The family is a divine gift of God . The complete fulfillment of life is possible only through a happy family. It is the will of God that man and woman be united in marriage and build their home. It is a plan of God . It is also a design of God, a design which reflects the beauty and glory of God.
Prov.31:10 says, "Who can find a virtuous woman ? for her price is far above rubies."
In another place it says, ".a prudent wife is from the Lord." Prov. 19:14
About the children, the word of God says,
"Lo, children are the heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." Ps.127:3
Ps.127:1 says, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it."
These words of God reveal a divine truth that God has a special part in building of a family. It is very important that the children of God should know the principles and laws of marriage found in the word of God. Today we see many broken homes and marriages end up in divorce due to the lack of the knowledge of God. In this article I have tried to deal with this subject intensively with a view to reveal this spiritual truth behind a family.
2. THE MYSTERY OF A CHRISTIAN FAMILY:
A Christian Home or marriage is ordained by God Himself. It is therefore, divinely instituted with a perfect design and purpose. The first marriage was instituted by God in the garden of Eden when He first created man and woman for each other.
In Genesis 2:18, God says,
"It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
But the way God made a help meet for Adam was really a big mystery. The Book of Genesis provides us a wonderful record of it.
"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air . He brought them to the man to see what he would name them , and whatever the man called each living creature , that was its name . So the man gave names to all the lives stock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took one of the mans ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, " This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,
She shall be called "woman"
For she was taken out of man."
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united(cleave) to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Gen. 2:19-24(NIV)
It is God's will that man and woman be united in marriage. Through this passage the Bible declares a marvelous theme of "ONENESS" in marriage.
(i) "Bone of bones and flesh of my flesh."
WHEN God made the woman , He made her out of the man taking out one of the ribs nearest the heart and made this remark of a wonderful truth and he called her "Woman". The original Heb. Word is "is" for man and "issa" for woman . She is called "issa" for she was taken out of the man.
There is an apt saying,
"God did not take woman from man's head to rule him,
Nor from his feet to be trampled upon;
But from near his heart to be loved by him,
From under his arm to be protected by him,
And from his side to walk beside him." #
The phrase ,"Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh " does not speak of two different bodies made one but one body made two for each other in perfect unison to be loved and to be protected.
(ii)"Leave and cleave"
The term "shall leave and cleave" strongly implies that the union of husband and wife to be life long, even eternal . Jesus Himself said, "What therefore God hath joined together , let not man put asunder " Math.19:6
There is a mystical union of two bodies and two souls with love and care never to be parted again . The Heb. Meaning for the word "Cleave" is to stick to or to be glued together which cannot be separated again . Trying to separate them will mean tearing them down (hurt) from head to toes like two pieces of paper.
# Juliet Thomas,
God's role for woman.
Aim, Feb 1983
(iii) "Shall be one flesh"
This is indeed a great mystery. Jesus also said,
"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh" Math 19:6
Paul also elevated the concept of this mystical union in Eph.5:31,"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife and they shall be one flesh."
This term "ONE FLESH" does not mean simply a physical union of two bodies but it means much more than that. It means also a spiritual entity. The body, the soul and the spirit must come together. It means that the two persons share everything they have, their body, their possessions, their feelings, their joys, their sorrows, their sufferings, their hopes etc. There is no authority under heaven to break this oneness in marriage. Because, this is God's order. Divorce will never bring peace. It is outside God's will. Paul has further elevated this theme of mystical union to its highest level when he compares this mystery to the relationship of believers with Christ. In one place he says,"for we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones," Eph5:30 cf Gen2:23
On the other hand, Christ is the bridegroom and joined Himself to His Church, the bride and they become one to enjoy the highest spiritual communion. Paul calls this union a great mystery,
"This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" Eph 5:32
The man as a loving husband should reflect the unselfish and sacrificial attitudes of Christ become the "head of the wife" giving her security and protection , love and care. Thus a Christian home is a heavenly home. Through our earthly home one should see the glimpses of the treasure of heaven. But the true treasure of life can only be found in our relationship with God. And it is through a family that God is willing to build this divine relationship.
3. THE PURPOSE OF A CHRISTIAN FAMILY:
Why did God institute the family ?
God has specific plans and purposes for His ordained family.
(i) For Fellowship and Companionship:
Fellowship and companionship between the husband and wife was the prime concern of God. Eve was created for Adam's constant companion and happiness. After God had created Eve by taking out one of Adam's ribs and closing it with flesh of him, He brought her unto Adam(Gen2:22) who alone was a helper fitted to. It was God's will that Adam and Eve should live together for each other with faith and tenderness in the fear of the Lord, living for God and for His glory. Eve was taken out of Adam's side near his heart not from head to rule over nor from feet to be trampled upon so that Eve would remain always with Adam to be loved, to be cared for and protected. Ecc9:9; Ez5:22; IPet 3:7; Eph 5:25
In Gen. 1:28, after God had created male and female He blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."
This was God's first word to His newly created couple. Thus procreation of children and establishing a home was one of the prime reason why God instituted marriage. This is also the reason why God primarily created the sexual function for man. See Gen 15:5
(iii)The Family, A Dwelling Place of God.
God created both man and woman in His own image(Gen.1:27). It means that man and woman should reflect the very image and glory of God. God was always with Adam and Eve and wanted to live with them when they were in the garden of Eden. A Christian family is in fact a household of God which is the dwelling place of God Himself.
I will dwell in them and walk in them and I will be their God.will be a Father.and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
The picture here is of a household. The people of God, i.e. the Church is liken to a household. In the same way , each family is also a household of God . God instituted the family because God wanted to live within the family.
(iv)The Family, the Glory of God.
