My dad was a chemist, which pretty much equaled superhero to an eight-year-old. He took my brothers and me to “the lab,” showed us the equipment and factory, and let us look at bacteria under a microscope. He even had his own private office. So cool.
Chemistry class killed any inklings of my own future in this field, but I remember being proud and thinking how awesome I would be if I were “just like dad.”
More often than not, little feet want to follow in dad’s footsteps. Why else does Little Tikes® make junior-sized lawn mowers and grills?
I realize every family dynamic is different, and this post won’t break down all the “but you don’t know my dad” scenarios. If that’s how you feel today, I hope you’ll keep reading. This post isn’t going to romanticize fathers (like the one that maybe you never had); it is, however, going to look at three fathers from the Bible who model qualities we as believers should want to imitate.
Keep in mind that no dad is perfect, and the dads in the Bible were certainly no exception. Most of them serve as subjects for Father’s Day sermons, typically from a critical point of view.
Let’s set those illustrations aside today and learn from what they did right.
First man. First husband. First father. No pressure there! He didn’t experience the pride and joy of fatherhood until after the Fall when Eve bore their first son Cain.
We can only imagine his heartbreak when his firstborn later murdered his second son Abel. This dad must have felt like an epic failure.
But we serve a God of second chances, and He blessed Adam with another son named Seth, through whom godly men would come.
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord. (Genesis 4:25-26 NKJV)
Adam recognized his children as gifts, appointed by God. Despite his own sin and the sin of his firstborn, he recognized God’s providence and graciousness at work.
We would do well to keep his eternal perspective and remember that God works through both tragedy and triumph.
As mankind spiraled downward and deeper into immorality, God grew disgusted with His creation—all except one. A man named Noah found grace in His sight (Genesis 6:6-8).
God determined to destroy his perverted creation and start fresh with Noah, described as a “just man” (Genesis 6:9). From a human standpoint, Noah was alone in a world that took pleasure in unrighteousness.
Noah understood how lonely a godly lifestyle can be. In addition, God tasked him with building an ark to take him and his family through a worldwide flood. To his neighbors, the job seemed absurd. Imagine their further consternation when Noah began collecting two animals of every kind and loading them onto the ark.
The ark was the first zoo, and I’m sure Noah’s neighbors enjoyed many jokes at his expense. But Noah didn’t listen to the world’s mockery. He listened to and obeyed God. As a result, he saved his family from destruction.
From Noah, we learn godliness is better than popularity and obedience to God’s plan is always best.
If our lives unfolded like this man’s, I wonder if we’d still be faithful.
- God commanded Abram to uproot his family and go to a destination yet unseen (Genesis 12:1). At 75 years old, Abram obeyed (Genesis 12:4).
- God promised Abram that he would be the father of “a great nation,” even though he and his wife had no children of their own (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 15:2-5).
- Ten years later, no baby (Genesis 16:1-3).
- Abram and his wife Sarai took matters into their own hands and obtained a son through Sarai’s concubine Hagar. Abram was 86 when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16).
- Fast forward. Abram was 99 years old when God next appeared to him and restated his covenant with him. God changed his name to Abraham, for he would be “a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, for she would be a “mother of nations” (Genesis 17:15-16). The heir of promise would come from their union, not from Hagar.
- At 100 years of age, Abraham and his wife Sarah welcomed their son Isaac into the world (Genesis 21:5).
Twenty-five years after leaving his homeland, Abraham finally saw God’s promise fulfilled. How well we would do to follow his example and walk by faith, not by sight!
These “first” fathers made their share of mistakes—everything from committing the first sin to fathering a child with his wife’s concubine. However, they also walked with God and believed in Him despite human odds and impossibilities.
I don’t know your dad. Maybe he isn’t in your life right now, and if that’s the case, I’m truly sorry.
Regardless, we can learn from the dads in the Bible who have gone before us and model their positive traits in our lives.
Little Tikes® may have grills and lawn mowers. Bible dads demonstrate faithfulness and perseverance. Those are qualities worth imitating.