THE story of Job in the Bible is a remarkable one. The book itself is a remarkable account of the man, who was the greatest of all the people in the East. We do not know for sure the time that Job lived in, although Bible scholars put him alongside patriarch Abraham. But we know one thing for sure, he lived in a time when the Word of God had not yet fully been revealed to mankind. And, that’s what makes Job’s faith and tenacity worthy of our admiration and emulation.
Job belonged to the rare breed of men who remained pious in spite of great prosperity. He had seven sons and three daughters. As a father, he knew his children could sin and lose their companionship with God. He was in the habit of offering burnt offerings for each of his children. He sent for them and sanctified them because he said perhaps ‘my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ The last four words in Job 1:5 are worth noting: ‘Thus Job did regularly.’ He was consistent in his prayers for his children.
Matthew Henry wrote thus in his commentary on Job: “He sent and sanctified them, reminding them to examine themselves, to confess their sins, to seek forgiveness; and as one who hoped for acceptance with God through the promised Saviour, he offered a burnt-offering for each. We perceive his care for their souls, his knowledge of the sinful state of man, his entire dependence on God’s mercy in the way he had appointed.”
Caring for the children’s souls is a wonderful privilege given only to Christian parents. Are you aware that the devil who is described by the apostle in 1 Peter 5:8 as ‘your adversary’ who ‘walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ is particularly fond of the believers’ children?
Today, Christian homes are under a vicious attack. We may be tempted to say that the level of attack is unprecedented, but the fact is the devil has always been particularly targeting those who stand for God. Take King David’s case for instance. The great warrior and slayer of Goliath, the great man of God who refused to raise his hand against Saul because he perceived God’s anointing was still on his master, the great king who ruled over undivided Israel was a failure as a father.
We read of what happened between Amnon and his half-sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. The sordid happenings sure upset David and made him angry but he forgot to punish his son Amnon for what he did to Tamar. In sparing the rod, he spoiled not one child but three of his precious children – Amnon, Absalom and Tamar. Had David taken time to check on Amnon’s real intentions, he could have averted the distasteful incident in his son’s palace in the first place. As parents, we are responsible for our young children’s spiritual health too. It is not enough that we provide for them and care for them. Our responsibility, as Christians, goes even beyond that. The sooner we introduce them to their Creator and Savior the better for them and us.
David was too busy to identify the real cause for Amnon’s illness and he acted like a simpleton in acceding to his son’s request that Tamar nurse him out of his illness. David failed to punish Amnon and he failed to sense Absalom’s hatred for Amnon and bring in healing and forgiveness in their relationship. Counselors today would have called David a ‘passive father’. A passive man is one who does not argue with anyone and ensures there is no conflict with anyone in the family. The real problem of being passive is that you are emotionally disengaged with your wife and children. And, passive fathers bring about angry sons, counselors would tell you.
Talking of angry and foolish sons, I am reminded of Samson. He had great strength and was a man of valor. Unfortunately, he was also blinded by lust and love for the forbidden. Can a part of Samson’s failures be blamed on his father Manoah and his unnamed mother? I think not. Manoah and his wife had the best of intentions and they strived for wisdom to bring up Samson in Godly ways. Judges 13:8 lists a beautiful prayer of the soon-to-be-father Manoah: “Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” Manoah was not content in getting the vision of the angel and his instructions for bringing up the child from his wife. He wanted the Angel of the Lord to personally reveal to him what he told his wife. Even later on, we see Manoah and his wife resisting Samson’s idea of getting married to the woman he saw in Timnah (Judges 14:3). Manoah was not a passive father and Samson’s failure can never be blamed on him.
If you are a father, I would like to urge you to care for the souls of your children like Job, ask for divine wisdom like Manoah and lay down rules of fair play to your children.
Jesus Christ painted a portrait of the Heavenly Father by pointing to the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The Christian father is expected to be faithful, firm and forgiving. Faithful to his God and the family given to him, firm in his convictions and forgiving if the family fails him and repents of their actions.