Luke 1:17 “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
This declaration by Gabriel about John the Baptist is a direct reference to the last two verses of the Old Testament. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah 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 a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6) That’s one of several reasons we need to pay close attention to what it says. In Malachi it says fathers to children and children to fathers, but here it says fathers to children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous. To me, that says that God wants righteous fathers! In any case, it points out the vital importance of the father/child relationship. For one thing, it’s an unavoidable fact that our physical fathers greatly influence our image of Father God. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have a good relationship with God if we didn’t have a good father, but it does become more difficult. However, I know someone who is a very strong, vibrant believer with beautiful fellowship with Father God, and she has said that she knew that God couldn’t be anything like her physical father! God is gracious indeed. That said, this explains why the devil seems so set on destroying families, and especially fathers. Some people who bemoan the crime and incarceration statistics for minorities in the US refuse to connect that to the breakdown of the family in those minorities, but statistics show that an intact, functional family is perhaps the best protection against poverty, crime, and a host of other evils. All those evils would seem to correlate closely with the “curse” mentioned in Malachi! Today, even “strong Christians” seem to take marriage very lightly, removing what God intended as “marital intimacy” from the context of marriage entirely. That is clearly a work of the devil, who wants to destroy one of God’s most beautiful creations, the family.
As I am frequently reminded, I was hugely blessed to be raised in a strong family that was dedicated to serving God. This verse coming up today seems extremely timely, because someone is coming today to interview me in relation to a biography they are writing about my father, W. Maxfield Garrott. I will be eternally grateful that my father was indeed a fountainhead of “the wisdom of the righteous,” and I am pleased that others want to make that wisdom more accessible. I must certainly remember that today’s activities aren’t about me, but I am to be fully involved, out of gratitude and submission to both my physical father and my heavenly Father.
Father, words fail me to express how blessed I know I am to have been born and raised in the family I was. I pray that I would be an open and effective channel for those blessings to be poured out on all whom You intend them to reach, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!