The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers . . . (Deut. 7:7-8a).
This verse tells us that the reason God chose Israel is because of the oath He swore to their “fathers.” So we need to back up and look at why he chose the Patriarchs, or more specifically, why He chose the first one—Abraham. After Abraham God chose his second born, Isaac; and after Isaac God choose his second born, Jacob, who became Israel. Fortunately for us God tells us exactly why He chose Abraham so we do not need to accept the doctrine of Predestination that tells us God chooses who He will without any free will of the person being involved. Following is God’s reason for choosing Abraham:
For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice, in order that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham what he hath spoken of him (Gen. 18:19 Darby).
This amazing single verse tells us more about how God chooses people than any other in the Bible—because He knew Abraham would teach and command his children to keep the ways of the Lord! This we can be sure is why He also chose Abraham’s second born over his firstborn; He knew Isaac would raise up his children in the ways of the Lord, but that Ishmael would not. It also tell us why he chose Isaac’s second born Jacob over Esau. I have written in my last blog how Esau was wicked and certainly did not raise his children in the ways of the Lord.
This tells us a lot about the heart of God and His desire that fathers should teach their children in His ways and His Word. The Shema (from Heb. “to hear”) has been recited by Jewish people in their synagogues for hundreds of years: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5). Immediately after this are the following verses:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6-7).
When my son, Isaac, was born, I was involved in ministry as well as working a full-time job. I was doing what so many Christian fathers do who get involved in churches—ministering to others while neglecting my own family. Somehow, by God’s grace, He opened my eyes to this situation when my son was thirteen. Once my eyes were opened and I saw how I had neglected him, I wept and repented grievously. Ironically, most of the people I spent my time ministering to were far from appreciative of the time I gave ministering to them and have nothing to do with my life today. From that point on I endeavored to spend quality time with my son. One of the first things I did was go to a Christian camp with him that included horse riding, rapids riding, and rock climbing; it was a time of bonding. A new era was beginning for our home: I began to minister to my own family! Imagine that! After all, one qualification of ministry is raising your own family well (1 Tim. 3:4-6).
Another thing that happened around this time was that God commanded me to quit my job, quit ministering to others, cease going to any churches, and stay home to study and pray. In other words live like a monk. I sensed at the time that this sabbatical would probably last a couple years, but I had no idea it would go on to this very day—ten years later! So I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my son and being there for him anytime he needed me. We have a great relationship today.
Obviously, quitting my job has cost us a lot of money over a ten-year period, but the loss of money was minor compared to being able to be with my previously neglected family. God, by His grace, allowed me to “redeem the time.” However, I did it by the word of the Lord, and therefore He has taken care of our needs during this time in surprising ways. This is a highly unusual situation, and most people will not get a word from the Lord like this; nor would most want it. Why did God so radically emphasize this lesson to me, even to the point of costing me a decade of paychecks—so far? One reason is so that I would share it with you, dear reader, so that it would not have to cost you 10 years of income to learn this important lesson: to spend quality time training your children. Everything we learn is also for the benefit of others in the body of Christ. Please learn this lesson from me that has cost me such a high price, for the sake of your children, for the sake of our country, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
As providence would ordain it, just last night my son ministered to my wife and I with a very deep and anointed Bible study; I was amazed at his insights! Finally, I have produced a real disciple! Oh, how my eyes were opened to how much greater shape the church would be in if all fathers would just spend time with their children and teach them the ways of the Lord! If every father just produced one disciple in their children, at least the church would not decrease in quality numbers. The Bible says, Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them (Ps. 127:4-5). Are you aiming your arrows so they will be effective in the Kingdom of God? Or are you just allowing them to be swallowed into the abyss of this world?
I was born in Detroit, MI. I thank God we moved away from there when I was about 7. All my relatives moved out of the city decades ago. As you know if you keep up with news, Detroit is the first major city in America to go bankrupt. Many areas look like the ruins of war with vacant and deteriorating buildings and houses. Recently, on a news website, I saw a picture of a sign posted at an entrance to Detroit that read, “Welcome to Detroit, hope you survive.” Crime, violence, and murder are the main attractions now. One company wants to make a zombi theme park out of once thriving, vibrant, and friendly neighborhoods that are now devastated. They probably won’t have to hire actors! Is it not ironic that one of the greatest industrial cities of all time was the first to go bankrupt in the U.S. How could that happen? Detroit had some of the highest paying jobs in America; it was prosperous. I’ll tell you what happened: the familiar biblical cycle of prosperity, then selfishness, greed, neglect of family, then decay and judgment.
While there are many reasons for Detroit’s decline, such as liberalism (according to a book written on the subject), the neglect of fathers towards their children, and homes with no fathers present were major factors. Divorce and fatherless homes lead to violent children. Anyone care to test this theory by spending the night in the Detroit streets? Although I have many fond memories of living in Motown as a child, I have no desire to visit there now. It says in Malachi,
And this is the second thing you do:
You cover the altar of the Lord with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
Yet you say, "For what reason?"
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one's garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 2:13-16a).
Notice it says that God “seeks godly offspring” and that He hates divorce because it leads to violence. Now if a man has children by a woman and never marries her, it has the same result of sons tending towards anger and violence. This is happening is all major cities throughout the United States. Detroit just happens to be the first to come to the inevitable ruins of a culture of fatherless children—many more will follow. We may be able to have zombi theme parks in all of our major cities!
My once beloved Detroit reminds me of the Hebrew word, cherem. One of the meanings of this word is “something appointed to utter destruction; something doomed.” Cherem can also mean “a curse.” It is the very last word of the last verse in the Old Testament,
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse [cherem]”
If you want to understand what the beginning of this curse looks like, look at Detroit. The result of fathers not turning their hearts towards their children paints a very ugly picture.
The Word teaches that God chose Israel because He knew Abraham would raise his children after the ways of the Lord—and Abraham was blessed, not cursed. Everyone has free will in how they will raise their children. Our children are not predestined to be lost to the world; the parents have a choice in how they raise them. In the beginning of the Old Testament, we have a man and his offspring chosen because his heart was toward his own seed—an unusual phenomena in our day. At the end of the O.T., we have the earth threatened with “utter destruction” if fathers do not turn their hearts to their children. This curse is coming near you soon!
Lord, where is the prophet Elijah?