Three main ministries of Christ are to be associated with fatherhood: those of priest, prophet and king. As a priest, the father represents his family to God-who is representing his family to God in intercession and prayer.
It’s good to be with you again. This week I’m speaking on the theme of “Fatherhood.”
Yesterday I pointed out that the end purpose of the ministry of Jesus is to bring us to the Father. Jesus is the way but the Father is the destination. Coming to know God as Father fulfills three needs of humanity that are characteristic of our day: the need for identity, self-worth, and security.
Today I’m going to speak about human fatherhood. Since the eternal character and nature of God is that of Father, it follows that every father in a certain sense represents God. In a certain sense, we may say that a father, a good father, is the most God-like thing a man can become. It is a man’s highest achievement.
I remember a time when I was continually on the move, traveling from meeting to meeting and conference to conference, preaching and speaking to large crowds and having a good response from the people, but someplace I heard a man make this statement: “The expert is the man away from home with a briefcase.” And it went to my heart like an arrow. I though to myself, “That really describes me. I’m a man away from home with a briefcase. Everybody regards me as an expert, but in actual fact, What’s happening in my home?” And God challenged me in an altogether new way that I had to succeed first and foremost as a husband and as a father before I could succeed in any other capacity and that to succeed in other capacities but fail as a father would be in God’s sight to fail.
And that, I believe, is true of many men in our culture today. They can succeed in many capacities: on the golf course, as the bank president, as an author, as an actor, even maybe as a Christian minister, and yet fail in their home. And I want to suggest to you that to fail in your home as a father is to fail and no other success can make up for that failure. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul speaks about a relationship between God and the home. He says that God the Father is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, or the husband, the man is the head of the woman. So Christ is the head of the husband and the husband, in turn, is the head of his wife and his family. In a certain sense, therefore, the man, the father, represents Christ to his family. He has the same relationship to his family that Christ has to him.
There are three main ministries of Christ which are involved in this, three ministries that are eternally associated with the Lord Jesus Christ. The ministries are that of priest, that of prophet, and that of king.
Let me explain briefly what is involved in each ministry. As a priest, the father represents his family to God. As a prophet, he represents God to his family. And as a king, he governs his family on behalf of God.
For the rest of my talk today, I’m going to speak about the father as the priest of his home, the father representing his family to God in intercession and prayer. And I’d like to suggest right now that his success in the other two ministries, as prophet and kind, are very closely tied in with his success as an intercessor, as a priest. If he succeeds as the intercessor, he will probably also succeed as the prophet and as the king. But if he does not understand and practice the ministry of intercession for his family then it will be very difficult indeed for him to be either prophet or king in his family.
There are some very beautiful examples in the Bible of fathers who practice this ministry of intercession. We read in the opening of the book of Job that Job was a perfect and an upright man before God. He had seven sons and three daughters. And one day in the week his family met in the house of each one of his sons and there feasted and had fellowship. We read that Job, at the end of every week, rose up early and offered sacrifice on behalf of all his sons, saying in his heart, “Maybe they failed and they’re not right with God. Let me offer this sacrifice on their behalf.” The offering of that sacrifice in Old Testament terminology corresponds to the ministry of intercessory prayer on behalf of our children under the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. Every father is called to be an intercessor for his children.
Then we move on into the history of Israel and we find Israel enslaved in Egypt under darkness and oppression. God made provision for the deliverance through the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. The ultimate point of separation between Israel and Egypt was the Passover. The Passover made provision for the deliverance of every Israelite family. The destroying angel came into every Egyptian home and slew the firstborn. But because of the blood of the Passover lamb, the destroying angel was not allowed to visit or destroy in any Israelite household. How was that blood applied? Who applied it? In Exodus 12:3, we read this:
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house...” (KJV)
Who was responsible to select the lamb? The father of every family. Who was responsible to slay the lamb? The father. Who was responsible to sprinkle its blood with hyssop on the doorpost of his home? The father. In other words, the father had the God-appointed ministry of priest on behalf of his family. It was his responsibility to see that God’s provision of salvation was made effective in his particular home and, as far as I understand the revelation of Scripture, no one else could do the father’s job for him. If he fulfilled his function as priest and sprinkled the blood, his family would be safe. But if he failed, there was no one else who could take his place and provide protection for his family.
Now I believe that God has caused that revelation to come to us because it’s still applicable today. I believe that there is something in the spiritual realm that a father can do for his house that he cannot delegate to anybody else, that he can serve with a priestly ministry for his home which God will acknowledge but that God is not obliged to acknowledge that ministry in any other person but the father. It’s the father’s responsibility to provide divine protection for his home.
We move on into the New Testament and I’d like to point out to you one remarkable fact about the ministry of Jesus. It’s a fact that I’ve learned through personal experience. There have been times when people came to me with a child for prayer and I learned to ask, “Are you this child’s parents? Are you the father or the mother?” Sometimes the answer would be “No, we’re just the neighbors. But the parents didn’t want to come.” God showed me very definitely I had no scriptural basis for praying for a child like that. If you will study the ministry of Jesus you will find that He never ministered to a child except on the basis of the faith of one or both parents. He always required a parent to exercise faith for a child.
This is very conspicuous in the story of the epileptic boy recorded in Mark 9. Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and He was confronted by this scene where His disciples had failed to cast out the epileptic spirit from this boy and so He began to talk to the father and he asked the father how long the boy suffered and he said, “Since he was a child.” And then he went on to say:
“And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (KJV)
I was gripped by the realization one day that Jesus held the father responsible to believe for his son. The son, because of his condition, obviously couldn’t exercise much faith for himself, but in any case Jesus didn’t ask the son to exercise faith. He required the father to exercise faith on behalf of his son. I believe that’s a responsibility of parents to exercise faith in intercessory prayer on behalf of our children to bring them to God through Jesus Christ.
Let me say again, and you can search the Scriptures for yourself, Jesus never ministered to a child unless there was at least one parent exercising faith on behalf of that child. He would not go contrary to such a deeply entrenched principle of God.
Finally, just look at Acts 16:31 for a moment. The story of the Philippian jailer. You remember Paul and Silas had been in prison, then God intervened with an earthquake, the prison doors were opened, the people’s bonds were loosed. The jailer sprung in and said, “What must I do to be saved?” Verse 31 says: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house[hold].” You notice that the jailer, as the father of his house, was given the God-given privilege of exercising faith for the salvation of his whole house. Too many times, alas, in quoting that Scripture, we tend to leave out those last three words “and thy household.” But I want to say to you who are fathers today, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house[hold].”
Well, our time is up. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. I’ll be speaking on the second ministry of the father to his family: the father as prophet.