KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
TO BE THE LORDíS PRAYER
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven..." (Mat. 6:9
Jesus was a Son of God treading the dusty paths of earth. His life and ministry had been spent revealing this sonship relationship to God. "I know you hear me always," He had said outside the tomb just before crying, "Lazarus, come forth!" He knew who He was and was so certain of that position that every petition He asked of the Father was granted. He, the Son, was on a mission for the Father. He had come only to do His will, and then all that He needed to accomplish this, when He needed it, was as certain as yesterday. His declarations of His position were stated many times: "I and my Father are one...the Son does only what pleases the Father." The first thing in prayer is: I must meet my Father. The light that shines in my secret place of prayer must be the light of the Fatherís countenance. The fresh air from heaven which permeates the atmosphere in which I breathe and commune must be the overwhelming love of the Father, Godís infinite Fatherliness. In this knowledge and experience of Godís Fatherliness all the mysteries of the Kingdom of God are revealed, all the glories of Godís fullness are shed forth.
Man needs to know God as Father. If we can visualize with our mindís eye the finest Father in the world, we think of a man with loving strength that provides for and protects his loved ones. There is nothing in the world he would not do for his children, if he felt it was in their best interests. He would do it regardless of the cost in money, life, health and comfort. God is like that, only He is a more wonderful and gracious Father than any human father that ever lived! His will for our lives is that we may receive out of His love and wisdom all that we need to walk as His sons in this earth.
At the very beginning of the Lordís prayer the word of identification is "Father," and it reminds us that He once said, "Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven" (Mat. 23:9). The patriarchal society of Jesusí day reveals why He chose this word. The entire life of the family revolved around the father. As one has written of the culture of that time: "Genealogies were traced through the father; the family was utterly dependent upon the father for everything: their protection depended upon the father; inheritance came through the father; food and the meeting of all physical needs was the job of the father. The father held a very special place, so much so that it is difficult for us to imagine his importance in terms of todayís society. In the West today, where women work and compete on equal terms with men in every area of life, and where women can inherit and be financially and socially independent, it is well-nigh impossible to appreciate the role of the father in distant times. In our imagination we can sense, however, what the word must have meant to Jesus."
It is a great tragedy that in the flesh many people have known only harsh, hard, or irresponsible fathers. Their father may have been a selfish, self-centered person who cared little for their well-being. He may have been lazy, shiftless, a drunkard, a dope addict, a deserter, or some other perverted person who wrought havoc with their personalities in early childhood. He may have been a weak-willed person who could command no respect from his children. Even at best he may have at times fluctuated in his moods and temper, one day lenient in dealing with his children, the next tough and terrifying. So how could one so inconsistent, so unpredictable, bring strength, understanding, counsel, stability or wisdom to his offspring?
A brother once wrote: "I recall one lady at a conference honestly confessing that she found it much easier to go to Jesus for forgiveness than to think of approaching her holy, austere, heavenly Father. In fact, she inwardly hoped the matter could be taken care of by Jesus, and not even mentioned or brought to the attention of God the Father! In her mind, Jesus was perceived as being far more understanding and forgiving than the Father. I have raised this concern many times in audiences the world over and found the majority of people have similar feelings. Most of them know better in their heads, but many canít really grasp the reality of the Fatherís love in their hearts. Indeed, some have such a distorted concept of His character, they subconsciously picture God the Father as a divine, but distant, legislator, judge and executioner who seemingly finds a peculiar pleasure in severely punishing violators of the law. Such legalistic mentality leads to a life that is continually under a cloud of condemnation."
