Community Group Study Notes
- In what ways does Jesus reveal to us the forever fatherly heart of God? What difference does that make in our lives?
- For some, the idea of “father” carries with it some history and maybe even some baggage. How do we avoid projecting onto our Heavenly Father whatever experiences we may or may not have had with our earthly dads? Why is this important?
- How can we help others see the fatherly heart of God?
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
So, here's what the scripture says in Isaiah, chapter 9. It says, "For to us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Now, when we hear that passage of scripture we often hear it at Christmas time. It's common to find on greeting cards, and all those kinds of things. For some of you, depending on if you are a particular age, then maybe what you hear when you hear these words come together this way, you start thinking about Handel's Messiah and that son, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." I got more, "Unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and the government will be ..." I got all kind of voices, right.
Here's the thing. I can't do anymore after that. That melody comes to my head sometimes when I hear this passage of scripture, but there's a point where the melody just goes off, like it's like a rollercoaster. There are notes in there that the FBI is investigating today. So, I can't sing the whole melody but, you know, it kind of goes off in our heads a little bit. Maybe that's the case. What that doesn't do, is that doesn't answer for us what exactly the meaning of the text is that we're actually singing about. We get some sense of meaning just by the plain words that are being communicated, but maybe to understand better, when we're pulling out some of the idea of the text, we do have to understand some of the context.
For us to do that we're going to need to back up in time just a little bit, so if you can get in your way-back machine, and we could move ourselves back into maybe kind of e late eighth century B.C., or the early seventh century B.C., in that neighborhood, and we'll find Isaiah there, who is living in Jerusalem. Now, the thing is that during Isaiah's time, what once was ... Easy for me to say, what once was an entire Kingdom of Israel under King David and King Solomon, and there was a great kind of ruling king over this whole nation. Shortly after Solomon the kingdom divided. It split in two, right?
Now, to the north you had the Kingdom of Israel, and to the south you had the Kingdom of Judah. What once was an entire kingdom has now been broken in two, and you've got Israel in the north, and you've got Judah in the south. Now, Isaiah is ministering in the southern part, which is Judah, because that's where Jerusalem is, and that's where Isaiah is from, and that's where predominately his ministry as a prophet was occurring. Now the thing is, is that in Judah, Judah had its kings and Israel had its kings. If you looked at it kind of in the grand scale of the way the Bible records these kings, the kings of Israel were, generally speaking, not all of them, but generally speaking the kings of Israel were ungodly kings.
The kings of Judah were better, but there was definitely a mix, right. More good kings, and godly kings, from Judah than there was from Israel but, nonetheless, there was a mixed bag in both kingships. Now, in the Kingdom of Judah, in the time of Isiah, there was a king whose name was Ahaz, A-h-a-z, and king Ahaz was not a good dude. You don't have to read very long to figure this out, not only from the context of Isiah, but when you look at the book of Kings, and II Kings, and those kinds of areas, you'll find that he didn't even get buried ... He got buried where his ancestors were buried, but he didn't even get buried in the tomb of the kings. This was just not a good king. He was ungodly. He wasn't listening to the Lord.
In the time of Ahaz, in the time of Isaiah, this was an interesting time, because it was a difficult time for Ahaz based on what was going on. In other words, there were always kind of some back-door meetings between other kings that were looking to join forces to take over different territories, or other kingdoms, and that was going on with people planning to take over the Kingdom of Judah and, specifically, take over Jerusalem that was located in Judah.
In fact, Isaiah chapter 7, verse number 1, gives us some insight into this, and it says this, "When Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was the king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram ..." Now, pause there. We're just going to leave that passage up there so that you can see what we're talking about. King Rezin of Aram means he was the king, King Rezin of Syria. I know my map is incredible, right?
So, if you've got Judah here, and you've got Israel here, you've got Syria here, so that's where it was. Israel was to the north, and Syria was kind of to the northeast a little bit, and that's what the Kingdom of Aram, and their King Rezin [Pezin 00:05:04], and then it says, "and Pekah, son of Remaliah, King of Israel." Pekah is the King of Israel. Pekah. I like that, King Pekah of Israel. It's just fun to say. Say it with me. King Pekah. King Pekah. It was enjoyable wasn't it? Wasn't that fantastic? King Pekah of Israel.
