A Father’s Day Prophecy and Freestylin’ Dads

The very last written OT promise to the nation of Israel is found in the book of Malachi. It is followed by roughly 400 years of prophetic silence, until a carpenter’s son shows up on the scene to turn the world upside down. It’s kind of a “Father’s Day” prophecy for us today.

It says:

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:5-6)

In the NT, we learn John the Baptist came as a fulfillment of this prophecy (Luke 1:17). But there are also compelling reasons to believe there is a final “end times” Elijah that will be the complete fulfillment of this prophecy (Revelation 11:3-12).

Regardless, this prophecy hits at the root of the matter with an axe hammer. Our current  cultural issues (or you could say “curse”) with absent parenting, abandonment, and child abuse all stem from the same fount: It’s a heart issue. All sins are.

Whether by overt acts of abuse, subversive attitudes of disappointment, or neglectful abandonment. Apart from a turning of heart, all father’s are susceptible to these sins.

Children are not entirely innocent. This promise would apply to rebellious younger children, neglectful older children and children embittered by what they perceived as a rough childhood. Malachi states children must have a turning of the heart too towards their parents, regardless of the parents past sins toward them.

If we want to see a revival in this nation, we must start with a reviving of families. It will start with broken families being broken and repentant before one another.

I long for the day when God fully restores broken families. I long for the day when boys with beards see freedom not in the context of abandoning their family, but only in the freedom found in Christ and abandoning their sinful proclivity to not “man up”. True freedom that breaks every curse, and makes them the fathers, husbands, and children that can revive a nation.

Do it in my family, Lord, start with me first and my two little boys, Josiah and Gideon.

Bryan Daniels

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Divine Cage Matches And The Limp Of Love

One of the many benefits of “daddyhood” are the daily ruthless cage matches that turn my living room floor into a carnage filled war of bloody dropkicks and stomach turning armbars.

Ok, not really.

But I can see the mean and hungry gaze of my opponents every evening as I descend down to the living room rug. A little blond three year old jumps off his chair in the kitchen and screeches across the tile like a Scottish warrior. A twelve month old carrot top takes a more subversive attack mode, crawling swiftly across the carpet floor while huffing and puffing in an unintelligibly excited tone.

The three-year old cannonballs onto my stomach, the one year old goes for the face rake, they both giggle hysterically as their big clumsy opponent grunts in fabricated (usually) pain.

This is their favorite time of day.

It’s their father’s too. Amongst the dropkicks and baby armbars he’s usually able to sneak a few hugs and kisses in.

I’m sure in their little imaginative psyche’s they are partaking in a no holds barred rumble of epic proportions. I mean, they are relentless (and could probably go on all night).

I always think about Jacob and the jujitsu smackdown he had with God. Whether it was just an angel, the preincarnate Christ, or some other divine manifestation, Jacob was convinced he had a face to face encounter with The Almighty when it was over (v. 30) The story always had a certain level of humor to me (Genesis 32:24-32).

God humbles Himself in such a way to appear physically before the perplexed man, and not only that, He allows for a wrestling match to ensue for the whole night.

This is the same God who could fling a universe into existence with the flick of a wrist, or drown a massive army with the drops of his bucket. But here we find Him in a grappling stalemate with a sinful man who deeply fears his own human brother, Esau.

Behold the humility of God!

I don’t presume to know God’s emotions, but since He is Father, I wonder if a sheepish grin of delight ever occurred to Him as He wrestled with His child, Jacob.

And just to  remind the kid who was boss, like any good father has to do from time to time, the God-man dislocates Jacob’s hip with the simple brush of the finger. A little tangible battle wound to remind him the cost of wrestling with the Almighty (v. 25).

Despite the pain, Jacob is relentless. Specifically, relentless with his prayer request to God:

“I will NOT let you go until you bless me!” (importunate child!)

God blesses the striving man with a new name and a wiped clean past:” Israel.” For Jacob you have “striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (v. 28) Amazingly, God delights in being bugged by His children (Matthew 7:7)! Keep pestering Him beloved, He has commanded we treat this as a joyful full time occupation (Jeremiah 51:12).

I love the heart of a Father who stoops to His children’s level to communicate and bless them.

I love the relentless grip of the child who knows only the gracious hand of the Father is able to supply all his needs.

I love being a dad. I pray my little boys can see through the flawed picture of their own  earthly father’s limited love, and see the perfect picture of their eternal Father’s everlasting love.

Such a love that cost the death of His own begotten, where the Father’s wrath on the Son wasn’t imaginary, but terrifyingly real and utterly complete (Isaiah 53). Thank God that through Christ we may wrestle with the Holy One in prayer and not be destroyed.

Claiming the precious name of Jesus in incessant prayer to God is serious business.

We may walk away from the encounter with a new limp.

We may walk away from it with a new name.

But let’s always walk away from it with a new-found delight in the Father who delights to wrestle with His kids.

Bryan Daniels

The Lego Bible and Divine Wrath

My wife and I are trying to introduce my three-year old son to the daily discipline of Bible reading. We thought it would be cute and relevant to purchase the Lego “Brick Bible” my wife heard about from a friend. We chose the Old Testament edition. After the fact, I’m not sure it was a good idea.* Thankfully, we got it pretty cheap on Amazon.

The images and storylines are a little explicit for a sensitive three-year old mind to process. Maybe it took a visual illustration for me to fully see it, but there is an incredible amount of horrific violence, heart-rending betrayal, and general human messiness in the OT. The Old Covenant is a perpetual Braveheart movie on steroids, the only difference is the actors are real in God’s story.

The Lego Bible (or any Bible for that matter) pulls no punches in displaying Noah’s shortcomings:

Israel’s war-torn history:

Samson’s throw down with a donkey bone:

David’s shocking adulterous sin:

The Bible is an honest account of man’s grappling with his own sinfulness, and God’s holy hatred towards that sin that has plagued us from birth. Scripture is full of real people with real issues who must cast themselves on the mercy of a real God.

We don’t have to make the Bible relevant. Look at our fallen modern world and it is manifestly clear that the Bible is relevant.

The focus of God’s judgment is unbalanced in the Lego Bible. Before every act of divine judgment (flood, fire, war, etc.) in the OT God first sent a messenger to preach righteousness and repentance (2 Peter 2:5, Deut 18:9-10, 1 sam 15:6). Despite God’s patience with them, evil men still hardened their hearts and committed mind numbing atrocities against one another.

No one dies without apt divine warning.

Let’s keep our eyes on the cross of Jesus Christ where judgment and mercy perfectly meet in the broken body of a Lamb. He is our only shield from the wrath to come.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

*After researching it more, let me be clear: I DO NOT recommend the Brick Bible for anyone, especially children.