Recently David Wilkerson shared some significant and sobering observations. He said, "Not long ago, Newsweek magazine featured a cover story entitled, ĎA World Without Fathers.í The focus was primarily on African-American families and the alarming increase of children being raised without fathers. Consider, for example: (1) A black child born today has only a one-in-five chance of growing up with a father until he is sixteen. This statistic reflects not just poor families, but also a staggering 22 percent increase among those families making $75,000 or more. Right now some 62 percent of all black families are without a father. (2) Divorce is taking its toll among Caucasian families, as fathers flee their responsibilities in increasing numbers. There is no longer a stigma placed on fathers who just Ďdisappear.í The government is having to track down a growing army of runaway fathers who wonít support their children. (3) At Hannah House, New Life for Girls and Teen Challenge Home for Women, one of the biggest struggles for women in the program is to forgive their father or stepfather for having molested them while they were young. Many of these young women have spent years battling memories of being terrorized by a lust-driven father or stepfather. One girl at Hannah House had a most difficult time forgiving her biological father for getting her pregnant. The Holy Spirit helped this young woman to forgive him recently, just before he died. But her life has been marked by his brutal sin. (4) A stepfather in upper Manhattan killed his baby stepdaughter by throwing her out of an eight story window. The entire community wanted to string this man up. And many fatherless children in that housing project once again had their image of a father perverted in their minds. If you were to ask them what they think fathers are like, theyíd answer, ĎHeís a mean, vicious man who throws his children out the window.í These kids canít relate to a loving, heavenly Fatheró because implanted in their minds is an image of a violent, heartless man! I bring up all these examples to remind you of how difficult it is for many people to think of God as a loving Father. They canít help but see God through the eyes of past experiences with an ungodly father or stepfather. Very few of the troubled men and women who come to us for help can relate to a father who is normal or loving. Their father either abandoned them or wounded and grieved them. Itís all so sad ó so tragic" ó end quote. In spite of these deplorable facts, yet, thank God, there are multiplied hundreds of millions who have had good fathers and a solid family life ó the very picture and image of the depths of our heavenly Fatherís special goodness and love!
DISTORTED VIEWS OF THE FATHER
Plutarch, the great Greek biographer, once wrote, "I had rather a great deal men should say there was no such man at all as Plutarch than that they should say there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born." He preferred to have men deny his existence rather than to have them hold an unworthy conception of his character. Carrying this thought into the spiritual realm we may raise the question as to whether it would be more pleasing to God to have His existence denied or to have men hold a distorted and unworthy conception of His character. We may not be able to answer that proposition with certainty, but the fact is that in this world far vaster multitudes of men hold distorted concepts of God than deny His existence! There are fewer atheists in the world than religious folk who continually malign and slander the character of the heavenly Father!
It is helpful to understand how men in ancient times viewed their God; the way in which they conceived of Him who created them. Would that we could go back to those ancient days in India or China or Japan and see the hideous idols with their grimacing countenances, their devouring teeth, their many arms and sharp claws, something of the devouring, hateful nature of their deitiesó or go back to the cruel Assyrians or Babylonians or Egyptians and the monstrosities, the tyrannies, which they worshipped as gods. The people of Israel knew that there was only one true and living God ó Yahweh. But the idea that God was a loving God was alien to them for the most part. Until Jesus came even they did not know the heart of the Father. They knew God according to superstition and after the Law. To them God was Yahweh the Law-giver, harsh, demanding, and vindictive, throwing lightning bolts off of Sinai. The Old Testament world stood before the thought of God as we sometimes stand before a summer thunder-storm ó black, flashing with lightning, terrible ó and with fear and awe they bowed in the dust. They conceived that God was exacting and full of wrath. God punished people and destroyed all His enemies. But that God loved them? God would accept their sacrifices, certainly. God would even put up with them, and they would propitiate Him and appease Him (or so they thought!), but they did not in most cases truly love God.
Among the many references to the Almighty crowding the various books of the Old Testament the name Father is applied to God only seven timesó five times as Father of the Hebrew people, and twice as Father of individuals. One of these is a prediction that men will one day pray to God, calling Him Father. That which was dim in the Old Testament becomes bright in the New. Jesus called God His Father, and bids us, "When ye pray, say, Our Father." He takes us into the presence of the great Yahweh, and says to us, "He who is my Father is your Father too." Absolutely everything depends on this one fact, that it is Jesus Christ who teaches us this prayer. He alone, in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection, is the guarantor that there is a Father. This is the grandest, tenderest, most glorious thought of God that has ever come to man ó the Father revealed in Christ.
