Psalm 78- How to ensure the baton of truth is passed on to our children
This matter is rightly of interest and dutiful concern to godly parents. The day our children enter the world they enter a spiritual battleground and we must watch and pray for them. Psalm 78 exhorts us to readily instruct the next generation concerning the Lord’s wonderful works so that they in turn might tell their offspring. A commentary is provided on God’s dealings with Israel whilst in Egyptian captivity, during the Exodus and continuing throughout the wilderness years. Now consider those living in lands who raise their children where there is increasingly hostile resistance far greater than on our small Island of which there are abundant examples. We cannot blame our environment if we find this task challenging but we can seek the Lord’s assistance and enabling despite that.
Interestingly the persistent provoking, complaining and stubbornness of the children of Israel throughout the entirety of those years reveals to us that human nature is an even greater obstacle to godliness than living under oppressive regime and surroundings. We experience the same nowadays and undoubtedly it will continually resurface with our children unless we submit to the Lord’s authority and train them in His ways.
Setting the Foundations
The Testimony of Jacob (Israel) and the law was given to ensure that the Israelites instructed their children in the Lord’s ways and in doing that they might set their hope in God, be faithful to Him and keep His commandments. Today, when we present the Gospel to children, we must never bypass the law or the Old Testament which is foundational.
From time to time I encounter professing believers and even Ministers who have a real aversion to much of the Old Testament content. The reason being is that it doesn’t square with their perceived view of how they think God should act and govern the universe and they are teetering on the edge of dismissing the parts they don’t find appealing. More often than not they haven’t seriously studied the context of the nation of Israel or the surrounding nations or given adequate consideration to how the Bible fits cohesively together or sought the Lord’s help earnestly to understand it.
Without vocalising it, some in contemporary circles claim to know more than divinely appointed leaders and God. Moses was overwhelmingly familiar with the same issue. Though he was astounding humble and was used by the Lord to deliver the children of Israel and guide them through the wilderness; the misguided inventiveness and perverseness of heart of those he led and complained knew no limits. We therefore need to be careful of drifting in the direction of Marcionism. Marcion equates to New Testament is good and Old Testament is bad. He claimed to approve of Jesus and Paul, though considered the Old Testament God to be capricious and rejected Him and the Torah, writings and prophets.
Mature teachers disciple believers to maturity
Our faith should be childlike in that we take God at His Word and trust in Him implicitly but should never be childish or immature. In fact we are clearly told to progress from milk to meat and in our understanding to be men. If we don’t mature and progress spiritually then how are we to teach our children and ensure that they progress from milk to spiritual meat?
The Ten Commandments are vital though a problem today is our children’s and young people’s ignorance of them. Ask schoolchildren to name some of the Ten Commandments and before long they will have to google it. Hosea was concerned that The Lord’s people were destroyed through lack of knowledge. Since godly wisdom is the skilful application of godly knowledge, it is impossible for children to become wise without a solid foundation including due diligence to foundational Old Testament teaching so that the saving work of the Saviour revealed in the New Testament can be understood in terms of inherent sinful nature and the need to be reconciled to God.
Compare Psalm 78:1-8 with 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul passes on what he knows to Timothy that he might commit that to others who may in turn teach others also. Four generations are involved and will receive subsequent blessings and pass the baton on. Ponder the implications of that, though also the reverse scenario. In no uncertain terms the Ten Commandments admonish us to serve God only since our God is a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the third and fourth generation of those that hate Him. The reverse is uplifting as the Lord shows mercy to thousands of those who love Him and keep His commandments.
If we love Him, we will obey His commandments. Fathers need to take the lead in regular Bible teaching in the home. Mothers need to set the example to their children. Think of the godly legacy passed on to Timothy with the genuine faith of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. Timothy knew the Scriptures from his childhood which were able to make him wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15). Don’t expect this pattern of good biblical instruction and devotion to occur without spiritual opposition masquerading in the form of day to day logistics. We mustn’t be naïve but watchful and prayerful. Pray zealously for the Lord’s help and protection in this vital arena and make every effort to schedule ahead to ensure regular devotions are the daily bread for your children.