Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 12 Page 5 December 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Turn the Hearts of the Fathers

By Steve Stevens

During a recent conversation with a man who had devoted his life to preaching the truth for over 50 years, we talked about growth in the congregations where we are respectively located.  I made an observation about how we had a lot of visitors coming even for Wednesday evening Bible Study.  However, they were all mothers and their children – no fathers.  He confirmed this observation in the congregation where he preaches, and then told me of another conversation he had just a few days earlier with another preacher that echoed the same reality.

As I drove home that evening I recalled reading a bulletin article that referred to the religious life of children in America, and how it was the father’s example that was the key to how the children would practice their religion regardless of how strong the mother’s religious influence was in the family.  This is not written to minimize the worth of godly mothers, but it is set forth to emphasize the importance of fathers being godly also!

In Luke 1:17, the angel Gabriel stood in the temple after telling Zachariah that he would have a son and said:  “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  Part of the mission of John, the Immerser, was “to turn the hearts of the fathers.”  Where were the hearts of these men, and what were they doing that required such an effort?  Let’s turn back to the last book of the Old Testament and see where the hearts of the fathers had been for the last 400 years.

In Malachi 1:12-13 two points are made.  The fathers found the worship of God contemptible, meaning worthless.  From this attitude they justified robbing God of his unblemished sacrifices and offered him only the torn, sick and maimed.  Do not the actions of many fathers in our day who find religion and going to church worthless mirror this attitude and action?  Furthermore, in place of a spiritual life, do we not see satisfying of physical pleasures instead of nurturing and admonishing their families in the way of the Lord?

Malachi 2:14-16 reveals that the fathers were divorcing the wives of their youth, the mothers of their children, and their companions in life.  The Lord God of Israel saith “that he hateth putting away.”  Given the divorce statistics in our country it is evident that the fathers of today are still practicing this God-hated action all too freely.

Malachi 2:17 gives a third insight into the hearts of the fathers.  These men professed that “every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them . . .”  When one thinks of the movements within our society today that seek to call evil good and claim that God has delight in these abominable practices it is not difficult to realize that history is repeating itself in our generation.

The last verse of Malachi [4:6] reads:  “and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Four hundred years later, there were hearts that still needed turning by the preaching of John, the Immerser.  It has been over 1900 years since John came, heralded his message, and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord.  Many fathers’ hearts have been turned to serve God in that time.  Many more need to turn from their evil attitudes and actions and obey the law, commandments and statutes of the God who will judge them for all eternity.  As a father, where is your heart in your relationship to God?  Isn’t it time for you to turn your heart back to God and back to your children who need you to show them how to live a Christian life?  Ponder seriously the words of Dennis Rainey when he said:  “Every dad is the family role model, whether he wants the job or not.”

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