The most important building block of any society is the family. The family is the foundation, the cornerstone, of civilization. Within the family one of the most important roles is the father. Today the father’s significance has largely been diminished. One area in which this is painfully evident is with his authority. Paul addresses the family structure in his epistle to the Ephesians.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Master. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of the Assembly; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the Assembly is subject to Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:22-25).
In today’s politically-correct-driven climate, most individuals simply refuse to accept that the husband is the authority within the family. However, this is what our Father in Heaven says in his Word. Paul says that the wife is to submit to her husband as to the Messiah. He went on to explain that as the assembly is to obey the Messiah, the wife likewise should also obey her husband. According to Scripture, the father is the final authority within the scriptural family.
Paul also said that the husband is to love his wife as the Messiah loved the assembly. It is important to note that our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah, never abused his authority over the assembly. In the same way the husband should never use his given authority to abuse his wife or family. The husband is to love his wife.
Over the years there have been many published studies on the importance of fathers. Without a father a child is much more likely to engage in activities that are abusive or harmful. In an article entitled The Plight of Fatherless Children from Gazette.net the following discoveries were noted with children without fathers:
§ Sixty-three percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.
§ Eighty-five percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.
§ Eighty percent of rapists are from fatherless homes.
§ Seventy-one percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.
§ Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers are from fatherless homes.
§ Seventy percent of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes.
§ Eighty-five percent of youth in prison are from fatherless homes.
§ Seventy percent of pregnant teens are from fatherless homes.
In the majority of studies documenting the impact of fatherless homes, there is one recurring theme —without strong fathers at home children suffer in many profound ways. Yahweh knew what he was doing when He created man and woman and brought them together as a family. Without this core unit that our Father in Heaven established, no culture has a chance for long-term survival.
What does it mean scripturally to be a father? What responsibilities do we find within Yahweh’s Word for the father? Perhaps the most basic role of a father is the provider.
The Family Provider
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim 5:8). For a father there is no greater basic responsibility than to provide for the necessities of his family. Besides obeying our Father in heaven, there is no obligation more important for a father.
As fathers we can be the best Bible students, but if we lose sight of our basic obligation to our families then all our efforts are for naught. As fathers we must always provide for our families. Yahweh has no patience for fathers who are lazy or refuse to provide for their immediate household. The only obligation more important than reading the Word is living the Word. If we read the Word without putting that knowledge into action then that knowledge is worthless.
Another duty of a father is the responsibility of disciplinarian. It is clear from scripture that this is primarily a father’s role, which explains why children require a father’s influence.
An amazing fact of Scripture is that many characteristics of the father are the same as our Heavenly Father. According to the author of Hebrews, His discipline is one of them.
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of Yahweh, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom Yahweh loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, Elohim deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (Hebrews 12:5-8).
According to scripture, those whom Yahweh loves he rebukes and chastens. If we are not being rebuked, we are not considered legitimate sons of Yahweh. Why is this? Through discipline Yahweh shows his concern for those whom He loves.
Correction or admonition should not to be considered bad. Correction is often the catalyst to change. A person who receives no admonition is a person who often does not change. Scripture is clear that is it Yahweh’s will that all of mankind would be saved (Ezek. 18:23, 1Tim. 2:4); however, it is written that salvation is given to those who obey (Heb. 5:9). Obedience is not the means of salvation but is the responsibility of a believer (Rom. 7:1, Acts 5:32).
As Yahweh’s correction is advantageous to those whom He calls, a father’s correction is also beneficial to his children. In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon speaks of the benefits of a father’s admonition. For instance, in Proverbs 3:12, Solomon compares the discipline of Yahweh to the discipline of a father. “For whom Yahweh loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Solomon in his wisdom wrote that as Yahweh corrects those whom he loves, a father does the same. If as parents desire our children to be well behaved and sons and daughters of the Most High then correction is crucial. Those who receive no admonition are those who often leave the path of righteousness. As a parent we should discipline with a desire to see our children succeed morally. Again, correction or admonition should not be viewed negatively. There is more hope for a child who receives correction than for one who is spoiled and does not know correction.
Correction is becoming increasingly taboo today, but not in Yahweh’s Word. Solomon in Proverbs 23:13-14, wrote, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from [the grave].”
Yahweh’s Word specifically says that a parent is not to withhold correction. Matter of fact, it says that if a parent uses a rod of correction that he or she would save the child from the grave. The word for “beat” in the above passage is derived from the Hebrew nakah, which is a primitive root meaning to strike. To be clear, the Hebrew word nakah does not promote the idea of physical abuse.
