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Where Have All the Fathers Gone? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2024 4:00 am

Where Have All the Fathers Gone? (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 23, 2024 4:00 am

Being a father is challenging when the surrounding culture increasingly devalues your role in family life. The Bible sees it differently, though. Learn from an imperfect but faith-filled example of fatherhood, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Music playing The idea that fathers are actually important, vital, crucial—whatever you may choose to use as the adjective—is fast losing any kind of credibility at all. And we have this strange dichotomy that, on the one hand, the country, as it were, pauses for a moment and says, Well, how wonderful it is to have dads, and yet at the same time, at a significant element within the culture, there is the erosion of the whole place and calling of fatherhood. Let us go to the matter viewed biblically, back here at our verse. By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and he worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. If the subject of fatherhood viewed from the perspective of our culture is chaos, then viewed from the perspective of the Bible, it is clarity.

Because it provides us with a framework, and it is chock-full of examples. And there's perhaps no better example of fatherhood in the Old Testament than that which is provided for us in the person of Jacob. He wasn't a perfect father.

Indeed, he erred in displaying an undue amount of affection for one of his sons over the others. That's about Genesis 37. You then need to read all through that story—and it is a fantastic story, and you should read it if you've never read it—and if you fast-forward to Genesis 46, you pick up the story when Jacob is reunited with a son whom he for all these years had assumed was dead.

Imagine living all of your life, twenty and thirty years, assuming that one of your boys is dead, and then receiving word that within a matter of hours you're going to meet him. Genesis 46. And verse 29, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. And Israel said to Joseph, I'm now ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive. And so it was that Jacob arrives in Egypt. He's a hundred and thirty years old, he tells Pharaoh, and he's pretty well shot. He says, I'm not going to live as long as some of the others, but I'm glad to be here and I'm glad to see my son. The fact is, when you read the story, he lived for another seventeen years—buoyant, I think, just by the discovery that Joseph was still alive—and living under the protective care of his son, enjoying the fact, presumably when he awakened in the morning and he looked out over Goshen, one of the most lovely spots in the whole Egyptian province, and he said to himself, You know, my boy Joseph's in charge of this. When he went down the street, the people would say, Hey, you know what? That's Joseph's dad. When he introduced himself in the store, he'd say, You know, my name is Jacob. You probably know my boy Joseph. Oh, Joseph! Whoo!

He's the president, for goodness' sake! Yeah, it's my boy. I thought he was dead. For seventeen years he lives, buoyant on this great, amazing fact, enjoying the great privileges of parenting that he thought had been taken from him. And then one day, as will happen to all of us, Joseph gets a call at the office—I use the word office loosely—to say that his father has taken ill. And in Genesis 48, we read the account as it unfolds for us.

The phone call that will come to all of us has come to some of us. And sometime later, Joseph was told, Your father is ill. So he gets his boys Manasseh and Ephraim, and he goes to see his dad. And we're told, Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

It's a great picture. It reminds me of the story of the minister who went to visit the fellow who was dying. His wife called to say he was dying.

He was in the final stages. So the pastor went to the house, and he took the man's hand, and he opened his Bible, and he laid it on the bed, and he began to read about heaven, and how the trumpet would sound and the dead in Christ would rise, and there would be a great reunion, and how there'd be no tears and no crying and no dying and no mourning and no day and no night. And he just described this fantastic scene. And gradually, the guy's eyes opened, and then his mouth opened, and his ears opened, and he finally sat up in his bed, and he got so excited about all this stuff about heaven that he lived for another five years. It's a true story.

It's a true story. And somehow or another, Jacob's out for the count, and Joseph has arrived and arrives, and he sits up. And then the events which unfold are summarized for us in Hebrews 11 verse 21. With your Bible open there, let me point you to the verbs.

Four verbs in Hebrews 11 21. First of all, notice that he was dying. Jacob the dad was dying. How was he dying? He was dying in the same way that he had lived, and he had lived by faith. He was dying in the awareness of God's sovereign purpose. He was dying in the awareness of the legacy that he was leaving to his children. He was dying in the awareness of his place in the unfolding of God's plan. He was dying. Secondly, he was blessing.

He recognized that now, these seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt, this was finally it. The call was coming, and he was going, and so he wants to bless his children and his children's children before he goes. And so he blesses these boys.

It's a wonderful picture. In fact, earlier in the chapter, he says to his son Joseph, he says, Listen, your boys are my boys. That's Genesis 48 5. Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt, before I came to you here, will be reckoned as mine.

These boys are mine. And when he blesses them in Genesis 48 and 16, he says, May he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers, Abram and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth. In other words, he says, I want them to know who they are, I want them to know their identity, and I want them to increase.

