8 Biblical examples of Fatherhood

1. Adam

The temptation, weakness and fall of Adam and Eve

As the first man and husband (see Genesis 3:6), Adam was given explicit instructions from the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) to work in the garden and care for it. Unfortunately, as we shall see, Adam quickly made some critical mistakes,

15The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

18The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis 2:15-18

Okay, what do you notice in verse 16 above? During this time, Adam was still alone (the only human) in the Garden of Eden. God commanded Adam (Hebrew: אֲדָמָה; ‘adamah) to stay clear “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” This was not inconsequential, or a follow if you like, kind of direction.

After giving Adam these duties and instructions, God created Eve to assist him. Agreed, there’s been plenty of speculation by faithful, Bible-believing scholars about the literal or metaphorical timelines of Creation. We see in Genesis 2 that Adam could well have been alone in the Garden of Eden with the Lord for longer than fifteen verses (Genesis 2:7-22).

Nonetheless, God’s specific warning regarding the special tree and the ramifications for disobedience regarding it are not the kinds of things one would expect Adam to forget in a hurry. Moreover, it’s probably the first thing you’d tell your brand new partner; the only other human, living and working alongside you in the Garden.

I’ve just come across a passage written by the apostle Paul in his first letter to Timothy regarding who was at fault for the first sin,

13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

1 Timothy 2:13-14

That’s true enough, but notice what God told Adam in Genesis 3:17,

Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat from it…”

Genesis 3:17

God is not ignorant. He’s omni everything. It was because Adam chose to listen to his wife and disregard the earlier instruction and warning from God that Adam, Eve and the rest of mankind was evicted. Yes, Eve was the one who was deceived by Satan and succumbed to temptation, but it was Adam who chose to put aside the wise command from God, accepted and ate the forbidden fruit.

While assigning him his duties, God would’ve given Adam a tour of the Garden and he would’ve seen the tree in the middle bearing the forbidden fruit. Adam couldn’t have refuted, “But Lord, I didn’t recognise it.” Indeed, after finishing the fruit, Adam and Even quickly realised they were naked and they hid from the Lord in shame.

Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

Genesis 3:11
God is omni everything

Genesis 3:11 is the first rhetorical question in recorded history. Aside from being omnipotent (all-powerful), God is omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (always present). He knew full well where Adam and Eve were hiding and what they’d done.

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:5

The effects of the forbidden fruit had obviously kicked in, and Adam thought he could play the blame game and weave his way out of his fatal error.

Indeed, Adam should’ve taken immediate responsibility for his ignorance and failure, instead of blaming his wife. Yes, Eve was lured by the serpent, but this wouldn’t have occurred had Adam been looking after the garden and his wife. He had every opportunity to give her some advice, “By the way, love, before you were made out of one of my ribs, God told me not touch the pretty fruit tree in the middle of the garden, He said it’ll kill us.”

“…While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Genesis 4:8

After their disobedience, God kicked Adam and Eve out of the sanctuary of the Garden of Eden and posted a cherub with a flashing sword in front of the gate.

Adam was given authority over the earth (including Eve), but, after allowing sin to be introduced into the world through the nurturing of Eve’s ignorance (which Adam should and could’ve prevented), the pair would soon go on to suffer the loss of their son Abel to the hand of their other son Cain. This crime was the first case of premediated homicide (see Genesis 4:8).

Just to note, as we see in verse 3:5, evil was already present in the spiritual realms before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in Eden: “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Although the Bible only gives us the names of their first three children, Cain (Genesis 4:1), Abel (4:2) and Seth (4:25), we see in Genesis 5:4 that Adam and Eve had had more children. Adam did, after all, live to be 930 years old. Unfortunately, we’re not provided with age for Eve.

2. Noah

We read in Genesis, that Noah (Heb. for rest or comfort) was a man and a father of righteousness, integrity and humility who feared God and loved his family. Because of these traits,

8Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord”

Genesis 6:8

Unlike Adam, Noah was obedient to the instructions and duties that were given to him by God.

