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As parents, you may have never thought of yourselves as bold and prophetic. But if you think about it practically, you really are, and you must be! Here’s a biblical declaration of what the work of a prophet is. (It was spoken of John the Baptist, who was called the Greatest Prophet by Jesus.)
“And you will be called the prophet of the Most High.
A. For you will go before the Lord
1. To prepare his ways,
2. To give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
B. Because of our God’s tender mercy the dawn will break upon us from on high
1. To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
2. To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 NET)
Preparing God’s ways for our children
This passage identifies two things that comprised John’s prophetic ministry that are absolutely essential to the prophetic ministry we have as Christian parents. First, our ministry is preparatory: it goes before the potential relationship of our children with God. Secondly, we reveal the tender mercy of God in word and deed to our children, until the light of heaven “dawns” upon them directly from on high. Let’s explore what that looks like.
While it’s obvious that our ministry as parents comes before the Lord as first in sequence, we also go before the Lord in the intentional preparation of His ways to our children. This is a significant opportunity, and it requires parents to see their role as prophetic ambassadors from God. Parenting is not a personal exercise of self-fulfillment. We have the privilege of being an unapologetic prophetic voice to our children. Boldly proclaim the mantra of Joshua, Moses’ successor, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15).
Having children is a very fulfilling desire for most married couples; that is, it is a natural desire. But a natural desire is not automatically a spiritual desire. However, for the Christian parent, raising children must become a spiritual desire! Are you acting as a prophetic voice of God to your children? When the prophet Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" He said, "Here I am! Send me." (Isaiah 6:8). In the same way, being a prophetic parental voice requires that you very definitely answer the call, "Here I am! Send me."
God asks in Isaiah 49:6, "Is it too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the [little ones and] bring [them] back? I will make you as a light..., that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." It is clear that the prophetic ministry that brings the message of salvation to the ends of the earth is God’s number one agenda for prophetic parenting —above all other things. Getting into heaven is far more important than getting into Harvard.
Two areas comprise the prophetic parental voice: preparing His ways and giving knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins to your children. Preparing His ways means that you saturate your home’s environment with the knowledge of the Lord. What are God’s ways? Are they not many? God wisely mixes earthly joys with earthly sorrows. Parents must be attentive to the full spectrum of His ways! Your own life must reflect your pursuit of God. Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 14, 20-21 explains it like this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ...You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you. ...When your son asks you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were ... slaves [to sin], and the Lord brought us out of [that slavery] with a mighty hand.”
Looking for redemptive moments
Giving our children the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins is the second part of our prophetic, parental ministry. Our children will never come to that knowledge unless they understand that they sin. Too often we parents train our children as if we are trying to prevent them from ever sinning! Too often we take their sin as a personal offense that injures and frustrates us. Whoa! Don’t miss out!
The prophetic view of parenting is always on the lookout for every opportunity to teach redemption. A child’s sin is the open door to explaining the forgiveness of sins. Don’t make your prophetic role as a parent wait for a less demanding schedule. Provide for the eternal first! Set aside the lesser and take whatever time is required to bring the knowledge of salvation into the moment created by each incident of sin. Even if your children temporally suffer temporarily, you all will be eternally grateful for choosing heavenly priorities. This is why homeschooling is such an amazing opportunity! Parents have full access to their children and control of their time and schedules. Never forget that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom and knowledge.
Shining light, guiding feet
From John the Baptist’s prophetic call, we also see two ways which we, as parents, can show our children “God’s tender mercy till the dawn will break upon [them] from on high”. The text says these are giving light and guiding feet. Prophetic parents are attentive parents. The Deuteronomy 6 model emphasizes the relationship between a home environment saturated with God’s Word and the teachable moments of everyday life. With proper discipline, alert parents can observe where light needs to be shone in a particular circumstance and which specific path in that circumstance that leads to life.
If you notice how the text is constructed, it is from God’s tender mercy that the dawn will break upon your children from on high. Tender mercy and forgiveness expressed by prophetic parents in each encounter with sin reflects God’s tender mercy. It is the sincere, repetitive engagement with your children in each incident of sin that builds up the opportunity for God’s tender mercy to one day dawn and break upon your children from on high. That day will be their conversion. Whether the conversion process is short or long, the discipleship process continues on this same path. Shine His light, guide their feet.
Are you acting as a prophetic voice of God to your children? Remember, being a parental prophetic voice requires that you very definitely answer the call, "Here I am! Send me." Let us boldly proclaim the mantra of Joshua, as he settled into God’s earthly inheritance, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15).