The Bare Soul - June 17, 2012
Fathering on Purpose

Colossians 3:21 - Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Anyone who has been to Israel to see the holy places has certainly visited Jerusalem. On our trip to the Holy Land last year, my wife and I spent a week in in an apartment in Jerusalem, very close to the King David Hotel. Down King David Street where it intersects with Hebron Road is a prayer room named Succat Hallel (Hebrew for Tabernacle of Praise). This is a 24/7 prayer ministry dedicated to raising up prayer intercessors for the restoration of Jerusalem and the salvation of Israel. During my morning run, I would stop and sit in the prayer room as the musicians ministered to the Lord. Through the east-facing windows the walls of Jerusalem would be drenched in the early morning sun. However, the valley between the prayer room and the enormous walls would also be awash in the morning light. This is the valley of Ben-hinnom, or Hinnom as mentioned in the Old Testament---the sight of unspeakable atrocities to children. For whenever Israel backslid into their apostasies, the worship of idols such as Baal, Ashtoreth, and Moloch came to the forefront in Israel's worship. They rejected Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty and made their children "pass through the fire" in the valley of Hinnom. While this began in the days of Solomon, it grew more in acceptability during the time of one Solomon's descendents, King Manasseh.

In II Chronicles chapter 33, we are introduced to Manasseh, son of good King Hezekiah. As good as Hezekiah's reign, his son sought to be diametrically wicked. Among Manasseh's most detestable sins was his worship of Moloch. We read the following where he sacrificed his offspring in the fires of Hinnom,  with no apparent pity toward his own: "He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger." (II Chronicles 33:6) Through all his wickedness, he never sought the Lord. At least not until he was taken by hooks into captivity by the king of Assyria. (In the Jewish Talmud, one can read a story how the king placed Manasseh in a copper barrel and began roasting him!) We know from scripture that Manasseh cried out to the Lord and was delivered. In II Chronicles 33:12-13 we read: "When he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God." The verses following these tell about Manasseh's "revival" and how he sought to do right the remaining years of his life.

Both in the prayer room those days we stayed in Jerusalem and on subsequent occasions, I have meditated on Manasseh and others like him in scripture who sacrificed their children in the fires of Hinnom. It seems inconceivable to us in our modern world to do such things to our own prodigy. However, how many of us who are fathers or who father children have sacrificed our children in more subtle ways? In sundry fashion, I failed my children when they were growing up, being often more concerned about my sobriety and staying sober rather than getting them to church and raising them amongst other believers. Today, they are products of this subtle abuse. If they do know the Lord, they are far from Him as they walk in a way which seems best to them. My neglect of keeping them centered on the things of God has led to their present-day apostasy. However, like Manasseh, we who have failed our children in the past can only look toward the future. While many of us have inadvertently offered our children up to Moloch by our lack of care and concern in their regard, we can now only look to the future concerning their redemption. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet an important lesson for all of us as fathers to consider: "The LORD said, 'Surely I will set you free for purposes of good ...'" (Jeremiah 15:11). While Jeremiah was set free from a literal prison, how many of us were set free from a spiritual prison? In both instances, the Lord tells us we can no longer serve ourselves, but we must serve "purposes of good." For those of us who are fathers, this means giving ourselves to prayer for our beloved children. And, when possible, devoting the necessary time to them in order to show them they are important. Just as God desires our time, so do our loved ones. It is the one thing, if done consistently, which will show them our love.

I will never forget the emotions I felt when looking over the valley of Ben-hinnom in Jerusalem. I carry that emotion with me always as I pray for my children, desiring their full redemption to God. However long it takes, it matters not. I am devoted to pray and support them until they come into a full understanding of God's incredible love for them. Sacrifices to Moloch have not occurred outside of Jerusalem for millennia. However, unless we as fathers commit to the redemption and restoration of our children, we continue to sacrifice their spirits to this evil demon. May we cry out, day and night, for our children's redemption. Only then, will we be fathering on purpose and seeking good for those whom we love most.

Heavenly Father, teach us as fathers to love as You do. Cause us to father on purpose and commit to seeing our children on fire for You and not on fire for another god through our neglect. May You give us wisdom how to pray and act in this regard. Thank You for Your love for both us and our offspring. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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