9 …Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

7By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

Genesis 6:9; Hebrews 11:7

In regards to the preparation and construction of the ark, as well as the loading of all the pairs of creatures and every kind of food to be eaten, we’re assured that,

22Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

Genesis 6:22

All the same, Noah’s latter life exemplifies that irrespective of his earlier acts of outstanding obedience and righteousness, Noah wasn’t exempt from sin. We read in Genesis 9:20-21 that after the flood, Noah had become a gifted horticulturist (“man of the soil”), he gave birth to the planting of vineyards, the fermentation of grapes and the creation of wine. In this respect, Noah was also the first vintner.

Before Noah became the protagonist of the Israelite flood story, his original place in Israelite historiography was as the ancient farmer who discovered wine, bringing the world relief from the toil of work caused by God’s cursing the soil.

Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber

Noah’s father, Lamech, had obviously been predisposed to Noah’s future invention and innovation, declaring:

He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” 

Genesis 5:29

One day following the flood, after getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent, Noah was found by his son Ham who, instead of immediately covering his father’s shame, chose to go and get his brothers.

Unlike Ham, Shem and Japheth did the appropriate thing by immediately covering their eyes and their father. When Noah awoke from his stupor and was informed of the affair, he cursed Ham and his future generations.

When we stop to think about this for a moment, we see that just like Adam’s finger-pointing at his wife, Noah not only failed to take responsibility for his outlandish behaviour but consigned the blame to his son Ham (whose future son was Canaan).

The outcome of this curse is seen through Israel’s later subjugation and ethnic cleansing of the Canaanites (Joshua 10:36-29. As we see in Genesis 10:15-16, Canaan was the father of the Amorites).

3. Abraham

Abraham was tested by God in Genesis 22

Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Yazdânism faiths each recognise Abraham (also known as Abram and Ibrahim) as the Father of All Nations,

5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Genesis 17:5

You might notice that for such a venerated individual this section is rather short. Why? Well, to be honest, Abraham didn’t actually do a flurry of noteworthy things in his long life. Moreover, his name is only great because of the blessings of God and the many great nations sired by his seed.

Today we can see that as one of the most well-known and revered names in human history, God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:5 was the hallmark of this old man’s greatness.

21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 

Genesis 21:1

Let’s take a moment to sing and dance along to Yakobian David’s Father Abraham Had Many Sons.

Abraham’s greatest example of obedience is in Genesis 22 where God seriously tests the margins of his faithfulness.

1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied. 2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Genesis 22:1-2

Notice what God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love…”. As an answer to prayer from God to him and his aged wife, Isaac was Abraham’s only son and he loved him.

As we’ve seen in 17:5, God had made a binding promise to Abraham regarding his future blessing as “a father of many nations”; Abraham’s unwavering obedience demonstrates his absolute trust and understanding of God’s limitless character.

16…“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.

Genesis 22:16-18

In the life of Abram (exalted father) and Abraham (father of many), we see that God was pleased by his genuine faith and unquestioning devotion and obedience. The covenant, or lasting agreement, made by God to Abraham, contained a prophetic assurance of his line. Paul illustrates the actuality of this assurance in his letter to the first-century believers in Galatia.

29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

4. Isaac

Abraham (100 years old), Sarah (90 years old) and baby Isaac (Heb. “he laughs“)

Isaac was an obedient son to his obedient father, Abraham, through whom he learnt the value, strength and necessity of trusting God through testing and trying circumstances.

19And God said, Sarah, thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed, and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

Genesis 17:19

When Abraham took Isaac up a hill in Moriah to sacrifice an offering to the Lord, we see in Genesis 22:9 that Isaac didn’t say a word or struggle as Abraham put him on top of the wood to be burnt, nor when his gather was about to slay him with a knife.

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19

However, like each of his forebears, no one would nominate Isaac for a Father of the Year award. When Isaac and his wife Rebekah were later blessed with twin sons, Jacob and Esau, they did the unthinkable, they each chose one to favour and pitted them against each other.

