There is the father of our country, George Washington, the father of geometry, Euclid, and the father of medicine, Hippocrates. Each of these great men is referred to as father as a result of his unique contribution in a specialized arena. However, these men, great as they may have been, pale in comparison to our focus Father of today. Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort...” (2 Corinthians 1.3). Our study today will be limited to a brief review of some biblical expressions which bear a resemblance to the way the word father is used in this, our opening paragraph.
On one occasion Jesus said to some rebellious Jews, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he [the devil] is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8.44). This, of course, is not a complimentary ascription; rather, it attributes to the devil the entire body of everything that is untrue. This was the same entity that persuaded Eve to believe the lie and rebel against God's commandments in the garden of Eden. This is the one and only use of the term father with a negative connotation that we will consider today.
Turning back to the Old Testament and God's character, the psalmist wrote, “But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly. Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH [Lord; Jehovah], And rejoice before Him. A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68.3-5). Note the picturesque language which he used to describe our God!
The New Testament contains three expressions that we will note then we will close with some comments about our focus text. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him...” (Ephesians 1.17). “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?” (Hebrews 12.9). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1.17). Each of these expressions ascribes to God certain attributes that, apart from Him, would not exist. Glory begins and ends with God. Life itself originated with God. He said, “'Let there be light.' And there was light!” He truly is the Father of each of these things/attributes!
He is “...the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” These two expressions are related as we will note in subsequent installments. Today we will focus on the fact that He is the father of mercies (plural). Although the plural of mercy is used but four times in the New Testament, a Hebrew familiar with the Old Testament would realize that the plural form of the word was used repeatedly to ascribe to the Father the boundless character of mercy for which He was so well known. Just as was said for comfort, Paul might have well said that this same God is the Father of ALL mercy! That is the import of the plural use of the word.
Without God, mercy would be nonexistent; with Him it is evident throughout His creation. Tenderness and compassion are obvious to all who will look at the world about us; God made it a part of the Creation just as it is a part of His being! He is the Father of mercies!
1. In the context of today's message, what does it mean to be the father of something?
2. Of what was the devil said to be the father? Who attributed this distinction to him?
3. Using a concordance, look up some passages in the Old Testament that speak of God's mercies? How do they relate to today's focus text?
4. Where is compassion and tenderness obvious in God's creation? From whence did this compassion come?
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