STOVER: The everlasting father of Christmas

Published 3:50 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017

By LARRY STOVER | Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene 

The weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas are an exciting time for believers as they prepare themselves spiritually for the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the world.

Isaiah 9:6 gives a portion of the Biblical background for this season.

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Those verses read, “For to us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We have examined his role as Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God. Today, we want to look at his role as Everlasting Father.

This may be the toughest attribute to understand in today’s world. The “father” in many American homes is not always well thought of by the family.

Fatherless homes in the United States are at a pandemic level. Many men know how to make a baby but refuse the responsibility of raising one. A plethora of problems have infiltrated the American family including domestic violence, substance abuse or just an absence of responsibility.

A few years ago I did an informal survey of athletes in area public schools. It was estimated that as many as 75 percent of athletes in the Dallas County, Alabama area have no male presence in the home.

This is a crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Tragically, in many of these situations it is difficult to imagine a “Heavenly Father” in a positive sense. I want to apologize to those who have had a negative “father experience.” God never intended for that to be the case.

The Bible is very plain in describing the Judeo-Christian role and responsibility of a father. In light of this, we see a very different role of the father from scripture.

The first role to consider is that of a “provider.” Philippians 4:19 describes our God who will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should not worry about what we eat or wear, but should seek God’s kingdom first and these will be taken care of as needed.

Our Messiah comes to us this Christmas season as a provider. This includes material things like food and shelter but also spiritual things like forgiveness, cleansing and power. Jesus did what no earthly father could do because he died for our sins, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He sent his Holy Spirit to enable us to live a life pleasing to the Father as well as our families and friends.

A second role is that of “protector.” A key role of the father is to protect his family. Jesus comes to us in that capacity. Psalm 5:11 challenges us to put our trust in God because He protects us. Psalm 91:11 resounds with his protection. It reads, “He will command his angles to guard you in all your ways.”

One of my favorite joys of ministry is the dedication of babies. It involves the entering into of a covenant relationship between the parents and the child. That covenant includes a willingness to teach their children to know and do the will of God. It continues by admonishing parents to watch over their children lest they be led astray. It involves directing their minds to scripture and taking them to church bringing them up to love this Everlasting Father.

The last role of this Everlasting Father is that of a Patriarch. This concept really spoke to the Jewish community during the life and times of Jesus. A father in that day was respected and recognized as the spiritual leader of his home. He was in charge of his family, not as an autocratic dictator but as a liaison to God representing His plan and purpose for every home and family. This is best illustrated in Ephesians 5 where we are told that “Christ loved the church and died for it.” It goes on to say that men should likewise loves their wives.” Our Messiah is the ultimate Patriarch.

The concept of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, coming as an Everlasting Father was exciting for many people when he walked this earth. He demonstrated fatherly love with every word He uttered and every miracle he performed. It was the ultimate expression of that role when he was willing to die on the cross for the sins of the world.

John 10:10 reminds that he came to give us life and give it to us abundantly. The Biblical roles of the earthly father and the heavenly father have not changed. When we accept these truths and make them foundational to our daily lives it will make life “Simply Beautiful.”