by Jake Locklear
Synopsis: Considering the command given to Adam, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28), Jake shows that God designed the home to produce children who bear His image and whom He can claim as His own.
In preparing this lesson, I kept coming back to one word: "Home." Everything centers around the home. It is the building block of society, divinely designed as the foundation of how the earth may be filled with His children. From the beginning, God had a plan for the family—a purpose for the home and marriage (Gen. 2:18-25; 1:28; 9:1; 17:6). He instituted the family unit as a means of populating the earth: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). His design for the home is for it to produce children who bear His image, and whom He can claim as His own. Unfortunately, while the descendants of Adam rapidly multiplied, and filled the earth, they turned aside from God's pattern and failed to raise children who walked in His ways.
Later, when God established a covenant relationship with Israel, He gave them an instruction manual on how to fulfill His mandate of raising children who walk in His pathways (Deut. 6:1-9). Note the figurative language: Build your home on God's word. Write His commands on the door of your house. When you sit at the table or lie down in bed, when you leave your house and when you return home, God's word should be ever before you. If the Israelites followed this manual, they would fill the earth with children of God.
Psalms 127 and 128 describe the blessings that come when we build our homes according to the pattern established by God. If your house is not built upon God's commandments, ordinances, and word, it is empty and vain. Do you want a real home? Build it upon the foundation that God established, and you will be gifted with domestic happiness. You, your wife, and your children will be blessed.
How serious is God about the necessity of men following His pattern for the home? Consider what was required of the wayward Israelites in Ezra 10 who had marriages that were not according to God's design. They were to put away their foreign wives and the resulting children. I cannot imagine how awful it must have been to rip families apart. However, if a marriage is not established upon a scriptural foundation, it is broken and will be unfruitful.
The family only works if it is based on God's design. If it is built upon a foundation that is unscriptural, the resulting structure will be weak and will crumble. It will not accomplish its intended purpose, i.e., allowing us to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth with additional children of God.
This is a hard, hard lesson to understand. Some might say, "That's just the Old Testament; the God of love is not so harsh in the gospel age." Consider what Jesus said when He was questioned about marriage (Matt. 19:3-9). If a man cannot put away his wife, except for adultery, then we understand that Christianity reestablishes a very strict standard. Jesus went back to the beginning and emphasized essentials that are unchanging.
Like the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6, we have divine instruction for how we build our homes (Eph. 6:1-4). Fathers, do not provoke your children in a negative sense, being a heavy-handed dictator; instead, stir them up, excite them, stimulate them to love and good works. Raise your children in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, with proper chastening and correction, teaching and training.
Who doesn't want order, peace, and tranquility in their homes? We all do! If husbands love their wives, there will be domestic harmony; if children obey their parents, they will have peace; if each of us follows God's pattern, all will have courage and conviction (Col. 3:18-21).
God does not want the church to be disorderly; neither does He want such for the home. We find our place, and we know peace by following God's will. Our homes should be a place of safety and security, where children learn to obey God. When they make mistakes, they are disciplined in love, instructed in God's word, trained in the way of righteousness.
I am reminded of a quote by Harmon Killebrew, a Hall of Famer who played baseball for the Minnesota Twins. He was raised in a family enthusiastic about sports. On one occasion, his mother expressed concern about the condition of the lawn, which was trampled down by the boys who regularly played pickup sporting games with neighborhood friends. Killebrew's father responded, "We are not raising grass here; we are raising boys."
Homes are places where we raise godly children. How do we do that? We have a perfect example in how our heavenly Father raises us. God's household is built on the foundation of love. In sending His Son, God gave the very best He had to offer. The home requires love that is founded on sacrifice, service, and submission, which we see exemplified by every member of the Godhead (1 John 3:1; 4:10).
Our heavenly Father knows what we need. He has made provision of all that is good and necessary (Matt. 7:7-11; 6:9). So also, with our homes. Husbands, wives, and children have needs. Godly families are where many of those needs are fulfilled.
God knows how to discipline. I love the word "discipline." In our culture, many react negatively to the concept of discipline, equating it with punishment and retribution. Discipline is love. If you care enough about somebody that you are willing to step in, and through correction and instruction, get them back on the right path, you are demonstrating genuine concern for their well-being. God does this for His children. Discipline is training, instruction, correction, administered in love (Heb. 12:5-11).
Our heavenly Father also shows us a love that endures. Consider the example of the prodigal son, who acted selfishly, sinfully, etc. (Luke 15:11-32, esp. v. 20). Having sown to the wind, the wayward son faced disaster. Coming to himself, he determined to return home, and beg for restoration to the household, not as a son but a servant. When the son returned, his father showed compassion—embracing his son and kissing him, evidencing a love that endures.
Noah, a righteous man, and a righteous preacher preserved his family in a world of wickedness. In contrast, Lot, also called a righteous man, tormented by the sins of a depraved society, lost his family to the surrounding wickedness (2 Pet. 2:5-8). Note the similarities and differences. Both are described as righteous men; both lived in an evil environment. One saved his family; the other lost everything.
What is the difference? By faith, Noah built an ark to protect and save his family. Lot followed the path of materialism, moving his family ever closer to Sodom. When judgment fell upon the cities of the plain, Lot offered his daughters to the wicked men of Sodom to protect the guests under his roof. He lost his wife. He lost his daughters to immorality.
Consider Joshua's challenge: "Choose this day whom you will serve!" (Josh. 24:15). We can be righteous men in a corrupt world, and still lose our family, if we are not careful. We live in a wicked world—a world like the one described in Romans chapter 1. Yet, in a Romans 1 world, there were righteous men who saved their family.
Consider Cornelius, who ensured the salvation of his family (Acts 10). Note the house of Stephanas (1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15-16). Contemplate the conversion of the households of Lydia and the Philippian jailer—both are saved with their households (Acts 16:14-15, 33-34).
We can save our families. Here at Adoue Street, we have lots of young families. We can do it! Yes, we will do it, if we follow the pattern that God has provided. Learn from our heavenly Father and how He raises us. Use His word to build our homes—apply, believe, and obey it.
What legacy are you going to leave in your home? Leave your family an inheritance of faith and obedience: "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous" (Prov. 13:22).
In 1 Peter 3, Peter describes a wife who is submissive, who loves her husband, and, through her devotion to God, can potentially save her husband. In like manner, the godly husband honors his wife and exalts her on a pedestal. Together, they are described as heirs of the grace of life.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 discuss the qualifications of elders and deacons, part of which involve how we conduct ourselves in the home. The future of the church depends upon young Christian families training future leaders: preachers, deacons, and elders.
We are described in Revelation as kings and priests (Rev. 1:6, NKJV). I submit to you that we are raising kings and queens to our God. Read again Proverbs 31, which preserve "The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him" (v. 1). Reflect upon the wisdom of a mother, whose young son is to become king. Note the instruction she offers on how to find a wife—one worthy of serving at his side as queen. We are raising kings and queens to our God. That is why this is such an important and serious discussion, and why our focus should be on our families.
Author Bio: Jake serves as a deacon at the Adoue St. church of Christ in Alvin, TX. He is President & CEO of APM+APCom+API, an affiliate of GE Power Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.