Since it is an everlasting truth that men become like the god they worship, so this revelation, the unveiling of the face of the Father in heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, has done more to soften and conquer the hearts of mankind than anything that man has ever discovered. It has brought more love and more genuine progress to civilization than anything else. Without it we might still be as the Assyrians who worshipped cruel and merciless gods and, therefore, when they descended upon their foes they placed thousands of sharpened stakes in the ground, picked up their adversaries and left them impaled to die an agonizing death. Those they did not impale they flayed alive and covered the walls of their captured towns with the skins of their victims because that was the kind of god they worshipped.
But have we really made that much progress? The same beloved John who wrote so extensively of Godís marvelous love left us this solemn warning, "Little children, keep yourselves from IDOLS (that is, false gods, or false ideas and representations of the true God)" (I Jn. 5:21). Do we have false ideas about God? I fear we do. We say that God is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and then turn around and deny it. We say that God "so loved the world" and that Jesus is "the Saviour of the world" and then turn around and say that only a few will be saved while God sends the vast majority to suffer the excruciating pains of fire and brimstone for all eternity without His feeling any concern for their sufferingó totally impotent to win them to Himself, and without mercy! We say that God is all-powerful, and then turn around and say that God has "provided" salvation for all men, that God is "trying" to save the world, that God is "pleading" with men to repent, but the devil who blinds and possesses menís souls is so much more powerful than God that he will carry captive into eternal hell countless billions of men for whom Christ died! More preachers major on hell and damnation than emphasize His all-encompassing love, mercy and purpose. And multitudes of Christians live under a sense of condemnation and fear of God, ministered to them by the preachers.
"Little children, keep yourselves from false ideas of God!" False ideas about God. How the world and the Church are filled with them! Many who read these lines have gone through several rounds of smashing idols, false images of the Almighty, and will probably continue to drop false ideas until Christ be formed in them. Many people view God as a schoolboy did: "...the sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it." Then others make God our to be a tyrant, or a vengeful, wrath-filled FIEND. But the Bible knows of no such God. No more terrible insult was given to the God of all grace who came in Jesus Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. This story is told about a little girl. After she had heard her father preach a sermon on the awful wrath of God, and that the unsaved would go to a red-hot, sizzling, burning hell the moment they died, and that they would twist in agony and torment forever, without mercy, this little girl said, "I wish Jesus were as good and kind as my father." God does bring judgment upon sinnersó swift, strong, effective, corrective judgment ó but never meaningless, sadistic torture.
Do you know what God wants more than anything else? And in the end, will it be God or the devil who gets what he wants? "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:3-4). His mercy runs so deep that He sent Jesus as the redeemer of the race, and has mapped out a beautiful and comprehensive "Plan of the Ages" in which to reconcile all things unto Himself. He has revealed that His tender mercies are over all His works; that He hates nothing that He has made; that it was all for His pleasure; that He is kind unto the unthankful and the evil; and that He has provided a way that even the banished may return to Himó self-banished though they may be by sin. The unquenchable and eternal love of God our Father for all of His creation is the great center of all Christís teaching. He said, "For GOD SO LOVED the world..." He said, "I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father Himself loveth you." He is not pleading with the Father to love us or any man in the world infinitely, for He came from that Father with the Gospel, with the glad tidings of the Fatherís love; that He so loved the world that He sent His Son into it, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. What compassion! What wisdom! What love! What a God!
In coming to know God we pass in through all His power, and all His majesty, and all His overwhelming surroundingsó and we are not content until we come to His heart, to Godís very, very heart. What a thought! Oh, all ye thinking men! What a thought! What a heart must Godís heart be! What knowledge it must have! What pity it must hold! What compassion! What love! How deep it must be! How wide! How tender! What a mystery! What a universe we belong to! What creatures we are! and what a Creator we have! and what a God! Above all, what a Father! "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen."
And now our relationship to God is one of a Father infinitely loving a son. One author tells of a boy who again and again broke the laws of the land and would end up in jail. His father would go down to pay his fine and get him free. Finally it cost the father about all that he had and also his heart was almost broken. A friend said to the father, "If that were my boy, I would let him go." He replied, "If he were your boy, I would too, but he is my boy and I canít let him go." Well, God is your Father and, no matter what happens, He is ever seeking to bring you back to Himself.
