For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Consequences of the disobedience of a father.
The book of Judges is a sad book. It is sad, because the vision to continue pressing on from generation to generation was lost. When God's people left Egypt, they went round and round for many years in the wilderness. And on Moses’s death, Joshua continued in and possessed the land God had promised. However, after the death of Joshua, the people lost the vision.
"When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." (Judges 2: 6-10).
So the book of Judges begins. It shows us the unfinished work of the people of God. The subsequent generations did not advance in the battle to take all the land that God had given them. Each went to his own inheritance. They exchanged their weapons for tools, and began to work the land. They became sedentary, and forgot what God had called them to possess.
The children began to grow up and saw their parents in comfort. And what do the children receive in these conditions? A comfortable gospel. Then, the natural tendency is to repeat the same patterns of behaviour. Much of what our young people are or will be depends on us. If a child sees his father without commitment to spiritual things, the natural tendency will be for them to do the same.
There are two elements that further complicate matters. The first is that the second and third generations have, in a certain way, a greater difficulty in believing, since they do not know the cost of what has been achieved, they do not know the miracles of God that bring us into the land.
In the Bible we see that the first generation saw the manna come down from heaven, they saw the Red Sea part, and all the other miracles of God. Not so the following generations, who were tempted to belittle what had been achieved because they did not know the cost that their parents had to pay. To a certain extent, the same thing happens to our children, because they grow up in an environment of greater protection, having already obtained some of the promises, and they enjoy a healthy environment in which to develop.
Therefore, many do not feel the need for a Savior, according to their own reasoning, they have not sinned. 'What am I going to repent of, if I have not done anything wrong?'. Such is the dilemma of a boy who grew up with the gospel. We, the ones who came from the outside, saw the Lord, we saw his glory, knew of our sin, repented and entered into Christ. But some of them do not understand any of this.
The second element is the conflict relating to the brothers, which can often be troublesome, because young people get criticized. Others feel that the young people only waste time in the meetings, and they look down on them, because it seems that they never awaken to the faith. Consequently, we have young people contending with tremendous obstacles that lie between them and the continuing task of possessing the land that lies ahead.
It is necessary to accommodate the youth and receive them. We must encourage them in the faith. It doesn’t matter if they’re influenced by certain trends and fashions, let us receive them, because they are our children. They will carry on. We will be gone, they will remain. There is much that has yet to be possessed.
Another aspect of the generation in the book of Judges, is that they were blind and unbelieving, because they stopped seeing the things unseen. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, "We look not at the things which are seen, but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" . What happens when someone stops seeing the things unseen? They begin to see the things that are visible; then they become comfortable and set their hearts on the things that are seen, and forget what is unseen; and they lose the goal of life.
Moses endured as seeing him who is invisible. This is essential in a generation: young people can see the things unseen. When a young person perceives that, and has a vision of the Lord, they will never forget what their eyes have seen. Therefore, the efforts of a parent must be to transmit the faith by any and every means, to facilitate the revelation of the Son of God in their children.
The last verse of the book of Judges reveals the magnitude of the spiritual decline of that generation. It is where we can most clearly see the condition of a generation that stops seeing the things unseen. "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). When this occurs, 'good judgment' rises up, along with good views, the 'best argument', 'good intentions ' ; consequently the fear of God is very scarce, and everything that is ours -even when it could be very good- rises up and replaces the good will of God. This sums up the tragedy of humankind.
The responsibility of a parent
Amidst this atmosphere of spiritual decline, of comfort, of blindness and lack of the fear of God, begins the book of Ruth.
"It happened in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a man from Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the fields of Moab, he and his wife, and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. So they came into the country of Moab and remained there. And Elimelech, Naomi 's husband, died and she was left with her two sons who took Moabite women; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth; and they lived there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion also both died, thus leaving the woman bereft of her two sons and her husband " (Ruth 1: 1-5).
Here's a story who’s beginning is just as sad as the book of Judges. A man makes a bad decision and it brings death upon his family. Remember the so called parable of the prodigal son? When this son had spent everything, he said, 'How many hired servants in my father 's house have abundant bread , and I, the son, am starving!'.
Well, in the same way this man named Elimelech, a father, left Bethlehem , which means house of bread, and went down to the land of Moab, a town recognized as an enemy of God's people. He left the "house of bread", the Father's house, to start out on a difficult and rocky path. As the proverb says: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Prov. 14:12).
Elimelech was wrong! He made a bad decision, and that affected his wife and children. This parent, placed there by God to bring in the knowledge of the Lord to protect the house and bring it under subjection to Christ, left the place of provision, where God's blessing is, and went to an enemy land. He set his eyes on temporal things, looking for better prospects.
Today it is common to see some people easily make decisions without the fear of God, and accept offers that present better opportunities academically, economically , socially, disregarding the counsel of God and the testimony of Christ's body. As the verse says: "... everyone did as he saw fit" . This slogan is often the start for those who end up in tragedy.
Elimelech thought it was best for himself and his family. He hoped to have better welfare, better economic and social position. But he would lose what is essential – he would lose Christ. His wife accompanied him, his children too, and the whole family was focused on a single goal. However, the consequences were disastrous, because after a while he died along with his two sons.
