Anchoring the Family Chain
Anchoring the Family Chain
Dr. Reggie Ogea
Today we celebrate and congratulate our fathers on this Father’s Day. For our time together, let’s consider Anchoring the Family Chain. Our Scripture passage is Deuteronomy 6:1-7. Deuteronomy was written after the nation of Israel wandered in the Sinai wilderness for forty years. When they escaped from Egyptian slavery under Moses’ leadership, narrated in the Book of Exodus, they missed an opportunity to occupy the Promised Land. Narrated in the Book of Numbers, hey sent out twelve scouts to bring back a report. Only two of the twelve believed that God would give them victory over the powerful people who ruled that land. Because of their unbelief, God allowed the Israelites to wander for forty years.
Deuteronomy was written to the men who were little boys when the ten scouts refused to trust God and enter the Promised Land. The little boys are now the fathers of Israel – leaders of the new generation. Facing them is an incredible opportunity to seize a land promised them by God Himself, to obey the laws of God, and to establish a new civilization and a new society for their children and grandchildren. After forty years of floundering in a desert, God have them an opportunity to start over and do it right. In Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses challenged these fathers and family leaders to anchor their family chains.
Deuteronomy 6:1) This is the command – the statues and ordinances – the LORD your God has instructed me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess.
2) Do this so that you may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statues and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, and so that you may have a long life.
3) Listen, Israel, and be careful to follow them, so that you may prosper and multiply greatly, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.
4) Listen, Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is One.
5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6) These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.
7) Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Most any size boat has an anchor. Every ship has an anchor. The bigger the boat or ship, the larger the anchor. For example, the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier has two anchors, each weighing 60,000 pounds. But no matter how big or small, the anchor keeps a ship from drifting. The anchor keeps the ship or the boat steady, stable, immovable.
God has designed the family so that THE FATHER ANCHORS THE FAMLY. The Bible is crystal clear that God created husbands and fathers to be the spiritual anchor of his family. God did not make women the weaker vessels because He intended for women to be insignificant and invaluable. God created women to be mothers, and those mothers are the tenderness, the compassion, and the heart of the home. But God empowered fathers to be the strength, the stability, and the security -- the anchor of the home. I agree with Steve Farrar: When fathers leave or when fathers continually degrade their wives and children, the family begins to drift. When a family begins to drift because it has lost its anchor, it can quickly begin to produce children who are insecure, self-conscious, emotionally starved, and without a moral compass...God knows the importance of family chains because He invented the family chain. And that’s why God puts such importance on each father successfully anchoring his line in the family chain. I’m responsible to take care of my link, and you are responsible to take care of yours.” [Steve Farrar, Anchoring the Family Chain, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, pp. 3-5]
Deuteronomy 6 identifies three challenges to fathers for anchoring the family chain.
Challenge #1: FOLLOW THE TRUTH OF GOD. “This is the command – the statutes and ordinances – the LORD your God has instructed me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess. (vs.1) Deuteronomy follows Exodus and Leviticus. The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus. The entire book of Leviticus is a collection of commands, decrees, and laws which God established for Israel to live by. Here in Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the men of Israel that they are to obey, to observe, to keep, and to follow the truth that God has given them to live by. The results of that obedience were incredible.
- Following the truth of God produces a healthy fear of God. “Do this so that you may
fear the LORD your God all the days of your life.” (vs. 2) Paul affirmed in Romans 3:18 that one of the most prominent sins of any generation is that “there is no fear of God.” Could it be that this generation of Americans have no fear of God because this generation of fathers fail and falter in teaching their children and their grandchildren to follow God’s truth? Men — dads — if our children and grandchildren grow up with a healthy fear of God, they must learn it from us! The issue is not — “Will my children fear God? Will my grandchildren fear God?” But the issue this morning is “Do YOU fear God?”
- Following the truth of God produces also a family stability of 100 The phrase in verse
2 -- “you, your son, and your grandson” covers about 100 years. Men, if you follow the truth of God and lead your children and grandchildren to do the same, that longevity of obedience can establish the potential of anchoring your family for at least a century. You may be thinking that you won’t have a family in 100 years. Think again. You’ll have a family in one hundred years. You just won’t be around to know them. But they will know about you. The way you live your life today and from here on out will directly influence and impact them. Very few men understand this process. But it’s a secret that God has revealed to those who love Him. Ten Commandment #2 embeds these words: “Do not make an idol for yourself….Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the father’s iniquity, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.” (Exodus 20:4-6)
- Following the truth of God results further in a prosperous life. “Do this so that you
may have a long life. Listen Israel and be careful to follow them (God’s commands, statutes and ordinances) so that you may prosper and multiply greatly.” (2-3)) How’s that for a definition of prosperity and success! If you want a guarantee for a long, prosperous, successful life — here it is! Fathers – be careful. Grandfathers – be careful. You possess primary responsibility for the spiritual prosperity of your family. Anchor your family by following God’s statutes, God’s commands, and God’s ordinances.