I want their tribe to increase. I want these boys to grow up in the awareness that their fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and may their tribe increase. Dying, blessing, worshiping. Notice as he worshiped in verse 15 that he was worshiping the God of succeeding generations, and he was worshiping the God of differing personalities, and he was worshiping God for the fact of his pilgrimage. He had been led. He was worshiping God for the wonder of his provision, for God had been a shepherd to him all his life, and he was worshiping God for the angel who had protected him and brought him safely to this day. He was a hundred and forty-seven, and he was worshiping.

Just hold that thought. The fourth verb is leaning. He was dying. He was leaning.

Leaning on what? Well, it says that he was leaning on a staff. Do you often wonder why it is that little details like this are in the Bible? I can imagine some English teacher taking a red pen to that.

We'll set that aside for now. But it was an important detail, because the staff was symbolic of his whole pilgrimage. The staff was important to him. With that staff he had crossed the Jordan. With that staff he had seen the hand of God at work upon his life. And as he leaned upon his staff, he did so with a sense of history. Now, you say to yourself, Where in the world is all of this going?

You know, and now Jacob, when he was about to die, worshiped God as he leaned on his staff. Well, let me tell you, let's go to personally, okay? Culturally, it's chaos. Biblically, it's clear.

Personally, it's crucial. Now, fathers, let me say two things—which sounds a little Irish—and then say what I want to say. I want to give you 14-3 and 3-14. If you're a numbers person—which, of course, you know I am—then this will strike you immediately. Hosea 14-3 says, In you the fatherless find compassion. I recognize that today is a difficult day for some. Because the recollections of earthly fatherhood do not fill you with joy. They fill you with regret, they fill you with anxiety, they fill you with disappointment, they may even fill you with fear.

Remember this. God is our Father. And if we have lived orphaned, if we have lived impoverished, if we have lived neglected, do not let us limp through our lives, because some psychologists wanted to explain us on the basis of that. Let us stand up and testify to the truth that in God our Father, our Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, we who are fatherless find compassion. That's 14-3.

And 3-14 is Philippians 3-14. I press on towards the goal to win the prize. Which father does not live with a measure of regret?

None. Some of us more so than others. Disappointments, fractured elements along the way, stupid mistakes. And the devil loves to come and take us back to these things all the time, back to that disappointment, back to that discouragement, back to that failure, and would like somehow or another to impoverish all of the rest of our earthly pilgrimage on the basis of that.

Tell him to go back where he belongs, and tell him that you're pressing on towards the goal. Yesterday is gone. Today is here. Tomorrow's coming. So we will forget what lies behind, as Paul says in 3-13, either our apparent successes or our dreadful failures, and we are pressing on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Well, then, is there some way that I can approach this? Yes. Look at these four verbs. Dying. Dying. We say, Dying? I'm not dying.

Pardon? Did I hear you say you're not dying? Yes, you are.

Yes, I am. You are three hundred and sixty-five days nearer death than you were last year, twenty-four hours nearer death than you were this time yesterday morning. We are dying. And we will never die as Jacob died unless we live as Jacob lived. You cannot die in faith unless you live in faith, and you cannot live in faith unless you come to faith, and you cannot come to faith until you see yourself as a needy sinner before Christ.

Repent of your sin, ask him to save you, cry out to him for his mercy, and ask him to come and invade your life by the power of his Spirit. That's when the journey of faith begins—not because you decided to get religious, not because you wandered into a church, not because you're trying to do a little better, but because you encountered God. Jacob had such an encounter.

You remember? He wrestled with God. And he said, I will not let you go until you bless me. Have you ever cried out to God in that way? Have you ever said, I will not go another day in my life until I know your provision and your power and your saving interest in me? Then we will be ready to die, but not until. And we may die before the day is over. I lost my mother, as you know. Like that. Put the kettle on. Heaven.

God continues to remind me of these things. I walked down the Continental Corridor again this week. I paused. I said to Jeff Mills, That's the spot. That's the spot. Just beside the shoeshine. What spot?

he said. I said, The spot where the man dropped dead and into eternity in front of me. Every time I walk past, it's like a memorial. Look at the faces of these people. Are they ready to die? Is my congregation ready to die? Till I prepare you how to die, you do not know how to live. And until you've addressed the issue of dying, there ain't gonna be no worthwhile blessing coming from you to your children. Blessing.

It's the second verb. What am I blessing my children with? When they think of blessing, what comes next? Oh, you're a blessed nuisance? Oh, yes, my father used to bless me a lot. I remember that. He used to say, You're a blessed pain in the neck.

