“His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said ‘It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:4,5 – ESV)
Innumerable studies have been conducted to ascertain the effects of fatherlessness on the growth and development of children to adulthood. Perhaps the most well-known, albeit accidental, observation was demonstrated by an event sponsored by Hallmark. A number of years ago, Hallmark decided to go to a local prison on Mother’s Day and give away free Mother’s Day cards to the prisoners. All of the cards ran out in a matter of minutes. Excited by the response, Hallmark decided to reproduce the event for Father’s Day. The results couldn’t have been more different. Not a single card was taken when offered. Not even one. When asked why, each prisoner expressed grief and anger over the absenteeism or abuse of their father – either as a child, or while in prison, or both.
The lack of parental investment in the life of a child can be devastating. The lack of Godly paternal investment in the life of their child is particularly devastating, with lasting effects that extend far into adulthood. It has been shown to result in repressed or expressed feelings of anger, depression, and resentment. Left unaddressed, these emotions give way to actions such as abuse, criminality, and wantonness – far more so than when the same happens from the mother. For some reason, mothers tend to be more easily forgiven for their shortcomings than fathers.
And rightfully so, because fathers are charged by their Creator with the greater responsibility and burden for protecting and growing the next generation. Too often, too many men shirk this responsibility and all too often the results are destructive. Fortunately for us, we see in Job an example that we can live by:
- His children were productive. The fact that each of his children had their own homes and would hold a feast in each of their own homes on a continual, cyclical basis speaks to their own wealth. Contextually, you could extrapolate that their wealth was the result of their work, replicating the example of their father.
- His children were bonded together. The relationship shared between his children facilitated a periodic camaraderie that extended to the breaking of bread together on a continual basis. What you may not realize is that it is unusual that their sisters would be invited to these feasts, in light of the historical position of women in society. However, it is likely that this is illustrative of a different perspective of Hebrew society at the time of the writing before the laws of Moses became distorted by patriarchal traditions that lessened the place of women in the home.
- Job blessed his children continually. Each feast marked a time for Job to make it a priority to bless his children as they were together, even into adulthood. In fact, it was such a priority that he would make the effort to rise early in the morning to do so.
- Job sacrificed for his children. I’ve often heard this passage interpreted to mean that Job’s children were hedonistic, thus requiring sacrifices by proxy on their behalf by the father. However, nowhere in the text is this implied. In fact, the text does imply that Job’s sacrifices were intended to cover any sins that were unknown. Job is seeking to protect his children’s integrity before the living God Adonai.
As we approach this Mother’s Day weekend, it is right that we honor our moms. The number one expressed need that a mother has is the security of her children. One of the greatest, eternal gifts a father can give to his bride is the Godly investment in the life of their children. In so doing, we model God’s investment in His Bride by how He cares for His children and sacrificed Himself for us so that we might have a deep, rich, and growing relationship with Him.