I’m currently going through 1 Samuel with my family.
Looking at the lives of Eli and Samuel in the first few chapters, it’s notable how fathering is passed down.
Eli did not raise his sons to fear God and serve him:
 Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. …  Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.  Nay, my sons; for [it is] no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress.  If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them. – 1Sa 2:12, 22-25 KJV
Eli did however seem to do a better job raising Samuel – or perhaps it was God’s hand at work in spite of Eli:
 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel [was] established [to be] a prophet of the LORD. – 1Sa 3:19-20 KJV
However, Samuel’s sons were also reprobate. How is it that such righteous wise men raised sons who did not walk with God?
 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: [they were] judges in Beersheba.  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. – 1Sa 8:1-3 KJV
To a father it is a big help to see other men raising their families in a godly way – it has helped me to be inspired about my children and how I can “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
Fathering without godly example so easily results in disaster, as we see with Samuel’s lack of effective fathering of his sons – following Eli’s example.
Many families have uninvolved fathers. They see their children for mere minutes each day, and choose to spend a substantial portion of their non-working time in front of the TV or playing golf or other activities which further reduce their time with their children – leaving teaching the children from the Bible up to Mom.
Some fathers just don’t know how to engage with their children, and some just don’t seem to be able to make family devotions into a regular habit.
For years I struggled to have effective time with my children around the Bible, but lately I’ve made it enough of a priority to get it up to a daily activity – and persevered enough to make it a habit. I’ve been inspired by Steve Maxwell’s book, Redeeming the Time, in which he says that if something really is a value and a priority for you, it will be reflected in the time you spend on it.
Let’s see what the Bible says:
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 KJV
 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; …  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) – 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 4-5 KJV
I realised that it’s up to me… so I made the decision to read the Bible to my children, day by day, explaining everything as we go along.
We’ve read from Genesis to mid way through Numbers, and Mark, Acts and Ephesians, and are rereading Genesis now that the children are a bit older. We also read from Psalms and Proverbs – bits here and there as I choose passages that I feel will speak to us.
By the way, I’m really looking forward to seeing Courageous – a movie about fatherhood, coming out in a few months. It looks challenging and inspiring!
Reading the King James Version may be strange at first – it was to me after years of reading the NIV – but we got used to it fairly quickly. The children even have no problem with the old English. Here and there I’ve found some unfamiliar words, but nothing too strange.
About the weirdest old English word which I’ve encountered was “kine” – yet the context of the story revealed what that means:
 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.  And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.  And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the [other] kine upon the brink of the river.  And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. – [Gen 41:1-4 KJV]
Seven thin cows ate seven fat cows – so kine are cows!
I’m so tempted to dive into every detail in the Bible as I read it. I get inspired by hearing good teachers expounding the Bible, especially when all the cross references are mentioned. For example, Romans 10 has just about every verse or two containing a reference or quote from Isaiah, Psalms, Deuteronomy, etc.
However I feel God leading me to first “read the Bible” without trying to analyse every little detail – or I might get stuck for months in one book or even chapter!
So I’m reading through the Old Testament. I’m up to 1 Kings 4 which talks about the wisdom of Solomon, which God gave him when he asked for it.
Based on this much, I can say: Israel blew it, constantly. Based on my vague memories of Bible stories and sermons, I thought Israel did pretty well until they insisted upon a king – but the book of Judges is full of the tribes of Israel fighting each other – or even cities fighting each other.
The book of Ruth on the other hand was easy reading – I went through the whole book in an evening.
Reading rapidly through the Bible is helping me to place everything in context – to see what happened when and how God progressively reveals Himself and His plans. I’ll come back – many times, I’m sure – to go into detailed studies on whatever God leads me.
I go through the Bible verse by verse with my family, looking at what it says, and discussing, asking and explaining.
I’m going to post some examples of that, going more in depth than I would with my children, but the concept is the same.
Here’s Genesis 1:1-8.
 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
- There was a beginning. Everything did not always exist.
- God was present in the beginning – He already existed.
- God created – He brought forth that which did not already exist. He designed it.
 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
- Genesis 1:1-2 is a different time frame from the six days of creation. Verse 1 speaks of creating, but verse 2 talks of the state of the earth before the six days, each of which starts and ends with particular phrases below.
- Without form and void is not “good”. Everything that God created during the six days was either good or very good. Interestingly, Jeremiah 4:23 uses the exact same phrase referring to a time of destruction and judgement: “I beheld the earth, and, lo, [it was] without form, and void; and the heavens, and they [had] no light.”
- Since Satan had fallen before tempting Eve, and before his fall he was on earth according to Ezekiel 28:13: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God” it is possible that God destroyed a prior created state on the earth when he destroyed Satan’s body, as mentioned in Ezekiel 28:16,18: “I will destroy thee, O covering cherub … therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” I don’t want to get too distracted from the Genesis study but I’ll come back to this at some point.
- We see the first mention of the Holy Spirit.
 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
- The start of the first of the six days of creation. Each day’s work is bracketed by “And God said… And the evening and the morning were the ___th day.”
 And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
- While light and darkness are a word picture for good and evil, creation was real – not a moral fable.
 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
- The first day. Without day and night, time could not be measured.
 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
- This firmament is the sky. It separates the sea water from water that was in the atmosphere. We know it didn’t rain until the flood, because rainbows had not been seen before then.
- The sky – the atmosphere – is the first Heaven.
- Heavens (plural) contain: the clouds (Job 35:5), the stars (1 Chr 27:23) and there is the “heaven of heavens” or third heaven (2 Cor 12:2) where God’s throne is (Rev 4:2).
We’re looking at the importance of Genesis – how major doctrines in the Bible depend on Genesis’s creation account and the first people being literally true. See part 1 and part 2 if you haven’t read them yet.
Ephesians 5:23-33 is a well known passage on Marriage – it was the main reading at our own wedding:
 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife [see] that she reverence [her] husband. – [Eph 5:22-33 KJV]
Verse 31 is a quote from Genesis 2:
 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. – [Gen 2:24 KJV]
This verse is also quoted several other times in the New Testament. In Matthew, Jesus himself is quoting from Genesis 2:
 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female,  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. – [Mat 19:3-6 KJV]
Also in Mark:
 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.  But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;  And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. – [Mar 10:5-9 KJV]
 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid.  What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. – [1Cr 6:15-16 KJV]
So marriage depends on Genesis 2, and without Genesis, all of society is breaking down as the family unit is destroyed by a lack of understanding of marriage.
Contend For Your Faith did a study on major doctrines depending on Genesis 1-4. I encourage you to watch this – they found a lot more than I had thought!
We’re looking at the importance of Genesis – how major doctrines in the Bible depend on Genesis’s creation account and the first people being literally true. See part 1 if you haven’t read it yet.
References to Abel, Adam’s son
 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. – [Mat 23:35 KJV]
 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. – [Hbr 11:4 KJV]
Heb 12 Jesus and Abel:
 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel. – [Hbr 12:24 KJV]
References to Enoch
 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. – [Hbr 11:5 KJV]
Jude mentions Adam and Enoch:
 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, – [Jud 1:14 KJV]
The importance of Adam and Eve’s sin
Without the first couple sinning, separating all of humanity from God, there was no need for Jesus Christ, God incarnate, to die on the cross to shed His righteous blood as an atonement for all. Jesus becomes reduced to a prophet or teacher, as non-Christians see Him.
Coming up next: Genesis and Marriage – see part 3