Sunday: Our Father in Heaven

Father was not a new name for God. The Old Testament sometimes presented Him as our Father (Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; Ps. 103:13). However, it was not the most used name for Him. For Israel, the personal name of God was YHWH (probably pronounced Yahweh), which appears more than six thousand eight hundred times in the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to reveal a different God than YHWH. Rather, His mission was to complete the revelation that God had made of Himself in the Old Testament. In doing so, He presented God as our heavenly Father.

Image © Pacific Press from

Image © Pacific Press from

Jesus made clear that the Father is in heaven. It is important to remember this truth in order to have the right attitude toward God. We have a loving Father who is concerned with the needs of His children. At the same time, we recognize that this caring Father is in heaven, where millions of angels worship Him because He is the only Sovereign of the universe, holy and omnipotent. The fact that He is our Father invites us to approach Him with the confidence of a child. On the other hand, the truth that He is in heaven reminds us of His transcendence and the need to worship Him with reverence. To emphasize one of these aspects at the expense of the other would lead us to a distorted concept of God, with far-reaching consequences for our practical, daily lives.

Read Matthew 7:9-11. What does it tell us about how a human father can reflect the character of our heavenly One?

Not everyone has had a loving, caring father. For different reasons, some may not even have known their father. Therefore, for them to call God my Father may have little, if any, meaning. However, all of us have an idea of what a good earthly father would be. Besides, we may have known some people who did portray the characteristics of a good father.

We know that human fathers are far from perfect, but we also know that we love our children and, in spite of our shortcomings, we try to give them the best we can. Imagine, then, what our Father in heaven can do for us.

What does it mean for you, personally, to address God as your heavenly Father? What should it mean to you?



Sunday: Our Father in Heaven — 27 Comments

  1. My grandfather filled the shoes of my absentee father whom I don't have any memory of from my early childhood. The good traits I develop were a direct result of our bonding. His face is riveted in my photo memory. It is the same when I vision Christ on the cross paying the sin debt of mine.

  2. I lost the experience of enjoying the warmth and security of a father at age 12 - a stage I thought I needed him most. He passed away in 1995. Thus, to address God as my father kind of fills my heart with some hope of at least knowing that there is someone somewhere who is offering a better guardianship and guidance as will an earthly father. Better still, He is the Father of my elder brother and dearest of friends - Jesus Christ - who is ever ready to speak on my behalf when I feel despondent to appear before the Father of lights especially when my darkened heart beclouds my conscience to behold His majesty and power.

  3. I am pleased that our SS Lessons highlight our God: FATHER,SON and HOLY GHOST.
    I believe that Jesus Christ gave us an example and model of the powerful meaning of HIS/OUR FATHER in HIS life, and truly emphasized how much our FATHER desires to have a relationship with each of us.
    Generally, we talk much about the meaning of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives, but minimal about our Father, particularly in comparison with the place Jesus Christ gave to His Father in His life.
    Our Father's presence
    Our Father's will ("I only do the will of my Father")
    Our Father's will ("Whatever I tell you, was given me by the Father')
    Our Father's grief over lost relationships
    Our Father's desire to have a relationship with us
    Our Father with longing anticipates the second coming of Jesus Christ (EGW)
    Jesus Christ instructs us to pray to our Father
    Jesus Christ gave us a model prayer, praying to our Father
    Jesus Christ, our example, Himself regularly spent much time with our Father
    The Holy Spirit with wordless "groanings" takes our prayers to our Father
    Jesus Christ never instructed to pray to Himself, but to our Father - why?
    Might be He understands our Father's feelings better than we do?
    Might be He understands our Father's isolated separation than we do?
    "Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come....

  4. To have the opportunity to call God our Father, is a thing most cheering. It simply telss us that we are assured of his protection every time we call to him for help, it also tells that we have an opportunity to boast about his fathering, his loving, his goodness, et cetera. Matt 7:11 means whatever God does for mankind, he does it from the love point of view, he never does things to hurt or harm us, but to benefit us. Every action He takes has a purpose to benefit not him but mankind.

  5. I like to think about the way I feel towards my son. I would do anything to help him or shield him from hardship if possible. Knowing that God feels that way about me, helps me to understand the dynamics of our relationship.
    God isn't standing over me to catch me making a mistake. He instead, is guiding me along, knowing that I will need Him. Patiently He waits for me ask for help, so He can show me.

