TEXT: Gen. 26:24-25
INTRO:We live in a culture and time that make huge demands on our priorities. Life can get so complicated and demanding that we can lose our way or feel torn apart by the voices in every direction calling for us. It is critical in such a culture that we have a clear understanding of what God expects of us.
Our success in teaching our children about what is really important in life will have a lot to do with how well we set in order the biblical priorities of our own lives.
If our priorities are right as parents … it is more likely to be right in our children's lives.
ILLUS:During a visit to the children's Bible class, my preacher friend looked into their serious faces and asked, "Why do you love God?" After a moment a small voice came from the back: "I guess it just runs in the family." -- David L. Roper, Judsonia, Arkansas. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."
And so, on this Father's Day we are going to take a fresh look at the 3 great priorities God has placed on dads.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that a father's priorities are 3-fold; his relationship to God, his family, and his work. Any deviation from these 3 in the proper order designed by God invites disaster both naturally and supernaturally.
I. "BUILT AN ALTAR" 26:25a
1. Isaac like his father Abraham always started out with an altar
a. When settled
b. When settling down in a new place.
2. The first thing on Isaac's mind was building an altar to God even before building his home or doing his work.
a. God was his priority.
b. Living water was more important that physical water (digging the well)
c. How many men today can make a claim that their relationship to God takes priority over their work or other things?
3. No doubt Isaac had learned this from his dad … Abraham also put up altars first and foremost.
a. Our kids will mostly likely model our example as they grow older.
b. The best insurance against an ungodly culture is a godly parent!
4. God's reality had become so real to Isaac because it was so real to his father.
a. Dad, your children's view of God as a heavenly father will often be based on their view of you as an earthly father … especially when they are young.
ILLUS:It has been said that "a child is not likely to find a father in God unless he finds something of God in his father." Recently I asked the preschool class in our Sunday school to draw a picture of God. I intended to use them as an illustration for my Sunday sermon. Toward the end of class the children were excited to show me their work. They came up with rainbows and men with big hands. Finally, my daughter showed me her picture: a man with a suit and tie on. "I don't know what God looks like," she said, "so I just drew my daddy instead." What an awesome responsibility. -- Al Serhal, Oakford, Ind. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader. Leadership.
b. Is it any wonder why it is so important that the altar is our first priority if we hope to have our children have it as theirs?
1. Abraham's impact on his son Isaac would not have been that great if he had only once in a while built an altar first … it was Abraham's faithfulness in doing this all the time that made the huge difference in Isaac's life.
a. Sporadic faithfulness on our part as parents will not produce consistency in our children!
b. The battle for our children's souls will be won by our consistent faithful walk with God, not from political victories in our society.
2. The world desperately needs to see Christians who are sincere and faithful.
a. The world will not judge us by our words, but by our actions, so will our children.
b. It is not enough that the Church has an altar, we must have one in our personal lives as well.
3. For God's people an altar can be anywhere …
ILLUS:Strict Jews will have no knife on the table during prayers, for the table in a Jewish home is an altar and nothing related to violence should ever be on God's altar. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
4. Isaac continued faithfully the practice of building an altar to God as the very first thing he did anywhere he went.
a. The promises of God passed on to each generation through the son that built an altar to God first.
b. Teaching our children to come first to their heavenly father, then their earthly father will ensure the greatest source of peace and security any child could even hope to have.
II. "PITCHED HIS TENT" 26:25b
1. As soon as the altar was built the next thing was "pitching his tent" -- home!
a. The next focus for this godly dad was his family.
b. The tent represents more than just a "house" … a house is not necessarily a home.
c. Seeing to the needs of his family was the next immediate priority after his relationship to God.
d. Just as altars don't just put themselves up, neither do homes "just happen" … there is deliberateness to having both come into existence.
2. Isaac understood that his relationship with God will impact his relationship with his family.
a. God had called Abraham not only to be the father of a great nation, but to be a great father first to his own family!
ILLUS:Abraham was chosen to be a blessing to the whole earth, but his vocation was to begin to take effect in the simplest way. He was called to teach his own household, who again would hand down the truth to their households. His being a blessing to the world depended on his being a blessing to his own home. -- James Strachan, Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 2.
b. It certainly is true that before we teach the world about Christ we must have endeavored to teach our family about Christ!
c. It is interesting to note what Paul wrote to Timothy: 1 Tim 3:4a,5 "He must manage his own family well … (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's.)"