So, you've got, here it is, King Pekah, who's in Israel, the northern kingdom, and King Rezin, who's in Syria, kind of northeast of there. What did they do? "They marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it." In other words, here's what was going on in the time of Ahaz. Ahaz is in the southern territory of Judah, and to his north, in Israel, is king who? Pekah. Say it again. King
King Pekah. He's in the North, right, and then you've got King Rezin, who's over here in Syria, and Rezin and Pekah get themselves together and say, "Hey, why don't we take over Judah and take over Jerusalem, and we'll make Ahaz regret that he's even on the planet." So, Ahaz kind of knows that this is going on, and so God speaks to Isaiah, when you're reading through Isaiah, chapter 7, and following. God speaks to Isaiah and says, "I want you to go talk to Ahaz, and here's what I want you to tell him. Tell him everything's cool." That's not exactly what He said, but generally speaking. "Don't worry about this coalition between Syria and Israel. Don't worry about it. They're not going to overtake Jerusalem, so don't worry about it."
Isaiah goes to Ahaz and he says, "Hey, the Lord has said, 'Everything's cool. You don't have to worry about them teaming up on you and taking over Jerusalem.' In fact, just to confirm this, the Lord has said for you to ask for a sign." Here's Ahaz's response. "No, I'm not gonna ask for a sign, because I don't want to put the Lord to the test." Now, this is just Ahaz playing, all right. This is not Ahaz trying to be godly, this is Ahaz masking his ungodliness, because Isaiah responds to him and says, "You're already putting human beings to the test, and my patience is being tested with you, and now you're gonna put God ... You're gonna do this to God? You're gonna test Him now in this regard? God is the one who said to you, 'Ask for a sign.'"
Now, just as a pause right here. Generally speaking this is not how God asks us to respond to Him, because there are some people I know, and they are sign seekers. Every place, every time, every thing, they are sign seekers. Should I get a red car or a blue car? She's got on blue mascara, it's a message from God, right? We're not supposed to be just sign seekers all over the place, and very rarely does God tell us to ask for a sign. In fact, Jesus had said at one point that this generation that keeps asking for signs of kind of an ungodly generation, so that's generally not what we're supposed to do.
But, God says very specifically to Ahaz, "Ask for a sign," and Ahaz says, "No." Isaiah says, "Oh, okay, you're trying to act all spiritual, like you're more spiritual than God is, and God's the one who told you to ask for a sign, and you're not, so here's what God's gonna do. He's gonna give you one anyway, because he told you to ask for one." What was the sign? A child is going to be born, and that was ultimately the sign that he was pointing to.
Now, that had a fulfillment in the time of Ahaz, because it was a sign to Ahaz, right. If this child that we're talking about was only a prophecy about Jesus to come, which we know it is, if it was only that, that wouldn't make any sense to Ahaz, would it. He'd be going, "What, why is that a sign to me? A child that's gonna be born 700 years from now is going to be a sign to me? I'm not going to be here." So, there was going to be a child that was born, and some have kind of argued that maybe it was one of Isaiah's sons that was going to be a sign to him, or maybe the child of Ahaz through one of his harem that was going to be a sign to him. I'm not sure exactly who it was, but there was one in that regard, but that sign was actually pointing further down the road.
Now, what's interesting about this time is that what Ahaz did, instead of taking the counsel of God from Isaiah, he actually said, "Okay, I know that I'm gonna be fine. God has said through Isaiah that I don't have to worry about Syria and Israel taking over Jerusalem," but that wasn't good enough for him. He didn't believe the Lord, and so you know what he does? He decides he's gonna go talk to the king of Assyria. Assyria was like, bam, like Assyria was a super-strong empire and, in fact, when Isaiah was talking to Ahaz ...
I know, I'm throwing a lot of names at you, but you know Isaiah. When Isaiah's talking to King Ahaz, he actually says, "Oh, so, by the way, you're not gonna have to worry about Syria and Israel, but since you've decided not to believe the Lord, the Lord's gonna go ahead and send Assyria in, and he's gonna take care of everything. They're gonna take care of everything." Assyria had a king, and this is even more fun to say. His name was Tiglath-Pileser. That was the King of Assyria's name, Tiglath-Pileser. To be specific, he was Tiglath-Pileser the third, to distinguish him from Tiglath-Pileser the second, and Tiglath-Pileser the first.
