A FATHER’S RESPONSIBILITY
Date: November 26
"Build settlements for your little ones, and folds for your sheep."
This was Moses' commandment to the two and a half tribes that wanted to settle in the trans-Jordan area before they entered into the Promised Land. Since they haven't conquered the Promised Land yet, Moses instructed them to send their men to fight with the other tribes before they could settle in. If they weren't willing to do that then they would have sinned (verse 23). So they agreed to send their men to fight. Then in verse 24 Moses instructs them, "Build settlements for your little ones, and folds for your sheep."
Something drastically changes the moment a man becomes a father. Let's look at the life of Jacob for example. For a while, Jacob lived with and worked for Laban, his father-in-law. Then in Genesis 30:23-24a we read about Rachel conceiving a child, "And [now for the first time] she became pregnant and bore a son; and she said, God has taken away my reproach, disgrace, and humiliation. And she called his name Joseph." Then we read in verse 25, "When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, Send me away, that I may go to my own place and country." So the moment Jacob received his first child from the wife he loved, he decided that it was time to move back to his country and build a home for his family.
That drive still exists within fathers today. Most men begin to conduct their lives differently the moment they become fathers. A good father, who thinks of his children, will build a settlement for his little ones, meaning he will build a house for his family. When a father doesn't consider his children, then he will not build. Instead of becoming productive in society, he becomes destructive. For example, when I was growing up my father didn't think of me. He was a drunkard, a gambler, and a womanizer. A few years ago I asked him, "If you had me on your mind while you were drinking and gambling, would you have lived your life differently?" He answered, "Yes."
Numbers 32:24a is a clear commandment for fathers. "Build settlements for your little ones, and folds for your sheep." So not only are fathers supposed to build homes for their families, but also folds for their sheep. Sheep represents a person's source of income. In other words, fathers are to look for ways of producing income to provide support and security for their families. This could mean building a business or finding some kind of employment. A good father will make sure he is bringing in enough income to support his family.
Those are the two elements for a father: to build a home for his children and to establish and grow a source of income. This is also true for fathers who are in ministry. Some ministers think that they are exempted from this obligation because they are in ministry. But that's not true. In Numbers 35:3 we read about the Levites, who served in ministry for the temple. "They shall have the cities to dwell in and their [suburb] pasturelands shall be for their cattle, for their wealth [in flocks], and for all their beasts." In other words, the Levites (even though they served in the temple) had the responsibility of building a house to dwell in and generating a source of income as well. This responsibility falls upon all fathers.
When a father has his children in mind, he will do exactly what Numbers 32:24a commands. He will build a settlement for his little ones and a fold for his sheep, meaning he will build a house for his family and find employment to generate income. Good fathers see a connection between their present actions and the future of their children. That's why they will do what they need to do in order to bless their children. Numbers 32:24a is the proper description of a father's obligation. If you're married with children, then this is your responsibility. So let us, as fathers, be productive in society by providing a home and an income for our families.