The Loving Father
John Telgren

Father's Day sometimes presents a difficulty with those who had an abusive, absent, or bad father growing up. "Father" conjures up one who is distant, angry, and even abusive. However, we need to keep in mind that our earthly father is not who determines what fatherhood is to look like, but the Heavenly Father is. He created it, therefore his character is the character of fatherhood.

What is prominent about God's character? The most prominent word used repeatedly throughout the Old Testament is "hesed." It is translated in various ways, "love, mercy, and loyalty." The New American Standard consistently translates it as "lovingkindness." It is one of the words God uses to describe himself: "Yahweh, Yahweh is God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth" (Ex 34:6). The Psalmist declares repeatedly that God's lovingkindness is everlasting (Ps 118; 136).

In the New Testament, love is the most prominent theme concerning God's character. One of the most well known verses is "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn 3:16). When Jesus refers to the "world" he usually is referring to those who are outside of God. We are not of this world, therefore the world hates us. In spite of this, God so loved the world that he gave his son. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Amazing! Even while we were sinners, God demonstrates his love for us by sending Christ to die for us. God is the very definition of love. That is why 1 John 4:8 says, "God is love." It goes on to say, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son..." (1 Jn 4:10).

Even when disobedient, God still loves his children. God's love is no guarantee of his salvation, only of his love. One can be loved by God and still lost, which grieves God very deeply. This means that God's anger and his grief both stem from his love. God's love, anger, and grief are all demonstrated in this passage...

"When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son. The more they called them, The more they went from them; They kept sacrificing to the Baals And burning incense to idols... I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; And I bent down and fed them...The sword will whirl against their cities, And will demolish their gate bars And consume them because of their counsels...How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? ... My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, ... They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; Indeed He will roar And His sons will come trembling ...And I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD. (Hos 11:1-11)