Father’s Day is this weekend! We should have a happy, positive message to share with you—right? Well, I’m going to relay a sad Father’s Day message, but with a challenge to us all.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in Joshua 4, where we read the account of the Israelites miraculously crossing the Jordan River. God told Joshua to get the people to have 12 men gather 12 stones from the river and build a memorial so that:
When your children ask their fathers in times to come, “What do these stones mean?” then you shall let your children know, “Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. (Joshua 4:21–24)
What a reminder! Make sure you tell this younger generation about the Lord so they will know who the true God is. And let this also be a witness to the world concerning the only one true God.
When we opened the Ark Encounter attraction in 2016, the board members laid 12 stones next to the massive ship. I explained to the 8,000 in attendance that this life-size Ark is our modern version of the 12 stones—to remind coming generations that God’s Word is true and that the saving gospel in that Word is true.
We also read in Judges, however, that when Joshua died, and all that generation with Joshua died, one of the saddest passages in the Bible:
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. (Judges 2:10–12)
The children who were to ask about the meaning of these 12 stones rebelled and they worshipped false gods! This should be a warning to us today.
Psalm 78 instructs fathers to train their children to know the true God:
He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments. (Psalms 78:5–7)
And then we read
And that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalms 78:8)
It’s obvious these fathers of old did not obey the Lord and did not train up their children to fear the Lord as they should have. As a result, they lost the next generation after Joshua.
In essence, this is happening in the church today. Statistics, such as those published in my coauthored book Already Gone, make it clear that 2/3 of young people in the United States are leaving the church by college age (and very few return).
Pew Research in 2010 clearly showed a similar trend in American churches, with only 18% of the younger generations attending church compared to 56% of the older generation.
The research we’ve done for Already Gone and my follow-up book, Ready to Return, shows clearly that parents and the church have failed to raise generations who know what they believe, why they believe what they do, and how to defend the Christian faith.
We have not raised up generations to hold a truly Christian worldview.
Sadly, we have not raised up generations to hold a truly Christian worldview. In many ways, fathers have abdicated their God-given responsibility to be the spiritual head of their house and to make sure the correct spiritual legacy is passed on to coming generations. Personally, I believe many fathers need to repent of not investing the time to train their children. They’ve largely handed them over to the world (e.g., in public schools and exposing them to worldly media), and the church (which by and large has not taught apologetics but has compromised God’s Word in Genesis) as the primary sources for education.
Just like in the days after Joshua, we are now seeing the consequences of this lack of training as the secularization of this generation has increased and an anti-Christian sentiment has grown in the culture. Yes, when we contemplate this reality, every day should be a sad Father’s Day.
On this Father’s Day: fathers, I challenge all of us to commit to doing what God has commanded us to do in the spiritual training of our children. After all, each child is a human being who will live forever and ever, in heaven or hell, which should convict each one of us concerning the time and resources we invest into each child.
The father makes known to the children your faithfulness. (Isaiah 38:19)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
On Father’s Day, as well as every day of the year, let’s remember what God commands concerning our responsibilities to our children.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,