3. Dads, how much of a priority is your family? Next to your relationship to God there is no higher priority.
1. It is clear throughout the Bible that God's promises passed down through one generation to another.
a. If one family member rejected God's covenant God would find another family member to pass along His covenant and blessings.
b. God did not work outside the family unit, but within it!
2. Note in 26:34-35 "When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah." -- Isaac's son Esau rejected God's ways, but God found a Jacob that desired the blessing of God and worked through his line.
a. In fact, later Esau sells his birthright for a bowl of stew!
b. Even when given a second chance Esau shows his disdain for what was important.
3. Dad, there is nothing more foundational that you can teach your children than to show them how important God is in your life, and how important they are next to God.
a. The combination of these two elements will have a profound impact in their lives … even if it takes time to show!
ILLUS:There was a family in the San Francisco Bay area that grew up with that kind of commitment. The son's name was David Kraft. His father was a pastor, a godly pastor in the South Bay. David Kraft grew up with a father who constantly remembered God's faithfulness in the past so that David might trust in God in all of his tomorrows. David grew up in love with Jesus, and he felt the call of God into the pastoral ministry. He went to Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary.
David was a big, athletic young man. At the age of 32, he was six feet two inches tall and weighed two hundred pounds. He worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. That dear young man was diagnosed as having cancer. It wracked his body, and, over a period of time, he dropped from two hundred pounds in weight to eighty pounds.
When he was about ready to pass from this life into eternity, he asked his father to come into his hospital room. Lying there in the bed, he looked up and said, "Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy, how you used to just hold me in your arms close to your chest?"
David's father nodded. Then David said, "Do you think, Dad, you could do that one more time? One last time?"
Again his father nodded. He bent down to pick up his 32-year-old six-foot two-inch, eighty-pound son, and held him close to his chest so the son's face was right next to the father's face. They were eyeball to eyeball. Tears were streaming down both faces. The son said simply to the father, "Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this." -- Ron Lee Davis, "Introducing Christ to Your Child," Preaching Today, Tape No. 92.
b. Even Esau later in his life came around some …
4. No house is greater or stronger than its foundation, in fact, no building can be made larger than what the foundation can support, so build wisely dad!
III. "DUG A WELL" 26:25c
1. Isaac's occupation was that of a well digger!
a. So often we put all the Bible characters up on pedestals as though all they did all day was walk around with the glory of God shining on their faces, but the fact is that they had to work just like we do … and many of them had anything but high tech jobs!
b. Digging wells was necessary for one's livelihood -- herds of cattle would need water as well as humans, villages or cities could not develop without a source of water.
2. In a sense well digging also showed control over territories … just look at 26:14-15 where the Philistines became envious of Isaac's large herds and control, so they began filling in his wells to get the territory back. (in fact the verses 26:14-21 were all about disputes over wells that his father Abraham had once dug).
3. Clearly God had blessed Isaac's work … since his priorities were straight God was able to bless him. (see 26:12-14,22)
a. Even with God's blessings his work was just that -- WORK!
b. Not everything came easy to him, in fact, much of his blessings came with great distress and turmoil … and even losses!
4. Yet, God was able to make him fruitful because he had his priorities in line.
a. He never failed to build his altar to God first, even when everything and everyone was against him.
b. He always had time and commitment to build his tent second … even when things went poorly with his job and there were setbacks.
5. Even before Adam sinned God commanded him to work.
a. God designed man for work, and to be fruitful from it.
b. Even after the ground was cursed God said it would still bear fruit from hard work … from the sweat of our brow!
1. Digging wells not only had an application for the present, it set the stage for a future!
a. These wells would allow a future civilization to develop in the territory that God promised Abraham and his descendants … so that every well Isaac dug was an act of faith about the future.
b. It was Isaac's confidence in the future God promised.
2. There would be no reason to build many wells in an arid land if there was to be no future civilization there.
3. Isaac was banking on God's promises … and by the hard work ensuring those promises to become reality.
a. Though God promises, He makes us participants in the process of those promises.
b. We must be responsible for our part of God's blessings.
ILLUS:Providence sends food for the birds but does not throw it in the nest. -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996).
4. Isaac's work demonstrated his confidence in God's sovereignty.
5. With Isaac's priorities set in a pattern that fit God's purposes the stage was set for God's presence to make a real impact in this world.
a. Do your priorities dad match those expressed here?
b. Build your altar, pitch your tent, dig your wells!
CONCLUSION: Fatherhood as God designed involves 3 great priorities; God, Home, and Work! -- and in this order! No matter how much culture changes, God's call on men as fathers will never change. Following God's divine order will mean divine blessing.