Tiglath-Pileser had a nickname, and his nickname was Pul, P-u-l, Pul, and I'd rather just call him Pul, because I like saying Pul, and I like saying Pekah, but I like saying Pul, right. This is Tiglath-Pileser. Bad dude. So, Ahaz goes to Tiglath-Pileser and, basically, is going to appeal to the King of Assyria to help him with Syria and Israel, because he doesn't believe The Lord. When he makes his appeal, listen to this, when Ahaz, the King of Judah, makes his appeal to the King of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser, listen to what he says. You find it in II Kings, chapter 16. "So, Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser, the King of Assyria, saying, 'I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the King of Syria, and from the hand of the King of Israel, who are attacking me.'"
Now, this is extraordinary, because here's functionally what Ahaz was saying, the King of Judah. He was saying to the King of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser, Pul, he was saying to him functionally this, "You, Sir, are my Daddy." That's what he said. "I am your son. You, Sir, are my Daddy. I need you to protect me, and take care of me, and do all the things that Daddy's do," so-to-speak. "I want you to take care of all this." Now, he didn't realize what he was doing. He was walking into an awful scenario, because he'd already not believed The Lord.
The King of Assyria, who liked conquering territories was all about this invitation. He was like, "Yeah, sure, I'll come take over some land," and he not only takes care of Syria and Israel, but also takes care of Judah, too, such that the people are now going to be spit out in all kinds of different places under Assyria's domination, and they're going to be taken out of their own homeland and made to be vassals of another state, and another empire. So, when we ultimately get to Isaiah, chapter 9, and we hear these words, they are actually comforting words about a child king that is going to come.
Now, it's interesting that when he talks about it here, "To us a child is born. To us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and he'll be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. It was greatness, and a government of peace there will be no end. He'll reign on David's throne and be over his kingdom." He says all of these things. Isn't it interesting that he's talking about a child king here, but he never uses the word king. Maybe, some scholars have suggested, that the reason Isaiah doesn't use the word king here is because it's a slap in the face to all of those Pagan kings, and all of those kings of Israel and Judah who have been ungodly, who've never lived up to the real title of king, and this one is coming not even using the name king, but the government and every kingdom, and he's gonna reign on David's throne, and he's gonna rule in righteousness and truth. Maybe that's the case. I don't know if that's the case or not.
Do you know that sometimes when the term, Father, is used, like when Ahaz put himself in front of Tiglath-Pileser and basically said, "I'm your son. I want you to be my Daddy, my Father, that was often, in that day and age, used as a term, kind of a fatherly term of rulers, of kings. In fact, a little bit later on in Isaiah you see this used about Eliakim. It says this in Isaiah, chapter 22, "In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and fasten your sash around him, and hand your authority over to him. He will be a Father to those who live in Jerusalem, and to the people of Judah."
This was talking about kind of a kingly protector. That was the idea, sometimes associated with Father. See, but when Isaiah, when he's writing about this child king to come, this Messiah that's going to come, he already knows that his people have been fed a bad bill of goods. They were fed a bill of goods by Ahaz that said, "Hey, Tiglath-Pileser, he's gonna be our Daddy," and Isaiah is writing this prophecy that says, "Hey, no, the King of Assyria's not gonna be your Daddy. There is a child king that's going to come who is going to be an everlasting Father, a kingly ruler, and protector, and leader over His people."
You see, into the darkness that the people of Judah were feeling, there was this little bit of encouraging light that the Prophet Isaiah was giving to them in these moments. Now, that term, Everlasting Father, it does talk about Fatherly kinds of things when it regards rulers. For instance, like in our day and age, in America, sometimes in history books George Washington is referred to as the Father of our Nation, right. He was the first president. He wasn't a king, of course, but first president, and he's referred to as the Father of our Nation.