  6. For me calling God my Father means the world to me; not only is it a privilege but an honor. You see I have an earthly father but I don't know him the way I do my Heavenly Father. The love that I so desperately needed from my earthly father, my Heavenly Father supplies unconditionally. He is with us everyday. He never gets tired of hearing from us, talking to Him; confiding in Him about any and everything. He loves us unconditionally. We have to look at ourselves as little children in this big world He created. So we men as fathers and priests of our home should represent a mirror image of our Heavenly Father and live the life He lived while He was here on earth.

  7. God is not only our Father, but also our Mother. When you combine the image and love of both your dad and your mom, you get a glimpse of God's concern for us, his children.

  8. To address God as My Heavenly Father instill a sense of hope, security, protection, and provision that I have not experienced with an earthly father. I grew up in an abusive home with a dad addicted to alcohol. During those harsh developmental years my mom fought for us to engender a relationship with God, my dad did not want us to go to church on the Sabbath. My faith in God grew throughout those sad years because He became my peace, refuge, strength and ultimately deliverer from abuse. Today, God remains my abiding strength, deliverer, protector, and keeper.

  9. I must confess, the whole father concept is one I don't truly understand. I never knew the individual responsible for my being here, and didn't get along with the one my mother married after my birth. My bio never came around after the day I came home. My mom divorced him when he moved in with anther woman.
    I don't understand it, but would like to. I don't feel I did a.l that well with my kids, even though they say I did.Might be T.M.I for some, and my apologies.

    • Hi Jerry; I know a number of people for whom the "Father" metaphor does not work. It is a sad reality in a world affected by sin. Fortunately the Bible uses a number of other metaphors that help us understand His love for us. I particularly resonate with the "Good Shepherd" idea. I grew up on a small farm in NZ where we had about 200 sheep. My grandfather knew each of those sheep and as we did the rounds each day he would look for particular sheep that had had a problem and would check their whereabouts and health. You learn a lot from a person who really understands sheep. I happened to have a great father was well, but the "Good Shepherd" metaphor has always been particularly meaningful for me as well.

      • Jerry and Maurice,
        Isn't this the very reason why He gave us the concept of Father? Jesus told us: "Go to the Father. He loves you. He is anxious to answer you". Wouldn't Jesus have known that there are children who have been so hurt by earthly fathers that it would be very painful to every conceptualize "Father" without that pain? I guarantee, on faith in Him, that He knew.
        Here is the deal:
        "When you pray, go to the Father, and pray:
        It is not the father (on earth) of Hurford, or Jerry or Ashton, or Tom, or Cindy, or Jeffrey, or Jenny or......... for each of us represent one of a range of varied experiences with broken fathers.
        It is our Father, OUR FATHER,
        And to further distinguish, "WHO ART IN HEAVEN".
        Turn away from all earthly models, and reach for the single model where
        "GOD IS LOVE", His very identity being the totality of love.
        And He lives in a home untouched with sin.
        But He feels why pain even where He lives, for He "is love"
        And He wants me to eventually be freedom from the sin trap, pain trap,
        And come to live with HIM,
        So Jesus did not stop there:
        "HALLOWED BE THY NAME" - Holy, righteous, merciful, good
        Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom we seek, is the Father's Kingdom.
        Jesus Christ, ONE with the FATHER, the Image of the Father,
        Came to earth to represent Father
        To give us opportunity to restore access to the Father.
        First access to KNOWING the Father, Our Father
        Then access into MEETING the Father, Our Father
        But Jesus did not stop there...........
        Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the things of God
        I need the Holy Spirit to help me move from the pain caused by earthly,
        To teach me the things that are Heavenly.
        It is our transition from earthly broken Father
        To Heavenly Father
        That constitutes the greatest transition from earth to Heaven
        by the work of the Holy Spirit,
        Transition me from the what I have know, to
        what He now reveals.
        I have been given a brand new identity:
        Son of God

        • Apology for the errors in previous post a few minutes ago.
          I must have accidentally hit the enter key, and so posted before editing.
          But I know the Holy Spirit will reveal the meaning of 1 John 3:
          "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us,
          That we should be called 'Sons of God'.
          Therefore the world knows us not,
          Because it knew Him not.
          Beloved now are we the Sons of God"
          That is the transition given to us by the Holy Spirit:
          No longer am I son of the earthly father who abuses - orgin in sin;
          I AM the SON of OUR HEAVENLY FATHER - Origin in Love.