Challenge #2: LOVE THE PERSON OF GOD. “Listen, Israel. The LORD our God, the LORD is One. Love the LORD your God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all you strength.” [6:4-5] The Promised Land for these Israelites was populated by pagans who were religious. But they did not worship one god, they worshiped all kinds of gods. Remember all the “ites” of the Old Testament? The Canaanites, the Perizites, the Amorities, the Hittities, the Jebusites, the Termites? Just kidding about that last one. All of these “ites” were pagan people who worshiped false gods.
You say, “That’s ancient Middle East. That’s Old Testament. Times have changed.” Think again.
False gods exist everywhere today. Some men drive their gods and some men live in their gods. Some men wear their gods and other men work their gods. Some men have embraced the god of power, or the god of money, or the god of position, or the god of pleasure. Moses was reminding the fathers of Israel that in the midst of all these gods, there is One, and only One, true God. And they were to love this one true God with all of their heart, soul, and strength. Remember Jesus’ answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment of all?” He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment by which we are to live is Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
This great commandment is divided into three dimensions: Love — the greatest Action. Love is not just a feeling. Genuine love is action – something you do. God — the highest Authority. The question is not “what has authority over your life,” but “who has authority over your life.” All -- the deepest Affection. Let me ask you something, men — Do you Love God with ALL your heart, with ALL of your soul, and with ALL of your strength? That’s how you anchor your family chain.
Challenge #3: TEACH THE LAW OF GOD. “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your hearts. Repeat them to your children.” [6:6-7] How do we anchor our family chain for 100 years? We do it by teaching, and the best teaching is always by example.
We teach by example of personal beliefs. Moses said to these “new generation” Israelites: These words are to be in YOUR hearts. You must believe them first before you can teach them to your children. In the Old Testament, the idea of teaching involved sharpening the mind as a warrior would sharpen his sword. Our children are individual swords who will fight the battle of truth in their generation. So they must be kept sharp. And the way you keep them sharp is by allowing them to hear the Word of God coming out of your mouth and to watch the Word of God fleshed out in your daily life. What do you believe, daddy? Your children and your grandchildren will believe just what you believe and they won’t believe what you don’t believe.
We also teach by example of pure behavior. Verse seven affirms that the law of God is to be repeated to children. That’s one of the most interesting words in the Old Testament. The image of the word is that of the engraver of a monument who takes hammer and chisel in hand and with precision etches and engraves a message into the face of a solid slab of granite. Once the message is engraved, it is there to stay. Nothing engraves the law of God more permanently in the lives of children and grandchildren than when they watch your behavior, your conduct, and your actions. When your children and grandchildren watch you, what do they see?
Leaving a Legacy. A team of New York state sociologists attempted to calculate the influence of a father’s life upon his family and future generations. The study included two men from the eighteenth century, Jonathan Edwards and Max Jukes. Max Jukes rejected Christianity. He chose a life of unprincipled behavior and crime. The sociologists examined 1200 descendants of Max Jukes and discovered: 440 lives of sinful depravity and decadence, 310 paupers and vagrants, 190 public prostitutes, 130 convicted criminals, 100 alcoholics, 60 habitual thieves, 55 victims of impurity, 7 murderers. The research team concluded that not one of Max Jukes known relatives ever made a significant contribution to society. This notorious family cost the state of New York $1,200,000 through crimes and incarcerations. (Imagine what $1.2 million would cost in todays economy!)
In comparison, Jonathan Edwards was regarded as one of the most brilliant and influential men of his time. He was a gifted pastor and exceptional theologian. Edwards’ preaching ignited the flame that led to the Great Awakening in America, and he later served as the president of Princeton College. Among his male descendants were: 300 clergymen, missionaries, or theology professors, 120 college professors, 60 doctors, 60 authors, 30 judges, 14 college presidents, 3 U. S. congressmen, 1 vice-president of the United States. [Source: Steve Lawson, The Legacy, (Sisters, Multnomah Books, 1998), p.13.]
The question before us this Father’s Day -- What Legacy Will You Leave? If your life and legacy would be studied 100 years after you die, what would they find?