The Origin of Father’s Day?
Study Guide, June 18, 2023
Pastor Clay Olsen
The credit for originating the holiday of Father’s Day is generally given to Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, whose father was a Civil War veteran, and raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth. Sonora is said to have had the idea in 1909 while listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day, which at the time was becoming established as a holiday. Local religious leaders supported the idea, and the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, the month of the birthday of Dodd’s father. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge gave his support to the observance, and in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation that recognized the day.
It became a national holiday in 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed legislation designating the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.1 And what a wonderful holiday it is, as it is so important to honor faithful Fathers who dedicate themselves to the blessing of their wife and their children.
But we need to back up the wagon here…and back it up how far…how far back? Waaayyy back! Because the ‘original origin’ of Father’s Day, if we could put it that way, the ‘original origin’ was not in 1909 in Spokane, Washington…no it was…well…let’s look. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen 1:26-28 NKJV
The real origin of Father’s Day is when God became the Father to His human family. For that was not only God’s plan from eternity past…that was God’s greatest desire from eternity past…to have a family to love and to enjoy for all eternity. In fact, you could wrap up what the entire Bible is all about by stating that the Bible is about God wanting and creating and redeeming a family for Him to love and to enjoy for all eternity. Oh yes, Father’s Day originated at the beginning of the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth when God said, ‘Let Us make man, let us make human beings, in Our image.’ And God became a ‘Father’.
Throughout the Old Testament we find God being referred to as ‘Father’. And when it comes to the New Testament, get this…Jesus referred to God as His father over 150 times! And this alone brought a whole new understanding of our relationship with God. In fact, one of the basic premises in Theology is that ‘what comes into your mind when you think about God as your ‘Father’ is the most important thing about you.’ How about that? What do you think about when you think about God as your ‘Father’? Do you think about your Heavenly Father the way our Heaven Father has revealed Himself in the revelation of the Bible and in the demonstration of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ?
Until we do, we are mischaracterizing God and thus forfeiting the kind of relationship that God the Father wants to have with us and how we can then pass some of that onto others, especially to our own family…something of the character and conduct of our Father in Heaven. And we’ll mention a few things about that in a moment. But back to the fact of how much it means to God to be a Father to us…to you and to me.
At a time when Israel had wandered from their fellowship with God, in one of the most revealing and remarkable expressions about Himself, God said this about His deepest desire in His relationship with His human family…and this is God speaking… Jer 3:19- “I thought to Myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from Me.” NLT How amazing is that for God to open up to us all about how much it means to God to be ‘our Father’ and how much He longs for that intimate of a relationship with His children…with you!
When you think of what it means to God to be our ‘Father’ and think about how God wants to relate to us and deal with us as our Heavenly Father, and for us to better know and to live in that relationship with our Father…well, that will change everything about your understanding of your God and everything about your walk with your God and everything about your worship of your God and everything about your service to God.
Even when the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus pointed them to start with a focus on ‘Who’ their God is before they got to ‘what’ they were going to pray about. “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” Even prayer is not first about the needs of others or even our own selves, no, even prayer is first about this indescribable relationship we have with the Creator of the Universe, who has also become our Father, through giving us His spirit and eternal life in a new birth relationship through the salvation we have through Jesus Christ. Everything in our life is based upon ‘Who’ God is to us, and ‘who’ we are to Him. In receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and God, we become Born Again and thus, children of God. And God becomes both our Creator and our ‘Father’. And as much as God deserves our worship as our Creator, God longs for our love for Him as our ‘Father’.
Really? Does our eternal relationship and our daily love really mean that much to God? As overwhelming as it is to us that it could…oh yes, it does…in fact, it means more to God than we can imagine! Remember what God said about that? As far and the Heavens are above the Earth, so great is the love of our Heavenly Father for us…and His desire for our love for our Heavenly Father.
So then, back to Father’s Day. The real encouraging thing about Fatherhood is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just need to follow in the tracks. Fathers not only have a book already written about being a Father…we have 66 Books about it…we have the entire Bible that is filled with definitions, descriptions, and demonstrations of what Fatherhood is all about, because the Bible is about our Heavenly Father living in relationship with His children of all ages and all stages.
So, ever since that first Father’s Day, every human father, who is made in the image of the Heavenly Father, was and is intended to ‘father’ their children after the pattern of the way the Heavenly Father ‘fathers’ His children. The pattern is not complicated, but it is very precise. Let’s just look at a few of those precise parts.