          God bless all.
          I am blessed to be "Son",
          So guaranteed by the blood of Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Brother: Sons of God, in Heavenly places

    • Thank you for your honesty. This is a difficult lesson that brings up emotional pain for many people including myself. It takes a process to figure this whole thing out. I encourage you to ask God to bring healing to your heart through this lesson this quarter. This is the prayer of my heart also. God bless!

    • Gerry, I resonate with your dilemma.
      My early life was with a drunk father, brother of several drunk uncles. A good man, but.....
      Our Heavenly Father of Love, transformed my earthly father into a miracle.
      95+years old, clear sharp mind, a man after Our Father's own heart.
      When I was 16, I vowed to stop saying demeaning things about my mother, by observing my father's love and patience.
      I did not drop out from an SDA college as an atheist, because of his life.
      One of my cousins (mother's family) who did not grow up around my father (different country), wrote this to me: "Uncle Thomas was my father's hero. I decided that I want to be like him, so I gave my heart to Jesus Christ. That is my desire."
      I am so grateful, with all my heart, to a Heavenly Father, who can do such a miracle in an earthly father.
      I have to, just must meet this Heavenly Father someday, so I can thank Him, face to face, down on my knees. What a model of FATHER He must be!!

    • Gerry, I don't have the same experience but I can also say that using "Father" verbiage seems foreign to me in re: to God. I figure it comes down to "knowing" God. I pray that the more we seek Him, He will be revealed to us and we will understand all the emotions that others are expressing for their ability to call God their heavenly Father. I also pray that, though your past cannot be redone, your present with your own children can be better with increased knowledge of God.

  10. Hello. The author said this:

    "The fact that He is our Father invites us to approach Him with the confidence of a child. On the other hand, the truth that He is in heaven reminds us of His transcendence and the need to worship Him with reverence. To emphasize one of these aspects at the expense of the other would lead us to a distorted concept of God, with far-reaching consequences for our practical, daily lives."

    Personally I am uncomfortable with this "close, but not *too* close" representation of God. (Put another way: "God is nice, but he's not *that* nice!")
    In other words, I don't think it is right to pit God as Father against God as supreme. That is what leads to bifurcation and distortion.

    I'm concerned that such a presentation of God will lead us to conclude like the children of Israel that (Deuteronomy 5:23-27):
    "God is "nice enough" but Moses you'd better deal with Him on our behalf, because we never know when He might snap and kill us!"

    An earthly father can command honour and respect not because he can cause you harm if you get out of line, but because the love he has for you inspires devotion. I'd like to think this is true of our Heavenly Father as well.

    • The prophet Isaiah says: For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the heart of the humble, and to revive the spirit of the contrite (Isaiah 57:15 RSV ).

      God is revealing Himself as the transcendent and immanent God at the same time; as a God who is far away and near simultaneously. As the God sitting on the throne in the heavently sanctuary He is a God of inacessibility as He dwells in an unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). In incarnation He is the God Immanuel, God with us and intimately near us. We are not able to comprehend Him within the limits of our human logic. Such a God calls for loving worship.

      Winfried Stolpmann

      • Clearly we are not God.
        On the other hand, God is not inaccessible.
        In fact God not only is approachable--He approaches us! Specifically I'd like to emphasise that God is not far away at all.

        Matthew 20 lays it out like this:
        "24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”"

        So greatness in God's kingdom is about servanthood and capacity to serve--not dazzling bright lights and lightning bolts. This is the principle of God's kingdom.

        Also, love for Him cannot be forced--be it force of logic or physical force; and this is the only kind of devotion that God wants.

        The Great Controversy is not (and was never) about whether or not God is big and powerful. That is not in dispute. It is about whether or not He can be trusted.

  11. My father was loving kind and forgiving .He never returned evil for evil nor did he speak evil of others .he reminds me of the love of God for mankind.whenever I made mistakes he chastised me .he loved me unconditionally.He was patient He never fought mum no matter how the disagreed.what A gift The lord gave me ,to teach guide,provide and protect.