When the apostle Paul described his prayer life he said, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph. 3:14-15). The question followsó Who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? The question has a clear and unmistakable answer. Long millenniums ago the anointed Psalmist spoke by the Spirit of the coming into the world of Godís firstborn Son and prophesied these words to fall from the lips of Godís Christ: "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee" (Ps. 2:7). I draw your attention to the word LORD in this verse. "The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son" Whenever we find the word Lord printed in all capital letters (LORD) in the King James version of the Bible the word in the original is YAHWEH. This word is used 5,528 times in the Old Testament scriptures ó more than any other name of God. Thus it is clear that YAHWEH is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. "YAHWEH hath said unto me, Thou art me Son."
Let us define this name Yahweh. He is the one who is what He is. When He appeared to Moses He said, "I AM WHAT I AM." He is the eternal, unchanging One. That is clear, but it does not describe what He is eternally and unchangeably. There is a deeper meaning in the Hebrew name. Andrew Jukes has given the following definition of the Hebrew name Yahweh. "Yahweh is the expression of Godís being as truth and righteousness. Therefore He loves righteousness and hates iniquity and finds in all evil something that is antagonistic to His nature, which because it is not true or just must be opposed and judged." That is the underlying principle behind Godís everlastingness and unchangeableness. He never deviates from truth and righteousness, and will not ultimately tolerate error or sin anywhere in His universe. Jesus Christ is the Son of this God, Yahweh, whose being is truth and righteousness, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity. For this very reason the scripture bears witness of Him, "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son. Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Heb. 1:5,8-9).
THE DISCIPLINE OF SONS
Some months ago I was deeply moved by a message from our dear brother, Bennie Skinner, on YAHWEH AND THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD. I am constrained to use most of the rest of this Study to share this vital and significant word with my readers in the hope that it will speak as profoundly to your heart as it has to mine in this significant hour. I quote...
"People say, ĎHow can a God of love do this, or do that; permit this, or permit that? How can a God of love permit fires, wars, famines, earthquakes, plagues, and a world of other catastrophes and sorrows that befall mankind. How can a God of love allow all these things to take place?í You see, if you knew all the sides of Godís nature, you would understand how a God of love can allow all of thisó and not only allow it, but bring it to pass. You need to know God in all the sides of His nature and not think of Him as an indulgent old granddaddy, a goody-goody, and everybody can do anything they want to, and He still loves them anyhow ó Ďitís alright darling, everything is going to be wonderful in the end.í Ah, yes, it will be wonderful in the end ó but let me tell you something, beloved; before you get to that end you are going to discover another side to Godís nature. You will know a number of sides to Godís nature.
"When I had children born to me I loved those children unconditionally. There were no reservations to my love, because I am a father. Regardless of what they did, how they acted, or what they didnít do I still loved them the same. But suppose I had said to them, ĎI love youó I donít care what you do,í and just let it go at that. Do you know what kind of un-holy terrorists I would have raised? Do you know what kind of juvenile delinquents I would have reared if I would have said, "Anything goes, everything goes, I love you darling, itís alright, itís O.K.,í and never taught them a thing about life or responsibility. Can you imagine how they would have lived? There are multitudes of people today who think of God in this way and so they think of themselves like that as parents. They donít want to bear the responsibility of showing another side to their nature. They equate love with permissiveness. They invest nothing into their children to teach them and train them. Consequently the children grow up to be juvenile delinquents. The real problem is parental delinquency. If you know and understand God and the different sides of His nature it will put a balance in your life that will be reflected in your home, in the way you treat your wife, in the way you treat your husband, the way you treat your children, the way you treat your parents, the way you treat your neighbor, the way you treat your employer, the way you treat your employees, the way you treat humanity ó in all these relationships the way you know God in the sides of His nature will be reflected. Thatís why itís important for you to know the names of God and the sides of His nature they stand for.
