God Commands Parents to Teach Their Children
This is the introduction to a series of articles on “Teaching Our children About God”. In this “Introduction” we stress the IMPORTANCE of putting forth the effort to teach our offspring the whole Word of God and that imparting this knowledge and understanding to them is commanded by God! That we are to teach them, just as Abraham taught his children to “keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.”
We plan to do many other articles about what we are to teach our children, how to teach our young and then older children, about the importance of teaching them the keeping of each of the Ten Commandments, and all the other teachings of God’s Word including the Plan and Purpose of God for all of mankind and His creation, His Covenants and what they mean, and God’s laws, statutes, precepts and judgments; in both the letter and their spirit and intent.
Abraham: An Example For Us
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
God says in this verse that He knew that Abraham would teach his children the ways of the Lord and how to do justly and keep sound judgment.
The Hebrew word for “justice” is tsdaqah (tsed-aw-kaw’) rightness (abstractly), subjectively (rectitude), objectively (justice), morally (virtue) or figuratively (prosperity) — justice, moderately, right(-eous) (act, -ly, -ness). (Strong’s Concordance)
The Hebrew word for “judgment” mishpat (mish-pawt’) a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree (human or (participant’s) divine law, individual or collective. (Strong’s Concordance)
Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 18:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 18:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
When God first appeared to Abraham, He called him to come out of a pagan, idol-worshiping nation and to go to a land where he and his family would be separate; also, it would be to a land that God promised that He would give as an inheritance to Abraham’s children forever.
God made an unconditional covenant to Abraham called the Abrahamic Covenant. It was an unconditional promise that God would call out a special people for Himself through whom He would bring blessing to all the nations of the world. If we see this promise with spiritual eyes, we know that this promise is dual, it has both physical and spiritual implications.
The awesome promises of God pertaining to the future nation of Israel that was to come from Abraham, were given from the very beginning of God’s calling of Abraham out of his own country. Further, in the verse quoted at the beginning of this article, God expresses confidence that Abraham would teach his offspring the ways of God.
The promises to Abraham are repeated several times throughout chapters 12 – 17 in the Book of Genesis. In the following verses God first tells Abraham to walk before Him and to be blameless [perfect] and then He expands on the promises that were told to Abraham when God first called him. (Genesis 12:1-3)
Again, God tells Abraham of the fabulous promises that God is going to do for him and for the children that would come from Abraham.
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect [law abiding, blameless, wholehearted, complete].
Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Abraham was called by God to walk before Him and to be blameless. From the very first encounter, God began to make some very spectacular promises to Abraham about his offspring that would come from him and the land that they would inherit. Why was it so important that Abraham would command his children in the ways of the Lord, to do justly and to have sound judgment?
The future prosperity and righteousness of the physical nation of Israel and then later the New Testament spiritual nation of Israel rested upon Abraham and parents teaching their children God’s commandments and all of His ways. The promises that God made to Abraham were for all generations that would come after and it was important that the knowledge of those promises would be kept alive and known in the hearts and minds of the future peoples that God would call to partake of those promises.
It is the duty of all godly people to diligently teach their children the whole Word of God, and it is the duty of the priesthood and of today’s elders to do likewise. This command to Timothy is for the elders AND the parents; that is anyone in authority in the Ekklesia.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Later, when Moses mediated the Marriage Covenant between Christ and the children of Israel, he too would reiterate this principle that the children of Israel would be a great nation and be a light to the surrounding nations if they would follow in the ways of God and incorporate God’s just and upright laws and ordinances.
These would include the same laws and principles that Abraham had taught to his children, but it was to Isaac (and his seed) that God’s promises were to be handed down; Abraham’s son by Sarah the son who was called the “son of promise” (Genesis 17:19). And out of the many sons that Abraham fathered through other wives and concubines, it was only Isaac that responded to his father’s instructions to walk before God, blameless as his father had done. It was to Isaac and to his seed that God’s promise to become a great and numerous nation was extended, then later to Isaac’s son Jacob.
Centuries later, Moses makes it plain in this declaration to the people that when a nation extols God and His righteous and holy laws, that is what truly makes a nation great and important.
Deuteronomy 4:7 For what great nation is there who has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is to us in all things for which we call upon Him? 4:8 And what large and important nation has statutes and ordinances so upright and just as all this law which I set before you today?
How could a nation ever hope to remain a righteous nation throughout all generations unless the parents diligently teach their children, who will become the future leaders of that nation, the laws of God and how to walk in them from their youth. A nation is only a collection of the families that make up that nation, and what is true for a family is true about the whole nation. The prosperity and the longevity of a nation depends upon the fathers and mothers diligently teaching their sons and daughters properly about God and the need to follow and to obey Him.
