Fatherhood involves three things; namely, vision, life on life formation, and a story of salvation. In Deuteronomy 6:1-12, 20-21 God’s people had experienced an amazing salvation, and God emphasizes the value and importance of fatherhood.
In the Old Testament family included a wider circle of at least two generations and also servants, widows, orphans, also aliens, who were all protected under the father or patriarch’s headship. Children were named by the father and were known as his children; for example in the gospels John and James sons of Zebedee or Jesus bar Joseph.
The ideal father is God and manifested in commands concerning fatherhood, not so much in the narratives. At best, we see determined fathers like Joshua, Job, and Solomon (Proverbs 1:8), who declare that their families will serve the Lord and will listen to biblical instruction.
Since the family makes a nation and a church strong, God starts with a vision in Deuteronomy: “Fear God, you your sons, and your son’s sons that you may enjoy long days in the land and that you may multiply greatly” (6:2-3). Before having children, a man should sense a calling and a vision for children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the context of an experiential knowledge of God (Fear of God means just that this). In our culture we think so much about the now (secular time) that we aim and fall short of the Glory of God’s vision for our lives. Suddenly, we find ourselves holding the little hands of our grandchildren (see photo). The time has flown bye. Fatherhood begins with vision for succeeding generations.
Second, fatherhood is life on life spiritual formation. As the word of God sets on a father’s heart, he then instructs his children “diligently” (6:7). How? By a father’s life loving on his children. When? “When you sit in your house” and “when you walk by the way” and “when you lie down” and “when you rise” (6:7-8). Fatherhood is life on life spiritual formation or discipleship, just as Jesus called His disciples to be “with Him” (Mark 3:14). Spiritual instruction is the primary domain of the father, not the mother nor the church nor a school. It is not a classroom environment; it is a home context of life on life formation.
Thirdly, fathers must tell how they were saved by God’s mighty Hand. In fact, God tells the first Israelite fathers to make their children regularly ask the question about how papa bear and mama bear were saved. When your children ask what the meaning of all this worship and instruction is, father bear should say: “We were slaves . . . and the Lord brought us out and give us (heaven)” (6:20-21). Tell your children how the Lord showed signs and wonders in saving you from slavery to sin and Satan and idols of our culture, like money, power, and so forth. “Dad, why is our family serious about Christ in a secular culture?” Father: “We were slaves to sin and Satan, even the gods of money, work, and pleasure. But God in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, delivered us out of such darkness and brought us into His marvelous light – a kingdom of light.”
Fatherhood begins with a vision, continues for eighteen years per child with life on life spiritual formation, and constantly tells the testimony of salvation to the generations to come.
The bible doesn’t give examples of human fathers that we can model off of, but only of broken fathers in need of restoration to the hearts of their children and to God. God the Father gave His only Begotten Son to redeem fatherhood and to save both the parents and their children, and children’s children.