The birth and the progression of Abraham and his family gives us much insight into God’s divine order for the family and His prototype for us. As we talk about “Kith and Kin”, we need a brand new understanding and mindset about God’s order for the family. Far too often, our perspective about family is rooted in our Asian upbringing and in Confucianism rather than in God’s biblical pattern. I want to share with you four aspects of what a biblical family must contain and undergo:
God’s call to Abraham begins with a call of separation. In Gen 12:1-3, God calls Abram to separate from his natural family in order to establish himself in the call of God. One of the fundamental principles of a Christian family is that of “leaving and cleaving.” Gen 2:24 gives us this principle when Adam was joined to Eve. It makes it clear that couples have to leave their families and be joined to each other. They become a new, independent unit of society in the eyes of God.
All too often, because there’s no proper leaving, there also isn’t a proper cleaving. Parents hang on to their children, trying to dictate their lives instead of separating themselves to permit the newly-weds to start making their own decisions. Or newly-weds take the opportunity of convenience to continue staying with their parents. A proper separation is required in order for a newly-wedded couple to launch into a place of independence as a new family unit.
This is why here in Cornerstone, we’re strong advocates that newly-married couples should move out and stay on their own as soon as possible. The physical separation is often required in order for the couple to establish themselves in how they make decisions, hear from God and step out in faith. It’s for them to set up proper boundaries for their own family that should not be infringed upon by parents and other relations. While couples are encouraged to seek advice and counsel, it has to become clear and real to them that they now have to be responsible for their own decisions and plans.
The next three elements come from the nature of the promises that God made to Abraham. Right throughout Genesis, God made and reiterated His promises to Abraham in three particular areas: descendants, land and impact. He promised Abraham that he’d have many descendants; that he’d be given land to possess and that he and his family would be a blessing to the world.
The divine order in the Bible is that children are a blessing and gift from God. They’re not a burden. In our modern day context in Singapore, we may see a couple come to church with six kids and wonder what went wrong for them. This is a horribly wrong way of thinking. Instead of celebrating with them, we’ve come to view children as a problem. The divine default is that every married couple should have children and have many. Let me say one thing – children come from God. If God doesn’t bless, there’s no way we can have offspring.
There are some who do not have children, but that’s often because God has a specific purpose for them. The Lord displayed a great love for children and they were never treated as an annoyance by Him. He pointed out their childlike faith as something that we can all learn from and emulate. More importantly, embedded in every child is a piece of God’s heart and plan for His Kingdom expansion. In Abraham’s case, all the promises of God were fulfilled, not in his lifetime, but in the lives of his descendants.
The second element of God’s promises to Abraham has to do with the possession of land. My interpretation of this is that it relates to entering and possessing the works that God has designed for us. The nature of the Promised Land is that Israel may find their placement and prosper. For us, it’s to do with entering what God has created us for – a place of fulfilment and convergence. A place where we’re doing what we’re designed to do and prospering in them.
Finally, five times in Genesis, the patriarchs were told that through them, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. As we build our families according to the divine pattern, God’s intention ultimately is that our families will become a source of blessing that extends far beyond ourselves. Imagine what all this potentially means. There are families out there waiting for our witness to bring them to the light of salvation. There are children out there whose future will be much brighter when our families step up to the plate. There are marriages looking for a model to help them get healed and whole.
May the Lord visit and encounter every family in Cornerstone.
Pastor Lim Lip Yong