This Sunday we celebrate Parents’ Day to honour both fathers and mothers in our midst. I remember writing a perspective on Father’s Day a couple of years back and sharing some fatherly lessons based on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I guess I shall do the same for this Sunday. The first biblical character I have in mind is a father named Noah. I suppose we know that Noah lived in a time when the wickedness of man was so great in the earth, and that every intention of the thought of man’s heart was only evil continually. But Noah found favour in God because he was righteous and walked with God. So when God instructed him to build the ark, he obeyed and went about building it.
While the text may seem straightforward and simple, I wonder how life might have been for Noah and his family back then. Everyone was probably mocking him for building a gigantic ark. Imagine him warning them of a great flood that would come to destroy the world. What flood was he talking about when rain did not even exist back then (Genesis 2:5-6)? Who would believe his message? They might also mock his children as well for having such a weirdo as a father. But Noah persevered in spite of the circumstances and challenges he had to face for himself and his family. His obedience to God would have been witnessed by his children each day as he went about building something which no one could believe was necessary for deliverance from the wrath to come. Scholars try to determine how long it took Noah to build the ark but I would rather marvel at how his three sons grew up watching their father built the ark slowly but surely while the rest of the world indulged in corruption. And because he kept faith, his family was saved.
So the lesson we learn from Noah is the reward of a parent’s faith in ordinary times. I am not suggesting that children will be saved on account of their parent’s faith but that they are more likely to know Jesus through the exemplary behaviour of parents who walk with God. Parenting is no easy task for Christian parents when the world offers seemingly better options and choices while children face temptations and peer pressures everywhere and people also find it hard to believe the gospel message and a wrath to come. So like Noah, godly parenting is a daily task of modelling a life based on Jesus’ teaching for the children to observe and follow. It is a call to faithful living even when others should mock and laugh. And godly parenting is probably the greatest test of patience a Christian may have to face but the reward is priceless. So be such a parent like Noah for the sake of the family.
The second biblical character is a mother named Jochebed. She was the mother of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. I suppose we also know how she too built an ‘ark’ except that hers was only big enough for a baby and good enough to flow down a river than to survive a great flood. But unlike Noah who was told by God to build in anticipation of judgment to come, Jochebed took it upon herself to put Moses in the reed basket and onto the river because judgment was already at hand, for the Pharaoh had issued a decree to kill all male infants born to the Hebrews. But the basket found its way to the source of the decree instead. As the Chinese saying goes, the most dangerous place is often the safest place. And so Moses grew up as a prince of Egypt before he became the deliverer of Israel. I am quite sure Jochebed had not planned her son for it. She was just a desperate mother trying to save her son with nothing more than maternal instinct and raw guts.
So the lesson from Jochebed is the reward of a parent’s courage in desperate times. Like the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Pual who feared God and did not kill the male babies as instructed, she too protected her own son from danger by not fearing the threats of man. And just as God dealt well with the midwives, her effort was also greatly rewarded (Exodus 1:17, 20). God did not personally promise these women anything. They acted as the situation demanded and could only trust God for the outcome. Likewise for parents today, there may be desperate times when situations demand that they do something drastic for their children’s sake. It could be that their children have been wrongly accused of some criminal offenses or that they have actually committed them. What would the parents do? Hide their children, insist that they are innocent or blame others for it? How should Christian parents respond? God has given us his Word so that we may know his mind and act according to his will. Therefore Christian parents should choose the fear of God and respond in ways that would honour God and trust him for the outcome. It can be hard for them but their courage to face and respond to the situation according to his counsel will be rewarded by God according to his wisdom and good timing.
So here are the two lessons of godly parenting from a father and a mother for Parents’ Day this Sunday. They lived at a time when the world was hostile and corrupt. They did not have God’s written words that they might look to for guidance. They did not have any civil means where they could turn to for help or seek redress. But all these did not hinder them from saving their children or turning them into great leaders for the kingdom. By God’s grace and the Spirit’s help, surely we can do likewise for our next generation. May the good Lord bless all parents!
Rev Ronnie Ang
May 10, 2015