And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ. - Acts 5:42
There is a restoration happening in the church worldwide. God is doing it in fulfilment of His word. He spoke through Malachi that, "Behold, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of YHWH [the LORD]. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children [literally in Hebrew 'sons'], and the hearts of the children ['sons'] to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Mal.4:5-6. God promised a great restoration to take place before the coming of the Lord. Fathers and sons are to be restored in order to be prepared for the coming! There needs to be a generation of fathers and sons in the earth to prepare the earth for the coming of Messiah.
The angel spoke to Zacharias that his son, John, "will go before Him [the Lord God, the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" Luke 1:17. John the Baptist went before Jesus the Messiah and made a people ready to receive Him. But this was not the "great and dreadful day" that Malachi was referring to.
The Spirit and power of Elijah is still here and among us to make us ready for Jesus' coming. He is the Spirit of Sonship enabling us to cry "Abba, Father" (Rom.8:15) and restoring our hearts into the family of God, which is fathers and sons. We are not an institution. The Church is not leaders and servants and organisations. The Church is a family with fathers and sons who are about the Father's business.
As the restoration of fathers and sons unfolds, creation will not be "struck with a curse" (Mal.4:6). The earth is cursed when there are no fathers and sons. Lack of fathers leads to many orphans, lack of maturity and insecurity. But "the creation itself eagerly waits for the manifestation of the sons of God" Romans 8:19. Creation will be delivered from its "bondage to corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom.8:20-21) as sons are raised who can manifest their Father. This happens through the restoration of fathers and sons!
God has always intended for the church to have fathers. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians calling them "my beloved children" (1 Cor.4:14). He viewed the believers as his children; he was a father to them. He told them that they may have many "instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers" (1 Cor.4:15). A father takes responsibility for the family, making sure they have everything they need to grow. Instructors and teachers can do their duty, deliver their instruction and their lesson, and then leave the saints to figure it out.
But fathers carry a parental concern to see the children grow to become mature sons. Despite all the sufferings, beatings and physical hardships Paul faced, he said what really burdened him was, "what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches" 2 Corinthians 11:28. This is the heart of a father for their children. We need fathers. We need true apostles who bring this fathering grace to the church.
When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles on their first recorded mission, He told them, "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" Matthew 10:40. If you receive a true apostle, you will receive a revelation of the Father. Apostles come to reveal the Father to the church. They bring a revelation of Jesus the Messiah that opens our eyes to see the Father in the Son. As we receive true apostles, we will receive a revelation of sonship. This has been my testimony. As I received a true apostle into my life, my eyes opened to see the Father in Christ.
There is a grace on true apostles to bring the church into the mystery of God (Col.2:2) and so bring forth many "sons to glory" (Heb.2:10). The apostle Paul told of his great "conflict I have for you...that your hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, attaining...to the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ" Colossians 2:1-2. We enter this mystery by receiving apostles who reveal the Father in Christ. We then become knit together in the mystery of God, the "fellowship of the Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ" 1 John 1:3.
The mystery of God is both of the Father and of Christ. It is a revelation of the Father in Christ, the Son. God is Father to a Son and Son to a Father. "A Son is given...and His name will be called...Everlasting Father" Isaiah 9:6. When Jesus became a mature Son He was then able to reveal the Father and raise up sons, the twelve apostles. In turn these apostles were raised to be mature sons who could then reveal the Father and raise disciples as spiritual sons. As fathers and sons are restored there is an unveiling of the mystery of who God is that is outworked and displayed for the world, and all creation! "The mystery of God will be complete" Rev.10:7. This mystery will be finished and clearly seen as the church walks in the reality of fathers and sons, being knit together, in relationship, by this mystery of God. God as Father to Son and Son to Father will be seen by the world as the Church models this mystery!
When writing to the Galatians Paul calls them 'my little children, for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you" Gal.4:19. Paul as a father was labouring, travailing and working to see the Messiah formed in God's people. But then to the Thessalonians it is written, "you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged everyone of you as a father does his own children" 1 Thessalonians 2:11. Paul writes that we were as a father to the saints in Thessalonica. The 'we' refer to "Paul, Silvanus and Timothy" 1 Thess.1:1. The apostolic team was as a father to the church in Thessalonica!
We can testify to this reality. We as a company at SHILOH function corporately as a father to many brethren here and in the nations - it is a corporate fathering of sons! A number of spiritual sons have been raised by us as an apostolic company where that exhortation, comfort and charging as a father happens through us as a many membered Body, not only through a singular apostolic father.
The next part of this newsletter is written in point form as it is a study of passages dealing with fathers and sons in the Old Testament. Please read the passages of Scripture that are referenced at the headings of each section so you can better understand the points that are presented.
Exodus 17:8-16 - Joshua growing as a young man with his father
Joshua was Moses' "assistant". He was a servant, ministering and attending to Moses.
• Samuel was dedicated to Yahweh - that meant giving him over to a spiritual father in the house of God. Sometimes as natural parents and as spiritual parents there comes a time to give our children over to another to spiritually father them. Are you willing to lend your son to YHWH in the way He chooses and to the one He chooses?
• Eli's own sons were not walking with Yahweh themselves. They were corrupt and "did not know YHWH" (1Sam.2:12). Eli was a failure at bringing up his own sons to know God, however, God still gave Samuel to him as a spiritual son to raise.
• The child Samuel grew before YHWH (1Sam.2:21). Eli was facilitating Samuel's growth in the Presence of YHWH. Spiritual fathers are to facilitate the growth of sons before God.
• Samuel was being fathered by Eli and Samuel was growing up in a manner similar to Jesus, "in stature and in favour both with YHWH and men" (1Sam2:26 & Lk.2:52). Spiritual fathers help us grow up in "all things into Him who is the Head - Christ" Eph.4:15.
• Eli and his own sons were judged (1Sam.2:31), but he still served God and fathered Samuel - who was chosen by God (1Sam.2:35:36). You may have failed with your natural family, but God can still use you to father the next generation of sons of God!
• The boy Samuel "ministered to YHWH before Eli" (1Sam.3:1). Eli was training Samuel how to serve in the house of God. He was used by God to prepare this boy to know "how to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God..." 1Tim.3:15. Fathers train sons how to serve and conduct themselves in God's house, the church.
• Eli teaches Samuel how to hear from God and how to respond to Him when He speaks. Fathers teach sons how to be led by the Spirit of God (Rom.8:14). This is equipping for ministry, learning to function under the direction and leading of God by the Spirit.
• Eli confirms that Samuel was hearing from God (1 Samuel 3:18).
• Eli may have been a failure in his own family, but God used him to raise up a young boy to be a true prophet of God and lead God's people in his generation (1 Samuel 3:19-21).
• Do not let your own failures disqualify you from being a father to others. God will use you if you are willing to raise sons to God!