“and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:17 ESV
Through the Bible: Luke 1, John 1
I really love that this reading plan begins the New Testament with Luke, because it brings out a specific connection with the Old Testament that you don’t see in the other three gospels.
Yesterday, we read the book of Malachi, and we got the last words of the Old Testament (at least in the order the Christian Bible has placed the books):
“And he [Elijah] will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (Mal 4:6)
Turn the calendar page to our first reading in the New Testament, and what do you know: when Gabriel announces the coming of John the Baptist to Zechariah, what does he say?:
“And he [John the Baptist] will go in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children” (Luke 1:17)
This should remind us that the Bible is truly one great story of redemption. It’s the story of Jesus, from cover to cover. The discipline of reading the Bible chronologically is a great tool for helping you see the way the whole Bible tells the Grand Story.
But there is also a practical word here for me as a parent, as well as a pastor trying to minister to families. All of us are broken-hearted over the decline and breakdown of the traditional family. High divorce rates and the increased acceptance of same-sex households means that more and more kids are growing up without a father in the house.
Just as troubling, there are way too many men that are detached, absorbed in their own hobbies or work, or emotionally unavailable to their children. Even if they are still physically in the home, they might as well not be.
I find that the more I’m in God’s word, the more my heart is turned to my kids. Time with my Heavenly Father makes me a better earthly father.
But there’s an even greater impact than just the benefits I’m seeing in my own family. When the hearts of fathers are turned to their children, I truly believe that impacts the timeline for Jesus’ return.
It is no accident in God’s word that the last words of the Old Testament and the first words of the New Testament are about fathers and children being reconciled. I think the Bible is teaching us that before Jesus returns, there’s going to be a massive revival of families. I think that even non believing fathers will begin to give more priority to their children. God promises that He will turn hearts of fathers to their children, so that they will be more prepared to receive the coming Messiah.
We talk a lot in the evangelical church about “hastening” the return of Christ. We know He said that the gospel must first be preached to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). But let’s not forget this other criteria for the return of Jesus: that fathers will turn back to their children, and children back to their fathers. Let’s pray for families. Pray for fathers! Pray for restored relationships! Pray for turning hearts.
And in so doing, let’s hasten the day of His coming!