If you look like in present context history, you look at North Korea, and in North Korea right now is Kim Jong-un, but before him was his father, and his father's name was Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-il ... Do you know what one of the primary titles by which he was addressed by the people of North Korea? Our Father. Dear Leader was one of them, but Our Father was one. You can see some of these illustrations, right, like from Isaiah with Eliakim talked about a father. That makes good sense. George Washington as a father, that makes good sense. Kim Jong-il as Our Father, that's creepy, right? It feels creepy, right. Nonetheless, that title is used sometimes that way.
Now, the term itself, Everlasting Father, actually means something unique. It means Father of Eternity. That's another way you could translate that term, Everlasting Father, as Father of Eternity. Now, why is that important for us? Well, I'll tell you in a minute, because it makes really good sense of who Jesus is, but some of you, when we read this passage in Isaiah, chapter 9, we realize that we're reading about Messiah Jesus, right, the one who is going to come, the one upon whom all the governments, and kingdoms will be upon His shoulders, and it's a prophesy about Jesus and His coming.
When we get to this description of Him, that His name shall be called Everlasting Father, and we know that this is about Jesus, sometimes we get confused, because we're thinking to ourselves, "Huh, is Isaiah confusing Jesus with the first person of the godhead, God the Father?" As we know, God reveals Himself as God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, one God, in essence, with three, in terms of the nature of His personhood, right. This is the nature of who God is. God is Father, Son, and Spirit, one God, three in person.
Is Isaiah confusing those things? Not at all. In fact, that was the farthest thing from Isaiah's mind. He wasn't even thinking in Trinitarian terms at this time. All Isaiah is doing is giving a descriptive analogy about the nature of the child king that was going to come. Make no mistake, Isaiah's also making it clear that this child king to come was no ordinary child, because no ordinary child could have the designations of Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Those are things that would only be equated with God, and so he's talking about a child that's real, a human being, but he's also talking about one that is a designation that is given to deity.
This term, Everlasting Father, also translates Father of Eternity. Now, why does that make sense when we talk about the nature of Jesus? Because the New Testament actually teaches us that idea, that Jesus didn't just show up in Bethlehem. This wasn't the first time that Jesus was ever created. Jesus existed before Bethlehem. Jesus took on flesh at Bethlehem, right. Remember, John said it this way. He said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," and then verse 14 of John, chapter 1, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only Begotten of God, full of grace and truth." Do you remember that?
That's what it says in John, chapter 1, and then there's other places like in the book of Colossians. When you read in Colossians about Jesus you hear it said this way, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation, for in Jesus all things were created, things in heaven, and on Earth, visible, and invisible, whether thrones, or powers, or rulers, or authorities. All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
You see, this reminds us that Jesus, listen to this, Jesus is the Father of Eternity. In fact, we can see it said in a different way in the book of Revelation. Remember when John is writing, when he sees Jesus and what happens. Notice what he says in Revelation 1. John says, "When I saw Jesus I fell at His feet as though dead, and then He placed His right hand on me and here's what He said 'Do not be afraid. I'm the first, and the last. I am the Living One. I was dead and now look I am alive for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and hades.'" Why? Because Jesus is the Father of Eternity. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, and He is also without beginning, and without end. This is the nature of who Jesus is.
Do you know what Jesus does when He shows up and takes on flesh, this child king that was prophesied, one that was coming, the Everlasting Father who was coming to be born among us. Do you know what He does? He reveals the Father to the world. That's what Jesus is doing. In fact, Jesus said as much. Notice what He said in John, chapter 10, Jesus said, "If I do them, even though you don't believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father." He goes on to say in chapter 14, Jesus said, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I've been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father.' Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I don't speak on my own authority, rather it is the Father living in Me who is doing His work."
You see, just like Paul said in Colossians that, "The Son, Jesus, is the image of the invisible God," Jesus reminds us very specifically that He is come to reveal God to the world, that Jesus is God with skin on coming to reveal the fullness of the nature of God to the world around Him. That's why when we see this title given to this child king that Isaiah is prophesying about, Everlasting Father, here's what we can know. You can just jot this down, it's kind of the idea of what we're talking about, that Jesus reveals to us the forever fatherly heart of God. Jesus reveals to us the forever fatherly heart of God.
