebuke the priests alone? It is their sins being exposed and pointed out. And yet here we see God is dealing with their children as well. Now perhaps God knew their children were walking in the same disobedience and rebellion that their fathers – the priests were. But does this not show yet again that the effect or consequence of the sins of the fathers goes beyond them to their children as well?

Well I want to conclude this post and these posts on generational sins or the sins of the fathers with a few comments on the gospels starting with Jesus’s statements in Matthew 23:29-32, where He is in full on rebuking mode towards the scribes and Pharisees for all of their hypocrisy and corruption. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers….”  Basically Jesus is declaring to them that though they claim to be better and more noble and more religious than their fathers, they in fact are just like them and are somehow guilty of their sins as well as their own. As the idiom goes, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The scribes and Pharisees’ hypocritical and corrupt leadership of the Israelites in Jesus’s day culminated in one of the saddest scenes we see in the gospels. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and was desperately trying to find a way to not have to crucify Jesus. But finally fearing a riot he declared in Matthew 27:24 that he was “…innocent of this Man’s blood;..” Listen to how the people of Israel responded to Pilate’s declaration of his innocence, “And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children.” Vs. 25.  Why would it be on their children?  It was their parents who were forcing Pilate’s hand.  These sad parents knew the scriptures and the warnings of the prophets. They knew the evil of their hands could/would even adversely affect their children. And yet they cared not.

A few more scriptures from the gospels to ponder: Why did the disciples wonder about the root cause of the blind man’s blindness in John 9:2, “…Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus made it clear to them that in this man’s case it was “…neither that this man sinned, nor his parents…” (vs. 3). But what about others?  And why did the Pharisees say to the formerly blind man whom Jesus healed,  “…You were born entirely in sins and are you teaching us” John 9:34. They clearly felt a blind man could be born blind because of sins. Were they totally mistaken or was their some grounds for what they were thinking even though in this specific case, they were wrong?

One of the books I’m meditating in in these days is the gospel of Mark. I noted a few days ago a pattern. In Mark 7:31f some people (we don’t know who they were) brought to Jesus a man or possibly a boy “…who was deaf and spoke with difficulty” vs. 32.  Jesus took him aside and began to minister to him. Vs. 34 tells us that Jesus, “…looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, …said to him, …”Be opened”!”  Why the deep sigh?

Well in chapter 8 vs. 11 “The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test him.”  Please note Jesus’s response in vs. 12, “Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to his generation.”  Why again the deep sigh?

Let’s look at vs. 38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him…..”

And then in chapter nine that I read yesterday morning, Jesus had taken His special three disciples, Peter, James and John up on a mountain where he was transfigured before them. While they were up on this mountain, a desperate father brought his terribly demonized son to the other nine disciples who were waiting at the foot of the mountain for Jesus and the three to return. They tried in response to the father’s desperate pleas to cast the demons out of the man’s son. But they tried in vain. When Jesus returned the entire crowd came to Him and this father informed Him that he brought his demonized son to be cast out but His disciples couldn't’ do it. Please note Jesus’s response, “And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?...” vs. 19.

Is not the reason for Jesus’s deep sighing and grief the destructive impact He continued to have to witness and deal with on children and others from the sins of this “adulterous”, “unbelieving”, “perverted” (see parallel passage in Matt. 17:17), and “sinful” older generation?  The good news is Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to heal and deliver the oppressed and afflicted. The sad news is all the collateral damage on the younger generation from the older generation’s sins doesn’t just immediately go away.

Finally I want to leave you with this thought, especially those of you who by the Holy Spirit’s help have been coming to grips with the effects of the sins of the fathers on you and are looking to Him to set you free from the said effects. In John 14:8, Jesus promised His disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Now Jesus spoke these words to grown men whom He knew intimately, all of whom had earthly fathers as far as we know. How could they be thought of as orphans then? Is it possible by this time in Jesus’s ministry to them they realized that while they had earthly biological fathers, they only had one true spiritual father?  Is it possible they realized by now that while their biological fathers did provide for them and protect them to some degree growing up in their homes, they failed in their responsibility to instruct them in the knowledge and ways of God?  Well regardless of what they knew by this point, Jesus wanted them to know He assumed full responsibility to be to them all that their earthly fathers never were able to be to them. He truly is the “Eternal Father” as the prophet Isaiah proclaimed (Isaiah 9:6).

My prayer is that you will come to know Him in this way as well. God bless you in the journey!

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