Deuteronomy 6:1 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: 6:2 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. 6:3 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.
When Israel was given the commandments, statutes, precepts, and judgments, the people were specifically commanded to teach all of these things DILIGENTLY to their children and to their grandchildren. When and how were they to teach them? Throughout the day as they lived their day to day lives, and at every opportunity to do so, including during “teachable moments” that would come as they sat in their homes, when they were traveling [walking by the wayside], when they go to bed at night and when they rose up in the morning; namely all day long no matter what they were doing!
And not only were the people commanded to obey God’s laws, but they were to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, and strength and they were to exemplify their love for God and pass that love for Him and all of His ways on to their children as well.
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: 6:5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 6:7 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.
What has this to do with the covenant that God made with Abraham? The account of Abraham and the making of a covenant with him by God began the story of the nation of Israel and teaches us about who God is, who His people are, and that God has a purpose and a plan, not only for the nation of Israel, but eventually for all of humanity.
As the people of God, is is important to know our history and who we are as a people, for the promises that were given to Abraham were also given to his “seed” of which we are, whether we are actually of Isaac’s physical genetic code or if we have become one of his spiritual children by faith in God. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee“ (Genesis 17:7). If this is true, and we know that it is, then it is expedient that we tell our children and teach them about these promises that God has made and not keep them hidden from the generations that come after.
Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Please see all of chapter 3 of Galatians for further explanation of these promises.)
It is not only important to teach our children about God’s laws and about how to keep the commandments, but we must also teach them about God’s whole Plan and the exciting future He has in store for those who believe in Him and choose to follow Him all of their days. In a later article we will go more into the study of God’s Covenants for they are important in understanding the overall prophecies and plan of God and the awesome design He has in store for all those who choose to follow and obey Him. This too we must teach our children.
Our Teaching Begins with Genesis
Most of the peoples of the world have no clue about the history of the beginning of mankind and then later, after the Flood, how God choose a people to be the participants and forerunners of His special plan for humanity.
Most believe that Genesis is a myth, that it is archaic writings that have no significant meaning as to the origin of mankind and the truth about why we are here and why it is important to know what happen in the very beginning as told in the first Book of the Bible. Or they have been taught that none of these “stories” are true for they have come to believe in the theory of evolution that excludes a Creator and the fact that He created us for a purpose.
This false theory of evolution has been propagated by atheists; and in our modern age, this lie has replaced any belief that the Bible could be true especially in regard to Creation and how God interacted with our forefathers beginning with Adam and Eve and the choices they made.
Most of the world has never understood about WHY it is important to keep God’s laws and about the part that they can have in the overall scheme of God’s purpose for them; that is if they should choose to embrace His plan and follow Him rather than live haphazardly and for this world’s sinful pleasure. And God has given the primary responsibility of teaching His Plan and Purpose to the parents of their children.
The psalmist, whether it was Asaph or David directing the words put to music by Asaph, understood this and taught this in Psalm 78:1-7.
Psalm 78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 78:3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 78:4 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. 78:5 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: 78:6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 78:7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
Solomon understood the importance of teaching and training a child to walk with God [the way he should go] and that [generally speaking] that teaching will stay with the child the rest of his life. Even if he goes astray ultimately God will call him back.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Paul, in his epistle to the Ephesians, commands the fathers to bring up their children in such a way that they do not provoke them; but rather by loving them and teaching them the things of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
God has given us our children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are only given to us for a little season, on loan, for soon they grow up and fly away and become their own persons, usually forming new households of their own.
The parents are the ones who have a window of opportunity beginning from infancy to care and love their little ones the most; and they have the privilege and opportunity to make a first and then lasting impression upon their own children. It is God, the Great Almighty One, that commands that parents teach their own children. What are they to teach? Jesus gives us the answer, the same words that He gave back to Satan when He was being tempted by him to not trust in God.
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
And how can people do that if they have never been taught “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”? It is up to the parents to see to it that their children are taught every Word of God, including all His laws, commandments, Sabbaths, Holy Days, ordinances, judgments, His promises, the history of man and God’s dealings with him, and the marvelous plan and purpose that God is doing here on earth and what He is going to do to accomplish that Plan in the future to come.
