Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Father’s Desire (Matt. 6:8)

One distinction between the Old and New Testaments is the way God is addressed in prayer. Jesus, in instructing his disciples how to pray, could have chosen other titles for God from the Old Testament and urged his followers to use them instead of saying ‘Father’. The Old Testament has many names for God; he is called the Almighty, the Sovereign Lord, the Creator, the Redeemer and others. Only occasionally is he called ‘Father’, although the title is used.

Isaiah uses in Isaiah 63:16: ‘For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.’ The verse suggests that God’s people had a sense of isolation, even from their roots, as they underwent the captivity in Babylon. The consolation they found was in the fatherhood of God.

And Isaiah also uses the title in Isaiah 64:8: ‘But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.’ The need for Israel was great. The exile in Babylon demanded that they be re-created as a people. The one they turned to was their covenant God, the Father.

Malachi also mentions this relationship to God: ‘Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?’ (Mal. 2:10). In the darkness of their unfaithfulness, they turned to the light of his faithfulness, the loyalty of the Father.

Perhaps the saddest reference to Israel is found in Jeremiah 3:19 where God says to them, ‘I would set you among my sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful of all nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father, and would not turn from following me.’ This statement by God indicates that it was his intense desire that his people address him as their Father.

Therefore, we can deduce that Jesus was teaching his disciples to say in prayer what was pleasing to the Father’s heart. Although more is included than the mere saying of words, to say them is very important. It gives great delight to the Father when his people address him by this intimate title.

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