The Hearts of Fathers and Children

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God used the last verse of the Old Testament to predict something close to His heart that He was going to do in the future:

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 
He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
Malachi 4:5-6

Four hundred years later, this prophecy from Malachi was fulfilled in John the Baptist, the baby of the priest Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. In the first chapter of Luke, when an angel of the Lord told Zacharias that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a son, he said:

“And he will turn many of the sons of Israel
back to the Lord their God. 
It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children,
and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous,
so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:16-17

It is Satan who wants to drive a wedge between fathers and children and who wants to rip families apart.

It is God Who wants the hearts of fathers and children turned to one another. God is the One Who builds a family. First, He joins a man and woman together. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Have you not read that
He who created them from the beginning
made them male and female, and said, 
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh’?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together,
let no man separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6

Children are a gift that God Himself gives.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3

Matthew 19 teaches us that God wants husbands and wives to remain together. Malachi 4 teaches us that He wants fathers and children to continue a loving relationship. Proverbs teaches us about the lifetime relationship between children and their parents.

Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Proverbs 23:22

In his autobiography, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote an excellent synopsis of healthy family relationships. He wrote of the virtues needed in a nation but says that:

. . . these virtues are as dust on a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.

Today even crime statistics tell us about the importance of fathers in the lives of children, and medical research shows that loneliness and feelings of strain in family connections may contribute to developing dementia.

We can trust God’s wisdom. He made the importance of loving, lifetime family relationships clear long ago.

During this week before Father’s Day, I want to share some thoughts about fathers and children. I love these photos I found from the Library of Congress. All have this caption: “Fathers play with their children in the nursery school of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, New York.” Photographer Bernard Gotfryd took all of them on June 23, 1981. Our children were born from 1979 to 1983. As I flipped through the collection, I enjoyed seeing the joyful connection between the fathers and their children and I also got a kick out of the toys because we had and still have the Fisher Price® horse, doggie pull-toy, and drum, and a very similar wooden pounding toy.

How beautiful it is when the father and child relationship is good. It is crucial to remember that this relationship, like all relationships, is what we euphemistically call “a two-way street.” God is honored when fathers turn their hearts to their children. And He is honored when children turn their hearts to their fathers.

Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
Proverbs 23:26




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