5. Jacob

After Jacob wrestled with God he was renamed “Israel”. Genesis 32:22‐28

When we’re introduced to Jacob and his twin brother Esau, we read that Esau was a skilled hunter and Jacob was a quiet man who dwelled in tents.

The Hebrew term “תָּ֔ם (tam)” is rendered by the ESV and NLT (amongst other translations) as “quiet”, however as we see in Job 1:1, when תָּ֔ם is used as an adjective for humans it means “blameless”, or in other parts of Scripture is rendered as perfect, upright and undefiled.

In Psalm 135:4, we see that God truly valued Jacob,

4For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.

Ironically, for a supposedly “quiet” or “blameless” man, Jacob cheated and schemed with his mother Rebekah and stole the birthright off his older brother Esau.

36Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

Genesis 27:36

During their birth, Jacob had grabbed onto Esau’s heel, supposedly to cheat him out of his birthright. Taken from the Hebrew word for “heel”, עֲקֵב ʿaqeb, the name Jacob means “to grasp at the heel; to supplant; circumvent; assail; overreach”.

It’s easy to take Esau’s side in this affair, but when we read Genesis 25:34 we see that “Esau despised his birthright”.

Although he was the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher), Jacob is most memorable for his wrestling match with God at the ford of Jabbok in Genesis 32:22-32.

After this contest, God renames Jacob Israel: “to struggle with God”. In Psalm 135:4, we see that God truly valued Jacob/Israel,

4For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.

Psalm 135:4

Jacob had an interesting heritage. By way of His grandfather’s faith, he was in the lineage of those who would multiply into many nations. He had inherited some of his grandmother Sarah’s jealousy, some his mother’s unscrupulous wit, and some of his father’s loyalty. He was named “supplanter” at birth and lived up to his name.

Melanie Campbell, “5 Important Lessons from Jacob’s Wrestling Match with God

6. Moses

God empowered Moses to part the Red Sea

Moses was a true father figure to Israelites as they escaped the cruelty of their servitude and bondage in Egypt. Irrespective of the apparent impossibility of his great commission, his fear of God and his self-doubt, Moses’ greatest strength was his obedience to God.

Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Exodus 3:6

All the same, when we read about the Israelites Exodus from Egypt, we must be careful not to assign credit to Moses himself. Through the life of his servant Moses, God illustrates that extraordinary things can be achieved if we trust Him and obey His Word.

13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ 

Exodus 3:13-14

7. King David

King David playing his harp to the Lord, as is often detailed in the Psalms of David

King David lived and reigned over the tribe of Judah 1000 or so years before Christ. After ruling with distinction in Hebron for 7.5 years, the other Jewish elders gathered together at David’s military base and anointed him king over all of Israel. He went on to reign for the next 33 years until his death. The ancient birthplace of Jerusalem is still called the City of David.

Often used as a topic for Sunday School lessons, armed with nothing more than a leather hunting sling and five small stones, David’s victory over the three-meter tall giant Goliath, who was armoured in bronze scales, bronze greaves (leg armour to protect the tibia), and equipped with a huge bronze spear (1 Samuel 17:5-7), teaches us that we can achieve the seemingly impossible with the help of God.

We see this theme carried on in Paul’s first letter to Timothy during the first century,

12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live. Also set an example in how you love and in what you believe. Show the believers how to be pure.

1 Timothy 4:12

In 1 Samuel 19, following another blessed military victory, David was both forced and instructed to run away from King Saul whose jealousy was so great he tried to take his life. Yet, the three groups of assassins sent to kill David were each overcome by the Holy Spirit, and instead ended up prophesizing about God. Even more remarkably, King Saul himself was conquered by the Holy Spirit.

We read:

23…But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth.24He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?

1 Samuel 19:23‐24

Similarly to the fathers discussed earlier, David wasn’t extraordinary by his great military accomplishments or civic endeavours. He was used by God as an instrument to achieve His glory and to fulfil His covenant. As we’ll soon see, God authored David to become a great king of Israel in order to achieve His ultimate plan for mankind.

