Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes (Genesis 4:20).
The prayer is not, “Our Mother, who art in heaven…” This person of the Trinity is addressed as “Father.” This is not a putdown of human mothers. It is a notice given to dads. If the almighty God chooses to use the title father for a person of the Godhead, we had better be certain about what he expects a human father to be.
Living in our modern world, we are struck by the repeated biblical phrases that declare that a person lived so-and-so-many years, and then became the father of so-and-so. We ask, what about the mothers? They are not forgotten. Adah’s name has been read by millions over thousands of years as the mother of Jabal. We can quickly name other noted women in the Bible. But fathers still receive special notice—because fathers have a special load of responsibility. Fathers and mothers stand equal in the sight of God. They are to love one another and care for their children. God entrusts little ones into their hands. It is an awesome responsibility. Jesus issues the strong warning: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Heaven is watching!
Yet, fathers and mothers have also been assigned distinct and different roles in life. Not only are their biological roles different, so are their responsibilities: Mothers and fathers are responsible for the care of their children. Fathers are responsible for the entire family. It is as if God points his finger at fathers and says, “The buck stops here!”
Sad, if the father is not there. Sad, if the father refuses to take responsibility. Blessed is the mother who then steps up to take charge. But no one else can truly take the place of the father. The best we can offer is a substitute.
Responsibilities may be properly delegated. Maybe the mother is better at handling the finances. Maybe the father will be deployed for months on end. That is not a rejection of a father’s role. That may be love and care in action. So, from Jabal came people of the flocks and tents. From his brother, Jubal, came musicians. Adah was mother to both, and grandmother to their children.
This was God’s plan. This was God’s way. This is how God brought blessings to those families. This is how God brings blessings to the people of earth. We look in with reverent eyes as we see the Son of God asking his Father for help. Jesus used
the word, Abba. It’s like us saying, Dad. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). By “cup” he meant suffering and death to rescue us.
We know how the Father answered. The reply was, No! God the Father did not hate the Son. He loved him beyond all measure. But he also loved us. He loved us so much that he did not spare his own Son. To define the role of a father, we cannot omit the word, love. Fathers carry a heavy load of responsibility. But it is also one of the greatest of honors. It is a gift from heaven to be called, Dad.
We pray: Father in heaven, those who bear that title on earth can never measure up to your standards. You have given fathers their children. You have placed great weight upon their shoulders. Be, then, the source of their strength. Enable them to be a blessing. Let them know the joy of being a faithful, loving dad. Amen.