Now, I must tell you, this was really good news to the people of Judah, because they had been spread out. Assyria was taking over. They were concerned because they had been sold a bill of goods that Tiglath-Pileser was their Daddy, and he is not their Daddy. There is going to be one who is to come. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who is going to come and he will be the Everlasting Father, the Father of Eternity. This was a comforting word in the midst of their darkness.
I must tell you, this is also really, really good news for us today. It's really good news in the world that we live in. Does anybody feel like me that there are times where it seems that I look around the world that we live in, and sometimes it feels that it's getting darker, and darker. In the world like that, sometimes we need to be reminded just who isn't our Daddy, and who is, that we have this Christmas time what we're reminded about, from this prophesy of Isaiah is that we have an everlasting Father. You see, I know that everybody everywhere has a hole in their heart that's designed for a dad.
I know what it feels like. When I was a young kid, very, very young, like two, my dad was in the Marine Corp. He was an officer in the Marine Corp, and he was stationed overseas for quite some time, in a couple of different places. As a young kid I remember that I had my dad and then I didn't, and he was gone for quite some time. As a little guy I was trying to figure out what that meant, as a two year old, or three year old, or whatever. You're trying to figure out what that looks like, because you know like, "I'm designed to have my dad, and I'm designed to have his presence, and his love, and I don't right now. I know I have it from a distance, but I don't have his presence with me right now."
I texted my mom this week, and I asked her, I said, "Mom, remind me of that story that you used to tell about me when I was really little, and I was remembering it, and was confirming it with my mom. She used to tell me, when I was just a little guy, two-ish, and I knew a little bit about some things, could talk a little, you know, was reading at a 12th grade level, and speaking fluent Greek, but other than that ... Don't be impressed, it was just ... I'm a young guy, right.
She says, "There was an album that they used to play." She would put on a record player. For those of you that are younger, there were these discs that were roughly this size. Some of them were smaller. They were called 45s, not like a gun, but the bigger ones, right, and you would put them on this like rotating device, and there would be this little needle that you would put on it, and it would rotate around and music would come out of it. Yeah. Miracle right?
She would put this little record on, and the title of the song was, "Daddy's Home." Now, the song originated in the 1960s, early 1960s, but we weren't listening to the original cut of that particular song, because many people through the years covered that song, and she wasn't clear, and didn't quite remember who it was that had cut that song, and I don't remember if it was maybe the B side of a little 45, or something like that.
But, the song was called Daddy's Home, and the song itself didn't really have anything to do with my situation, except for the chorus that said, "Daddy's home, Daddy's home to stay," and my mom used to tell me that whenever, as a little kid, that record she would play that I would run behind a chair and hide and cry, because my dad wasn't home, because my dad was gone, and I knew something inside was saying, "I know that he's supposed to be here, but he's not."
Now, I realize that when I bring up the idea of fathers that I open an entire can for a lot of people that are listening to me. Thankfully I've got ... My dad's still with me. He's been a great dad. He may be watching me online. What's up? He's been fantastic. That's not everybody's story. For some of us our dads are still with us, and they have been great, and you've got a great relationship with them, and that's given you some comfort. For others of us, I know that some here don't have a father. Some of you lost fathers at young ages, and they've been gone for quite some time. Some of you lost fathers more recently, and walking through holidays always bring up those kinds of thoughts whether you lost them a long time ago or whether you lost them recently. Some of you didn't know your father. Some of you did know your father, but he wasn't around because he checked out on your family.
Some of you had a father that actually was around but only physically. He wasn't around emotionally. No relational connection, but he was there. He showed up. Some of you had a father that abused you. Some of you had a father that made you feel like you were never good enough, and you could never measure up in a million years. Some of you had a father that made you feel like nothing you did was ever going to suffice. There's a lot of us with a lot of things when we talk about the idea of fathers, but that's why this is such a good word for us, because in the midst of ...
Listen to this, in the midst of the relational carnage that is our living generation, we've got a great Word spoken to us by Isaiah, that we have an Everlasting Father. Now, let me tell you why it's so good, because I want to give you some things to think about as to why this is so good. I want you to stay with me, because we're going to land the plane here in some really good spaces that I think are going to be encouragement to you. This message is designed to encourage us today.
