In order to keep Israel on the road of righteousness, God gave the parents of Israel specific instructions on parenthood in reference to guiding the nation in the right direction. The system by which parents were to implement these instructions is given in the context of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. If the parents maintained God’s educational system by which they should teach their children the law of God, then the nation would be preserved in the land of promise.
In Deuteronomy 6 are instructions on how Jewish parents were to impart the commandments of God to their children. In Deuteronomy 11, God explained the reason why the parents of Israel were to be so vigilant to instruct their children in the word of God. Moses recorded,
Therefore, you will keep all the commandments that I command you this day so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you go to possess it; so that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their seed, a land that flows with milk and honey (Dt 11:8,9).
Failure to be obedient to the commandments of God, therefore, meant that they would not be able to possess the land, as well as retain the possession of it after the land was conquered. Their obedience to the law of God was necessary for them to function as the nation of God in order to be a beacon of obedience to the world that they were God’s people. If they forsook the law of God, and went after the gods of the nations around them, then their purpose for which they were called to be a nation would no longer be valid.
As Israel among the nations, Christians live in a world that is hostile to the will of God. It is imperative, therefore, that Christians take a firm stand for the word of God in order to survive as the spiritual Israel of God. Unfortunately, the majority of the physical Israel of old eventually forsook the word of God (Hs 4:6). The result was that the Israelites were scattered among the nations, from which only a faithful remnant returned. The Jewish nation lost her identity as the people of God in the land of Palestine. If Christians today become ignorant of the word of God, they too will lose their identity as the people of God. They will be religious, but they will have no claim to being called Christians. They may do many wonderful works, but they will only be “Lord, Lord” religionists who have forsaken the commandments of God (See Mt 7:21-23). Since Israel is God’s example of warning to the church today, then we too must expect that only a remnant will remain faithful (See Rm 15:4; 1 Co 10:11).
In order to guard against the unfortunate destiny of apostasy, the following statements of Deuteronomy 6 are the Spirit-inspired educational manual on how Hebrew parents were to teach their children in order to preserve their identity as the people of God. If we fail to follow these instructions, the church too will become as Israel of old who departed from the word of God. The Hebrew writer warned, “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hb 3:12).
A. Teach diligently the word of God.
Moses instructed that the parents “teach them [the commandments] diligently to your children” (Dt 9:7). Before two people are married, this is one of the agreements to which they must first commit themselves. When children come into the family, both parents must be committed to teaching their children the word of God. Though one parent can be successful in the task of teaching the Bible to the children, when there are two on the teaching staff, the task is much easier.
In the case of Timothy, it was only Timothy’s mother, Eunice, with her mother, who assumed the role of teaching the word of God to her son (Tm 1:5). No credit is given to Timothy’s father for being a believer (At 16:1-3). Though it is best to have a team of teachers to impart the word of God to the children, sometimes the mother or father must struggle alone if one is an unbeliever. In the case of Timothy, the mother was successful in imparting the word of God to her son from the time Timothy was a child (2 Tm 3:15), to the time an apostle came by and called him into ministry (At 16:1-3).
The use of the word “diligent” in the instructions of Deuteronomy 9:7 means that the parents must put their minds to this task. If parents believe that sports and school activities are more important on the list of training their children than the word of God, then God’s word will take second place in the lives of the children. If parents believe that secular education is more important than spiritual education, then they will develop children who arrange the priorities of their life according to what the parents deemed most important in their lives. Parents must require of their children regular Bible study and memorization of the Scriptures. As in secular education, assignments in Bible study are in order. Greater diligence must be placed on Bible learning than on any other learning in the home.
It is interesting to note the difference between the King James Version (KJV) translation of the Greek text of 2 Timothy 2:15 and other translations. The KJV reads, “Study to show thyself approved unto God ….” The word “study” is not in the Greek text. However, the meaning of study is strongly assumed in the text, though other translations retain the literality of the Greek text with the following translation: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”
If one were to rightly divide the word of God as a diligent workman for God, then certainly he must study the word of God. A diligent workman for God has no idea how to work unless he diligently studies his Work Manual. This is the reasoning behind the translation of the original KJV translators. Diligent workmen diligently study in order to rightly determine what the Boss would have them do. Those parents who are diligent students of the word of God will diligently teach the word to their children in order that they follow God’s instructions on living.
[Next lecture: September 13]