  12. Who is the one who Israel was calling Jehovah? Scripture says that Jesus was the active one in creation (Eph 3:9; Heb 1:2; Col 1:16) and that He holds everything together (Heb 1:3). He is also the lord of the Sabbath (Mat 12:8) meaning He was the law giver at Sinai and was the one who was following Israel in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-4). On top of that, Jesus said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9 NKJV) and Isaiah said, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6 NKJV).

    To me the Father is the real mystery. As one might say, “Jesus I know and the Holy Spirit I know but who are you?” (a reflection of Acts 19:15).

    • Tyler, when Philip asked Jesus, "Show us the Father," Jesus replied, "Have I been with you so long, and you have not known me?"

      To know Jesus is to know the Father. Thus there need be no more mystery about the Father than there is about Jesus. 🙂

      • Of course you are right. Both the Father and the Son operate on the same page as Monday’s lesson points out, “The complete unity of Jesus and the Father includes a mutual and perfect knowledge of each other: a unity of will, purpose, and objectives.” I believe that is what Jesus was referring to in Jn 14:8-9.

        To be honest Inge, that is not what I was asking.

        • I have been involved in more arguments about the nature of the Godhead than most people have had hot breakfasts. Unfortunately most of these arguments have been more about "my argument is better than your argument" than about the nature of God. While undoubtedly, some descriptions are better than others, there is always going to be differences depending on the a person's experience and background. It is important for us to be magnanimous to descriptions other than the ones we think we have worked out for ourselves.

          The Godhead is not like some physical object that we can measure and weigh. We cannot put God in a Hadron accelerator and blow him to bits and analyze the pieces. Our understanding of God is much more subtle and personal than that.

          In a very real sense much of our understanding of God comes from our interactions with people who claim to know Him personally. Jesus reply to Phillip's question; "Have I been with you so long, and you have not known me?" was not only a statement about His relationship with the Father, but a challenge to those of us who call ourselves Christian. If we claim to know God, what do other people see in us?

          It matters very little that we are erudite explainers of the Godhead, if we do not reflect the love of God to our community of interaction.

        • Maurice, I fully agree with both you and Inge. Apparently the point I was driving at went completely over everyone’s head. I am not arguing over the physical nature of the Godhead. Further, I agree that all three persons of the Godhead are in full unity and harmony with one another. To me that is indisputable.

          What I was opening up was the question as to exactly who the Jews thought the Messiah was supposed to be. We think in terms of a trinity but I don’t think the Jews did. To them God was one, period! To me this is one of the reasons why Jesus entered into the dialog He did with the Pharisees:

          While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David." He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him`Lord,' saying: `The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool "'? If David then calls Him`Lord,' how is He his Son?" (Mat 22:41-45 NKJV)

          I also think it has a bearing on how we interpret the point Jesus was making when He said, "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Lk 6:5 NKJV).

          Now to us I think answering the question about who the God of the Old Testament was is important in another way as well. We all too often conceive of God the Father as the all powerful one who sits in judgment with inexpressible glory surrounded by myriads of angels. Jesus, on the other hand is our friend who died for us and was also a close friend to the disciples. We have no problem with Jesus because of our understanding of Him but woe to us if we are put in front of that being sitting on the throne in Heaven. But suppose that the one who the Jews called Jehovah was actually our friend Jesus. How does that change our concepts of God and basically our entire relationship to Jesus? Do you understand the significance of the question?

        • Yes, I believe it is important to understand that the Jehovah of the Old Testament was the same person of the Godhead that was incarnate in Jesus Christ.

          Christ came to reveal all we can possibly know about God - the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

          I believe Maurice's point was that an intellectual understanding of as much as we can know about the nature of God is not enough to recognize Him when He appears. The Pharisees knew all the theological arguments, but since they did not have a personal relationship with Yahweh/Jehovah, they did not recognize Him when He came to them in human form.

    • Ah Tyler, I think you have changed the question. You initially asked who Israel was calling Jehovah, and now you are asking who the Jews thought the Messiah was supposed to be. Fair enough - both questions are food for thought. The issue of course is that the Jews did not recognise the Messiah when he did come because they have a preconceived idea that outweighed all the evidence. Can I suggest that it is the same problem that I mentioned in my previous response to you. The Jews were good and providing erudite answers but lacked the practical relationship with God and their community of believers. They were more interested in explaining God than in living a life that reflected the love of God into their community of interaction. It is the old story - there is nothing new under the sun!


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