For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Genesis 18:19)
The Epitaph Of A Great Father
William S. Morris has well said, “The Christian renewal will take place only if the father, the head of the Christian home, regains effective spiritual leadership. (“The Father, The Head of the Home, 1953) The feminist movement of the 1960s has wreaked havoc on the stability of the home as fatherhood has been demeaned, decried and declared ancient history from an oppressive society. Television has portrayed the male role in the home as one short of a mutated brain dead caveman out of touch with the world where the woman dominates everything and the children rule the mother. The home has become a place of dysfunction, disarray, and despair. This is not a new phenomenon as Socrates said more than 2,000 years ago: “Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, they gobble their food, and they terrorize their teachers.” As in every generation when the leadership is destroyed the home will crumble and society will suffer. What is needed is for the creative order of God’s design to be instilled in the hearts of men who are willing to take up the standard of fatherhood and lead the family in the manner prescribed by the word of God. Abraham was a man who understood the need of being a leader in the home and the heavenly Father recognized the character of this godly man. No greater praise can a man receive than to be acknowledged by God that he is known as a godly father. All the accolades in the world can never measure what the Lord thinks of a man and his leadership in the home. When the father molds his character after the word of God, he will command his children and his household after him. He must lead first so the family can follow. Leadership without guidance and instruction is nothing more than going for a walk. Like a shepherd leading his flock, a man must possess the character of leadership that instills in the family a desire to follow. He seeks a higher plane of virtue, a greater sphere of things that are right and a spiritual character that possess godliness as the core system of belief in the home. Abraham exhorted his family to keep the way of the Lord and believe as he did in the promises of God. When the Lord came to Abram at the age of seventy-five, he was told a marvelous thing when he was promised a son. It would be twenty-five years before the promise came true but Abram did not waver in unbelief. Paul would describe how that Abraham did not consider the deadness of Sarah’s womb as a thing to be considered or the advanced age of his own body. As the father of a great family, Abraham had a deep and abiding faith in God and His word.
The epitaph of Abraham was his willingness to keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice. Everything about his life was a readiness to follow the word of God. He left his family and kindred land at the word of God. Later when his son of promise was a young man he did not hesitate when the Lord instructed him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. There was no hesitation on the belief of Abraham. He wanted to do those things that were right and just according to the law of God. His faith was manifested by his works. What moved this man to be a great father was his family could see his faith in his life. His system of belief was not an inner feeling alone but where he went, how he dealt with others, his faith in the promises of God all manifested themselves in the actions of his life. He went from place to place dwelling in tents because God had called him to another land. The promise of a son was believed on and longed for and Abraham accepted the impossible as possible by the God of truth. Abraham believed in things right and just and taught his family the word of God. One of the great lessons from Abraham was how much he believed in the promises of God. He looked for a city that was yet unseen but through the eyes of God, this man of faith could clearly see the promises fulfilled. Abraham was a man of faith and his life exhibited his faith. As a father, he became the leader of the greatest nation the world has ever known although he never saw the fulfillment. He was promised a son and he saw that. The land he was promised was never his and the promised nation would come many generations after his death but as the leader of his home, he taught his family to love and trust God. That is all that mattered and that is how he is remembered.
An epitaph is an inscription that briefly states the life of an individual. The epitaph of Abraham is simply stated as a man who commanded his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, and he accepted the will of the Father in every part of his life as true. There can be no greater message left in the shadows of a life lived in the sunshine of God’s word than a man who leads his home as Abraham led his family. The church will never be as strong as it should be if the men who are charged in the role of fatherhood abandon their obligations to lead as godly men. When spiritual leadership returns to the home, the church will grow. Let the life of Abraham and what God said about his life inspire the fathers of Christian homes to take up the reins of leadership and bring their families to the throne of God.