"YAHWEH is the Father side of God. Yahweh is the stern One. Yahweh is the Law-giver. Yahweh is the Head. ĎAnd God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Yahweh: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai, but my name Yahweh was not known to themí (Ex. 6:2-3). El Shaddai means Ďthe breasted One.í What is it that a baby learns first? Or, better yet, what is it that a baby doesnít have to learn? A baby doesnít have to learn how to suckó it is born with that ability ó it learns that while still in the womb. The first thing a baby learns is what to suck, and where to find it. A baby learns about motherís breast. A baby learns where dinner is. A baby learns who mother is before he or she learns who father is. Whenever we come to God, the first thing we learn is to know that He is our sustenance, He is our provider, He is the One we draw our life from, He is the One who blesses us, helps us, keeps us, protects us, watches over us, looks out for us, and cares for us no matter what. We know Him as El Shaddai ó we know the motherhood of God. We learn to eat of Him and drink of Him, we learn to eat His flesh and drink His blood, we learn to partake continually of His life and draw all sustenance and strength from Him who is our Mother ó the breasted One.
"Elohim can say, ĎI am Yahweh,í just as I can say, ĎI am a father.í We are not talking about more than one Godó itís the one and same God who can be all these things. Each of us, though we are one person, has various relationships and offices. I am a father. I am also a son. I am a husband. Furthermore, I am a citizen of Palm Beach County. I am a member of the human race. I am all these things and more ó and yet I am but one person. I do not act as a father in the same way I act as a husband. I do not act as a husband in the same way I act as a son. I do not act as a son in the same way I act as a neighbor. I do not act as a neighbor in the same way I act as a pastor. I have all these different sides to my nature, yet I am but one person. God has many sides to His nature (many names), but He is only one God.
"Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew God in only two sides of His natureó Elohim and El Shaddai. They knew Elohim the Creator, and El Shaddai the breasted One, the nourisher and sustainer. No wonder that Abraham could lean on Him and draw from Him and when he was a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety they could have a baby. They drew from His life. They partook of His life. But they did not know Yahweh.
"Let me ask you something. Can children be raised without a father and there not be something lacking in their character? Unwed mothers and single mothers are one of the plagues of our society. They are trying to bring up their children without a daddy. But the children have a flaw, a defect in their character because they havenít had a father to train them. Iím not speaking against these children or the mothersó Iím just telling you that a woman by herself cannot raise her children as well as if she had a husband in harmony with her, working together with her, bringing that balance into their childrenís lives. We must come to know Yahweh. We must know the Fatherhood of God. We must experience Him as our Father. We have known Him as the One who loves us. ĎFor God so loved the world.í We have known Him as El Shaddai, the provider, the breasted One, the One who nourishes us, who blesses us and watches over us with that tender, loving care of a mother. And now, weíre going to have to learn to know Him as a Father.
"íFill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Yahweh. Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: that men may know that Thou, whose name alone is YAHWEH, art the most high over all the earthí (Ps. 83:16-18). Have you ever prayed that kind of a prayer for anybody? ĎLord, make their faces ashamed, that they might seek Thy name, O Yahweh.í Noó weíve wanted God to reveal Himself to those we pray for as El Shaddai ó ĎLord, bless your children; Lord, help them, have mercy upon them, reveal to them your love and goodness.í We want people to know God as El Shaddai or Elohim. But here the Psalmist has come to know Him in a deeper way, so he says, ĎFill their faces with shame, O Yahweh, that they may seek Thy name.í Do you dare to release your children, to release your loved ones, to release your friends, to release your neighbors ó do you dare to release them in prayer to Yahweh? Thatís the only way there will be any mighty changes take place in them. They have to be released into the hands of Yahweh. They have to learn some things. Theyíve got to learn that they canít do whatever they please and get by with it. Not with Yahweh! Oft times a mother will let children get by with things and are less stern than a good father. Father will tell you one time, and that is it; do it again, and punishment will be sure and swift. Now I know this is not always the case. We have a lot of fathers who wonít be fathers. They are not men, just males.
