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Faithful Father or Failing Father?

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Matthew White AFA Journal MORE

Fathers, are we leading our children to the ark of safety and refuge, or the city of destruction? It’s an either/or with no middle ground. Too often we find ourselves aimlessly wandering, not really discipling our children, abdicating our responsibilities to others.

Ephesians 6:4 instructs us as fathers to “provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I hope we’ll consider the direction we are leading our families – particularly our children – and the eternal implications.

So much of what they face and the decisions they make will be directly influenced by the decisions we make as we lead, whether we lead poorly or positively.

A number of biblical examples of a father’s leadership (or lack thereof) and the implications come to mind, but probably no two contrast each other any more so than that of Noah and Lot.

So, this Father’s Day, let me offer dads something to think about. Let us reflect on the lives of these two men and consider which one we most resemble. I offer the following four areas of contrast between Noah and Lot.

  1. Their Residence

Lot

In Genesis 13:10-13 we read,

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it [was] well-watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, …Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east…and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched [his] tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom [were] wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

By the next chapter (Gen 14:12) we learn that Lot had moved from the plain of Jordan, into the city of Sodom. In the midst of a rebellion, Lot was captured, rescued by Abram, but ultimately returned to Sodom and is not heard from again until Gen 19.

Noah

Genesis 6:5 describes what it was like in the area in which Noah resided.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.”

In Matthew 24:38 Jesus described what it was like in Noah’s day. He said,

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.

The contrast here is not so much their residence, but their reaction to it.

Sodom, of course, is a picture of the world, and Lot was influenced by it. In fact, it drew him in. There was something about it that he couldn’t resist, and before long he was caught up in the affairs of that wicked place.

Noah, on the other hand, remained faithful in the midst of a wicked culture. Unlike Lot, he didn’t choose where he lived, but he did choose how he lived. Noah didn’t allow the evil around him to negatively influence him.

What about us? Are we like Lot, who allowed the pull of the world to distract him from making good decisions? It’s easy to get caught up in careers, hobbies, and various temporal pursuits.

Could we say we are like Noah? Often times we don’t have a choice over our external circumstances – neighborhood, coworkers, cultural immorality, etc… But we can be like Noah and choose how we live in those circumstances.

  1. Their Reverence

Lot

In Genesis 19:1-3 we see Lot’s initial interaction with God’s messengers sent to assess the situation in Sodom. Lot bowed down before them, offered them lodging, and made them a feast.

Beyond that, there is little indication of reverence toward God in Lot’s life. Second Peter 2:7-8 does tell us that Lot was “vexed” by what he saw and heard in Sodom, but apparently, it didn’t bother him enough to leave the wicked city. Later, he had to be drug out.

Noah

Numerous texts give us an indication of Noah’s reverence and faithfulness to God.

Genesis 6:8 tells us “…Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The next verse (9) says “… Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God.”

A very telling repeated phrase about Noah was that he did “all” that God “commanded” him. (Ex: Genesis 6:22, Genesis 7:5, Genesis 7:9)

In 2 Peter 2:5 Noah is described as “… a preacher of righteousness …”

It’s easy to see that these two fathers had vastly different relationships with the Lord. Lot chose to live in a place the Bible describes as exceedingly wicked and sinful. We have no indication that Lot served the Lord faithfully in any capacity.

Noah, on the other hand, obeyed God. In spite of the wickedness around him, he remained faithful. One can only imagine the years of ridicule and mockery Noah and his family were subjected to as he continued board by board, peg by peg, slowly constructing the ark. No one believed his warnings of coming judgment, and none seemed to care.

As Fathers today we live in a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile to our faith. We can be like Lot and keep our faith to ourselves in the midst of a wicked culture and never do anything of significance for the Lord. Or, we can be like Noah, and determine to serve the Lord regardless of what people say.

  1. Their Rule

First Timothy 3 gives men guidance on how to lead their homes. Verse 4 says an elder is to be “One that ruleth well his own house…” Verse 12 tells us that deacons are to lead “their children…well…” I realize this is speaking to those in leadership positions in the body of Christ, but the Lord expects the same for all fathers.

