The Father loves the Son. His great love is shown through that He desired only to benefit His son. I think to say that God desired “the best” for His Son is provocative, to say that least. The Father didn’t simply desire “the best” for His Son, but desired an eternal blessing. It was the Father’s heart to glorify the Son, which is much deeper than saying “the best.” I think this might be where many of us go wrong. We desire to give “the best” for our children, but how do we define that “best”? God the Father desired to glorify His Son. That glory that He should impart upon His Son was to give Him a name above every name – even His own name.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to” the Son. When it was the Father’s right, seeing as He is eternal and shall never die, to keep Himself upon the throne, nothing delighted Him more than to give everything He had to His Son. No longer do we don’t call upon the Father, but instead we pray “in Jesus’ name.” This isn’t to separate the Father and Son, but to say that it pleases the Father that His Son should receive the higher honor and glory. Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven…” The Father delights that we should honor the Son.
Fatherhood is priestliness, and priestliness is fatherhood. The two are interwoven. To be priestly, one must be fatherly. Fatherhood is defined above: to desire nothing but the glorification of the Son. When we are spiritual fathers, adopting sons of our own to raise in the faith, our desire should not be to “impart something of worth,” but instead to sacrifice everything – expending ourselves and being spent – so that our son might be glorified and exalted higher than we ever could have dreamed. This is the priestly act.
We are called to being a royal priesthood. Yet, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the question asked: priests for whom? It is not wrong to say that we are priests to one another. In a real sense, we need to take up one another’s burdens and carry them together. I should go to the elders with my faults so that they might pray for me and I might be healed. I should look to the others in the Body to confess my faults, and in that confession to both be held accountable and have someone else to wrestle with me. I should take my petition to another brother as one would take the sacrifice to the priest. They, in return, then take that sacrifice of confession unto the Lord to seek deliverance from the power of sin.
There is another level to this. We are called to be priests unto Israel. To be Israel’s priests is to take upon self their sins and their wretchedness. We endure the shame of their guilt, exchanging our glory for their shame, so that they might be glorified and exalted to such a place that they can fulfill their ultimate mandate: to be a nation of priests. When Israel is a priestly nation, then the other nations, as nations, can come unto God. As long as Israel remains a people that do not know their God, only individuals will come to Him. There will be a remnant. But when Israel is redeemed, then even the nations will come up to Jerusalem (Micah 4:2).
Our calling to be priests is a call to being fathers. We need to have a father’s heart. Whether we have come to a place of having a father’s heart is going to be best explained in how we react to this generation. If our heart is to say, “Those darn millennials are just a bunch of hoodlums,” then our heart condemns us. But, if our heart is to break over the amount of youth that are giving themselves over to pornography, lust, violence, and crude entertainment, and we would say to those parents that don’t care about their children, “Send your unwanted children to me,” then we have obtained unto priestliness. It is a priestly thing to submit oneself under agony and suffering for the sake of a generation, or “corporate son.”
Fathers are so much more than teachers. Priests are so much more than people that minister the sacrifices. To be a priest or a father is to impart life. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul elaborates a bit more for us: “We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
Unlike the gifts and callings of God, where God gives to some, the call of fatherhood is made to each and every man in the faith. We should corporately be a fatherly people, in which the world doesn’t have the slightest idea what it means to be “bastard.” If the world’s fathers are so bankrupt of anything sacred that they will abandon their children, then the men of the faith should open their homes and take in those that have no fathers. There should be a refuge and safe haven for all the orphans. Even James says that “religion that is pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
This in no way means that we should run out into the streets and start pulling the first young man that we see into our homes. All things are done according to the Spirit. All I’m suggesting is that when we are truly of a father’s heart, or a mother’s heart, we yearn for those that are abandoned. We hear of those that have no fathers and we do everything in our power to help that one or two that we know. Maybe we know more than one or two; maybe we only know one. The point isn’t the number, but the heart.
One man has written, “If we can be faithful to this call, the next generation may yet say to us, ‘Thank you for thinking beyond yourselves, for allowing the Lord to invest in you in such a way that you now have much to deposit in us,’ and thereby serving the purpose of God in your generation, as well as theirs.” Ultimately, the issue of fatherhood is first a spiritual issue. We are to be fathers to those in the faith. We are to take in those that have no father to teach them of the ways of God. There is a generation of young men and women that go to youth group, but have nothing to do with the generation before them. There is such a divide between the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. I am fearful to ask what the chasm will be between these and “the Silent Generation” (from the year 2000 to present).
In the Old Testament, it is continually said over and over that we are to pass on to the next generation the Law of God and the stories of our history. Those that came out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land were to tell the stories of how God brought them out of Egypt and delivered into their possession the Land. Yet, we find in the very next generation after Joshua dies that Israel is carried away into idolatry. What happened? Either the children didn’t care, or the fathers weren’t fathers.
The statement is made by Hosea, “Like priest, like people.” I think it can be paraphrased, “Like father, like children.” If the fathers don’t care about the things of God, then the children won’t care about the things of God. Too many times I look at the “elders” in the faith, and their eyes are glossed over. They’re still technically alive, but they’ve lost all joy and unction. While everyone else is still maturing in their faith, the one who should be a father to us all is sitting behind the television zoning out of reality. Their eyes have glossed over and their mind has dulled. The no longer see reality, let alone care about reality. And then that gets passed onto the next generation.
You allow that for multiple generations in a row, and you’ll find yourself in the place where we are currently. Just as much as the question can be asked, “Where are the fathers?” the question can be asked, “Where are the sons?” We have raised up a generation that doesn’t want a father. They’ve become so accustomed to the dread of their own fathers, and the relationships of “lording it over the flock” that they really just want to rebel against anything that calls itself “authoritative.” But this isn’t because the youth have a rebellious heart.
King Saul at one point told his army that they were going to fight all night. The men were tired. They were hungry. They were exhausted. Then Saul says that they aren’t allowed to eat until they have gained the victory. Guess what the people did. As soon as they had victory they started eating the animals of that people they had victory over. They didn’t even wait for the meat to be thoroughly cooked. They ate the meat with the blood in it. Then Saul laid to their charge that they were sinning by eating the meat with the blood. What’s wrong with this picture?
That army would not have eaten the meat with the blood in it if King Saul had allowed them to sleep and eat. But instead, he continued to slave drive the army of Israel. We have the same thing in our time. There is a generation that has been stepped on, abused, misused, abandoned, and despised since their conception. They’ve grown up and began to rebel. Whose fault is it? Do we stand in self-righteousness like King Saul? Or do we weep because we have sinned in mishandling the things of God? The answer to that question will reveal more than we’re willing to behold of ourselves. When we’re dealing with God’s ultimate purposes, we’re dealing with the very heart of God. It takes a priest to read and teach such things, let alone enact them.
I think that it is past time that we pursue God’s ultimate intentions. If that ultimate intention is fatherhood, which I’m beginning to think that it might be, then we strive with all of our might to be fathers. If there is anything that many of us buck against it is the idea of fatherhood. It might be the most needed thing in our culture, and yet the most opposed at the same time.