David was inspired to teach that it is God’s Word that is TRUE and all of God’s Words are what make up righteousness and truth forever. If our children learn the whole Word of God and God’s principles from the very beginning of their young lives, they will have God’s truth as the BASIS of their worldview and their thinking processes. They will be able to use what they have been taught when evaluating the falsehoods that they come up against as they are growing up. Hopefully, when they discern false teachings and false teachers they will turn from them and cling to God and to His truth.
Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
In the very beginning of mankind, starting with Adam and Eve, God established the institution of marriage and the family for the purpose of producing godly offspring. It is the means that we bring children into the world and then bring them up in a godly nurturing environment.
We must set the vision of the big picture in our own minds of what God has in store for His spiritual children and then instill in our own children the awesomeness of what life is really all about. They need to be given the tools that are required from the very beginning of their lives to prepare for and then to fulfill their incredible potential as children of God and living forever with Him as a member of His Family.
There is a little story that many have used to illustrate the concept of having vision and living for a cause. It is about the three bricklayers. The following is the story of The Three Bricklayers which illustrates the fact that parents are not just bricklayers; but are actually helping God in the building of something that is much bigger and grander than what we can presently see. And that “something;” is the Kingdom of God and the molding of those members who will someday make up that Kingdom.
As we fix meals, change diapers, clean up messes, stay up all night with a sick child, take them to school, sporting events and teach them their lessons, it can seem like we are not really accomplishing that much day to day and it can become easy to think of our duties as parents as just chores that need to be done. But if we keep the big picture of what we are doing always before us and of what the ultimate goal is for our children, we can be like the third bricklayer, and approach our tasks with enthusiasm and joy.
And even when we go through challenges and disappointments, we can hang on to the hope that eventually all things will work out to the good, if we continue to love God and are striving to obey Him in our walk with Him and in our child rearing efforts.
At times, our focus may be only on the immediate task at hand and we can get tired, bored or discouraged. When we change our focus on the bigger picture or the end result, it provides motivation to continue and that vision then inspires us to keep looking to God for the solutions to the challenges. We must never underestimate the impact we have on our children and that even the smallest of the things of God shown to them or taught to them can have a lasting impression on them for the rest of their lives. We lay bricks one brick at a time, but each brick is important.
This is also a concept that we need to incorporate when teaching our children about God, to show them the vision of a future tomorrow and the need to be seeking a life long relationship with Him as well as keeping His laws and commandments. We can instill in them that God does have something much greater in store for humanity than what they can presently see and that they can have a part in it. We can show them, how to not only be bricklayers, but give them the incentive to join the ranks of those who are building something that is going to be spectacular and worthwhile when its all said and done in the near future.
Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
It is important to teach our children the ways and laws that they are to live by to be eternally successful, and it is important to impart to them the Plan and Purpose of God that allows them to envision the big picture of what God is doing here on earth. Even as little children we can teach them the need to develop godly character traits that will be with them throughout their lives and show them that by living for God that they can have a part in helping God in the building process of whatever it takes to bring about the Kingdom of God.
We know that God is the one who builds His family, but He does desire co-workers who enthusiastically want to be a part of that building process and who then will become members of His Family. They will be the ones who will then help others to eventually become members of that Family.
What If Our Teaching Does Not Seem To Be Rubbing Off Onto our Children?
As many of us have already experienced, things may seem to go wrong at times, or that even with all our efforts, they are not producing any of the results that we would like to see in our children. So when we do face hardships, or even when our children refuse to respond to godly teaching, we can remind ourselves that we have God’s own promise that in God’s good time everything will work out for good.
There is no guarantee that our children will come to follow in the ways of God in this present life even if we have been diligent to we teach them. But we still must do our best, knowing that if we diligently teach the things of God; God will use that knowledge at some point in their lives even for those who rebel and go their own way for awhile.
It may be at a later time, perhaps even in the Millennium or the Main Fall Harvest that the seeds will finally take root and germinate, but the harvest is coming!
We may say, “but my child is just not being called, he has no interest in spiritual things and instead is gravitated to the things and people of this world”. The fact that God may not be calling him or her at this time does not mean that God will never call him or her, for we know that God is going to call every person at some point. All of God’s Holy Days are allegories of the coming events and the Plan of God and what God has in store for each according to the timetable He has appointed for each person.
Everyone who has ever lived is going to have a chance to see that God is TRUE and that His Word is the TRUTH when God removes the veil off of their eyes. For the majority of mankind, it will be during the Main Fall Harvest, but as we have been taught the timing of each person’s calling is up to God. So even if we sense that our child is not being called at this time, he WILL receive a call at some time in the future. And no matter when our child is called, God has given to us an important part in preparing them for that “call” by giving us the responsibility to teach them godliness NOW while they are under our care.
