The Jehovah names of God provide an excellent list of the responsibilities and requirements for fathering. The goal of this article is to introduce this subject, and certainly not to exhaust it.
Before looking directly at this beautiful theme, however, some background is appropriate.
The understanding of God as “Father” was veiled in the Old Testament, and reached its full flower in the New Testament. Of the many very profound teachings of Jesus, one of them is the revelation of God as Father. In fact, “Father” was Jesus’ favorite term for addressing God.
The name is used in the Synoptic Gospels some sixty-five times, and over one hundred times in the Gospel of John. Paul used the name about forty times.
The apostle John was specific in teaching us to honor God as “our Father,” who loves us so much He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation (John 3:16; Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). Indeed! The one and only way to approach the heavenly Father is through His dear Son, Jesus, Who is our advocate with the Father (I John 2:1).
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is portrayed in the New Testament as this heavenly Father’s Son, but a distinction is required: Jesus is the Father’s Son by essential nature; we become sons of God by adoption (John 20:17; see also Romans 8:23; 9:4). In the Old Testament the primary identity of God is linked first to His creative works and to His raising up the nation of Israel. In the New Testament the heavenly Father is most remembered for achieving through Jesus Christ reconciliation between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
It is in this context of knowing our warm and caring heavenly Father that we can appreciate the Jehovah names of God. These names describe God as the “I Am.” He is the God who knows no past and no future; instead “He is,” and lives in the eternal present. In the Old Testament the Jehovah names identify the character of God. In the New Testament those names describe the heartbeat of the Father’s Son Jesus, Who in His incarnation is the revelation of God (Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 1:15). In fact, to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 14:9).
This understanding helps us perceive the revelation of the job description of Godly dads.
We begin this exploration of the heavenly Father as the perfect pattern for “fathering” based on seven of the Jehovah names of God. Of course, we will only be able to scratch the surface of this theme.
1. Provider. Jehovah jireh (Genesis 22:14) "The Lord will provide a sacrifice."
Jehovah provided a ram caught in a thicket to take the place of Isaac, when Abraham had obediently placed his only son Isaac on the altar as a sacrifice to God. Jehovah is the God who provides for His children. The list includes sunshine, air, and water, without which no one can live, as well as land and trees for building homes, plants and animals for food, and the list goes on and on.
It is basic to the job description of an earthly father to be a provider for his family. None of us can do it perfectly like the heavenly Father, but most fathers work at it willingly and to the best of their ability. In fact, they go to work every day, often even when they feel sick, then bring their pay checks home and give it all to the well-being of the family, keeping very little for themselves. Dads will sacrifice for their families.
Unfortunately, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, one out of three households in America has an absentee dad. Absentee fathers are clearly not the model set by Jehovah, the I AM.
In addition to the faithfulness of so many dads, 57% of moms in America are in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, out of a desire to make life better for their children.
2. Moral values. Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jeremiah 23:6) "The Lord our Righteousness."
Jehovah is the standard for right. “I am way, the truth and the life,” Jesus said, showing that He personifies truth (John 14:6). Our understanding of right and wrong, therefore, begins with the teaching and example of Jesus.
The job description of fathers is very clear at this point. Fathers have the responsibility to instruct, discipline, encourage, and guide their children in the ways of God and His Son, Jesus. When dads love the house of the Lord, the likelihood is high the children will too. Children must be led to make their own decision to accept Jesus as their Saviour.
They must be taught right from wrong, including the moral values set out in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The consequences can be tragic when a dad abdicates that charge, and leaves this responsibility to mom, for example. It is also risky to trust that public schools will teach children Biblical values of right and wrong.
In addition, while the local church has a very real responsibility to teach Biblical values to children, the responsibility of pastors and teachers is secondary to the primary duty of a father, who is backed up by a mom. It follows, of course, that a father must also be willing to live by his own rules.
3. Protector and Defender: Jehovah Nissi (Exodus 17:15) "The Lord our Banner."
This portrait of Jehovah as a banner of protection comes from the battle that followed when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites at Rephidim, during their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 17:8-9). As long as Moses held his arms up, Israel prevailed in the battle. When Moses grew tired and could hold his arms up no longer, the tide of battle turned in favour of the Amalekites. Aaron and Hur recognized the situation and found a rock for Moses to sit on while they steadily held up Moses’ arms “till sunset.”