Lot

Once Lot convinced the heavenly visitors to come inside his house for safety, the men of Sodom showed up and wanted to have their way sexually with them. Genesis 19:5 says:

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

Genesis 19:8 tells us how Lot, as a father, responded. He said:

…I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as [is] good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

The angels intervened and with that episode were convinced Sodom should be destroyed, thus they proceeded to tell Lot to get himself and any of his family out of the city.

Lot followed their instructions and in Genesis 19: 14 we find that

…Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, “Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city.” But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

After his sons-in-law thought he was nuts, Lot went home and went to bed. The angels had to wake him up the next morning. Apparently, Lot didn’t see the urgency in leaving, and we read in Genesis 19:16:

And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

After the seemingly forced rescue, Genesis 19:32-36 records the incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters.

Noah

When it was time to enter the ark, we see that not only did Noah enter willingly, but his family followed him without reservation. In Genesis 7:7 we read. “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark…”

There is quite the contrast between these two fathers, how they led their families.

Lot, in some twisted effort to protect the angelic visitors, offered in their place his virgin daughters to the lustful men beating at his door. He told them they could do as they please with his daughters. Fortunately, the angels prevented that from happening, but Lot’s paternal leadership didn’t seem to get much better as the story unfolds. When he went to warn his sons-in-law of the impending judgment, they didn’t take him seriously. Then, rather than immediately getting those of the family who were willing to follow out of town, he went back home to bed. Ultimately, he had to be awakened by the angels and forcibly removed from the city. Finally, in a sickening conclusion, Lot’s daughters got him drunk and slept with him and became pregnant.

What kind of father leads that way? What kind of man would willingly hand over his daughters to lust-filled men? What kind of man leads so poorly that even when warning his loved ones about imminent danger, they don’t believe him? What kind of father wouldn’t remove his family from danger immediately? What kind of father teaches so little about virtue and purity to his daughters that they concoct a scheme to get pregnant by their own father? Lot did, and many fathers are leading just as poorly today.

Noah, however, was a father of character. He led by example. Surely his children watched him remain faithful to God even as the evil culture around him made fun of him. Surely they observed him preach righteousness and warn others, not because he hated them, but because he loved them and didn’t want to see them perish. For the many years it took to build the ark, Noah’s children saw what a faithful man and father looked like. It’s no wonder that when the time came for them to enter the ark, that his family followed him in. We don’t read that they argued or questioned him about it at all. He led, they followed.

  1. Their Rescue

Lot

In spite of Lot’s failures, he was indeed rescued by angels (Genesis 19:15-16).

It would be hard to talk about Lot without at least a mention of what happened to his wife.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

Noah

Hebrews 11:7 says that

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house…

Genesis 7:23 says “And every living substance was destroyed … from the earth: and Noah only remained [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.”

Once again, what a contrast between the two fathers.

Yes, Lot was spared, but look what it cost him. Of his family of at least 8-10, (depending on how many daughters you think he had) only he and his two daughters were rescued. Who knows what a few different choices and a bit more leadership would have gained for Lot? If he’d been faithful to God, he would have never been in Sodom in the first place. If he’d been a good leader more of his family would have taken him seriously and followed him out.

And Noah?

Genesis 8:14-16 tells us.

And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried. And God spake unto Noah, saying, “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee” (Genesis 8:14-16).

Noah’s family benefited greatly and was rescued because he was a good father. He was faithful and obedient to God, and his whole family was blessed as a result.

Dads, what about us? If the story of our lives were being recorded like Noah and Lot, what would ours look like?

Have we led our children into the Sodom of our day? Are we giving them the world? If we are, we shouldn’t be surprised when they choose the world and turn out like the world.

Could it be said that we are like Noah? Though the world around us is evil, are we remaining faithful to the Lord? Are our children observing our Christ-like attitude? If so, it’s very likely they’ll see that our faith is real, and will want to follow us, and ultimately want to follow the Lord.

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