Is that it? Or are we blessing our children? We can't bless them in a patriarchal blessing, as per Jacob, but we can bless them in the way we love them, in the way we're firm with them, in the way we establish parameters and say, This is it, in the way we pray for them, in the way we instruct them, in the way we guide them, in the way in which we take an interest in them. Dying, blessing, worshiping—worshiping at 147? Do your children know you to be a worshiper? How would they know? Well, they would see you in worship. They would join you in worship. They would know whether worship for you was something that came out of the fullness of your heart or whether it was just something to get by one hour in the week to get on with the rest of life. When the pastor calls on your home and gathers your children around him and says, Tell me some of your father's favorite hymns. Will they be able to answer? Tell me some of your dad's favorite verses. Will they have anything to say? Show me your dad's well-worn Bible.

Will there be anything to pick up? I don't know what day it was, when I passed the Rubicon between sitting beside my dad and grinding through every moment of what was being said by this guy at the front and suddenly listening. I don't know when I passed from winding my mother's watch round on her wrist so as to take her into eternity with an indelible mark of the fact that I was always saying, When will this be over?

I don't know when it changed, but it changed. And every song I sing, and nearly every verse I know, and almost every conviction of my life today has been framed by the fact that I lived in the house of a worshiping dad. And I remember putting my hand into his hand on a Sunday evening service, wondering what in the world the guy was on about, but happy just to hold his hand. I remember, as if he is beside me, the way the hymnbook always shook, even when I was tiny. And I remember thinking, My dad must be old.

The book shouldn't shake like this. What do your kids remember? One hour on a Sunday morning and forget it for the rest of the week? If you'd die tonight, what kind of legacy have you left as a worshiper? Are you gonna sit home and watch Bonanza tonight? Well, realize something.

If you can find it on TNT and watch it, I hope you enjoy it. I happen to love Bonanza, but remember this. Every Sunday night spent watching Bonanza instead of worshipping in the house of the Lord is adding to the legacy that you are leaving for your children on the day when you ain't blessing them no more, because you died and you checked out. Last verb is leaning.

Leaning. Do you think Joseph kept this stick, this staff? I would have had it in an instant.

You see the picture of him around chapter 50, when his dad dies, Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him. And then, as would be normal in these sad and sorry circumstances, he would gather up the belongings, and you'd bet your life he gathered up the belongings and say, Hey, hey, give me that stick. I want that staff. Because my dad used to lean on that. And I'm gonna keep it.

And it's gonna remind me that he'll land on that as a symbol of his dependence upon God, and every time I take it in my hands, at least I'll remember that I may not do it. And where are you and I leaving our children? Don't let's talk annuities.

Don't let's talk houses. Let's talk about the things that'll matter. What will matter? Well, if you've lost a loved one, if you've lost a mom or a dad, you know what matters. What matters are the notes, the letters, the scribbles, the little things.

Tell you what, it's tough, this fatherhood stuff, isn't it? I wrote myself seven points with which to conclude. So why don't we conclude? I'll just read them to you. I wrote them as a memo to myself, culled them, created them.

They're not brilliant, but they're a help to me. This is what I wrote down. Number one, I am a dad. So, yeah, this is gonna be profound stuff. Yeah. Oh, yeah, this is deep.

Yeah. I am a dad even when I don't feel like it. Blew it, or fancy another job description. Two—maybe I should try three, I can't read two. The home is the single most important influence on my family.

Not the Sunday school, not the Christian school, not the any school, not the any one, not the any thing. The home is the single most important influence on my family. I'm back up to two now. Two, being a dad is the most important role I will ever play. Four—this is kind of Irish way of counting—four, I have no question about the fact that I can and must improve. Five, it is hard being a dad.

And I need to pray more and work harder. Six, the most important thing that I can do for my children is to live in passionate faithfulness with their mom. Seven, I would rather be remembered for being funny and slightly crazy than the preacher who frowned too much, yelled too loud, talked too long, and died too young. What does it say?

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled, Where Have All the Fathers Gone? Here at Truth for Life we know that family life can be demanding. It's easy for us to get caught up in busy schedules, never-ending to-do lists. Our prayer is that the Bible-centered teaching you hear on this daily program offers you a purposeful break from all the busyness. Time to be refreshed as you reflect on God's Word and to be encouraged as you strive to live a godly life in what is often a confusing world. We also love selecting books to recommend to you that will help you apply God's Word to your daily life, and today we hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to request a book titled, Parenting Essentials, Equipping Your Children for Life. This book helps parents know how to better nurture each child's unique gifts and to help them cultivate a strong sense of their identity in Christ.

Ask for the book for yourself or to give to your grown children who are raising their own families when you donate to Truth for Life through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate. By the way, if you'd like to hear more Bible teaching from Alistair you can study along with him in person on a seven-day cruise along the New England and eastern Canadian coastlines in September. Alistair will be the guest speaker and will be opening the Bible throughout the trip. For more information or to book your cabin visit deeperfaithcruise.com. Thanks for listening today. If you or someone you know has ever been labeled just a mom you'll want to join us tomorrow to hear what the Bible has to say about the high calling of motherhood. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-23 07:43:24 / 2024-05-23 07:51:57 / 9

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