Joshua and his army “overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” In the afterglow of that battle Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord is our banner,” and said his hands reached up “to the throne of God” (Exodus 17:12-16).
Fundamental to the job description of an earthly father is responsibility to place a banner of blessing and protection over his wife and family. This includes the security of the home and so much more. It is routine for fathers to see times when they must struggle to protect their families.
Dads are uniquely equipped to set the boundaries in the home. This can include, for example, the hard battles that must be fought against addictive drugs and pornography to save a child’s future. This even embraces, as it did with the Israelites, a dad’s willingness to go to war to protect the security of his family, and of the nation.
Yes, a dad carries a unique responsibility to make his family safe and secure. One of a child’s greatest fears, researchers say, is that dad and mom might split up and divorce. When a father shows his children he loves and respects their mom, this alone showcases peace in the family (Ephesians 5:25-28). Growing children will almost invariably treat their mother like dad treats her. Children will also rise to the level of a father’s other rules in the home when the children feel dad’s love for them and their mother.
4. Peace/atmosphere. Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24) "The Lord is Peace."
Gideon discovered at least two centuries after Joshua fought the Amalekites that Jehovah is the God who knew how to give Israel peace. Jehovah showed it when the confederation of Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples marched into the valley of Jezreel. Gideon won the battle with an army of three hundred men when he obeyed the Lord’s strategy for Israel’s peace. In fact, the Lord is peace!
Siblings will quarrel, and sometimes even fight, but fathers are especially responsible to be the chief judge who sets the atmosphere of the home. He enforces family discipline that yields the peace and tranquillity that can rear children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).
5. Opportunity. Jehovah Raah (Psalms 23:1) "The Lord our Shepherd."
God is described as a shepherd who leads His people to green pastures and still waters, and restores their souls. Hence, the role of a spiritual shepherd is to care for the sheep.
It is part of the job description of a dad to be the shepherd of the family. As a shepherd leads his flock to green pastures, a dad is at his best when he helps his children discover and recognize the green fields; that is, opportunity. A father does this when he models for his children how to get along with others and hold a job, for example. He also is their example for tithing, and starts teaching them even in their primary years. He also trains them as they grow older, beginning in small ways at first, to pick up their share of the financial responsibilities of the family.
6. Health. Jehovah Rapha (Exodus 15:26) "The Lord our healer."
Our Lord Jesus was history’s greatest miracle worker. As Pentecostal believers we celebrate the miracle power of the Gospel.
Following the Lord’s example, it is part of the job description of fathers to care for the health of their families. Most fathers take this role seriously too, providing medical insurance for the family, taking children to the doctor, purchasing medicines, and paying hospital bills even when it has to be done on an installment plan. Mothers are usually the better care givers in the home, but it is part of a dad’s job description to take first hand responsibility for the health of the family.
7. Be there: Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35) "The Lord is Present."
Our heavenly Father who is Jehovah, the I AM, is always present with His followers. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, and that He will be with us always (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57; Matthew 28:20) Although the heavenly Father’s sons and daughters in the faith number in the multiplied millions, Jehovah knows each by name, and never misses a name. The heavenly Father also fluently speaks each person’s language, including what might be the special dialect of the language. The Father in heaven is awake, alert and present even after midnight, even in the early hours of the morning (Psalm 121:3-4).
This divine ability to be present day and night, 24/7, is simply amazing.
No Father can perfectly duplicate Jesus ability to be present. But every Father is responsible to “be there” for his children, in health and in sickness, in success and in failure, in the ups and downs of life. This includes to the extent possible their school and sports activities, and a thousand other ways.
Yes, the Jehovah names of God provide a marvelous job description for dads in parenting.
[Editor's comment: Dr. Frank Tunstall always comes through to give us a good word in due season. On this Father's Day, Sunday, June 18, let us take to heart this marvelous teaching on the duties and responsibilities of fathers. May God help us who are fathers to take to heart this teaching and ask God to help us to measure up to this insightful teaching. God wants to bless our families. May all the fathers who read this message ask God for divine help to achieve these worthy goals.
I want to personally thank Dr. Frank G. Tunstall for his willingness to serve as one of our Contributing Writers for Hugh's News.]