Crabtree Acres

Restoration vs. Judgment
By Carolyn Bost Crabtree

Malachi 4:6 “And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”

When Pastor Fields preached on Malachi 4 Sunday morning December 30th, I happened to notice verse 6 and the Lord laid some thoughts on my heart to write for all of us - adults and children alike. I noticed that there is a strong connection between the relationship of parents (especially fathers) to their children and God’s judgment on a nation. I must admit that this shocked me somewhat, but as I thought about it I remembered that I Samuel 15:23 warns us that “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” Idolatry and witchcraft bring curses from God on a nation, and our country is now full of both of these.

How have parents and their children turned their hearts away from one another? How are they at odds with one another? I am not just speaking to rebellious teenagers right now. Both parents and children are addressed by God in this passage. There are probably many ways that we have turned our hearts away from one another, but I believe one of the most obvious ways is the sin of disloyalty.

It seems that many parents tend to be more loyal to their jobs than to their children. In the Bible, the fathers are admonished to teach their children and bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. But as parents we claim that we are too busy making a living to obey the Lord in this. Yes, we need to make a living, but is it to provide the “needs” we have as families or the extravagant “wants” we have. Many couples start out their married lives with goals and dreams for the future; there is nothing wrong with having goals and dreams. But many dreams come with traps that include large college debts, big houses with all new everything, and then children in daycare facilities because the parents cannot afford to stay home and still pay the bills. Families strap themselves to the very upper limits of debt and then must work overtime to make payments. Mothers cannot possibly stay home and take care of the children God has given them, so the training and teaching of these children is left to others. Do young families really need 4 bedrooms and three baths in their homes? Do they really need two expensive new cars? Do they really need high-definition TV sets, video game players, and other toys that seem to rob the family of time with each other? Then as guilt comes from neglecting the homes and children God has given, guilt gives over to indulging the children with “things” to make up for the parents' lack of attention.

Parents are not the only ones to blame here and children must bear the responsibility for part of the problems as well. From early age children are divided into age groups and become more loyal to their friends and peer groups than to their families. Pressure to be like the others around them causes young people to want more than they really need, without the responsibility of helping to pay for these things. Every child has an idea of what he/she needs to wear to be accepted. Every child is told from early age what toys will make them happy forever. Every teen in this nation thinks that he/she should have a car as soon as they reach the age of 16. They do not think about paying for gas, insurance, or tires, much less the car itself. If they do not receive what they want, they feel abused and become even more estranged from their parents. They are deprived in their own eyes; idolatry has set into their hearts.

One of the judgments mentioned in Isaiah 3 that came to Judah because of their rebellion was that the youth would rule over them (Isaiah 3:4). Who is ruling many of our homes today? Another judgment was that the child would behave himself proudly against his elders (Isaiah 3:5). Another translation says that the youth will storm against the elder. We see that every single day at Wal-Mart when a child wants something that the parent won’t buy for them and throws a fit or a teenager runs away from home because the parent will not give in to that child.

The ultimate turning away of hearts is abortion; we just kill off the inconvenience of having a child so we don’t have to take responsibility in the first place. Actually the main problem is that we are all more loyal to ourselves and our own needs than we are to the needs of others, even those that God has given us responsibility for in our lives. Most divorces are caused by the sin of disloyalty. Most child neglect and abuse is caused by the sin of disloyalty. We have turned our hearts away from each other and God has brought a curse on our nation. Pray that our hearts will be turned back to one another and that God will have mercy on us.