[H]e will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers.


Recently I helped settle a wealthy man’s estate. He had worked hard building his business and had a multi-million-dollar estate by the time he passed away. Sadly, not all of his children came to his funeral, but, when the time came, they were all there ready to receive a share of his assets. As I reviewed the records, I could tell the man was diligent and had been a hard worker, but what was also evident was that he didn’t have his children’s hearts. Why didn’t he have their hearts?

A 2013 study by the NCHS showed that 1/3 of fathers who lived with their young children don’t talk to their children about their day.¹ And an astounding 61% do not regularly read to their young children. With the rise in daily screen time and cellphone addiction, these numbers have probably only gotten worse.

Relationships are built by investing time into the relationship. My client had clearly invested time in his business and had made a great return. Yet, he had apparently failed to invest a lot of time in his children, and his return was nominal.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if your children are older, the Bible promises that you can again have your children’s hearts:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”


A few things stand out in this passage. The first is that it is Elijah the prophet that turns hearts. How will Elijah turn the hearts? Going back to the Old Testament, we get our answer. During Elijah’s time, God’s Israelite people had given their hearts to their idol gods and had rebelled against God. To win them back, God sent a drought on the land for 3 years. After three years, Elijah called all the people to Mount Carmel to prove who was God. The idol’s prophets and Elijah would both offer a sacrifice to their god, and the god that answered by sending fire from heaven would be God (1 Kings 18:24). The idol’s prophets called to their gods all day, but there was no answer. At the end of the day, it was Elijah’s turn. He knelt by the Lord’s altar and prayed a simple prayer: “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again” (1 Kings 18:37). God sent fire from heaven, and all the people repented and turned to Him.

God worked through Elijah the prophet to turn the hearts of the people back to God. Thus, the lesson in Malachi is that before our hearts can be turned to our children, and before our children’s hearts can be turned to us, we need the work of Elijah in our lives, turning our hearts back to God. We need to repent for whatever is in our hearts that is keeping us from God.

This was the message of John the Baptist, “saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). John the Baptist came “in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17).

So before hearts can be turned between us and our children, our heart has to be turned to God.

The second thing that stands out, is that it is the father’s heart that turns first. A lot of times we wait for others to move and act. We think “when my child comes to me, then I will apologize,” or “then I will accept them ” or do this or that. But to turn your child’s heart back to you, you must first turn your heart to them. Remember it was God who sought you first, while you were estranged from Him. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God sought you even though you were still sinning against him. Should we not then seek our children, even if they are sinning against us? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” If we turn our heart to God and then turn our heart to our children, this spirit of love and forgiveness, the spirit of Elijah, will turn the hearts of children back to us.

Maybe you have done something you feel can’t be forgiven, or you’ve been told by your child they will never forgive you. Don’t be discouraged. The promise isn’t limited, but says “He will turn”. It doesn’t matter what you've done, the Bible says that “love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Call to Action

Claim the promises of God! His Word is powerful and will accomplish what it says. Turn your heart to God and then to your children, and He will turn their hearts to you.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr071.pdf

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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