INSTITUTE FOR CREATION RESEARCH

I
  May 10, 2020
The Faith of Our Mothers
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

The “dearly beloved son” (v. 2) of the apostle Paul was a young disciple whose strong and sincere Christian faith was due, more than anything else, to the lives and teachings of a godly mother and grandmother. As Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Timothy’s mother was a Christian Jew (Acts 16:1), but his father was a Greek who evidently was not a believer. In the ideal Christian home, the father is to assume spiritual leadership (Ephesians 5:22, 25; 6:4), but countless fathers, for some reason, are either unable or unwilling to do this. Many have been the homes where a mother or grandmother, usually by default, has had to assume this all-important responsibility, and the Christian world owes these godly women a great debt of gratitude. The writer himself was raised in such a home, and much of his own concern for the Word of God is due to the concerned dedication of a Christian mother and two Christian grandmothers.

It is significant that the fifth of God’s Ten Commandments requires children to honor their parents, and it is the only one of the 10 that carries a special promise: “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3). Every godly parent is worthy of real honor every day—not just once each year. And when a Christian mother, like Timothy’s mother, must assume all the responsibility for leading her children in the ways of God, she deserves very special praise. HMM

 

 

A Life-Giving Order: “Be Fruitful and Multiply”

Bethany Verrett

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Throughout the Bible, the Lord gives commands to humanity. One of the first commands, He gave twice. In the Book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve:

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).

He repeated this command to Noah. After flooding the earth, the Lord repeated to Noah, his sons, and his sons’ sons: “and you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:7). In both these instances, the Lord gave the injunction for mankind to increase their population by having and raising children.

Who Wrote Genesis?

The origins of Genesis as a text can be hard to trace in part because of its age, as well as the immense length of time it covers. The Pentateuch – a term for the first five books of the Bible – is traditionally credited to Moses among Christian scholars. There is some debate as to the author, primarily amongst secular thinkers. Some of the Genesis narrative was part of the oral tradition of the Hebrew people, such as the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is believed much of the Creation and Flood accounts were preserved in this way until someone wrote them down as well.

The section of Genesis where the command to be fruitful and multiply occurs is from the latter, sometimes called primeval history. It reinforces one of the central messages of this book, elleh toledot. This phrase means “these are the generations,” and it is found several times in Genesis after an accounting is given of a family line through the years. These generations would not exist had their forefathers ignored the command to multiply. This notion also ties into other important ideas in the book including family, fatherhood, and the question of how these sinful families will be healed.

What Does It Mean to ‘Be Fruitful and Multiply’?

The mandate to have and raise children to populate the earth was a part of God’s plan. It is a remarkable invitation to join Him in the process of creation. But the responsibility does not end there. Parents should raise their children to love the Lord, and follow His wisdom and guidance. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Being a parent is a chance to participate in God’s plan for humanity in a special way that can leave an impact for generations.

How Is the Verse Translated in Other Versions?

Some verses can look drastically different among various translations, but the command to be fruitful and multiply is consistent. The only word that translators approach differently in a somewhat significant way is “be fruitful.” The Hebrew word parah (פָרָה) does mean to be fruitful or to bear fruit, but a few translators chose to use less figurative language. Some other translations of parah include:

-Good News Translation: “Have many children”

– Brenton Septuigant Translation: “Increase”

-GOD’S WORD Translation: “Be fertile”

-International Standard Version: “Increase”

Though these options exist, most versions of both verses chose to stick with the literal translation to “be fruitful” to give the directive to have children.

Where Does This Verse Actually Appear?

The directive to reproduce, also called the cultural mandate, actually appears ten times in the Book of Genesis – the same number of times the phrase “these are the generations” appears, though not necessarily together. In this first book of the Bible alone, it can be seen in the following verses:

Genesis 1:22 – to the animals

Genesis 1:28 – to Adam and Eve

Genesis 8:17 – to the animals post-Flood

Genesis 9:1 – to Noah and his sons

Genesis 9:7 – to Noah and his sons

Genesis 17:20 – to Abraham as a promise about his son Ishmael

Genesis 28:3 – a blessing from Isaac to Jacob

Genesis 35:11 – to Jacob

Genesis 48:3 – from God to Jacob; Jacob recounting the event

In each circumstance where this phrase is found in Genesis, it is a blessing as well as a command. It grants the person or group a line of descendants and generations – the gift of legacy.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/evgenya

Can I Only Follow This Command if I Have Kids?

Not everyone is called to be a biological parent. Sometimes it is because of the call to singlehood and celibacy. Sometimes it is because of tragedy, illness, or circumstance because mankind lives in a fallen world. These people can still be part of the process of being fruitful and multiplying.

