Our Father …
Above the ark containing the Torah scrolls, in many synagogue you find and inscription saying, ‘Know before Whom you stand’. This proclamation serves as a reminder that it is a serious thing to come into the Presence of the very Most-High God. We call Him, ‘Our Father’ and it is right; the Master taught us that, but somehow because of our contemporary Western perspective of fatherhood, we forget the ideas of respect and awe that such a title entails.
In ancient times in the East, and even in the not so distant American past, fathers were the object of high reverence and respect. Looking back less than a hundred years ago, households were essentially run by fathers who held the key to the pocket book and disciplined their children. Their words were often few but final and certainly not to be crossed. All this changed with the industrial revolution and especially with WWII when women started working. I believe that this is a time when men felt like they lost their usefulness and reason for existence. Machines allowed women to do what before only men could do, and after the war many of these women did not want to return to be housewives. During the Industrial Boom also, many left the hard work of farms for the seeming easier life in the city but then the Great Depression hit and employer dependant people lost it all. It is in the natural make-up of a man to run his family, to care and provide for them; when he can’t it will, eat him up.
As many men lost their leadership place in society, as post-WWII modern-days and the sixties arrived, especially in the West we lost all sense of respect and reverence for the family structure and this has reflected in our attitude towards religion and faith in general. We call it pompous, frivolous and even legalistic when we speak of adhering to certain rituals and M.O.s in order to approach God. Somehow though, we understand the protocols involved in approaching a judge whom we would never call by his name but we say, ‘your honor’; a president, whom we call, ‘Mr. President’; and a King whom we address saying, ‘Your Majesty’. Why is it then that we resist at the ideas of protocol and respect with God? He is our Father yes, but familiarity breeds contempt even with God. In fact, with God to break with protocol brings death (Numbers 4:20).
As we lost reverence for our families, we also lost reverence for God, and as we lost reverence for God we lost reverence and fear to disobey His commandments. We say, ’God is not legalistic, He understands’, but what is the difference between ‘legalism’ and ‘reverent obedience’. The Word tells otherwise. It seems to me that we are judged by our obedience to do what He taught us to do, not by our doctrinal position or wise rhetoric, by how we live not by what we proclaim (Matthew 25).
The question remains, how do we change this? How do we restore our respect for the Holiness of God? I believe that as we learn to reinstate the parameters of respectfulness within households, if mothers learn to be satisfied with being mothers again as fathers become respectable by fully endorsing their paternal responsibilities, as we do this, we will restore our idea of the greatness of God. As children learn to obey their parents, they learn to obey God later in adult life. It may take the whole messianic age to do it though, so let’s start today!