Sermon Illustrations

Text: Genesis 18:17-19, KJV: 17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Thoughts: From Adam’s day to our day, there have been godly fathers and ungodly ones. The tragedy seems to be that there are so few of the one and so many of the other!

Abraham was not perfect, certainly, but he was one of the truly godly fathers in the Bible. No, he is not an unsung hero, not by any means, but the words of the LORD Himself to Abraham could be an encouragement and a reward for those men who truly seek to be godly men. Here’s a closer look as to why:

First, Abraham had no children at this time, except Ishmael, born about 12 years before. And even though Ishmael was a physical child of Abraham, he wasn’t the promised heir of Abraham. Even so, Abraham seems to have treated Ishmael fairly—there is no record of any mistreatment up to this point.

Second, Abraham had heard an incredible promise from the Three Visitors mentioned earlier in the chapter. He was 99 years old (Genesis 17:1) and Sarah was 89 (17:17, she would be 90 when the child was born). To say the least, this was impossible; even Sarah herself knew it couldn’t happen due to her advanced age (see her comments in 18:11-15). But God made a promise and when God makes a promise, He keeps it! A year later, Isaac was born, just as God had promised!

Finally, God had already known Abraham’s character. He said of Abraham, “I know him”, that Abraham would make sure his children kept “the way of the LORD”. Only a few men have ever had that said of them and Abraham was the first.

Although the comments for this illustration seem to be focused on Abraham, the same things could be said of any godly father. Throughout Scripture, countless unknown men raised their children for God. There were kings who feared God but their sons didn’t; the reverse is also true. This extends to ordinary people as well, those like the parents of Elijah, Elisha, and the other true prophets. It also extends to the ones never named but kept the knowledge of God alive in their children—witness the list of men born after the Captivity in the lines of Jesus alone.

As we approach Father’s Day, may each one of us focus on living for God and raising our children the way our Lord wants us to. Fathering isn’t easy—it never has been—but when a child decides to live for God, I can’t think of a greater reward.

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)

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