One of the most important events in 2022 was the death of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Her amazing reign lasted over 70 years and she was deeply loved.
What made Queen Elizabeth so special? This headline from The Herald of Scotland says it all: “Determined, dependable and dignified: Obituary for Queen Elizabeth.”1
Perhaps Queen Elizabeth’s greatest legacy was the dignity she leant to the crown. In a famous speech given on her 21st birthday, the future queen said the following: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”2 Elizabeth’s life turned out to be very long, but she never wavered from that promise. The service she rendered to her nation will long outlive her.
Imagine if you were to follow Elizabeth II as king or queen over England. You would probably feel a tremendous weight considering the dignity of the office and the significance of the responsibility. You would be proud of the pattern that had been set for your role and would be eager to live up to the title.
If you are a father, you also play a dignified role and carry a heavy weight of responsibility. Not only that, but you model after someone much greater than Queen Elizabeth II. Did you know God is a Father?
According to theologian Michael Reeves, “The most foundational thing in God is not some abstract quality, but the fact that he is a Father….” Reeves goes on to say, “It is not that this God ‘does’ being a Father as a day job, only to kick back in the evenings as plain old ‘God.’ It is not that he has a nice blob of fatherly icing on top. He is Father. All the way down. Thus all that he does he does as Father. That is who he is.”3
Wow. Can you imagine a truth that brings greater dignity to the role of a human father? If God is a Father, and I am a father––I have a lofty name to live up to! I don’t deserve to be called “daddy” by four little kids, if “Father” is God’s most foundational title!
God’s Only Begotten Son
Of course, the Father is a Father because He has a Son. This eternal Father-Son relationship is referenced by Jesus in John 17:4 (“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”) and 5:26 (“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.”).
The Father’s giving of life to the Son is referred to by theologians as “eternal generation.” This important yet difficult doctrine is summarized in the Nicene Creed.
“We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made.”4
The doctrine of the Trinity explains how God could be love (1 John 4:8) even before He created the world: He loved His Son (see v. 9)! This beautiful, intra-trinitarian love relationship has been the focus of countless hours of meditation and worship by God-fearing people for over two millennia.
Children of the Heavenly Father
But not only is God a Father to Jesus; He is also a Father to His special people. Isaiah 63:16 says,
“Doubtless You are our Father, Though Abraham was ignorant of us, And Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.”
Jesus taught His disciples to start off their prayers, “Our Father in heaven…” (Mat 6:9; Lu 11:2). Before ascending back into heaven, He told Mary He was going “to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” (John 20:17). What a privilege it is to have God as Father!!
The Actions of a Perfect Father
What does God the Father do? He protects. Moses described God’s protection of Israel in Deuteronomy 1:29–31.
“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’”5
God also provides for our needs (Psalm 103––esp. v. 13; Jer 3:19; Ac 17:25–28). Of course, the greatest example of the Father’s provision was when He sent His only begotten Son to rescue us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Finally, God lovingly disciplines His children. The author of Hebrews covers this topic in depth in Hebrews 12:4–11. At the heart of his exhortation is a quote from Proverbs 3:11–12.
“‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives’” (Heb 12:5–6).
So the next time you’re called to discipline your child and wonder, “Is this loving?”, remember that God disciplines all of His children!
Of course, all the Father does for His children He does in love. Perhaps the greatest picture of God’s fatherly love is found in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). Next time you get alone with God, I encourage you to read that story and meditate on your heavenly Father’s goodness.
Fatherhood is under attack in our world today. Many people want to dismiss this important role. In most cases, the blame for the degradation of fatherhood rests solely on the shoulders of sinful human fathers who abuse their authority and corrupt the image of God such that their children cannot even imagine a Father who loves them. Where can we as Christian dads draw encouragement and inspiration in times such as these? Look no further than God the Father.
Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 23, emphasis his. ↩︎
Emphasis mine. (If you want to learn more about eternal generation, see What is the doctrine of eternal generation and is it biblical? or Is the Eternal Generation of the Son a Biblical Idea?. Or, for an even deeper dive, read this string of articles by Matthew Barrett.) ↩︎
See also Ex 4:22–23; Prov 14:26; c.f. Mat 4:6 ↩︎
Growing Fathers Team
Kristopher serves as as the youth and discipleship pastor at Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, AZ. He and his wife, Elise, have four young children—Anaya, Felicity, Mollie Jo, and Klayton.View all posts by Kristopher