Why is it that when Jesus reveals to us the forever fatherly heart of God how do we see that in Jesus? Here's the first way, because He pardons us. Now, let me explain what I mean when I say that, but I want to do so by kind of first reading a passage of scripture to you from the book of Hebrews, chapter number 2. Listen to it. "In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God for whom, and through whom, everything exists should make the pioneer of their Salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy, and those who are made holy, are of the same family," so Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, Jesus says, "I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters in the assembly I will sing your praises." Again, Jesus says, "I will put my trust in Him," and again Jesus says, "Here am I and the children God has given me."
Does that sound like a fatherly statement, by the way? "Here am I and the children that God has given me." Do you know that that fatherly statement that is being quoted by the writer of Hebrews, and ascribed to Jesus, do you know where it comes from? Isaiah, chapter 8. That's where it comes from, Isaiah, chapter 8. He's literally quoting the text of Isaiah, chapter 8. Then it says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, He, too," Jesus, "shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death, that is the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels He helps but Abraham's descendants. For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people."
Let me pause right here for just a second. I want you to see the fatherly heart of Jesus, that while we were a mess, and we were in bondage, and the devil himself is actually saying in our ear, "I'm your Daddy," Jesus enters into our sin, and our mess, and our trouble, and He dies a death in our place, satisfying the justice of God on behalf of His wrath against sin, and He takes your stuff, and my stuff upon Himself, dying in our place, rising from the dead, conquering our sin, conquering the grave, conquering death, and conquering the devil, so that when we put our faith in Him we have now been rescued and transformed so that Jesus can now say, "All the children that You have given Me, I've got right here." That is a father's heart.
You know what, it actually gets better than that, because he pardons us. Listen to this, he pardons us for a reason, so that He can, wait for it, adopt us. This is what a fatherly heart is, that we are seeing, listen, through Jesus we are seeing the forever fatherly heart of God on display, that He enters into our stuff with a father's heart, to rescue us and to pardon us, and he had to do it Himself. We couldn't do it by ourselves and He does it so that He can adopt us, so that He can bring us into His family.
Listen to how Paul says it in the book of Romans, chapter 8. "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again. Rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship, or to daughtership, and by Him we cried Daddy, Daddy, Abba Father." Listen to how Paul said it in Ephesians, chapter 1. He comes back to this idea, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to Sonship through Jesus Christ." You see, the reminder for us, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason that he pardons us is so that He can adopt us. What a father's heart that we see evidenced in Jesus, the Everlasting Father.
But, He not only pardons us. Do you know what else He does? He provides for us. That's what good dads do. Good dads make an effort to provide for their children. Do you know what this means? Listen to this, because Jesus, in character, is the Everlasting Father, do you know what that means? He's never going to run out of resources to provide for you. He's everlasting. His resource chain will never end. You say, "I know. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, according to the Bible." You're exactly right, and he owns the hills. He owns it all. He's made it all. He's holding it all together, and He will provide everything we need in this life, and in the life to come.
Listen to what Peter said about our inheritance in I Peter, chapter 1, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, never spoil, and never fade. Everything we ever will have need of He will provide in this life, and in the life to come." Why? Because He's an Everlasting Father, so He pardons us, he provides for us.
Do you know what else He does? He protects us. That's what good dads do. In fact, if you look at what Peter was saying in the verse I just read and keep it moving, here's what it goes on to say, "This inheritance that'll never spoil, or perish, or fade, this inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." You are shielded by God's power. Now, some of you might listen to that and go, "Great, I'll never die," sort of, sort of. Your body, like the Bible says, that it's appointed unto mankind once to die and after that the judgment, right?
We may lose this life in terms of this existence in the body that we have, but when we die, because of the power of our Everlasting Father, He holds our hearts until that day, by the way, He holds them securely by His own power until that day that the Everlasting Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mighty God, the one who is strong to say, actually returns, and when He does we will be resurrected and given imperishable bodies with those souls that will inhabit it, and we will forever be with our Everlasting Father, always provided for, always protected, and forever pardoned because of His grace. This is what the scripture teaches us. This is why this is such a Word of encouragement to us.