 I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.

2 Samuel 7:9

David is given the ultimate compliment by the Lord Himself. the prophet Samuel tells Saul that God has appointed David king as he was  “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

 22After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22
King David watching Bathsheba bathing on a nearby rooftop. 2 Samuel 11:2-5

Once again, although promoted and favoured by God, King David was by no means a man exempt from the lures of sin. In 2 Samuel 11, we read that when driven by lust, David took the beautiful wife of one of his generals, and then sent him into the heat of orchestrating his death.

We read,

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

27But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

2 Samuel 11:14-17; 2 Samuel 11:27

Clearly haunted by his sins, David would later repent to God,

Have mercy on me, O God,

    according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

    blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1

8. Joseph

Joseph taught Jesus his trade as a tekton (Greek for artisan, carpenter, mason or teacher)

Joseph of Nazareth, the son of Heli (the word “son” was not in the original Greek text. Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli/Eli through Mary), the corporeal father of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

16and Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary, was the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

Matthew 1:16

Curiously, the thirteen letters, or epistles, written by the apostle Paul make no mention of Joseph. The gospel of Mark only mentions Jesus’ coming from Nazareth (Mark 1:9, 24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6) and that he was a well-known carpenter (6:3).

John includes only a couple of remarks concerning Joseph (John 1:45 and 6:42). It is in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in which we get more detailed material.  

Here we learn that even when it caused him to lose face with the public, Joseph was a righteous and obedient man. Joseph was a carpenter or a tekton by trade, and he’d taught this skill to his son Jesus as he grew up in the out-of-the-way town of Nazareth.

Similarly to the majority of first-century families, Jesus wasn’t Joseph and Mary’s only son. We read in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 that he had some well-known siblings,

55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

3Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of [Saint]James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him.

Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3

From the information we have in the New Testament, Joseph was a devout follower of Judaism and observed their sacred customs and traditions. Joseph’s upright character and righteousness are evident in Matthew 1:19, and in Luke 2:41 (this is the last we hear of Joseph).

19Because Joseph, her husband, was faithful to the law and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.

Matthew 1:19; Luke 2:41

Under Jewish Law (the Law) conception outside of marriage was a serious no-no. A woman who conceived a child out of wedlock was liable to death by stoning, being burnt alive or getting sold as a slave.

After being assured by an angel in a dream that the baby was a gift through the Holy Spirit, Joseph marries Mary. Joseph was obedient to the directions from God irrespective of the risk. Why was Joseph, a carpenter, used by our Triune God to father His Son, the Christ, the Messiah and Saviour of the world?

Well, the gospels by Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:21-38) detail Jesus’ family tree; Matthew through joseph, Luke through Mary. As Jesus was the son of Joseph, or as Luke so eloquently puts it in 3:23, “so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,” a descendent of King David.

According to Jewish practice and Israel’s law, Mary’s ancestry was recorded in her husband’s name; this was crucial as she/therefore Jesus could only inherit her father’s title if she married into the right family line (see Numbers 27:1-8; 36:6-8).

So you see, Joseph the son-in-law of Heli was in the line of kings by both legal rights through Mary and biological descent (see: 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32-33; Romans 1:3). Jesus is, therefore, the Davidic king promised by the prophets of old. Although the line of David ceased to rule Israel following the time of exile under Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 32:4-5), God didn’t forget his promise to David,

6For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given,

    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne

    and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

    with justice and righteousness

    from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

    will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:7

Indeed, we read in Jeremiah 33:17,

17 For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel’

Jeremiah 33:17

3 thoughts on “8 Biblical examples of Fatherhood

  1. Hey Joe, great work but you say Noah’s “shrewd behavior”. Is that a mistake?

    When we stop to think about this for a moment, we see that just like Adam’s finger pointing at his wife, Noah not only failed to take responsibility for his shrewd behaviour, but passed on the blame to his son.

    Liked by 1 person

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