Despite the corruptions it has suffered throughout humanity's past, the family has generally remained the most dependable bond of human togetherness. Typically speaking, a person's family is his or her support in life in ways no one else can or desires to be.
From humankind's beginning, God made it clear that He wanted man and woman to come together to build a family: "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'" (Genesis 1:27-28).
God also instructed that Adam and Eve be joined in physical union and living together to become one: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
God gives a husband and wife a family: "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows in a warrior's hands. How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them!" (Psalms 127:3-5, New Living Translation).
The family as God intended is a preeminent joy and an ongoing pleasure. But does the family unit only apply to life in the human flesh, or is it a picture of something far greater and more glorious? Does God have an ultimate purpose for the family unit that nearly 7 billion people don't know about? Let's explore God's ultimate purpose for the family.
Ruth's extraordinary family
It may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most faithful families of the Old Testament began with a gentile woman named Ruth and the highly regarded Israelite she married, Boaz. Both had great credibility. Ruth earned hers the hard way, rigorously and sensitively. Boaz earned the respect of his community by conducting his business affairs in a reputable way, fair and solicitous of others' needs.
Ruth started from nothing and allowed her mother-in-law and God to make her into something. A Moabitess who grew up amid false religion, Ruth was led to learn of the true God. And when she did, she forsook her Moabite family and religion and cherished God's holy truths.
Ruth loved her mother-in-law, who loved God. That which Ruth loved in Naomi was God. God's love illuminated and emanated from Naomi's loving character. When Ruth lost her previous husband, one of Naomi's sons, she refused to leave Naomi's side, no matter what:
"But Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me'" (Ruth 1:16-17).
Loyalty and faithfulness characterized the life of Ruth. Her inward beauty came from God after she unconditionally surrendered herself to Him. For there is nothing more beautiful in human beings than living according to the holy truths of Almighty God!
God transformed Ruth, though she showed good character before she left her native land. She was pliable in God's hands, and He shaped her into a vessel of mercy and saw to it that she would marry the renowned Boaz, who set an unimpeachable example of godly character. From a marriage between an Israelite and a gentile came eventually Jesse the father of King David, and later the King of Kings, Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:22; Matthew 1:5, Matthew 1:16).
Philip's faithful family
The evangelist Philip evidently had a wonderful family with deep roots in God and His Word. The relatively little said about Philip and his family speaks volumes. He was ordained as a deacon in the early Church in Jerusalem, handpicked by discerning brethren:
"Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.'
"And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them" (Acts 6:1-6, emphasis added throughout).
Philip was the second deacon mentioned in the New Testament, after Stephen, who suffered martyrdom (Acts 7). Philip was also a highly effective preacher of God's truth, and many people were called through his teachings and observed how God performed miracles through him (Acts 8:5-13).
Later we see Philip referred to as an evangelist (Acts 21:8). It's recorded in the same place that his four daughters prophesied (Acts 21:8), implying that all were well-grounded in God's truth, having been taught by a faithful father. And though nothing is said of Philip's wife directly, it seems reasonable to assume that she also had much to do with this outstanding family. Philip's family is highly commended by God in their faithful attitudes and actions.
Clearly the earthly family, intended by God as an institution for spiritual instruction, is very important in His eyes. And it points to another family that eclipses the physical family, as important and wonderful as the human family is.
God's begotten family on earth
God is a family, and He has a family on earth (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 3:14-15). Presently, the God family on the divine level comprises the Father and the Son (Romans 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-2; Matthew 3:17). Further, God's spiritual family also consists of the saints of God—that is, true Christians: "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God" (Romans 8:14, New International Version).
The book of Hebrews discusses God's family, stating: "But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
"In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters" (Hebrews 2:9-11, NIV).
The apostle Paul further shows that the spiritually begotten family of God, both sons and daughters, are viewed as seated with Christ at God's throne. While we of course remain here on this earth physically, through the work of Christ we are presented as raised up with Him:
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-6, NIV). God refers to those things He has planned that haven't yet come to be as though they have (compare Romans 4:17).
So we see from Scripture that God has a family here on earth consisting of His begotten sons and daughters. These have repented of their sins and committed to obeying Him, have turned in faith to God, believing His promises, have been baptized or immersed in water and then raised from this "watery grave," and have had a minister of Christ lay hands on them for the receiving of God's Holy Spirit. (See our free Bible study aid Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion to learn more.)
The ultimate purpose for family
Part of God's ingenious communication to humankind is through the pattern of physical models picturing spiritual realities. For example, Scripture describes our bodies as physical temples (2 Corinthians 5:1) and the entire Church as a temple too (1 Corinthians 3:16). And God fulfills the physical forerunner in ultimate reality—divine, spiritual, immortal reality.
So it is with marriage. The marital and family relationships human beings have the privilege of enjoying are but models or types of the spiritual family of God and the coming marriage of Jesus Christ to His transformed people (Revelation 19:7).
Both Jesus Christ and all God's saints are all children of God, Christ being the firstborn Son of God—the first to be raised into divine glory (though He also preexisted in glory before His human life, unlike any of us—read the Bible study aid Jesus Christ: The Real Story). The Church's New Covenant union with Christ, represented by the heavenly Jerusalem where God reckons His family as seated, is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26), and God is our Father forever.
Eventually, after the great salvation periods of the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment that follows (Revelation 20:4-6, Revelation 20:11-13), God the Father will bring the New Jerusalem down to a renewed earth, and Christ will present all the many billions of saved children of God to God the Father.
The apostle Paul describes it well in laying out the order of people being raised into glory: "But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming; then the culmination, when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father . . ." (1 Corinthians 15:23-24, Complete Jewish Bible).
Therefore, the ultimate purpose for the family on earth is to provide a great spiritual, divine family for God forever. This is why the physical family is so vitally important to God and to us. When we understand the ultimate purpose for which God established our human families, it provides us with peace and security, allowing us to rise above the selfish tendency to see children as getting in the way or as nuisances.
We can also then more easily accept the opportunities God gives us for daily dedication to the better welfare of our little ones. This will bring us joy and other rewards—some immediate and some later on. But all human beings have human nature that fights against us as an enemy to overcome. And overcome we must—through prayer to God, meditation on His Word and the resultant strength and comfort that comes from the Father and Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The family unit helps to secure the marriage relationship. There is an ultimate purpose to the family relationship, and that is for all who are willing to become a part of the divine family of God. Now you know God's ultimate purpose for the family unit. And with that glorious knowledge, you can help secure your own family in the peace of the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus!