As I consider the plight of the fatherless in our community - and knowing that Father's Day is fast approaching, I would ask you to consider the following facts in scripture regarding God as "Father":
Frequency of Scriptural References to God as “Father”
There are 260 references to God as “Father” in the Bible: 15 in the Old Testament; 245 in the New Testament.
Old Testament References to God as “Father”
There are 15 references to God as “Father” in the Old Testament. Five are in the context of the Davidic covenant (which have prophetic implications) and are focused solely on David; eight are in the prophetic literature (Isaiah, Jeremiah and Malachi). The other two are general references - one being the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:6), the other a psalm reference (Psalm 68:5) to God being the Father of the fatherless.
First reference in scripture to God as “Father” is in the Song of Moses at the end of Moses’ life. This first revelation of God as “Father” is immediately prior to the people of Israel entering the Promised Land and has implications to the potential of a new sort of relationship with God.
The first reference to God as “Father” in the Song of Moses occurred around 1410 B.C., approximately 2600 years after Creation. That means patriarchs such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and (mostly) Moses may have never perceived God as a “Father”.
Reflection: It’s as if every reference to God as “Father” in the Old Testament prophecies and covenantal language anticipates this new relational potential. God as “Father” was never fully fleshed out in the four millennia prior to Jesus’ appearance. Then, when He finally does come, a new, intimate relationship potential is revealed - and Jesus seems “celebratory” in His privilege of communicating this. It’s like the wait is finally over and now the “new” comes spewing out - God is “Father”!
New Testament References to God as “Father”
The first recorded statement of Jesus’ life on earth (Jesus in the temple at age 12) includes a reference to “My Father”.
The first presentation of Jesus as the Messiah at His baptism by John, God, from a voice in a cloud, implies His “fatherness” by referring to Jesus as “My Son, in whom I am well-pleased”.
2/3 of the references in the Gospels are in the Gospel of John
Of the 21 Epistles there are 17 references to “Father” in the salutations
The epistles without a reference to “Father” in the salutation are Hebrews, James, 2 Peter and 3 John
“Abba” is used 3 times in scripture - once in the gospels and twice in the epistles (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6)
There are 69 references to “Father” in the epistles - 17 salutation examples, 52 non-salutation examples.
In the epistles, there are 11 references to “God our Father”, 12 references to “God and Father. . . ”, 14 references to “God, the Father. . . “, and 1 reference to “Lord and Father”.
The Apostle John has more references (13) to “The Father” in his first epistle than does any other epistle, regardless of its authorship.
Of the 5 “Father” references in The Revelation, 3 are Jesus’ statements and refer to “My Father”
So I invite you to reflect well on God as "Father" in the coming days - and then reach out with a new perspective on "fathering" those around you who have never known about a God like that!!