Type “father” into a Bible search engine and likely over a thousand verse references will pop up. Fatherhood is a key topic in both Old and New Testaments, as seen through genealogies, patriarchs, and character examples. Children might have different ideas of what a dad should be like, and unfortunately not all earthly fathers are present or set a Godly example. This lesson looks at a few elements of Biblical fathers and celebrates the comfort we can take in our Heavenly Father.
Age Range: Elementary school, likely older students (3rd-6th grade)
Materials Required: Empty tissue boxes or similar containers, construction paper cut into tool shapes, writing utensils, glue, note cards
- We have a shorter message teaching this same idea in the format of a Father’s Day children’s sermon
- Don’t miss our Father’s Day Coloring Pages
- Get more ideas from our other Father’s Day Sunday School lessons
Scripture Reference: Various passages
Opening: Founding fathers matching game…
Write the names of several important fathers on note cards. On another set of cards, write a description of the dads. Have students turn all cards face-down and flip, attempting to find matches between the names and the descriptions. First do this for founding fathers of the country (that is, if the United States applies to you. Otherwise you may wish to adapt!); afterwards look through founding Biblical fathers. Some examples include…
(Historical Nation Fathers)
- George Washington First President of the US
- Thomas Jefferson Wrote the Declaration of Independence
- Benjamin Franklin Known for Almanacs and discoveries
- Alexander Hamilton Established the treasury of the US
- John Hancock Prominent in Continental Congress
Biblical founding fathers
- Abraham Told by God he would lead many nations
- Isaac Had twin sons who fought and tricked him
- Jacob Father of twelve sons; played favorites with a couple
- David Multiple wives, many sons; some tried to kill him; also father of Solomon
- Jesse Father of King David and his brothers
- Noah Father of Shem, Ham and Japheth (at 500 years old!)
- Daniel Trick question! This prophet had no children
- Zechariah Rendered speechless by doubt; father of John the Baptist
- Joseph Adoptive father of Jesus; told by an angel to marry pregnant Mary
- Zebedee (challenge) Father of James and John, disciples of Christ
Lesson: Start off with a quick review of some of these Biblical fathers mentioned in the matching game. Were any of these dads unfamiliar names? What was so important about being a father in Bible times? Explain to students that in the ancient Middle East society was based on “patriarchy”, meaning it was ruled by males or fathers. In the Bible, we have a lot of lists of these fathers. For older students, browse one of these “begat” passages (for example, Genesis 5, Numbers 1, Matthew 1) and look at the long lists these people kept, along with some of the wild names on them. Ancestry was very important to these people, and claiming heritage was a big deal. While these types of lists might seem boring to read through for us, it is important to see how God established His people and fulfilled His promises through the line of fathers.
The Old Testament (and new) gives us many examples of fathers, some good and others not so positive. A lot of these fathers, even men of God like King David, made some serious mistakes. They didn’t always have great relationships with their children, but God still used them. Now, we all have different dads, and hopefully we have excellent examples of fathers. In the Bible, Jesus talks about how our earthly dads should hopefully help us see what a quality father is like:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. -Matthew 7:9-12
This explanation is meant to remind us that (most) dads on earth love their children and want to give them good things, for the most part. This is in spite of our human imperfections and failings. Now, God is perfect and all-knowing. So imagine how much more He is willing to take care of us! This should be a positive reminder to us that God cares for each of us. It is also a reminder that He wants us to love and serve one another. Now, we probably talk to our fathers, right? How do we approach our Father in Heaven? Jesus gives an example of this, too:
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’ -Matthew 6:7-13
Yes, God knows our needs before we ask them. But we still pray. We pray to communicate, to love and honor God, to thank God, and yes to ask Him for things, too. But there’s another important note to be made there…any quality father wants what is best for his kids. Sometimes that means discipline. Sometimes it means saying “no” to an extra cookie or a later bedtime, because that might not be best, even if children don’t understand or agree. In the same way, God doesn’t always give us exactly what we ask for or what we think we might need. He has a deeper and better plan for us, and will work things out in His perfect way, even when it perplexes us!
Jesus explained that God wants us to love Him. He loves us and will always grant us grace when we go astray. We do have the free will and choice to walk away. God does not force love. But He will seek us out, and be ready with open arms to welcome us back whenever we return to Him, just like the father in Christ’s parable of the prodigal son:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. -Luke 15:20-24
There is another important element to our status as being in God’s family:
The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:2-7
Another exciting feature of being God’s children has to do with inheritance. God makes it possible for us to be in His family, and also makes it possible to gain His kingdom. In Biblical times, the son was the one who received the family land, money, and titles after a dad passed away. By being heirs of God, we receive Heaven and all that He has made. We also receive the Holy Spirit, an important part of the trinity found in God the Father (with Jesus the Son as the second part of it). Since we receive this Spirit, we have the privilege to call out to God as our “daddy.” We can revere and worship Him in formal ways, of course. But He also lets us come to Him like a child on its father’s knee, rejoicing in His loving arms and calling out “Abba.” We are servants of God, but through the blood of Christ we are also able to be heirs of His kingdom. What a cause for celebration!
Craft: Father’s Day “tool box” of coupons…
- Help students re-decorate containers (tissue boxes, coffee cans, etc.) with masculine colors and papers.
- On the outside, write “Dad’s tools of the trade” or “You Hammer it in, Dad!” or another fun catchy fatherly phrase.
- Inside the container, place kid-decorated papers cut into tool shapes (hammers, saws, etc.).
- On each paper, write a coupon for simple items that kids can provide, like “bear hug on a rough day”, “story time with dad”, “mowing the lawn without complaining”, “folding the laundry”, “five minutes of undistracted conversation”, “round of Monopoly”, or other things that dads might enjoy redeeming.
Close with prayer, thanking God for being our Heavenly Father and making us heirs of His Kingdom. Thank God for His love and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.