Children of the Bible, Part 3 by Allan McGuirl
This is our third devotional on children of the Bible. The first dealt with Cain and Abel and the devastation that jealousy can cause. The second was about Isaac, the Son of Promise, who brought joy to his family and honoured his father through obedience. Isaac is truly a picture of God the Son, as is Abraham a type of God the Father.
Today, we look at a passage that does not name any particular child but instead is God’s command toward parents, especially as it concerns their children. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we read, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when your walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and your gates.”
As you know, the first part of this passage contains the first and greatest commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength. There were many other laws given to the children of Israel but this was the greatest. As an adult, have you tried to live out this commandment on a daily basis? Apart from God’s grace, our pride, selfishness, and stubbornness get in the way and it is impossible to keep. We can get so involved in our own goals, ideas, and challenges that before we realize it, we have forgotten to include God at all. It really is a lifetime learning experience. However, it’s the latter part of this passage that really strikes my heart. Parents are commanded to impress these laws on their children. When? We are to impress these laws at every opportunity. I believe Abraham and Sarah did this with Isaac. I think that in today’s world this commandment would look something like this: during their time at home, we are to show them how God’s word applies to what we are doing – from eating meals, to doing homework, to watching T.V., to playing games, to tidying up rooms and toys. When we drive them to and from activities, we are to share with them how God’s perspective can affect us. Bedtime is a great opportunity to talk about the day’s activities and share more of God’s truth as we lead them to read the Bible for themselves. When they get up, they need to be reminded that they can walk with the Lord through every circumstance.
And although God’s word might not be physically with them, as symbols on their hands and on their foreheads, written on door frames and gates, I believe in our day and age that can mean having Christian magazines always available, having Christ-centered music played frequently, and using every available means to remind them of who God is and of who they are in their relationship with Him. Can you imagine the impact if every Bible-believing family lived this way? Can you envision the attitude changes that would become deeply entrenched habits? Can you imagine how it would affect our neighbours and children’s friends and classmates? What about their teachers?
God knew exactly what he was commanding parents to do. Is it easy? I don’t think so. But if God has blessed you with children and entrusted you to nurture them in His ways, it is the best way to do it.
Now let’s see how the Israelites measured up to God’s standard. Not long after Moses gave these instructions to Israel, he died and Joshua took over the leadership of the people. Joshua led them for about 30 years and at the end of his life he challenged the Israelites with these words, “But choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The Israelites unanimously agreed to follow the Lord, and they renewed their covenant with Him at that time.
Just a few years later, in Judges 2:9-11, Joshua died. After his whole generation had passed away we read these alarming words. “…another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for God’s people to forget the clear instructions Moses had given them, and they missed out on God’s blessings over and over again.
But you know what? There were always a few who stayed true to the Lord; there were always some who remembered to follow Him. I, for one, want to be among those who remember to pass along God’s truth to the next generation, to my own children, to their children, and to the thousands of people in countries around the world we have reached with solar-powered fix-tuned radios. Will you take up that challenge to make sure the next generation knows who the Lord is and what He has done? Will you, like Joshua, choose to serve the Lord and prepare the upcoming generation to be faithful to Him however this task may apply to you? May the Lord richly bless you as you follow in His ways.