"There is an awesome responsibility with being a father. It requires wisdom, knowledge and backbone. You seeó in many mothers there is a soft streak, a tenderness that overlooks. And that is how it should be. God made mothers that way because it is the balance for the sternness of the father. Both are aspects of Godís nature in mercy and in judgment. So the ladies should not try to make the men like them, nor should the men try to make the women think and act like them. God made us different ó God took the woman out of the man that she might be a different creature to think differently, act differently, and react differently. Men are reasoners, they are logical, they face the issue squarely, whereas a woman goes by intuition and feelings. Each needs the other. My wife has saved me from many a hurt by that intuition she has. And I thank God for her, I need her, Iím not complete without her, but sheís not complete without me, either. Whenever I disciplined my children, and I was pretty stern with them sometimes, she went along with me. And whenever I chastened them they didnít run to mother to get help. Mother wouldnít give them any help. And when mother chastened them they didnít run to daddy, because daddy wouldnít give them any help.
"So let me assure you, belovedó we need to know the Fatherhood of God. We need to know Yahweh. You donít fool with Yahweh. He says what He means and He means what He says, and if you donít obey you will be punished for your disobedience. He loves you enough to correct you. You say, ĎWhen a father takes off his belt and lays a whipping on his children does he not love them? Why be so stern? Why be so hard? Why not make a compromise?í He loves them enough to do that. And the God we are serving ó part of His nature is Yahweh. He has given some commands and He wants those commands to be obeyed. And Heís not fooling around with us. If we donít do what He says, if we refuse or neglect to do what He commands, He will lay the rod on us. If you donít believe the Lord chastises His children you just fool around with Him and youíll find out. He will lay the rod on you. And Iím glad! For Ďwhom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receivethí (Heb. 12:6). Weíre not dealing with an old gray-headed, long-bearded granddaddy that you can twist his nose, pull his hair, or pout, and get him to do anything you want him to do. You are dealing with GOD. Elohim, yes. El Shaddai, yes. But YAHWEH who is going to be obeyed.
"Do you know whatís lacking so much in the deeper truth message today? Itís balance. There is no balance in so many areas. Itís out of balance. When things get out of balance there is trouble. Remember Uzzaó when the children of Israel built a new cart to take the ark of the covenant up to Jerusalem, remember, it went over some rough road and started to get out of balance. Uzza reached out and tried to balance it and God smote him dead on the spot. Let me tell you something, beloved, we must do things after Godís due order, the way God says to do it. God didnít say to make a new cart and put the ark of the covenant on it. He said to take the priests, the Levites, and consecrate them unto the Lord and let them carry the ark with staves ó they were not to even touch that ark. They were to put staves in the rings on the sides of the ark and lift it up and carry it. What they were doing was out of balance, and when Uzza reached out and touched the ark God smote him dead. Yahweh is God ó and He can kill and He can make alive. He can knock you down and He can raise you up. If you obey Him He will bless you, He will help you, He will keep you, because He is the God of truth and righteousness. Heís the God who suffers when His children suffer.
"Do you think it didnít hurt me when I had to chasten my children when they were little ones, and I was a big strong man, and I laid the belt on them and they criedó their tears fell, and they were hurting because I put a hurting on them. Do you think I didnít feel that? Donít you think there was a side of me that would rather just have dismissed the whole thing, and forgotten about it? Yes, ó I hurt when they hurt. I felt it when I had to severely chasten them. It actually hurt me more than it did them. They got over theirs in five minutes. But I would go in that night, and watch them lying there in the bed asleep, and how my heart would go out to them! I would hurt in my heart. But I knew I had to do it. It had to be done. The alternative was unacceptable. The alternative would mean rebellion, trouble and heartache. And Yahweh loves us enough that He will chasten us.
"íAnd in that day ye shall say, O Yahweh, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and Thou comforteth me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord YAHWEH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvationí (Isa. 12:1-2). How many who read these lines know that there was a time when the Lord was angry with you? When you disobeyed, when you did your own thing, when you acted in the flesh and acted as if you didnít even know Him, do you think God winked at that? ĎOh,í someone says, ĎGod never gets angry with His children; He loves them.í Yes He does get angry! Let me ask you as a parentó have you ever been angry with your children? Do you think God canít be angry with His? If they disobey Him He is angry with them until that thing is straightened out, until that sin is confessed and forsaken, until there is repentance ó a change of mind ó and a turning back to Him with a whole heart. Then there is great mercy, there is abundance of compassion, there is love, there is forgiveness, there is acceptance, and there is blessing from that same One who a few moments before was angry with you. Now there is balance!