As with all things within the Word, there is a balance in discipline. This passage is not to be used to justify physical abuse that causes harm to a child. Nothing good comes from child abuse. Studies have shown that when a child is abused he will often later in life rebel and go the opposite way from the parents’ admonition. Moderation and discretion must be the corner of all actions, including with admonition and discipline.
Even more important is the good example of a parent. As we find in this passage, to spank a child is scriptural; to abuse or to cause harm, however, is not to be tolerated. As parents we need to remember that our correction of our children is a reflection of how Yahweh rebukes us. While Yahweh shows correction or admonition, he never shows abuse.
Spiritual Guidance from the Father
Solomon in Proverbs 22:6 offers a nugget of truth that if followed will benefit a child for all of his or her life. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” How is this accomplished? Besides correction and admonition, a parent must be willing to spend time with his or her child. Nothing is more important in this life than our families. Many fathers do not realize the impact that they have on their families. As a father there is nothing more important than spending time with your child. It is truly sad to find fathers ignoring and not fulfilling this fatherly role.
And no more important time is there than that spent in Yahweh’s Word and especially doing so with a son or daughter.
Our Father in Heaven commands that we teach our children of Him throughout each day of our lives. “You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
As we find within this passage, before we can train our children we must first have Yahweh’s words within our own hearts. There is nothing worse than a hypocritical parent who does not live what he himself is teaching.
In this passage we find that we are to teach these words diligently to our children. The word diligently comes from the Hebrew word shanan, which is a primitive root meaning, “to point (transitive or intransitive); intensively, to pierce; figuratively, to inculcate” (New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).
To accomplish this goal, we find that we are to teach our child Yahweh’s Word when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. In other words, we not only teach our children Yahweh’s Word every day, but we also live its precepts ourselves
A Father Nurtures
Along with the duty of being chief provider, disciplinarian, and instructor in the family, the father shares the task of nurturing. While this responsibility seems to be dominated by the mother, the father also plays a significant part in the nurturing of his children. In doing so he must be cautious not to discourage his children. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of Yahweh” (Ephesians 6:4).
Paul refers to punishment that is excessive and unwarranted, which will ultimately provoke a child to harbor resentment and anger.
“That is, by unreasonable commands; by needless severity; by the manifestation of anger. So govern them, and so punish them — if punishment is necessary — that they shall not lose their confidence in you, but shall love you. The apostle here has hit on the very danger to which parents are most exposed in the government of their children. It is that of souring their temper; of making them feel that the parent is under the influence of anger, and that it is right for them to be so too.” (Barnes’ Notes, note on Ephesians 6:4).
As with all things in life, there is moderation in discipline. Is it a known fact that many children who live in abusive homes frequently do the opposite of what the parent attempted to reinforce through punishment. Remember that our Father in Heaven never promotes the abuse of a child, which as we find in this passage will only kindle enduring anger and animosity. If we are harsh in our correction, we may defeat the very purpose for that correction. It is important for a father to remember that when discipline is required that the result of that discipline is to nurture and not to create enduring anger or animosity.
Along with the role of nurturing, a father must show kindness and compassion to his child. There are many examples where Yahweh’s love for His people is compared to the love found between a father and son. One such passage is found in the Book of Psalms: “Yahweh is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so Yahweh pities those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:8-13).
Through this Psalm we find Yahweh is full of mercy and compassion. We also find that as a father pities his children, Yahweh pities those who fear him. The word “pity” comes from the Hebrew word racham, which means, “to love or to have compassion.” Solomon wrote that there was a time for every season. As there is a time for correction, there is also a time to show lovingkindness. Often the show of compassion will impact a child more than correction. If Yahweh only showed correction and admonition and disregarded mercy and compassion, where would his people be today?
In one final passage, Paul sets an example that is relevant to all generations. “You are witnesses, and Elohim also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (1Thessalonians 2:10-11).
Paul said that he exhorted and comforted those in Thessalonica as a father would his own children. Following in this example, a father should also encourage and comfort his children. Children require their father’s approval and encouragement for a well-balanced emotional state. A son and daughter look to their father for encouragement and guidance as they mature to adulthood.
In summation, a father’s role is vital to the physical and emotional needs of the family. Without a father, a child often suffers from emotional problems, which in some cases leads to crime, immorality, and other forms of sin. Yahweh established the family unit with one father and one mother. When this is tampered with, confusion is frequently the result. However, when we live within the confines that Almighty Yahweh established we experience peace and blessings that can only be found with His Word.
by Randy Folliard