If Jesus tells us to pray for something to happen in the world, and God is as real in our daily lives as He was to Jesus, might we not anticipate that this prayer will be answered?
Jesus tells us to pray a specific prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Whenever we pray this to our Heavenly Father, does it not make sense that our Father is going to answer this prayer?
Yes, it does, and He is in the process of doing just that through His “Ship of the Kingdom” pictured in the diagram, as we saw last week. The vertical lines flowing from Jesus to the three earthly institutions—the family, the church, and the civil government—represent the delegation of God’s kingdom on the earth today to us, His people. That is His whole purpose for creating us. If I am busily at work in my world, with my hand in Daddy’s hand, doing what God has given me to do in the circle of contacts with whom I interact each day, I am fulfilling God’s purpose for me and the Lord’s prayer is being answered. His kingdom is coming!
I acknowledge that this biblical fact is hard to see with my physical eyes today in the 21st century. However, Christians have another set of eyes, the eyes of faith. These eyes are the eyes that the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 used to view their world. I love the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1:
“Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.” (ISV). This is “living by faith.”
The words “authority,” “responsibility,” and “accountability” are the fool-proof indicators in my life for all to see my experiential understanding of living “by faith” under God’s rule in His kingdom.
For example, when I am given leadership authority over others, do I exercise that authority always according to the leadership standards of the Bible? Do I take full responsibility before God only for what I have been given and not also assume the responsibilities of others? Am I eager to be fully accountable to the one giving me this authority and responsibility to lead?
I want to look through this kingdom lens at the practical application of these three indicators in each of the three areas of influence that are God’s primary and foundational means of expressing His rule. Let’s begin with the family.
The family is the foundational institution that supplies the industrious, honest, energetic young people that make up the church and the civil government, represented by the horizontal lines between the institutions in the diagram. These youth have a biblical vision of why they were created, and they are eager to volunteer for battle in whatever occupation they choose. Both the church and the civil government will cease to function well and will die without parents supplying them with well-trained children.
This is exactly what is happening today. The biblical family has been ridiculed and denigrated until it is a completely foreign concept, not only to society in general, but even to the church. What church teaches biblical family principles today? Many younger church leaders themselves may not have learned them, even in seminary. We are seeing the results all around us of decades of increasingly ignoring biblical truth about the family.
1 Corinthians 11:3 is the foundational verse that summarizes a biblical family structure: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” The word “head” (kephale) in this verse means, metaphorically, “the authority or direction of a husband in relation to his wife” (Vines).
Yes, a biblical family is, without question, a patriarchy, as Ephesians 5:22-24 teaches as well: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
Really, there is no other way to interpret these verses but that the man rules in His home. Jesus is not the head of the family—the husband is, and, in turn, Jesus is the head of the husband.
So, patriarchy in the Christian family is the rule of Jesus Christ, exercised, although imperfectly, by the husband. Jesus says to husbands everywhere, “As my Father has sent me (to rule over my little flock of followers), even so I send you” (to rule over your little flock—your family) (John 20:21).
What does a biblical patriarchy look like? 1.) The husband has authority over his family in all matters. He is the final decision-maker, which is the essence of authority. 2.) He alone is responsible for the welfare of the family. Any problems in the family are his problems. 3.) He is accountable fully to his Head, Jesus Christ, for the condition of his family and its eventual success or failure. The divine buck stops squarely at his door alone.
The word “rule” conjures up images of anger, abuse (physical or verbal), selfishness and unreasonable demands. However, in a godly patriarchy, the husband’s head is Jesus Christ, and he rules just as Jesus rules over His bride, the church. That rule, in the church as well as in the other two institutions, is always characterized by:
1.) unconditional love. This love always chooses what is best for the loved one, even if it is at the husband’s expense or against the loved-one’s wishes.
2.) decisive leadership. The husband is the visionary, the direction-pointer, the final decision-maker. He listens to all input from family members, but must make the final decision himself as to the direction the family will take, because he alone is the one responsible to God.
Next week we will discuss the wife’s role in the “coming of the kingdom” in the family.
My book, The Family: God’s Weapon for Victory, covers these ideas from the Bible in detail. It is available under “Products” on this website.