Today is Father’s Day, so I am sure many of you spent time with your Dads. Of course, if you’re like me, you were missing your Dad. Mine passed away back in 2014. Every Father’s Day I feel a wave of sadness come over me as I reminisce about days gone by.
This year, as Father’s Day rolled around, I learned something new regarding the biblical role of fathers. I have been reading a book called The Rock, the Road and the Rabbi. It is an amazing book that goes through all the places in Israel that were important in Jesus’ life. What I love about the book is that I learn several new things every time I read a chapter, or it breathes new life into information I already know.
As this book takes you on a tour of Israel, it brings the Hebraic roots to life. You learn about the places of Jesus’ earthly ministry from the perspective of a Jewish follower of Jesus. Of course, we know Jesus is Jewish and never stopped being Jewish. We must always remember this if we are to see him as he truly is, and if we are to see how the traditions of the time pointed to him being the long awaited Messiah.
Yesterday, the day before Father’s Day, I was thinking about my earthly father, and of course, missing him. I just happened to read this chapter from The Rock, the Road and the Rabbi called BET AV.
BET AV means The Father’s House, and this concept is something that’s woven like a thread throughout the entire Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the story of the Bible is one of a loving Father desiring to bring as many children into his home as possible. His home is in heaven, as well as his kingdom. His desire is for us to have true peace, joy, freedom and salvation.
The Father’s House in biblical times
In ancient biblical times, a Jewish home was always headed by the father. The father’s authority allowed him to arrange marriages for his sons and daughters. He was also the one with the power to divorce his wife. He could sell his own children if he deemed it necessary.
I know what you’re thinking……..YIKES! That’s just too much power! Imagine your father being able to choose your husband or wife. Actually, this is still done in some cultures, but nowadays most people choose whom they want to marry.
So, why would the father be able to have so much power back in those ancient days? What’s the point?
God has a plan for the family
God had a plan in mind when he designed the family. The father had a HUGE job, which was mainly being the protector and provider. His scope of protection didn’t just apply to his immediate family, which included his wife and children. It also included his extended family.
The father was known as the patriarch. The Father’s House or Bet Av included mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and cousins. The father was responsible for making sure everyone was happy, secure, provided for, and under his shelter.
In those days, if you lost your Bet Av, you lost everything. Your hope, security and identity were gone.
There is one more key idea to understand about the Bet Av (the Father’s House). The father’s most important job was redemption. For example, if any member of the Father’s House were to lose their property, the father (patriarch) would help him redeem it. If a family member lost all his money, or ended up in a situation where he/she could not rescue themselves, the father would step in.
Bet Av and God
This idea of Bet Av is seen in our Heavenly Father. God wants to bring us under his shelter and protection. He longs to be our provider, security, and hope. He wants to redeem us from the sin that keeps us in bondage. He wants to save us.
The Bet Av of God is in heaven, and our place with him is eternal.
Psalm 91, verse 1 and 2 says, ” Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.'”
This describes what we receive in the Bet Av- the Father’s House. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become full fledged members of the family of God. We enter his dwelling place and rest under his shadow.
Imagine a beautiful, mighty shade tree and you are sitting under it. The shade protects you from the sun and keeps you cool and covered. Better yet, imagine being a bird under its mother’s wings. The soft fluffy feathers keep you warm and protected.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge,” Psalm 91:4.
Being in the Bet Av of God means being under the protection of his wings.
My son has a beautiful white cockatiel named Casper. He’s had him for a little over a year. Just recently he started doing something rather odd, but fascinating.
It started a few months ago. One day my son had his bare feet laying on the couch. Casper had never paid much attention to feet before, but for some reason he was suddenly intrigued. At first, Casper walked around his feet. Then, he began putting his beak on his feet. Next, he started talking to his feet.
Yes, Casper can say a few things like his name, “hello baby”, “he’s a good bird”, and “night night Casper”. He said all these things to my son’s feet.
But, it was the next thing he did that really got my attention. He took his heart shaped wings and started hovering over my son’s feet. As he hovered, his wings fluttered, and then he would sing.
At this point everyone in the family was in the room watching. “What in the world is he doing?” my husband asked.
“I think he’s in love with my feet,” my son said.
But we weren’t really sure. The next thing we knew Casper started regurgitating food and trying to feed them to my son’s feet! Yeah, I know that sounds disgusting. But, it’s something birds do when they feed their young. And that’s when it hit me.
“I wonder if he (or she- because we don’t know if Casper is a boy or a girl) thinks your feet are babies?” I said.
“Casper thinks my feet are his children?” my son said.
No sooner had he said that when Casper began giving little kisses to my son’s feet. He would say, “Hi baby,” and then give them a kiss. Then he would rub his head gently on his feet.
I’m not sure what you’re thinking right now, but I promise I’m going to make a point.
Now, the next thing that happened took me by surprise! I thought all this was so cute so I went over to Casper to pick him up. After all, he was so adorable I wanted to give him a kiss.
Oh no, he was not having that! He dashed toward me like a lightning bolt. Next he hissed and then bit me. Let me tell you…..it hurt!!!!!
I couldn’t believe it! He had never done that. I tried one more time to pet him and he lunged toward me with such fierceness I thought maybe he was an eagle and not a cockatiel. Then, he walked back over to my son’s feet and began pacing.
“It looks like he’s guarding my feet,” my son remarked. “Maybe he’s protecting them,” he laughed.
It seems Casper was guarding my son’s feet. If those feet were his children, I guess he would protect them with all his might.
Just so you know, he still does this every single day! If we don’t want him to go into “feet mode” we keep our shoes or socks on. Also, we found out it isn’t just my son’s feet that he likes. He likes mine, as well as my husband’s feet!