Remarkably enough, our Heavenly Father wants us to both know and to feel secure in our relationship with Him. As some commentators have put it, the Apostle John wrote an entire letter or book…the book of 1 John to give assurance and security to believers in Christ of their salvation. Look at 1 John 5:11-13- “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” NLT God wants His children to not live in a ‘hope-so’ kind of relationship with Him, but to live with a ‘know-so’ sense of assurance about their relationship with their God and Father, especially about the fact that God’s children are both eternally loved and eternally secure. Even when God disciplines His children, that too, in done in the relationship of love and security.
Even the purpose of the commandments of God are for the benefit and the protection of His children. God’s commandments have been illustrated by the guardrails found on mountain roads. What is the purpose of the guardrails…to restrict a person’s joy of running off the road and tumbling hundreds of feet down the mountain side? No, how ridiculous is that? The purpose of the guardrails is to protect people from tumbling down the mountain so that they can enjoy their journey of experiencing all the wonders of the mountains as they travel. The same is true of God’s commandments. They are not to restrict the joys of God’s family, but to protect them from the harm that would result from not having them and to provide the ways to best enjoy their journey of experiencing all the wonders of God’s world.
So it is to be with human Father’s, at some point, actually, over and over, Fathers need to communicate the reasons for their Parental instructions of acting on some behaviors and the prohibitions of other behaviors. The prohibitions are given to protect their children from harm and to bless them for good. Even when Fathers have to be firm or tough, they can still do so in ways that assure their children that, just as sure as a compass points north, the compass of their Father’s heart always points to love. And that is learned just like we learn it from our Heavenly Father, through the demonstrations of His love and His promises to us. Regular encouragements and commendations and affection give a strong sense of security to children, but also provide a great motivation for their children’s cooperation and service within the family.
Along with assuring us of our security, our Heavenly Father also affirms us in our true identity. And really, until you know ‘whose’ you are, you cannot know ‘who’ you are. It is in understanding that we belong to God both through our redemption and by our spiritual re-birth that we then come to realize ‘who’ we really are. In the Wednesday Summer Series that we just started, many of the teachings on our freedom in Christ are based upon our identity in Christ. Once you know who God says you are, you are then delivered from the lies of who the world, or your own flesh, or who the devil deceptively says you are. If you are confused about your very identity, you will be conflicted in every other area of your life.
Fathers have this strategic role in passing on the life-changing truths of our belonging to God and knowing ‘Whose’ we are, and then assisting their children to also come to rejoice in who they are in Christ through their acceptance in God’s family and in their family, and in their assurance in their relationship with Christ and in their relationship in their family.
And then, along with their security and their identity, Father’s can pass on to their children the knowledge of their birthright of their destiny. Our Heavenly Father assures us of ‘Whose’ we are, giving us our security. And in knowing ‘Whose’ we then can know ‘Who’ we are, giving us our identity. And then in knowing ‘Who’ we are, we can then discover ‘What’ we were meant to be and to do…that is…we discover our ‘destiny’. This is what our Heavenly Father has revealed to us about both ‘Who’ we are and ‘What’ we have been created to do. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Eph 2:10 NLT God’s children are His masterpieces of the Created world. The real ‘stars’ of the universe are not the ones that are shining throughout the Universe…no, the real ‘stars’ of the universe are the ones that make up the family of God. None of God’s children need never struggle with their sense of significance, because they were born again into significance. You can’t get anymore significant than being ‘a masterpiece of God’s’.
And the plans that God has for His children only begin in this world, for they will only be fully realized and experienced in the experience of His plans for them in the new world, in the Kingdom of Heaven. For that is their ‘destiny’. And that is something that Father’s can pass onto their children…this soul peace about their great significance and this excitement about their amazing destiny…of knowing that whatever good they do for God and others in this life will not only bless their souls now, but God will reward them with greater things that they will get to do in His Kingdom because of the eternal plans that God has for them. Remember: God connects the good things we do on Earth with greater things that we will get to do in Heaven. These greater things are rewards for us. And Fathers can pass along that counsel of gold to their children about their own destiny, so that they can find fulfillment and satisfaction in whatever good they are doing now, and also have the joy of knowing that God will reward them for whatever good they have done.
But, remember, most of all, with our Heavenly Father, it is who we are as His own children that is of utmost joy to Him. We are His ‘masterpieces’. And that is the same joy that Earthly Fathers can assure their children about as well. They are your ‘masterpieces’.
- brittanicca.com/Father’s Day