You, O Lord, are our father; our Redeemer from of old is your name. Isaiah 63:16
Jesus said, “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9
We exposed our children to the Star Wars saga very early in their lives. In fact our oldest son was just weeks old when we saw the movie ourselves, and we took him along! They, on the other hand went far beyond us in learning about the intricacies of the plots and memorizing lines from the movies. Some have even read books about the movies.
Of course, high on the list of quotes from Star Wars is the shocking revelation in The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader says to Luke, “…I am your father.” It was so remarkable that people had to check with others before they talked about that lest they would spoil the surprise! If you’ve not seen this movie yet, too late! The secret is out. Sorry.
It ought be no secret, however, that God is our Father. The earliest references to God as Father in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 32:6. “Is this the way you repay the LORD, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” Isaiah (above) speaks of the LORD (YHWH) as their father in the sense of being the One who gave life to Israel and who also redeemed them.
That’s what dads do. They bail out their children. They pay their fines, get them out of hock, rescue them from the bullies, falls, and fails that go along with being a son or daughter, growing and maturing as the years go on. They teach, direct, discipline, provide for, and protect, and correct their children. So do mothers. This is not a father-exclusive job description.
To be fair there are some references to God that reveal a motherly heart toward his people. God speaks through Isaiah, “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant” – Isaiah 42:14. Isaiah 62:14-15 reads, “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
Jesus’ example leads us to speak to God as “Father.” As such God is all that we could ever wish our earthly fathers to be. Even the most dedicated, faithful, conscientious, loving, and good human father will fail his children at one time or many. We cannot help it. We are of limited power, knowledge, resources, and character. We are fallen creatures.
But fallen fathers and forgotten children may call upon God our Heavenly Father with all confidence, hope, certainty, and boldness. Just as a young child runs to his father when he is hurt with abandonment of fear, God invites us to come to him with every hope exposed, every need acknowledged, every failure confessed, every joy held high. Our Father will not turn us away. He is the good, good Father. The great I AM (YHWH) is our Father. May his name be holy among us all!