“Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he hs promised him.” Genesis 18:18-19
These two verses hold a powerful key when it comes to the building of strong nations. The Lord declared that Abraham would be a powerful nation and that the nations on earth would be blessed through him. What was Abraham to do for this to happen? The answer lies in the next set of words: “…he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
This key to building a powerful nation is an echo of our Abba Father’s heart in wanting strong families. Fathers are to turn their hearts to the children and the children to the fathers. Fathers are to teach children righteousness and justice. They are to point children toward God. The relationship and strength of family is like a thermometer for the power of a nation. It is in family where a nation’s values are formed; where important truths are held and nurtured; where children can root themselves in the foundation of honor and proper identity.
There’s something really awesome in this dynamic of the older generation turning their hearts to the children. It is interesting to note that in Malachi 4:5-6, it says: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
When the hearts of the fathers are not toward the children and vice versa, then the land is hit by destruction. If we want the opposite of destruction to take place, which is BLESSING, then we must do the converse: have the fathers’ hearts turn toward their children and vice versa.
Among all the prophets characterized in the Bible, Malachi mentions Elijah. Elijah is the powerful prophet who called fire from Heaven and raised a dead boy back to life. He is the prophet God used to show the nation of Israel that YAHWEH was the true God. For God to use the example of Elijah can only mean that the task of turning the hearts of fathers to the children and vice versa is truly great—but one that can lead nations to YAHWEH, the one true God.
Fathers have a huge responsibility in the eyes of God. As for the children, they, too, have a task. Are they obeying and honoring their fathers?
Among the ten commandments in the Bible, there is only one with a promise. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” An extra detail is added in Deuteronomy 5:16 – “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Could it be that the reason why this commandment has a promise is because it is the hardest one to do? It is something to ponder.
Families should be strong in the Lord, and it starts with Fathers taking it upon their shoulders to teach and lead their children to the Lord. As for children, they should carry honor in their hearts and obey their parents. Lives are at stake. Generations are at stake. Our nations are at stake.
The writer wishes to thank the spiritual fathers of her nation, the Philippines. They have been teaching this message to the youth, and it is her privilege to echo it.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.