"In this Kingdom message there has not been a enough emphasis on this sideó the Yahweh side ó of Godís nature. So we thought we could do just anything and get by with it ó the grace of God would cover it. ĎIím O.K., youíre O.K.í is the mentality of a world without God. But a lot of us would have been saved from a number of pitfalls if we had truly understood the anger and wrath of God as Yahweh. ĎThough Thou wast angry with me...behold, God is become my salvationí says the verse we quoted above. The One who was angry with me has become my deliverance, to bring me out of that condition, to change me, and make me like unto Himself.
"I know who my Father is. I had an earthly father who was like Yahweh in this respect. He loved usó he showed us in many hundreds of ways that he loved us ó but whenever he said for you to do something and you didnít do it, he didnít argue with you, he didnít use a little psychology on you, he didnít take away privileges. He would grab that razor strap that he had on the back porch and he Ďlaid it on,í he applied the rod of correction to the seat of understanding, and you gained some understanding. Do you think I hated my dad for it? No ó I love him, I honor him, and I respect him to this day. He didnít go to school a day in his life, he couldnít read or write, but he knew how to raise children. He raised fourteen of us. One day one of my brothers-in-law said to him, ĎMr. Skinner, you successfully raised fourteen children ó whatís your secret?í Dad looked away from him and didnít speak for a long time. He didnít speak for so long you would think he had forgotten the question. But dad was thinking. Finally he fastened his eyes on my brother-in-law and said, ĎWhen you speak to children, say what you mean, and mean what you say.í Let me tell you ó thatís a pearl of wisdom. Thatís a proverb from a wise man. That is what it takes. And let me assure you ó when our heavenly Father speaks to us He says what He means, and He means what He says. And you wonít have to wonder whether this is His nature or not, whether this is His will or not, He will make it clear and plain to you.
"God is very patient. He will let you try to do any way you want toó but when you know what He has said, you had better obey Him. I tell you, my beloved, I fear the Lord. Iím not afraid of Him, but I have a good healthy respect for Him. I donít fool around with the Lord, because He doesnít fool around with me. And when I need the Lord I call upon Him, and I donít want any foolishness then, because I need Him now and I need Him then ó and He comes to my rescue. Before I ever call He hears, and while I am yet speaking He answers. What a wonderful Lord! But you must walk with the Father, you have got to know the Father like this. This is what the overcomer must do, he must know the many sides of Godís nature. Thatís why I am preaching this word of the God of the Melchizedek Order ó because if you come into the overcoming company, if you become a part of this Melchizedek King-Priest Order, you are going to experience and know the different sides of Godís nature. You have to respect that, and God will respect that in you, too, because He knows that His nature is built into you" ó end quote.
TO BE A FATHERó TO BE A SON
Fathers and mothers want their children to have "the best of everything." But sometimes that comes when certain things children want are withheld from them. Ann Landers, the newspaper columnist, shared a letter sent in by someone who wrote about what her parents did not do for her. They didnít let her do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and they didnít shower her with things, things, and more things. They also did not pass up the opportunity to teach her the value of money and the benefits of hard work; they never failed to listen to her when she had a problem; they never refused to give her advice when she asked; and they never left any doubt about their love for her. Whoever wrote that letter understands that parents try to do for their children what will help them grow into responsible adults. The Bible, too, teaches that the relationship between parents and children is based on a natural love that God established when He made them. God even requires this love in one of His commandments. Parents and children must love each other in the Lord. The best expression of this is when loving parents ask for their childrenís obedience and children respond by obeying in love. As children honor their parents and parents conduct themselves as worthy of their childrenís honor, both parents and children benefit immeasurably.
