To the children

Isaiah 38:15-20
15 “What shall I say?
He has both spoken to me,
And He Himself has done it.
I shall walk carefully all my years
In the bitterness of my soul.
16 “O Lord, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
So You will restore me and make me live.
17 “Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
18 “For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
19 “The living, the living man, he shall praise You,
As I do this day;
The father shall make known Your truth to the children.

20 “The LORD was ready to save me;
Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments
All the days of our life, in the house of the LORD.”

What do we teach our children about the Lord? Do we teach them cute songs about how Jesus loves them? Do we teach them memorable Bible stories? Do we teach them about the Ten Commandments and the Exodus? More to the point, what SHOULD we be teaching our children?

I think sometimes we don’t trust ourselves to teach our own children about God, and so we leave it to programs and teachers in Sunday school or at a Christian primary school. But is that what the Bible tells us to do? In today’s verse from the book of Isaiah, according to King Hezekiah, “The father shall make known Your truth to the children.” Moses said a similar thing to the Israelites several times in the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4:9
“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren…”

Deuteronomy 6:6-7
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Philosopher George Santayana reminded us that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and we see that proved time and again in the Bible. As Moses said, if we forget the things the Lord God has done, if we fail to teach them to our children, then they “will depart from your heart all the days of your life.” And without God’s Word and deeds written upon our hearts, what compass will we have to guide us in hope and truth?

We need to teach our children about our own past and how God saved each of us from the twisted paths we walked before we knew Christ. God has brought each of us out of our own “Egypt” and set our feet upon solid ground, and our children need to know what He has done in a very real way. Yes, the stories of the Bible will teach them in vague terms about how God expresses His love for us, but it is up to us to teach each generation diligently about the things God has done specifically for US.

We cannot leave the moral education of our children to secular schools, and we cannot leave the spiritual education of our children solely to Sunday school teachers. I praise God for the work that all teachers do, but they cannot do it alone. We parents need to do our part to help our children understand how God still operates in the world, that He is NOT a distant and uncaring God but a loving and merciful and LIVING God.

Psalm 78:1-4
A Contemplation of Asaph.

Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
3 Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Let us not hide from our children our testimony of the way God has worked in our lives. Let us rather teach our children not only the Word of God and the fear of God but also the wondrous love of God as He has expressed it in our own lives.

Father in heaven, all praise and glory belong to You alone. Thank You for raising me up, for delivering me from the despair and darkness that threatened my life. Thank You for giving me a purpose in serving You and praising You. Help me, Lord God, to teach my children discipline and love as You have taught me. Help me to raise up my children in the way THEY should go, so they need never travel the broken roads I have known. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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