Echoing the prophecy of Malachi, the angel Gabriel tells old Zechariah that his son, John the Baptist, will go before the Savior “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, to turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to prepare a people who are ready for the Lord” (Luke 1:17 EHV). Where this does not happen, said the prophet Malachi, then there is nothing left but a curse upon those unprepared for the coming of Christ.
So just what does this mean? By the preaching of Law and Gospel, God the Holy Spirit turns human hearts. He turns the hearts of the fathers to their children, says the Bible. Repentance shows itself as the hearts of fathers and mothers turn to the eternal welfare of the children God has given them.
You hear horror stories of twisted parents who lock their children in cellars or cages and starve them, or raise them in homes which resemble war zones!
But what about the parents who fuss over their children’s education, sports, dental health, video games and clothes, but keep their immortal souls on a lean, starvation diet? What about the parents who let their children walk around spiritually lost, hoping they will somehow find their way to the Father?
This is far worse than dropping them off in the woods somewhere and driving away. It is spiritual child abuse! At stake is where a child will spend eternity. The hearts of fathers and mothers turn to their children when they see them as souls for whom Jesus spilled His life’s blood, children who will spend eternity in heaven or hell. The hearts of fathers turn to their children when they get out of bed to bring them – no, not send them – but come with them to their Father’s house. The hearts of fathers and mothers turn to their children when they themselves see their desperate need of Jesus, and when they are unafraid to talk with their sons and daughters about Christ’s word, Christ’s love. Christ is coming a second time. If the hearts of fathers do not once again turn to their children and hold Christ before their young eyes, nothing is left but an everlasting curse. Turn our hearts, O Lord!
And, said Malachi, God will “turn the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). That means, says Gabriel, that God will turn “the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” The hearts of children turn to their fathers when they give up their disobedience and give ear to the wisdom of godly fathers and mothers and grandparents, when they stop thinking they are too sophisticated for the Scriptures. Advent preaches that Christ is coming. If our hearts do not turn back again to the faith of our fathers – the faith founded on God’s Word, faith in the Lamb who died and rose again for us all, then nothing is left but an everlasting curse. The hour is late! Before it is too late, turn our hearts, O Lord!