Do you remember, for those of you who had dads that you remember, and I know everybody didn't, but for those that did, do you remember being really little and your dad taking you somewhere. Man, I do. I remember when I was really little my dad took me somewhere. I could have bet the world that my dad was 700 feet tall. I was this, right. I was this size, and I would stand next to my dad, whose six feet tall, right, but I would look up, and I would think to myself, "He's a super hero." That's what I would think. Do you remember thinking that? Am I the only one? You've thought that, right. You remember how big they seemed?
Because my dad, and I also knew how strong he was, because he could come by and just sweep me up with one arm, pick me up. I mean, like I'm two, right, but I felt like I was on top of the Empire State Building, and because I knew what the Empire State Building was at two - not! But I thought maybe that's where I was. I feel like I'm 500 miles in the air. My dad is so strong he can pick me up with one arm, in fact he doesn't always need one arm. Sometimes he can get me by the back of the collar with just his fingers and pick me up, because he's strong.
Listen to this, if you remember that feeling when your dad was carrying you somewhere, and you felt safe, and protected, and nothing was gonna harm you, because you were with that superhero, think about what it means for the King of the Universe, who has formed everything, that everything is by Him, and for Him, and through Him, and He holds everything together, and He's holding you. What does that feel like? That feels like a protection beyond anything we could ever think about in our lives. See, the beautiful thing about Him being the Everlasting Father is that He's never going to leave us. Never going to leave us. Why? He's everlasting as a father, and we're seeing the forever fatherly heart of God in Jesus. He'll never leave us.
My guys are old now, right. They're 20 and 17, or whatever, which makes me old, as well. Some of you are going, "Speak for yourself, because I'm way older than that and I don't appreciate that." Well, Merry Christmas. They've gotten older now, and I'm not the same, you know, young buck I used to be, but when they were young one of them, Tanner, the youngest, he had like an invisible leash. I don't know if you know what I'm talking about. Some of you actually use leashes on your children. I love that. It's hilarious. They're walking around with a leash and I'm like, "Hey, good boy. Here's a doggie treat." No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I know you want to keep up with them.
Tanner, he had like an invisible leash. If he got like 20 yards away from us for whatever reason, he would stop. It would be like he hit an invisible fence, [ekk 00:39:18], "Where's my mom and dad?" And, he'd go find us, right. Trace, my older guy, no leash, no care, "I'm going. I'm spaced out and I'm never looking for you." We were one time on a beach. We lived in Florida if you don't remember that, but we were one time on a beach, probably in February. I don't know when. I have no idea. We were on a beach and it was Siesta Key Beach, if you've ever been there, and Trace takes off. We're just sitting there on our blanket, or whatever, Edie and I. Trace takes off. This is before Tanner, I think. Trace just takes off. I was like, "Okay."
He just starts running down the beach. Edie's like, "Ugh," and I said, "Here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna actually go up to kind of the top part of the beach. He's running down near the water, and I want to see how far he goes. Don't worry, I'm gonna track him, but I just want to see how far he goes." He's just walking, right, forever, like I'm gone for roughly a month and a half. I was really hungry by- He's gone forever. I'm way up here, you know, and you can see people on the beach that are looking, "Where is this kid's parents?" Occasionally, I'd be like, pst, pst, and they'd turn around and I'd be like, "I'm his dad, I'm his dad," and they'd be like, "You're a horrible father. You're a horrible father. What do you do for a living?" I'm like, "Nothing."
Just keep walking, right. I mean, this guy would just take off, right. He started out on Siesta Key Beach, and you know where I found him? Texas. Not really, just kidding, but it took forever. He had no leash. Here's the thing, though, he wasn't paying attention. He didn't know we were around, but every step he took, I took. Wherever he was, I was, even when he didn't know it. That's what our Everlasting Father does. There are times in our lives, ladies and gentlemen, where we don't even feel like He's around, but every step you take know this, His eye is always on you, and every step you take He is taking. Every place you are He is already there. He is our Everlasting Father. This is the beauty of who He is to us. He protects us. I got more to say. Just stay with me for a minute, all right. I'll get you out before the game. Stay with me.
