What a privilege it is to
have been called out of the world and to have become God's
people! Whilst we walk through our symbolic wilderness, we often
gain valuable exhortation from God's people in the literal
wilderness. It is therefore not surprising that when we consider
the education of our children, we gain equally valuable guidance
from considering God's instruction to His people in the
wilderness regarding the teaching of their children:
"For what nation is there so great,
who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all
things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so
great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this
law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself,
and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which
thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the
days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;
Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in
Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together,
and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear
me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that
they may teach their children."
In order to preserve the greatness of the
nation, they needed to teach their children the righteous laws
and statues that God had given them. It was to be an on going
venture, self perpetuating through all generations of God's
people. This was essential if they were to learn to fear the LORD
The same message comes through only two
"Now these are the commandments, the
statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to
teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to
possess it: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all
his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou,
and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and
that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and
observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may
increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised
thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O
Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the
LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this
day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them
diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Now we see not only the requirement to teach
the children, but also the depth of the teaching - 'diligently' -
and the regularity and amount of teaching - when sitting at home,
when out walking, when going to bed, when getting up in the
morning. The requirement to teach the children was a full time
task, not a part time pastime when the children were available.
Once again, the importance of doing this is
stressed a little later in Deuteronomy, showing the emphasis God
placed on the teaching of His people's children:
"Therefore shall ye lay up these my
words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign
upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when
thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
We also do well to consider the Lord Jesus
Christ's attitude toward children, and at the same time be warned
against adopting the disciples' attitude:
"And they brought young children to
him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those
that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased,
and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I
say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a
little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in
his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
Sending children to school
All too often we see children pushed away in
the society in which we live. They often seem inconvenient to
parents who need to be elsewhere. We see them taken to early
morning and after school clubs, the present government has
recently encouraged this to happen within schools. The amount of
time that parents spend with their children is diminishing fast
and we need to be on our guard not to let this be the accepted
'norm' in the brotherhood. Jesus' approach was different - "Suffer
the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not".
He obviously was not in favour of pushing them away - why?
Because he knew that the manner of children is what is needed in
the Kingdom of God.
So what were the qualities of a child that
Jesus had in mind when he said "Whosoever shall not
receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter
Surely it was those of trust and the
willingness to learn. It seems apparent that God expected the
children of His people to learn by asking questions:
"And it shall come to pass, when your
children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That
ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD's passover, who
passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when
he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people
bowed the head and worshipped."
"And it shall be when thy son asketh
thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say
unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt,
from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh
would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in
the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn
of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the
matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I
"And it came to pass, when all the
people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto
Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of
every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence
out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests'
feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with
you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge
this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had
prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And
Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your
God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a
stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes
of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you,
that when your children ask their fathers in time to come,
saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them,
That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the
covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of
Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial
unto the children of Israel for ever."
"And those twelve stones, which they
took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto
the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask
their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over
this Jordan on dry land."
God knows that children are prone to asking
questions - that is how they learn. In Bible times there would be
no doubt who those questions would be directed at - their parents
or the Rabbis in later times. Yet today who are they most likely
to ask? We would all hope it would be us, their parents, but in
reality we have to admit that we can no longer assume that this
will be the case.
Children today are taught to question
everything, even the beliefs of their parents. They are
encouraged to seek advice from many different quarters. Add to
this the amount of time that they spend with us compared with the
time they spend at school and with their friends and we start
wondering "Who do they ask when they want to find out the
answer to their many questions?"
Consider a very simple break down of an average
week day of a child:
Getting up and
getting ready for school - 1 hr
At school - 7 hrs
Sleeping - 9 hrs
Total - 19 hrs
19 hours when we do not have any opportunity
for any input into their learning. It leaves just 5 hours when we
can exert some sort of influence over the children of God's
people. There can be no doubt that this figure is a VERY GENEROUS
estimate and in reality, the figure will be far lower, given the
world's insidious tendency to grab as much of our time as well as
that of our children.
Yet consider the greater percentage of waking
hours that school and friends have to influence our children. We
should be asking the question - "Who are they most likely to
ask and what are the answers they are going to receive?"
What exactly are our children learning for the
majority of their waking hours during the week? Can we be sure
that it is what we want them to learn? Is it what God wants His
people's children to learn?
"Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I
will teach you the fear of the LORD."
We can be absolutely positive that they will
not learn "the fear of the LORD"! This is clearly our
duty, one which should be passed down from one generation to
another and the purpose of this comes out very clearly in Psalm
"Give ear, O my people, to my law:
incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth
in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have
heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide
them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the
praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works
that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and
appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that
they should make them known to their children: That the
generation to come might know them, even the children which
should be born; who should arise and declare them to their
children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget
the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as
their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation
that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not
stedfast with God."
One of the greatest benefits of teaching our children at home is that we are in control.
We owe it to our children to pass on the
knowledge and understanding of the privilege we enjoy "That
they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of
God, but keep his commandments". It is important that we
adopt the same approach as we see time after time in the opening
chapters of Proverbs:
"My son, hear the instruction of thy
father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:"
"My son, if thou wilt receive my
words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline
thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;"
"My son, forget not my law; but let
thine heart keep my commandments:"
"Hear, ye children, the instruction of
a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good
doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father's son,
tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me
also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my
commandments, and live."
"My son, keep thy father's commandment,
and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon
thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it
shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when
thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a
lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the
way of life"
The 'son' in the Proverbs is instructed to
listen to the words of his parents and we need to realise that a
child going to school has two sets of parents:
1) moral/spiritual 'parents' - us in the
2) educational 'parents' - teachers in
school (teachers are in loco parentis!)
We may think that there is no overlap and
therefore there is no conflict. The reality is that in so many
different areas, teachers will instil in young minds moral and
spiritual ideas that we would not share! We are NOT in total
control of the moral and spiritual development of our children
whilst ever they are exposed to the school system.
Sadly, the situation is spiralling downwards.
The place that our parents and grandparents could remember as
sharing, to some extent, the moral and spiritual values as they
had at home has been swallowed up in humanism!
It is important that we remember the well known
words of Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should
go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
The question we have to face up to in this day
and age is "What is the way in which our children are being
trained up in?"
We have three basic options with regard to our
1) Let them go through the
process, let them make the choice - it is their life, it's up
2) Operate a dual system
approach whereby they learn the ways of the world from a
humanist viewpoint at school and then have it knocked out of
them and replaced by learning God's ways from us at home. The
hope being that we eventually win the battle for their mind.
3) Confine them,
"narrow" them/dedicate them (the literal meaning
behind "Train up" in Proverbs 22:6) to a single
system of learning in which everything is understood in the
context of Divine values and viewpoints.
The choice is ours! However, there is only one
way that we can have control over what our children learn - teach
them at home. We are not advocating teaching solely from the
Bible and nothing else, but rather that the teaching of ALL
subjects is done from a correct perspective, from a Godly
One of the greatest benefits of teaching our
children at home is that we are in control. We decide
what is taught and how. We have total control over our children's
safety. We are able to tailor-make our teaching to benefit our
children, so that girls can be taught how to run the home, how to
bake, how to knit and sew. We are in a position to equip our
children for a spiritually governed approach to life. The boys
can be encouraged to adopt subjects and careers that will not
conflict with their embracing of the truth. The possibilities are
endless and exciting because we are in control.
Seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things
shall be added unto you. Matt. 6:33