So what does this have to do with a blog about the Father’s House? Well, did you notice something about Casper’s behavior that reminds you of a father? Let’s list some things:
Casper gave attention to the feet
Casper talked to the feet
Casper fed the feet (or tried to anyway)
Casper provided protection to the feet, even hovering over them with his wings
Casper guarded the feet vigilantly
Casper attacked any intruder he thought might harm the feet
Watching Casper reminded me of my Heavenly Father. He gives his children his undivided attention. We can talk to Jesus anytime we want- anywhere, anyplace! He is never too busy for us and he is with us everywhere we go! We can’t even say our earthly fathers can give us constant attention.
By the way, the only way to get Casper to stop kissing, loving and guarding the feet is to quickly get up and run away. If not, he will stay in “feet mode” all day!
Casper talks to feet (lol) but God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and this is something that is with us all day and night. His voice never leaves us, and at times even seems to sing to our spirit.
Casper’s wings hovered over my son’s feet, shaking his feathers as he moved from side to side. It was an illustration of Psalm 91 when it says, “he will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”
In nature, birds hover over their young when they are protecting them. The Bible compares God to a protective mother eagle. The verse below describes God’s care for the nation of Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:10,11 says,
“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”
God takes us under his wings
When God brought the Israelites out of bondage, he took them under his protective wings. They became his children. He guarded them like an eagle. He hovered over them like a mother eagle. The word for hovered is the Hebrew verb rachaph. This word can also mean flutter. Rachaph is only used twice in reference to God. The other place is in Genesis 1:2 ,which describes the spirit of God moving across the waters and hovering over the deep.
When I read the word flutter I am reminded of how Casper’s wings fluttered as he hovered over my son’s feet. Seriously, Casper must have thought they were his children!
Casper gave me a swift bite when he perceived I may harm his “children”. This is what our Heavenly Father does as well. He doesn’t bite, but when we are part of his Bet Av, the Lord fights for us.
Exodus 14:13,14 says, “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’”
2 Samuel 22: 3,4 says “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 91:7 says, “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”
Hebrews 13:6 says, ““So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
When we belong to the Father’s House, we can boldly say, “JESUS WILL FIGHT FOR ME. I HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR.”
I can still see Casper vigilantly guarding my son’s feet. He is feisty when he’s in father mode! God is the same. He will not let his guard down. He is always watching. Always listening. Always there.
There is something even more amazing to learn about THE FATHER’S HOUSE. Are you ready? I hope so, because it is our blessed hope as children of God.
The Ancient Jewish Wedding
Earlier I told you back in ancient times the father chose the bride for his sons. Once a father’s son was betrothed (engaged) to his bride, the son would leave and go to his father’s house/property. The bride did not come with him. The son had to go to his father’s house, where he and the father would prepare a room for the groom and bride. You see, the bride and groom would eventually live together at the Bet Av- the father’s house. In this way, the father’s family grew larger and larger as sons were married and brought their wives home to live. This room being built was just for the bride and groom, but it was part of the father’s property.
When the room was completed, the father would tell his son to go fetch his bride. The bride did not know when the groom would come. She had to be ready at all times. She would keep her wedding attire near her bed in case the groom came in the middle of the night. This is why Jewish grooms were called “thieves in the night.” Sound familiar?
When the groom was near the bride’s house a shout would be given and a trumpet call. The bride would hear this and quickly grab her bridal attire and oil lamp (if it were at night). Then, the groom would steal her away and take her to the Bet Av- the father’s house. At the father’s house they would go to the room that had been built for them.
John 14:1-4 describes this beautifully:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
This same promise applies to those who belong to Jesus! Once we say yes to Christ we have accepted the marriage proposal. We are officially betrothed. This is not the same as engagement nowadays because a betrothal meant you were legally married. During the betrothal phase you simply waited for your groom to get your home ready on his father’s property. You awaited the final ceremony and consummation of the marriage.
As believers, we are in the betrothal phase, awaiting our Savior to come get us and take us to the prepared place on his Father’s property. Our wedding ring is the Holy Spirit, which seals our betrothal.
The Rapture is like the ancient Jewish wedding
One day, at the Father’s signal, Jesus will come to steal his bride away. He will do this like a thief in the night! We do not know the day or the hour, but we know to be watching and to have our “bridal attire” ready. At any moment, it could be time to go to the Bet Av with Jesus! The name of this event is called the Rapture, or the catching away of the bride.
1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 describes this amazing event….
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Isn’t this a marvelous promise???
Today, as I think about my father who passed away, I realize he is already in the Bet Av- the Father’s House. He has joined a very large family of God and is awaiting my arrival. One day, I will be welcomed into heaven and rejoice with the amazing family of God. I will never be afraid. I will always be provided for. I will always be loved. I will dwell in a place my earthly heart cannot imagine!
There is no father like our Heavenly Father.
Some of you may not have had a father in your life. Or, maybe you and your father do not have a great relationship. Our earthly fathers are not perfect. They have a difficult job here on this sinful earth. There are lots of things our earthly fathers cannot give us. God knows this. But, we can count on him to provide all the things we need when we dwell in his shelter, like Psalm 91 says.
One day, we will physically dwell with Jesus. If we are alive when the Rapture occurs, we will meet our groom in the air. Our bodies will be instantly changed as we lift into the air. If we have already passed, our physical body will resurrect and unite with our spirit. Then we will join Christ in the air.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.
Our fathers on earth give us a home. They protect and love us. How wonderful that God gives us fathers to care for us on earth.
But as great as they are, earthly fathers can’t give us a perfect, eternal home. Only Jesus can do that.
Those in Christ are already in the Bet Av. The debt’s been paid. The room is being prepared. It’s only a matter of time before we are ready to move in.
“No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
I thought I’d end this blog with a photo of Casper with his FEET FAMILY……….