I have been noting with interest, as I read through the Bible this year, what the Lord has to say about a father’s authority in his family. I am only in Genesis, so I have a ways to go, LOL. But so far:
Adam was the first husbandman. He was called to this responsibility before the Fall as well as after it, and as the first husband and father, he sets the pattern for the rest of the husbands and fathers. “Husbandman” is a very interesting word, not in use much these days, but both of Adam’s roles as keeper of the garden and husband to Eve (thus head of his family) are embodied in its meaning:
Husbandman. A farmer; a cultivator or tiller of the ground; one who labors in tillage. A husbandman is also the master of a family.
Cultivate. To nurture, to feed and protect, to improve and advance the growth of, to refine by correction of faults, and enlargement of good, to cherish, to foster, to promote, to increase, to civilize.
In other words, the husbandman cultivates both the ground, and his family. His job is to nurture life and growth, and to deter the curse and death, in both his crops, and his wife and children. This is the first biblical picture of a husband and father, and his authority delegated by God cannot be divorced from or even contradictory to his calling as husbandman.
Then today I read this of Abraham:
“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD.” Genesis 18:19
Abraham lived in a time when the whole world, it seemed, had gone after false gods to serve them. And God says of Abraham, that he was chosen as His covenant partner, since he would command his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord. That word “command” is not a very popular one in today’s society. It means just what you think it means, to give commands and issue orders, in the Hebrew. To rule.
This brings to mind another statement by a husband and father in the Old Testament:
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
This is very un-pc. Aren’t children supposed to be raised with an open mind, and when they are old enough, chose for themselves what is the best morality and religion? Freedom of worship, right? God apparently didn’t think so. We know a Christian homeschooling family where the father felt it was wrong to “impose” his religion on his children, so when the children became old enough to walk in their own ways, and not in the Lord’s ways or the father’s ways, for that matter, he did not command them otherwise. Most of those children are not serving the Lord today, and there is one child, in particular, who has, at age 18, absolutely ruined their life already, because of walking in his own ways.
Authority is a blessing, not a curse. Let us put that myth to rest. Of course, God does not condone abuse. God opens the human story with the picture of the husbandman, remember, who nurtures life and growth. But commanding his children after him is an act of sacrificial love, of lifelong blessing, not tyranny. Just felt someone had to say that.