This principle is just as true in the family of God as in earthly families. There is responsibility on both sides ó the parent and the child. God has a responsibility to each of His sons, and every son has a responsibility to his Father. This responsibility is powerfully expressed by the Holy Spirit in II Cor. 6:17-18. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will BE a Father unto you, and ye shall BE my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." God can never BE a Father to you until you receive and walk out the revelation of your sonship. Millions of Christians today call God Father, and pray to the Father. Yet their sonship to God is totally meaningless to them. They see themselves as Christians, believers, forgiven, saved, justified, redeemed, sanctified, etc., but they walk not in the consciousness or experience of SONSHIP to God. They live out their lives as believers in Jesus, Christians, Church members, teachers, preachers, etc. But God is not their Father! He is their Saviour, their Healer, their Deliverer, their Comforter, their Blesser, their Baptiser and their "soon coming King" ó but He is not their Father. They have not been sons, and He has not been a Father to them.
Now, let me explain what I mean by this. "I will BE a Father to you, and ye shall BE my sons and my daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." There are two levels of Fatherhood. The first is biological, the second practical and experiential. On the first level one bears the title of "father" merely because he has biologically generated an offspring. His name will appear on the birth certificate as the father of the child, even if he has never been seen again since the night of conception. On the second level, however, one is respected and loved as a father because he fulfills all the responsibilities, privileges and potentials of fatherhood. He is there when the child is born. He provides, cares for, loves, nurtures, disciplines, guides, trains, and counsels that child through all the years of his growth into adulthood. Thus, there are fathers who are not fathers ó they have merely contributed the sperm to generate an offspring, but have never had a fatherís heart nor fulfilled the responsibilities of fatherhood. They have not actively, truly, caringly BEEN a father! With what wonder and understanding do we now receive the promise of the Lord: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord...and I will BE a Father unto you!"
In like manner there are children who are not children, sons who are not sons. Oh yes, their name, too, is on the birth certificate as the child of the one who gave them life. They are biologically the offspring of their parents, but they do not relate to the parents in a functional way. Rather than submitting to, obeying, respecting, honoring, and loving their parents, they are rebellious, disrespectful, uncaring, and hateful. On the one hand they are legally the children of their parents, but on the other hand they have not BEEN sons and daughters. They have refused to fulfill the responsibilities of sonship. They have failed to walk in the relationship of sonship. They have spurned the spirit of sonship. Can we not see by this the deep cry of the Fatherís heart when He says, "Wherefore, come out from among them (the idols, false gods and false ideas of the true God ó Babylon), and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing...and ye shall BE my sons and my daughters!" Ah, that is just it! There something to do, a responsibility to fulfill, a walk to enter into in order to BE sons of the Father. Often in my prayers, meditations, and consecrations I say to my Father, "I want to BE a son to you, so that you may BE a Father to me." That is the deepest desire of my heart. Carl Schwing once wrote: "There is no greater communion than that of a son losing himself in the depths of the Father. There is no greater love than the Father giving all to His son. There is no greater testimony than this: ĎI and the Father are one.í"
We have seen that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who could have revealed the Fatherhood of God to us. In fact, that is the very thing He came to do. Truly God is a Father, as far as He is concerned. His whole attitude toward all men is that of a Father, but the trouble is that our attitude often is not that of sons. Men see themselves as human beings, sinners saved by grace, Christians, Methodists, Baptists, or Catholics. These are the most common terms used both in the world and in the Church. It never dawns upon their understanding that the terms "children," "son," "sons," "daughters," and "Father," appear multiplied hundreds of times in the scriptures, whereas "Christian" appears only twice and Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Roman Catholic not at all! Sonship is Godís revelation in Christ Jesus. Sonship is the central issue of Godís great and eternal purpose. Sonship is the hope of creation. Sonship is our calling and our destiny in God. When we are quickened through Jesus Christ it is not God who becomes our Father, but we who become His children. It is not He who changes His identity, attitude, and relationship toward us, but we who change ours toward Him. We become in a conscious and practical way His sons and His daughters.
May the blessed spirit of Truth within make this real and precious and powerful to all who read these lines. With what confidence and unhindered joy can we then pray, "Our Father, which art in heaven!"
To be continued... J. PRESTON EBY [HOME] [KINGDOM RESOURCES]