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.
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?