Calling to mind 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” (Luke 1:17). Where this does not happen, said the prophet Malachi, then there is nothing left but “complete destruction” for those unprepared for the coming of Christ (Malachi 4:6).
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 a cellar or cage and starve them, or the account of the father who carved a bloody, demonic pentagram on the back of his little boy with a box cutter!
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 our children will spend eternity. The hearts of fathers and mothers turn to their children when they see them as children 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 up and bring them – no, not send them – but come with them to God’s house. The hearts of fathers and mothers turn to their children when they themselves see their own lost condition and see Christ as their only Savior, and when they are no longer afraid to talk with their sons and daughters about Christ, Christ’s word, Christ’s love. Christ is coming a second time. If the hearts of us fathers do not once again turn to our 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 children to their fathers.” 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 listen to the wisdom of their godly fathers and mothers and grandparents. The hearts of children turn to their fathers when they stop thinking that they are too sophisticated for the words of the Bible. The hearts of children turn to their fathers when they examine again the Scriptural truths their fathers believed in a world which has utterly turned its back on God. 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, then nothing is left but an everlasting curse. Before it is too late, turn our hearts, O Lord!