While the Deuteronomy passage holds sound advise to parents who wish to raise their children to know God, it presupposes that the parents themselves are keeping the commandment.
“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. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.”
Children are more intelligent and discerning that we think. They can see through our hypocrisy in a second if we are not walking the talk. What Moses in Deuteronomy is exhorting parents to do is really to live the godly life in front of their children. What is YOUR life impressing upon YOUR children? What do they see from you most of the time?
Do they see you in a constant state of stress, or in a state of peace?
Are they seeing you walk by faith, or by sight?
Where are your children when you pray? Have they heard you praise God, petition him, or wrestle with God?
How will your children learn the fundamentals of the Christian life except from you?
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were created holy and righteous but they did not walk in obedience to God. Given only one commandment to obey, they did the exact opposite. As a result of their disobedience, sin entered the world. Of the two sons that Adam and Eve had, Cain was the weaker one who gave in to sin and murdered his brother Abel. Instead of repenting of his sin, Cain departed from the presence of the Lord. He was lost, and with him all his descendants.
This must have grieved Adam and Eve, but more importantly it turned them into fervent evangelists, warning their third son, Enoch, and his descendants to walk uprightly before the Lord. Their efforts bore beautiful fruit in the likes of Noah, “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen 6:9 ESV).
We all have made mistakes in one form or another. We all have sinned. But fathers (and mothers), you can turn your spiritual failures into triumphs by preaching about them to your children and children’s children.
Abraham and Isaac
We fast forward now to the patriarch Abraham.
Abraham had been tested by God many times, starting with a call to leave his country, his people, and his father’s house. The most challenging test was the one where Abraham had to offer his son, his beloved son Isaac on an altar of fire. Remembering that all that he had: the livestock, the silver and gold (Gen 13:2), was from God, Abraham did not withhold Isaac from God when asked.
Abraham, Isaac, and a servant made the 3-day trek towards Mount Moriah, the place God had chosen for the offering to be made. Abraham and Isaac ascended the mount alone. On the way up, Isaac noticed that something was missing. There was wood and fire for the sacrifice but where was the lamb?
How would you have replied if you were Abraham?
“God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied.
You know the rest of the story. But you are probably unaware of what was accomplished that day on the summit. God started out, it seemed, with the goal of testing Abraham’s faith. But in the end, Isaac’s faith was tested as well.
You see, Isaac was by then a young man. He wasn’t a little boy depicted by most Children’s Bible Storybooks. Isaac was old enough and strong enough to resist when old Abraham tried to tie his hands feet; but he didn’t. He yielded to his father. Really, he was yielding to God.
The lesson of faith was etched into Isaac’s mind that day, and would remain with him for the rest of his life. He would not have learned this lesson if Abraham, his father, had disobeyed God.
Fathers, take your children along with you as you journey with God so that they can learn the lessons with you. This way, it is God who is teaching them; not you.