How many decisions have you made in your life? And in how many of them have you brought death to your family? Every decision has a consequence - sooner or later, life or death will be ministered to your family by your decision.
Every father must walk in the fear of God, inquiring, seeking, crying out. O Lord, reveal your will! If you do not show us your ways we will not move; if you do not reveal yourself we will die! It is our task to bring all things to the Lord and share them with the body of Christ, and so in corporate wisdom, we will receive guidance and grace to please the Lord.
Naomi was a widow with two young widows in tow. And what a tragedy it was to become a widow at that time! It meant she was socially helpless without a man, without cover, without social rights. The Jewish woman was in complete social helplessness, condemned to live on alms, wandering and poor.
I shall ask it again: how many decisions of yours have brought death to your house? In the course of our service, we have seen many young people who carry bitter pain because of the irresponsible behavior of their parents. As the parent, you perhaps don’t realize it, but the youth often have great conflicts because of our bad decisions. The inability of a young person to go forward in Christ is closely related to the decisions of their parents.
We must be frank about this: we have damaged our houses, our many decisions have not been successful, and we have not contributed positively towards our home life. Consequently , our wives, depressed by our attitude, have felt the anguish of neglect and lack of understanding. Today we are speaking to the men of the house. We are responsible for this before the Lord.
Responsibility for the wife and children
On the other hand women also have a responsibility. "And a man from Bethlehem of Judah went to dwell in the fields of Moab, he and his wife, and two sons of his." The woman approved that decision and both, together with their children, left on the road to ruin. Women are very important in the kingdom of God, and sometimes they misunderstand the meaning of this. The Lord has put them to be an ideal helper in Christ, and they have misunderstood the idea of subjection, thinking that this is almost negation or annulment of themselves. That is not subjection.
The husband needs a woman at his side to help him in the matter of Christ, and to make him uncomfortable in everything that is far from the will of Christ. It is probably not what he would like to hear, but this action can save us. A man cannot pretend that he has all the light of God, and that the woman that God put at his side is only for company. How much of Christ we lose when the sisters diminish, deny and cancel themselves! How much the church loses when women isolate themselves and hide! We lose so much of God when women do not take up their position.
The wives are placed by the Lord to build the family and to collaborate, to build with their husband in the same direction. The proverb says: "The wise woman builds the house, but the foolish woman destroys it" (Proverbs 14: 1). A wife in the kingdom of God cannot be passive. The sisters have a noble task. As husbands we may not like it, but it does us good. This will allow us to humble ourselves before the Lord again and again, seeking his face to decide what is good and pleasing in his eyes.
To follow Christ is to follow him in the family. We all have the same calling. With love and respect, the married couple is the most effective agent in possessing the good land.
It also says in the verse: «... and their two children». Children have their responsibility in the kingdom of God, because they can hinder what is not of the Lord. Of course, they will do it with respect. How many times have we been seriously questioned by the genuine and sincere faith of a child! God speaks to us through children. A child has every right, in the Lord, to approach their father and demand consequence, rectitude, honesty. 'Father, mother, what you’re choosing isn’t right'. How it speaks to us, when a child in faithfulness to the Lord manages to overcome shame and fear, and in love speak to his parents to correct them! Parents, we must be sensitive and humble to receive correction from the Lord even from our children.
But what happens when no one in a household responsibly takes up God's calling? Then death comes and it comes to everyone. Destruction, poverty, anguish and pain come.
The mercy of the Lord
As parents we have made many mistakes; although we have tried to do it well, we have been wrong many times. Often, we have acted in ignorance; at other times we have acted out of stubbornness. However, the mercy of God does not remain unmoved before a contrite and humbled heart. In the midst of this tragedy in the house of Elimelech, God provided himself with a line of descent. God in his omniscience, despite the wrong decision of a father, found faith in a foreign woman: Ruth the Moabitess, who returns with Naomi, her mother-in-law, from the fields of Moab to the city of Bethlehem (Ruth 1: 6 , 19).
Ruth finds refuge in God. And God, who is rich in mercy, finds in her a vessel willing to receive his descendancy. In His sovereignty, he introduces a Gentile woman into the people of God, to fulfil his eternal purpose. Ruth was joined to Boaz and they had children, and from that line of descent came our blessed Lord Jesus Christ! (Ruth 4: 20-21)
The mercy of the Lord is able bring light into a bad and dark decision, when there is repentance. In the parable the prodigal son said: I will return to my father's house and ask forgiveness! «Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired laborers ». And what did the father do? He threw himself on his neck and kissed him, dressed him, put sandals on his feet and threw a party. When a man repents, the mercy of God covers him, and even the worst decision can obtain to life. How wonderful is the Lord!
So it was. You read the genealogy of Matthew and Luke, and there the name of Ruth is written. Her son was called Obed, and he was the father of Jesse, the father of David, from whom Jesus Christ came.
Asking for forgiveness
Let's finish with an act of love for our children. Find your child, hug him and say: "Sorry, my child, for my mistakes. I love you. You are my child, and you are going to carry on the good work. There is much more of Christ that we can know." Young people, look for your parents and hug them. Also ask forgiveness for being rebellious, for any bad words and attitudes. Parents with their children, children with their parents. Let's all exalt the Lord!