Earthly fathers are privileged that we are given the same title as our Heavenly Father. We His children call God “Father”. When we as men get married and have children, our children call us “father”. Have we wondered why our wives don’t get this privilege? Have we wondered why Go d would share this title with us earthly fathers? Have we considered the awesome responsibility that comes with carrying the title and role of “father”?
My understanding of the importance that God places on earthly fathers is something that has grown over the years. I first learned it by observing my own earthly father working hard to feed his eight children (I am number 7), his wife, and his mother. Not only that, but he also inadvertently supported a village in China as my grandmother used to secretly save the spare money that my father gave to her, sending it back to the relatives in the village they had come from.
Many years later, when I started work as a prison officer in the former Changi Prison, I saw firsthand the impact of fatherlessness. Initially, my conversations with long-term prisoners were more about trying to match the tattoos on their bodies with the gangs they belonged to, finding out where they got their drugs and where they hid their guns or weapons. After satisfying this curiosity, my interest began to focus on their background, their lives, their childhood days and growing up years. I started to “see” dots becoming patterns – consequences to children resulting from breakdown in parents’ marriages, harsh parenting, physical and emotional abuse. I saw fatherlessness on the faces and in the lives of many inmates. As the saying goes, “It is easier to build boys than to fix men.” Many of the prisoners did not have their fathers to help build their lives. Instead of the hearts of their fathers turned towards them as the Lord instructed in Malachi 4:5-6, their fathers had either turned away from them or turned against them. At times, I seemed to hear the Lord say, “If we can turn hearts of fathers to their children, then we can close down at least half the prisons in this nation.”
From prisons, I moved on to work with abused children and at-risk youths. For six years, I saw the pain caused to children and to families, caused by fatherlessness. I came to know of children being beaten so badly that they ended up in hospital. I often wonder why a first world country like Singapore can have such brokenness. Why is it that the richer we get, the poorer we seem to become?
God’s Solution For Society Why did God give us dads the title of “father”? What was He thinking about when He entrusted us to carry this same title that He has given Himself? This was what I “heard” Him say to me one day: “Society sees fathers as the cause of many social problems. However, I am sending the spirit of Elijah to turn hearts of fathers to the children. Fathers SHALL BE the solution to these problems.” In fact, I heard Him say “Fathers have ALWAYS been MY solution to the nations.”
There are two key Bible passages through which God has taught me the importance of fathers. In Malachi 4:5-6, we are told that when the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children, the land will not be struck with a curse. That means when fathers are involved in their children’s lives, the land and the society that they live in and are part of, will be strong. It is interesting to note that God sent the prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers. As I sought understanding on why God used Elijah and not other prophets, I received the following revelation. Firstly, when we speak of Elijah, we usually also think of Elisha. Elisha was so inspired by what he saw in the life of Elijah that he asked for a double portion of his spirit (2 Kings 2:9). How many of our children can look to their earthly fathers and ask for a double portion? Children who are abused and neglected DO NOT need and DO NOT want a double portion from their fathers. Children need heroes, and good role models. If not, our children will look towards the world for heroes to worship. If each generation receives a double portion and a double anointing from the previous generation, the nation will be transformed in no time!
Secondly, Elijah was sent because it was God’s desire to “father the fatherless” in our midst. During the time of famine, God sent Elijah to a widow’s house (1 Kings 17). This widow and her fatherless son were living out their last days when God sent Elijah to care and provide for them. When the son died a physical death later (1 Kings 17:17), Elijah was present to raise him to life again. This represents the hopelessness that is tangible when fathers are not around, but God will send spiritual fathers and father-figures to these fatherless families and “raise these children from their death”, restoring the destinies of these children.
Thirdly, Elijah was sent to confront Jezebel and the false prophets who had brought down the whole nation of Israel with their idolatry and Baal worship. There are forces in this nation that are seeking to destroy families, the very foundation of our society. The forces that attack marriages and families are growing stronger each day, partly because we have done nothing to confront their influence. God warned us in Revelation 2:20 that we must not tolerate the spirit of Jezebel – “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she is seducing my servants into sexual immorality…” Fathers, like Elijah of old, have to rise up and confront the forces of evil, by turning away from immorality and turning their hearts to their wife and children.
Called To Bless The Nations Another passage that we can draw important lessons from concerning the importance of fathers is Genesis 18:18-19. We often hear politicians and family life educators state that “Family is the basic building block of society” or “Family is the bedrock of a nation”, or “When family goes, the nation goes.” Is this biblical? Is there a passage in the Bible that confirms this? In fact, not only does Genesis 18 speak of this truth, it gives emphasis to the role played by fathers.
Genesis 18:18 records that God appeared to Abraham and said to him, “Abraham shall become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” What would you do if God told you that you would be a great nation? In fact, not just any great nation, but one that blesses the nations around you? Well, I would probably go for a Masters in Education since we all know that building good schools is important for nation building. Maybe I would also do a PhD in law, as we need good laws to govern a nation well. A postgrad degree in Business would be most helpful as we need to build a strong economy to create jobs. What about establishing a strong military force to defend the nation? What about training in Public Policy, and so on? There would be so many important areas to learn and master in order to build a strong nation that blesses other nations. But wait, is this God’s strategy to building a strong nation? Well, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts!
The secret to building a great and powerful nation lies in verse 19 – “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.” The secret is responsible and intentional fatherhood! The secret is for fathers to teach their children and their children’s children the ways of the Lord! It is clear from this passage that fathers are God’s secret weapon to positively influence generations and impact nations!
When we direct our children in the Word and the ways of the Lord, our children will bring these truths into the various spheres of society – the schools, the arts and media, the government, the business sectors, the communications field, and of course, their own families. Instead of being adversely influenced and contaminated by the prevailing pop culture and the spirit of lawlessness so evident in today’s society, our children will be able to bring transformation to every sphere of society with godly and kingdom values.
Without the hearts of fathers turned to their children to impart God’s truths and help them to find and fulfill their destinies, the land will be struck with a curse. This is evident when we read the preceding verses of Genesis 18:18-19 and the verses that follow after.
“When the men (angels) got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom...” (Gen 18:16) Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me” (Gen 18:20-21). When God revealed to Abraham what it takes to build a strong nation, He was actually on His way to destroy two cities. What sins did the people of these two cities commit? Jude 1:7 tells us that “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” And what was the perversion? One of these is recorded in Genesis 19:4-5, “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
God has warned us that sexual immorality and perversion will destroy cities and nations. He has also revealed to us that turning the hearts of fathers to their children will build a great and powerful nation that blesses other nations. Are the fathers of this nation ready to rise up and be counted, to make a stand to defend and protect our institutions of marriage and family? Are the fathers of this nation ready to do whatever it takes to fight for the destinies of our children and the future of our nation? My desire is for fathers to hand over a Singapore that is better and stronger than the one that we received from our fathers. We owe it to our children and our children’s children to ensure that this is so.
Jason Wong founded the Dads for Life movement in 2009. He has held positions of Deputy Director Prisons and CEO of SCORE, where he founded the Yellow Ribbon Project. He was formerly a Senior Director in the Ministry of Social and Family Development, working with abused children and at-risk youth. Married to Donna, they have two teenage children.