I was reading this article, because what struck me about what Isaiah was saying to Ahaz, is he was saying, "Hey, Ahaz, you can trust God. You don't actually have to look to other things, or people to be your Daddy." In this case he was saying, "You don't have to look to another kingdom, or another empire, or another government to be your Daddy. You don't have to do that." I was reading this article last week in Christianity Today about China. There was a particular county in China that's called Yugan County. It's in the Jiangxi Provence. For those of my Chinese friends that are in the room, you might both correct my pronunciation and maybe how I've framed this, because I'm not doing it justice.
In this particular province, it's about 10% Christian, which is extraordinarily high in China. As a result, the government's not happy about that. What's they've been doing is they've been going into the homes of believers in this province, making them take down pictures of Jesus on their wall and replace them with pictures of the President, Xi Jinping. Why? Because they want to flip in their mind who their Daddy is. In fact, one of the quotes in the article says this. You can see it. They said, "Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family, and some have resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses, the head of the government campaign told us, but we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that people who can really help are the communist party, and General Secretary Xi."
You see, what they're trying to do to these believers is they're trying to take their eyes off of their Everlasting Father and put them on another Daddy. But, here's the thing, ladies and gentlemen, Presidents come and go, kings come and go, empires rise and fall, but because Jesus is the Everlasting Father, and the one who is over an indestructible kingdom, because He has an indestructible life, we can always know that no matter what befalls us in the world that we're living in, we do not have to look to empires, or Presidents, or governments to sustain us, although we want them to rule with justice, and righteousness, we don't look to them to sustain us as our Source, because we, ladies and gentlemen, have an Everlasting Father.
Let me give you one last thing. Can you stay with me for a moment? Let me give you one last thing here. This one's too good. I got to be able to encourage you on the way out. Not only does He pardon us, and provide for us, and protect us, but He also praises us. Now, I don't mean that in the sense of worship, I mean that in the sense that He says to us words that we need to hear. Do you know how powerful it is for a father to say to a child, a son or a daughter, words that mean everything to them? There is something inside of us that resonates with the words of a father, they're telling us that they love us, that they're proud of us, that they want us. All of those things, you can't imagine how much that means, particularly if you didn't have them.
There is still inside of you right now, as I speak, you're thinking, "I didn't have that," and there is a longing inside of your heart for it. Listen to what the Everlasting Father says to us. Could you imagine this being said to you? Zephaniah, chapter 3. Listen to what it says, "The Lord Your God is with you. The Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you. In His love He will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing." You have an Everlasting Father who is singing over you. You want to know what the song sounds like? So do I. But, it's something along the lines of, "I love you, I always have, I want you, I always will." It's something like that. Maybe, what if, as Jesus was telling a parable about how He is going to deal with those who have been faithfully following after Him, listen to how He concludes that parable in Matthew, chapter number 5.
He says, "The Master replied, 'Well done good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness.'" How would you like that said by your Everlasting Father, the Lord Jesus? "Well done. Well done. Come and enjoy my joy. My joy, by the way, is eternal. It's never running out. Come on. Well done." Could you imagine hearing, "Well done?" Could you imagine an Everlasting Father that sings over you with great delight? This is what we have in Jesus, even if we didn't have it in an Earthly father or Daddy.
I want to be a dad, and I know how it feels when my dad has from time-to-time said to me, something that I've done and how much he appreciates it, or how much he respects it, or how good a job I did. There's something inside of a child's heart that says, [inaudible 00:47:18]. I want my boys ... I'm very objective with my sons. When something's not good dad says it ain't good, but when something is, I want to be able to say to them, "We'll done. I am so proud of what you've done. I'm not just proud of what you've done. I'm proud of who you are."
Listen to me, ladies and gentlemen, for those of us who've been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, know this, He will always be proud of you, always. You may not do everything right, but He will love you with an everlasting love that will never change. He will discipline you from time-to-time, because that's what good dads do, because he doesn't want you bringing harm, or damaging the testimony so that other people can see the Glory of God in your life. He will discipline us, yes, but that's what good dads do, and they do it out of love. Why? Because He wants you, because He loves you, because He reached in and found you and adopted you. So know this, let this begin to soak over your heart during this Christmas Season, and know that every time that you see Jesus, the child King, you'll be reminded that He is revealing to all of us the Forever fatherly heart of God, and that's why His name shall be called Everlasting Father.