Wednesday, February 6, 2019

“Our Father Who Art In Heaven”

By Tony Harriman

The societies of earth seem fashioned (and that really is the right word) to draw the mind to what’s going on and what’s (supposedly) important.  If you don’t know what to believe, some form of media will attempt to educate you and “tell” you what’s currently acceptable and what you should believe.  If you don’t happen to agree with the status quo, well, too bad for you; just suck it up and deal with it. In an attempt to keep the peace, most of us can usually find a way to keep our opinions to ourselves if we really try.
In the religious world it’s a little more complicated.  Generally there are centuries of tradition to wade through as you make your way to Paradise.  Though there appears to be an ever-flowing fountain offering new variations on old themes, the basic way to Heaven, we are told, is through the preacher and the forms and ceremonies.  I have nothing against religious innuendo or forms and ceremonies; we need order and timetables and schedules to keep us on track in our busy world. But when you’re developing a relationship with the Author of the universe, a structured church service is not enough.  Remembering birthdays and anniversaries will not tell you anything much about the person to whom those things pertain; they only tell about events in that person’s life.
Worship the Creator, Instead of the Creature

Take a brief look around our world and you will quickly recognize that the earth is filled with individuals who want to feel accepted, wanted and loved.  Quite often those of us with these needs gravitate toward some type of religion as we search for purpose and meaning in our lives. Those of us who choose Christianity quickly find ourselves worshiping the Creator, instead of the creature.  We learn of a God Who so loved us that He gave His only Son that we should not perish in our sins, but that we should live eternally. Quickly we find meaning for our lives as we seek ways to share that eternal truth with those with whom we share the planet.

As we engage in the Christian life, we learn more about the Bible.  We learn bigger words, bigger themes. We learn that God, in the Person of Jesus, created the vast cosmos that goes on without end.  We learn Biblical history with its forms and ceremonies. We learn of a Plan of Salvation as illustrated in the Hebrew Sanctuary constructed in the wilderness.  Some of us go on to spend countless hours and days and weeks and months and years nourishing our minds with Godly Names and spellings and Heavenly tools as offered to our intellects in that same wilderness Sanctuary.  Things begin to get even more complicated. Some of us, in a moment of intellectual overload may get overwhelmed with it all. And one day we find that we’ve lost our jobs and our families due to the strain of mind and of time. We might even toss it all away saying it’s really not worth the trouble.

What's In a Name?

Perhaps of all the themes in the Hebrew Bible, none are as interesting as the many Names and Titles belonging to the King of the Universe.  “Lord” and “God” are perhaps the most commonly used, but these are titles that could actually be used for the deity of just about all religions on the planet.  “Jehovah” is more specific, but isn’t used much by most Christians because of the use of the Name by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Name “El-Shaddai” is used mostly in the Jewish religion as is “Jehovah-Elohim” and “Adonai-Jehovah.”  A name is important, as is evidenced by the many name-changing moments that occurred in Old and New Testaments alike.

Some religious Jewish people have special spellings for the Name of God, and some will not use the Name at all, either in writing or speaking.  It’s too holy, they say. Some Christian people embark on a similar course and have developed what’s called a Holy Name Bible, where all the Names of God and of Jesus are spelled out in their phonetic originals.
After listening to Jesus pray on one occasion, a disciple came to Him and asked that He teach them all to pray.  The response of Jesus speaks volumes. “When you pray,” He said, “Say, Our Father which art in Heaven….” He didn’t say that they should offer their petitions to: “The Almighty God,” or to “The Creator,” or to “Jehovah,” or to “I Am,” or to any other title we might use for the Deity.  He simply said we should speak to “Our Father.” And if you take the time to read again the Gospels in this light, you will find that this is exactly how Jesus Himself addressed His Father. Time and time again Jesus used the words, “My Father,” “My Father,” “My Father.” And likewise, “Your Father,” “Your Father,” “Your Father.”  An exception to the rule appears to have been at the Cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Though it’s unclear if Jesus is quoting the Book of Psalms (Psalms 22:1), or if the Book of Psalms is quoting Jesus.

Some verses you’ll be familiar with:

"Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" –Luke 2:49

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." –Luke 23:34

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ….” –Matthew 5:45

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” –Matthew 5:48

“Your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” –Matthew 6:26

“And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” –Matthew 23:9

“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” –Mark 11:26

Jesus invited us to refer to our Father in just that manner: “Our Father.”  We are not encouraged to use any language that would cause a distance between us and our Father in Heaven.  He may be in Heaven, but He is still our Father and He would like to be known to us as our “Father.” He cares for us as a Father such as we have never known on the earth.

The Fondness of the Father

The term "Our Father" has a completely different Spirit about it, don't you think? "Our Father" has a much more personal meaning, like the Person we are addressing had, and has, a whole lot more to do with my life, knows who I am and where I am.  Though my life or yours may be far less than our Father desires, still He is interested in and concerned about our needs and our heartaches. The story of the Prodigal and his father (Luke 15:11) pictures the fondness our Heavenly Father has for us his children, wayward though we may be.  The story may not portray absolutely exactly every aspect of the watchfulness of our Father, but still we get the idea that our absence from His Presence is felt more keenly than we can imagine.

Make no mistake, though.  Our Father is The Creator.  He is the Sovereign of the universe.  He is the Great I Am. He is The Redeemer.  His is the only Name under Heaven whereby we must be saved.  He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the God Who sent His only begotten Son.  He is the only One Who lives beyond time and space and everything we have an instrument to measure.  His is the still, small Voice. He is these and so much more. But more than anything else ….

He is our Father, and we are His children.

And that's just my take on it ....

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