Adoption is very Biblical. In fact, the New Testament refers to the Gentiles as grafted into the family of God, “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). Grafting is the process of incorporating a branch from one tree onto another, similar to the process of adoption. Though the gentile people rejected the one true God for centuries, He still made a way for them to find a place in His family.

In Ephesians, it refers to humanity as being adopted, “he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). The Lord also used adoption to fulfill his purpose; Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses into her family for a time, ordained by the will of God that he would lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Adoption is a way of expanding one’s own family, giving a child a loving home, and raising that child up to love the Lord.

Discipleship is another way of fulfilling this mandate. In the New Testament, the command to be fruitful and multiply does not appear directly. While it is still a part of God’s order and it should be done, the focus shifts to multiplying the family of God through conversion and discipleship. When a sinner repents and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, that person is a new man, with a new name in glory. “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it’” (Revelation 2:17).

Mentoring that person in their new faith will bring them closer to their Savior, and is a key part of the Great Commission – Jesus’ final directive before His ascension to Heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Being an active part of another person’s walk and growth with the Lord is as much a part of the Lord’s plan for humanity as the creation of children. Obeying the Lord in how He calls each individual, which can involve having children, adopting, or discipling others in the faith, is what matters most to God.

From the beginning, the Lord wanted to see His creation increase and worship Him, and invited all His living creatures to create with Him. Humanity, made in God’s image, is the special part of creation who also cultivates the land, and builds civilizations. Through the centuries, people have married and had families, sharing the Gospel, and sharing the love of God with their fellow man. Being fruitful and multiplying God’s kingdom is part of man’s purpose on earth, and allows us to share in His creation, His plan, and His glory.

Sources

Prager, Dennis. The Rational Bible Genesis. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2019.

Strong, James. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Updated and Expanded Edition. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC, 2007.

Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Old Testament and New Testament. United States of America: Victor Books, 1987.

Wilmington, H.L. Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1981.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Jack Hollingsworth

Bethany Verrett is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains a faith and lifestyle blog graceandgrowing.com, where she muses about the Lord, life, culture, and ministry.

FROM MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

T

“Love One Another”

…add to your…brotherly kindness love.  2 Peter 1:5, 7

Love is an indefinite thing to most of us; we don’t know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the loftiest preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that this sovereign preference be for Himself (see Luke 14:26). Initially, when “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5), it is easy to put Jesus first. But then we must practice the things mentioned in 2 Peter 1 to see them worked out in our lives.

The first thing God does is forcibly remove any insincerity, pride, and vanity from my life. And the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “…love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He is saying, “I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.” This kind of love is not a patronizing love for the unlovable— it is His love, and it will not be evidenced in us overnight. Some of us may have tried to force it, but we were soon tired and frustrated.

“The Lord…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish…” (2 Peter 3:9). I should look within and remember how wonderfully He has dealt with me. The knowledge that God has loved me beyond all limits will compel me to go into the world to love others in the same way. I may get irritated because I have to live with an unusually difficult person. But just think how disagreeable I have been with God! Am I prepared to be identified so closely with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness will be continually poured out through Me? Neither natural love nor God’s divine love will remain and grow in me unless it is nurtured. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained through discipline. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: 2 Kings 13-14; John 2

Sharing Guilt.

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

“The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:20

A pastor sat in his study, utterly devastated. He’d just learned that his twenty-one-year-old son had impregnated his girlfriend at the Christian college campus he attended. The pastor felt as guilty as if he personally had been caught in an adulterous affair. What did I do wrong? How could it have happened? Remembering the words of Scripture—“An elder must be…a man whose children…are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6), the pastor saw no choice. Though he was an effective and popular leader, he would resign immediately.

Was this anguished servant overreacting in his decision to resign? We think so. We believe the Scripture above refers to younger children. In Paul’s day, males and females were considered grown much earlier, marrying at fourteen or sixteen years of age. The Lord appears to settle the matter in the book of Ezekiel: “The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (18:20). Remember, too, that the father of the Prodigal Son was not blamed for the young man’s wickedness (Luke 15:11–32).

For mothers and fathers of grown children, it may be a comfort to realize that each adult is responsible only for his own behavior. Instead of taking on the sins of our grown kids, let’s respond by bathing them in continual, loving prayer.

Before you say good night…

How do you think you would respond to a grown child’s sin?

How does the Lord want you to respond in such situations?

Heavenly Father, how easy it can be for us to entwine our lives with that of our children. Give us discernment to understand Your Word as we apply it to our family, and help us to come to You in prayer for every circumstance. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
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