This past summer, I became fascinated with the prophecies of the Old Testament.
I discovered that these prophecies are God’s direct monologues. That is especially intriguing, for they offer us a window through which we can peer into and perceive the personality of our God.
In this devotional, I would like to elaborate on a few aspects of God’s character, specifically investigating His roles as both our Father and as our Lord.
Members of a Broken Family
First, we must consider that God, as a father, is the father of a broken family. Isaiah spells this out clearly for us:
2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.Isaiah 1:2-3 (KJV)
God’s children are, indeed, quite a problem for Him, not in the sense that they are outside of His control or are greater than He is, but in the sense that they antagonize Him – the One who they ought to love.
Therefore, it follows that God’s family is broken. And it’s broken because of us, because we have rebelled.
But the sweetness of God is not lost in this bleak introductory passage to Isaiah.
On the contrary, the sweetness of God is reflected in the first words of the prophecy.
Notice, He still refers to His people as His “Children.” He still claims us. He is still our father.
Understanding the Character of God our Father
Since God is, indeed, a good father, He is inclined to be benevolent towards His children.
Jesus makes this point in the New Testament:
11) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?Matthew 7:11 (KJV)
Therefore, in the context of Isaiah 1, God, as father, is eager to heal the head, strengthen the heart, and restore the soul of His wayward children.
Our hope, therefore, is in the character of God – that He, being our Father, would express His mercy and heal and restore us.
The Father is also Lord
But God is not limited in His being so that He only acts as our Father. He is also our Lord.
Whereas He says, “I have nourished and brought up children,” (Is. 1:2), He also likens himself to the owner of oxen and the master of cattle.“God’s family is broken. And it’s broken because of us, because we have rebelled.”
Therefore, the same God who earnestly cares for us as our father also possesses ultimate authority over our lives, for He is also our Lord.
And if God expresses His authority as Lord, so too does He require our obedience as Father. For we are His children, but we are also rightfully His subjects.
Conclusion – Loving Him for Who He Is
At this point in our study, we embrace one of the most crucial doctrines in Christian theology, which is the immutability of God.
Here, immutability means the permanence of His character, and subsumed under this definition is the understanding that the attributes of God are fundamentally indivisible, e.g. God’s compassionate fatherhood cannot be separated from His holy lordship.
We so often forget this nowadays. Oftentimes, we will consider one attribute of God in isolation from all the others.“The attributes of God are fundamentally indivisible, e.g. God’s compassionate fatherhood cannot be separated from His holy lordship.”
Some Christians will talk about the lovingkindness of God without paying much attention to His absolute holiness and vice versa.
This trend makes worship a hard thing to do. As Christians, we need to learn to love Him for who He is.
He is, on the one hand, our master which means we owe Him our everything. On the other hand, He is our sweet Father, who is eager to redeem us.
Our hearts, therefore, can flourish with joy, as we entrust them to the care of a God who is perfectly integrated.
And we hope that in worshiping Him our souls might also be integrated with Christ in a beautiful display of redemption so that we, prodigal sons and daughters, might return to our holy and beloved father.
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La Cervara, the Roman Campagna, c. 1830–31. Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (French, 1796-1875). The Cleveland Museum of Art. Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund. 1963.91.