As the dwelling place of God, the family of God should glorify the name of God. As such there should be light to guide and there should be the sweet fragrance of Christ unto the world . The world should see the "Shekianah" glory of God through the family.
(v)The Family, the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
The family ordained by God is a temple of the Holy Spirit. ICor.3:16 says,
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwell within you?"
ICor. 6:19 says,
"What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?"
This is a revealing truth that the children of God are the temple of the Holy God and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. A Christian family is a believer's family. The Holy Spirit lives within. Therefore, the fruits of the Spirit such as love, joy, long suffering, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, etc. should abound in the family(Gal.5:22). This is in fact the Kingdom of God where Christ Himself rules the family as the King with peace and righteousness.
(vi)The Family, the Centre of Divine Worship:
Another prime concern of God for the family is that He wants the family become the centre of divine worship.
"speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things unto d and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord. Eph 5:19,20
The family of Joshua and the family of Cornelius are good examples of God fearing Christian family. A Christian family may well be described as the following-
It is a worshiping family, Jos 24:15
It is a praying family, Acts 10:1-2,22
It is a praising family, Acts 10:1-2
It is a serving family, Jos 24:15; Act 10:1-2
It is a giving family. Acts 10:2
It is a witnessing family, like that of Aquila and Priscilla Acts 18:2
(vii) The Family, a Good Steward of God :
The family of God is a Spiritual Training Ground. God wants that the Home should become a good steward of God. We are only a steward in this world. Everything belongs to God. God gives us children. Ps 127:3 says ,
"Children, the heritage of the Lord."
It is therefore, important that we bring them up in the fear of the Lord and His wisdom. The Scriptures have much to say in this regard.
"For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children. That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born who should arise and declare them in their hope in God , and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." Ps 78:5-7 see also Deut 6:7; Prov 22:6; Tit 2:4
4.THE PROMISES OF GOD FOR HIS ORDAINED FAMILY.
God has abundance of promises, plans and provisions for His ordained family.
(i) God has a Plan of Salvation.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved and thine house" Acts 16:31
(ii) God has a Plan of Protection and Safety.
"There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." Ps 91:10
God saved Noah and his family by sending an angel. But God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by raining fire and brimstone. Gen 19:1-28
(iii) God has a Plan of Provision and Supply of both Earthly and Spiritual Blessings.
God blessed Abraham, Gen 24:35
God blessed Isaac, Gen 26:12
God blessed Job, Gen 42:12 also see Prov 10:22; 22:4; 3:9,10
Malachi 3:4,16; IISam 6:11
Our God is ' a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.' Ps 86:15. He knows our needs and sufferings, our sicknesses and struggles. He is a God whose name is Jehova Jereh which means Jehova will provide. He provides our needs both physical and spiritual.
Ex.23:25"And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee."
Our God is a God who provides His family with abundance of blessings , temporal and spiritual. Mal.3:10 says,
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith , saith the Lord of host, if I will not open you the windows of heaven , and pour you out a blessing , that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
5.WHEN CHRIST IN THE FAMILY.
(I) Christ becomes the joy of the family. Acts 16:34; Jn 16:24
(ii)Christ, the strength of the family. Neh 8:10
"The joy of the Lord is your strength." See IICor 12:9
(iv) Christ, the sustainer of the family.
"..your right hand sustains me " Ps 18:35
"..The Lord sustains the humble." Ps 147:6
"The Lord.sustains the fatherless and the widow." 147:9
"The Lord is thy keeper. Ps 121:5
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Ps 23:1
The Lord Jesus Christ is the keeper and sustainer of the family. He keeps the family alive by giving our daily bread. Math 6:11
((iv)Christ, the hope of the family.
Our hope rests in Christ. He is the hope of the family.
".Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope." ITim 1:1
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." Rom 15:13
"Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col 1:27
"It is the hope of eternal life in Christ." Tit 1:12
"It is a living hope." IPet 1:3
"It is better than former hopes." Heb 7:1
6. HOW CAN A FAMILY LIVE SUCCESSFULLY:
The husband, the wife, the children and the Christ at the centre constitute the family of God. The family is like a triangle. As long as the interplay of forces within the triangle is full of elasticity and completely in accord with the will of God, the family will be a family of joy and happiness in perfect unity. Love and forgiveness are the most integral parts of the family. But when love dies out completely, the angles of the triangle are loosed and inferred, the sides begin to fall one by one. And it is no more a triangle. Thus the home is completely broken. But it is the forgiveness again that joins the broken sticks together . The three sides of the triangle represents the three kinds of relationship in between. They are-
(i) Husband and wife,
(ii) Mother and children,
(iii) Father and children.
The following are the biblical principles and laws that will keep the family a joyful family and a successful family of God.
(i) Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it. Eph 5:22
(ii) Wives should submit themselves to their husbands as unto the Lord. Eph 5:21
(iii) Husbands and wives should submit themselves to one another in the fear of the Lord. Eph 5:22
(iv) Children should obey and honor their parents. Eph 6:1-2; Prov 23:22
(v) Parents should train up the children in the way they should go. Prov 22:6
(vi) As the temple of God and as the centre of divine worship, the family should pray together , study the word of God together, go to church and worship together, work together , play together etc. in perfect harmony in accordance with the will of God.
The world we live in today is perhaps the most critical one where moral decadence is increasing day by day. Many homes are built but marred half way due to the lack of proper foundation and shape. In fact, a constant erosion has taken place in the moral landscape. The Bible also rightly says,
"There will be terrible times in the last days . People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power." ITim 3:1-5
In such a juncture, the family of God has a wonderful role to play. A Christian home must be able to reflect the Shekianah Glory of God and contribute in building up of a clean society. A family without God is spiritually dead. Peace is impossible in a Godless family. Peace and fulfillment of life is only possible in a family where Christ rules within like a Kingly prerogative.