Where Is God's Honor?
Today is designated as a day to honor fathers. Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Her father, the Civil War veteran, William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. However, it was unto until 1972 - 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official - that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.
Of Jesus, we read, “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them” (Luke 2.51). We know Jesus’ age at the time of the statement was 12. There is nothing to indicate that Jesus ever ceased to honor his earthly parents, nor his heavenly Father. Honor is due God as the father of all humanity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things” (1 Corinthians 8.6a). He wrote in Ephesians 4.6 that there was “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” God was called a father to the nation of Israel by the prophets (Isaiah 64.8a; Jeremiah 31.9b). He had not only “formed” (created) them from the loins of Abraham (Genesis 12.2), he sustained them throughout their existence. Pharaoh was told that Israel was his “firstborn” (Exodus 4.22). He disciplined them as an earthly father is to discipline is children (Deuteronomy 8.5). This shows a father’s love for them (Proverbs 3.12).
There are many valuable lessons for earthly fathers from the heavenly Father in the Bible. There is “nothing new under the sun” in terms of what any earthly father has or will face in his lifetime that our heavenly Father has not experienced. Let us consider a few of these truths:
First, God had a Son, Jesus. Although Jesus was God, the Word in the beginning (John 1.1), Jesus became a son when he emptied himself of the glory he had in the beginning with God. “Who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Philippians 2.6-8). As a son, Jesus, in coming to earth was under the same obligation as all humanity. God is the father of all (read again 1 Corinthians 8.6a and Ephesians 4.6 above).
Yet, Jesus became a son for us. We have done as God’s firstborn son, Israel. We have failed to honor our heavenly Father. The prophet Malachi wrote, “A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is mine honor?” (Malachi 1.6). “All have sinned” (Romans 3.23). It was for this reason that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Philippians 2.8).
I point this out to remind us that God knows what it’s like to experience disobedience from his children. It is what all earthly fathers know. It hurts. It causes a father to regard himself as a failure. No, Jesus didn’t cause this pain upon his heavenly Father, but here is the demonstration of love that we find from God, our Father: Because we failed to give God the honor due him, he had to treat his only begotten Son as if his only begotten Son had dishonored him! God’s Son bore our sins!
He did this because of how much he loved the humanity that he created (John 3.16). He then revealed this great love for us in his word, so that we would cease our rebellion and honor his Son. Philippians 2.9-11 states, “For this reason also God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Many a father has had to turn his back upon a child because of that child’s disobedience and rebellion. The grief and suffering which began continues as the disobedience persists. The entire family suffers because of it. God’s family, the church, suffers in the same way when a member dishonors God. Amidst tears, the pain and suffering continue. As God had to turn his back on his Son, his family is often faced with when to make that same decision.
God, as a father, suffers when we dishonor him. Where is God’s honor? All suffering begins when God is dishonored. The remedy must begin there. All our failures, no matter how long they have existed or how severe they have been, are not hopeless. There is forgiveness from our heavenly Father. Let there be forgiveness from earthly fathers. This forgiveness will come as God’s honor is restored. Do as Jesus did in Luke 2.51. If you have dishonored your earthly father, do as the wise son did in Matthew 21.28-29. His father told him to go work in his vineyard. Initially he said, “I will not,” but afterward, he went. Let us each address our own rebellion in disobedience to God as God desires (1 Timothy 2.4; 2 Peter 3.9).