God can bring remembrance back to their minds of the things that they were taught in their youth and they will suddenly come to see that their parent/presents did have the truth and that they did worship the One True God and then, in all probability, they too will want to follow in the ways of God from that time forward.
The parable of the Prodigal Son can give us many insights into how God waits for his unrepentant sons and daughters to reach the end of their ropes, when they “come to themselves” and realize how wrong they have been and then return home to their Father who loves them and has been waiting and watching for His sincerely repentant children to return to Him. And we as the parents often assume that role as well, and we too must be willing to patiently watch and wait for the seeds that have been planted to finally take root and bring forth the fruit of all the labor and love that was bestowed upon them when they were little and we had them under our care.
We just don’t know what kind of path our children will take, but it is still our job to teach them and the chances of them wanting to obey and follow God will be much higher than if we neglect to do it or if we leave it for others to do. This is what it means to live by faith even when the things we know are going to happen are not yet happening.
And at the same time we have had the experience of teaching those that are placed in our care and when it comes time to teach others in the Millennium, that experience will prove to be invaluable in teaching those who have never known God and have never been taught the ways of God.
As teachers of little children, learning even as we teach them, we ourselves are becoming equipped to be teachers in God’s Kingdom; when the need to teach the captives that come home and then those who are living in the Millennium will be great.
There will be a great need for many godly teachers [which is the job of the chosen] in the Millennium and the Main Fall Harvest. As parents we gain valuable experience and training in being teachers of our little ones in preparing them for the Kingdom, at the same time we are preparing ourselves to be qualified teachers in that Kingdom as well.
Let The Little Children Come Unto Jesus and Encourage Them to Do So
Even when our children are small and completely dependent on us they are very important and they are important to God as well; and He want’s us to see them as He sees them.
When the people brought their little children to Jesus to lay hands on them and to bless them, the disciples were disapproving and tried to discourage these believing parents from approaching Jesus. The disciples may have thought that Jesus was just too busy and would not want to take the time to impart a blessing on these “unimportant” little ones. But Jesus used this as a teachable moment even for His disciples and showed them that children are important and that they too have the potential to be future leaders, just as the apostles were being trained to be future leaders. We MUST allow the little children to come to Jesus and never discourage them from doing so; rather we are to teach and lead the children to Christ! Jesus then went on to compare little children to the kind of attitude one must have to enter the Kingdom of God.
Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 10:14 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. 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Throughout the pages of the Bible, God chose some of his future servants, those who would become key players in God’s work here on earth, at a very young age.
The Bible in many places shows that when God is about to do a great work here on earth for His purposes, He often starts it with a baby! We think of Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, John the Baptist, and of course Jesus Christ, and there are others.
But it was up to the parents to teach them the things of God and to cultivate the vision of God’s grand purpose that had been implanted in them from the time they became conscience of the world in which they lived. This laid the groundwork to the things that God would call them to do when it became time.
Then there have been many such little ones, who though did not appear to do anything great for God, grew up to be spiritual giants whose names are written in the Book of Life and are awaiting the time when God will be able to use them for great things in the Kingdom of God. (Hebrews 11)
Other examples besides Abraham of godly parents that brought up their children to know the ways of God abound in Scripture; one of them is the example of Eunice and Lois. Timothy had the benefit of being taught the faith of God and the Holy Scriptures by his mother and his grandmother.
Paul recognized who Timothy’s first teachers were who taught him from his youth God’s Word from the sacred writings and gave homage to them in his epistle to Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” 2nd Timothy 1:5
Before Timothy even met the apostle Paul, Timothy had come to know and believe in the teachings of the Torah, the prophets and the writings by his mother and his grandmother. Paul encouraged Timothy toward the end of his [Paul’s] life by reminding him of those blessings of being taught from such a young age:
2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
These two women, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, had raised him, not only in the faith but also to a dedicated study of the Holy Scriptures.
From Acts 16:1-3 we learn that Timothy’s father was a Greek and was not a believer so the responsibility to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord fell on the women in his home and from the evidence presented in Acts and in Paul’s letters, these women were very successful.
Timothy became a valuable helper to Paul and later became a pillar as an evangelist and leader in God’s church. “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
Paul’s preaching may have been instrumental in God’s bringing Timothy to actual conversion, but behind his preaching were years of godly influence by Timothy’s mother and grandmother. In these letters we can see that the sincere faith of these women was combined with instructing Timothy from his earliest youth from the Scriptures. Their example and the results in Timothy’s life show us that through faith in God and by honoring His Word, godly parents (in this case it was a godly mother and grandmother) can have far reaching great influence as they train their children.
