May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of ourhearts be acceptable in
your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.Amen.
So a model of fatherhood from the prophet Hosea.
Hosea11:1-9 The LORD says, "When Israelwas a child, I loved him and called him out of Egypt as my son. (2) But the more I called to him, the more he turned away from me. My peoplesacrificed to Baal; they burned incense to idols.
We love our children right?
that’s independent of what they do or how cleverthey are
or what they have achieved
or how they feel about us.
Good father’s love their children,
we see them as a miracle of life
dependent on someone caring for them so that theymight live.
This is the love of a parent, a father for hischildren.
Something goes out from us
so that we instinctively know that we would laydown our lives for our children.
When our children are born – our love needs to becompletely unconditional.
I love you because you need to be loved.
And then there come the times when
they say no
they don’t want to be called
they don’t want to do as they are asked
they may even desert our love
and say I no longer want you in my life
life is better outside this home.
And so God with his people.
And as parents we might start to think – ungratefulwretches!
God’s response is:
(3) Yet I was the one who taught Israel to walk.I took my people up in my arms, but they did not acknowledge that I took careof them. (4) I drew them to me with affection and love. Ipicked them up and held them to my cheek; I bent down to them and fed them
Our response might be the same as a parent – albeitunder our breath
Come on kids … I was the one who taught you how towalk!
When you were tired, I took you up in my arms!
I drew you to me with love and affection when youwere hurt!
I held you to my cheek.
I came down to your level
and fed you.
So what’s all this nonsense!
And then we have God saying of his people:
(5) "They refuse to return to me, and sothey must return to Egypt, and Assyria will rule them. (6) War will sweep through their cities and break down the city gates. Itwill destroy my people because they do what they themselves think best. (7) They insist on turning away from me. They will cry out because of theyoke that is on them, but no one will lift it from them.
It’s what’s called the deed consequencerelationship.
God’s free-will means his people can do what theypropose.
And because there are consequences good and badfrom all we do
so Israel finds itself in captivity
and slaves to their desires.
That’s not punishment by God so much as it is
simple deed consequence.
And you know there are always people in the world
who will take advantage of our children
and the hardest thing as a parent is to sit backand allow
it to happen.
And as parents we want to cry out –
‘have you know idea how much love and affection weput into that child?
And you think you have a right to abuse them?’
But the advantage takers don’t care
because the difference between the good father andthe good mother
is: we love our children unconditionally;
the users love themselves.
And when they outlive their usefulness
our children are cast aside.
When the time comes when Israel finds itselfabandoned
and no on caring enough to help
into their despair
comes the gentle healing of unconditional love.
(8) "How can I give you up, Israel? How canI abandon you? ..My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is toostrong. (9) I will not punish you in my anger; For I amGod and not a mere human being. I, the Holy One, am with you. I will not cometo you in anger.
And so the perfect father.
We know we could never give up on our childrenright?
Our hearts will not let us do it!
Literally it reads, my heart recoils within me!
That means we can be brassed off at times
we can be thinking all kinds of
stuff that isn’t very good
but in true fatherhood
there is ever the emotional recoil that says ..
but I can’t give my child up.
I think we should teach our children that from asearly an age as possible!
We may not agree with what they do
and we may even think they need a swift kicksomewhere
but they should always know that dad or mum, willnever give up on them.
Now this is interesting! Where God and you and Iare concerned, the fatherhood of God is seen as an emotional
heart response to us.
God is the divine lover!
It is not, ‘how can I give you up, my intellect mywisdom will not let me do it!’
It is not a calculation.
It is not quid pro quo
if you behave better I will take you back
on a trial basis …
My heart, God is saying, will not let me abandonyou
or come to you in anger.
Cause I still remember the day I taught you to walk
and what a thrill that was
And I still remember how I drew you to me withcords of affection
and held you to my cheek
so says the God who loves you.
And this, is it not, the model of all fatherhood.
The fathers we need to have
and the fathers we should have been and still canbe.
In the parable of the lost son, Jesus builds on thepicture in Hosea.
This is picture of a father who makes an absolutefool of himself,
makes himself a laughing stock to the community
in his outrageous and out of this world grace
towards both his children.
A father who humbles himself for the sake of hischildren.
It’s a picture of father hood
our pride would not have us be
a picture of God our self-righteousness will notallow.
That’s why we said the parable was about theprodigal or the rebellious son.
it’s a parable of what to a human way of thinking,is the ridiculousness of God,
but in reality is the never giving up
always trusting again
nature of God
in which we see true fatherhood.
So true fatherhood is costly
in terms of self-denial.
It is costly in terms of grace.
It is costly in terms of willingness to behumiliated and not minding.
It is, life laying down goodness.
It is, no matter where you have been or what youhave done – I cannot give you up, persistence.
It is that which recognises all life is from God
and as such is precious and worthy of love.
And so may we be such fathers.
And if we haven’t been, may we become.
And men, may God bless you in all your fatherhood
and may you be examples
and beacons of light and life and hope.
For this is the heart of God and the heart of Godis the model of all good fatherhood and motherhood.
This one who loves so much that he denies himselfand lays down his life
that his children might have life.
Let us Pray
Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God theHoly Spirit, be all the honour and glory. Amen
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