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 A Message to Fathers - Bill Gothard


The account of an extraordinary family began in 606 B.C. This family experienced a one-accord power throughout their generations—for more than three hundred years! Their loyalty to the ways of God and to the instructions of their forefathers was so outstanding that God Himself lifted them up as an example to the whole nation! What caused all of them to stand so strong and united during a time of national apostasy accompanied by God’s judgment?

The family founder had a son named Jonadab. He was first of all obedient to his father, and he kept himself pure from the contaminations of sin. Jonadab (also known as Jehonadab) assisted the king in bringing about national reform (II Kings 10:15). He was committed to the godliness of his future generations and established instructions for all his descendants. He gave them commandments that were designed to establish personal purity and a mobile mindset in which they would view themselves as pilgrims and strangers (Jeremiah 35:7).

Peter uses this mindset in appealing to us: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:11–12). The day of visitation for the descendants of Jonadab came when the prophet Jeremiah invited them "into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan," and "set pots full of wine, and cups" before them, saying, “Drink ye wine” (Jeremiah 35:4–5).

Their response has resounded down through history: “We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons forever . . . . Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters . . . .

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD. The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father’s commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.

“And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want [lack] a man to stand before me forever” (Jeremiah 35:6, 8, 12–14, 18–19).

The Impact of a Father

This account has special meaning to me because even before my father became a Christian, he purposed that he would never drink wine. He was tested on this commitment when his boss asked him to include a liquor-related advertisement in the magazine he was editor of. His convictions were so strong that he resigned from his high-paying position with no job in sight. When I saw my father's resolve and the price that he paid to maintain it, I willingly adopted his standards for my own life.

God honored my father in many ways—including being the Director of Gideons International, which places millions of Bibles in hotels and in the hands of millions of military men and women. My father also served as the Chairman of the Board of the Pacific Garden Mission when the program Unshackled was starting. This is now the longest-running radio drama in history and can be heard around the world every day.

At this crisis time in world history, we need mighty men of valor. Your commitment to train up Godly sons and daughters is a mark of such a man. God will honor you. The convictions for which you stand alone will most likely be embraced by your sons and daughters.

It is a joy and an honor to work with you for this goal! May God richly bless you on this Father's Day.


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