Paul may have been the one God used in the training and teaching of Timothy to prepare him for the ministry, but it was these two god-fearing women in his life that laid the groundwork for Timothy to be called later to be used by God to further God’s work that He was doing in the early church.
The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest of all men for God had gifted him with unsurpassed wisdom as a young man. God had asked him in a dream to make any request and Solomon asked for knowledge and understanding which God granted to him.
1 Kings 3:12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
1 Kings 4:20 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. ……
1 Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
And yet Solomon gave much credit for the things he learned to the diligent teaching of both his father, David and his mother, Bathsheba. In the following verses he states that when he was tender [young] it was his father who taught him and describes the kind of things that he taught; to go after wisdom and understanding and the keeping of God’s commandments.
Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. 4:2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. 4:3 For I was my father’s son, [who was David] tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. 4:4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 4:6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel, which is another name for Solomon, tells us that these are the words [utterances, oracles] that his mother had taught him. And we know that Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba. So by saying this Solomon indicates that the wisdom that is in this Proverb was passed on to him by Bathsheba, his own mother.
Proverbs 31:1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy [massa: utterance, oracle (Strong’s #4853b)] that his mother taught him.
And we have the example of our Lord that in the days of his youth he was so well schooled and had such an understanding of the Scriptures that he astounded the religious leaders with his knowledge and the understanding of them at the age of only 12.
Yes, He was God’s own Son and probably had much insight and knowledge imparted to Him by the Spirit from the very beginning, but Mary and Joseph must have had a big part in his early education as well. In verse 51 it says that he was subject to his earthly parents and in verse 52 it says that He increased in wisdom and in stature. He would have also attended religious classes with the other boys of his day, but it was His early upbringing that helped to lay the foundation of godly wisdom that He would later add to in the years that followed.
Luke 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 2:47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 2:48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? 2:50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
The Primary Job of Teaching the Children, Belongs to the Parents and Not to Others
As God’s people, those God has called out to be a people prepared to rule and to teach in His Kingdom, we must see ourselves as being the primary teachers of our own children. There will be many more teachers that come into the life of our child as they grow up and go off to various schools and colleges, but we must accept that God has given us the responsibility of laying a rock solid foundation in their earliest years of what He teaches from His Word.
We do this not only by what we say and teach in words, but also by our examples, our demeanor, and our attitudes that they see in us and how we model for them the attributes of their heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus. The teaching of the things of God must then continue throughout their childhood as we have the chance even into their teen and young adulthood and even as they are being taught by others. Hopefully, the child will come to trust their parents as a man and woman of God and will seek their wisdom even as older adults.
Our children are blessed if they are born into a home that is centered upon God and His teachings and we must never let down our God-given responsibility to teach them all the things that God has taught us. We must do our best to guard against Satan’s attempts to influence them and turn them against the ways of God. This is very difficult especially in our anti-god culture in which we have to raise them in these modern end times. But we too have a Father in heaven that wants us to have a godly family life and we can turn to Him in prayer to receive His divine help.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we instill our values, whether they are good or bad, into the lives of our children. We do this most of all by our example and we are constantly influencing them in how they think and how they behave. If we do not take seriously the responsibility for teaching our children, others will come along and they will feel it is their job to teach them; namely, those that are under the influence of Satan. The spirit of the power of the air, who is the invisible ruler of this present evil world, attempts to ingrain his standards into our offspring, and to get them to follow in his rebellion against God and all of His standards any way he can; and he too is very diligent.
Babies are born and come into this world neutral with essentially clean slates. A tiny infant is innocent as it is incapable of sinning and it has no consciousness yet of thinking evil thoughts. But within a short time the baby learns (or picks up) his nature from either God by means of godly parents or care givers, or if he is surrounded by those who are cut off from God he will soon learn from Satan’s influence. This is why it is so important to impart godly influence as soon as the baby is born, even when we think that such a young infant is completely unaware of such things. We may be tempted to think that it is not important what we allow in his presence or environment. We may think what difference does it make if they are so unaware yet. But we need to realize that there are unseen forces at work even at this stage of a baby’s development.
It is during the first years of a child’s life that his mind is most susceptible to impressions either good or evil. It is during these years that his character will progress in either a right direction or a wrong one. This is the window of opportunity for the parent to impart godly perspectives, attitudes and behavior into their child before that child is exposed to other influences.
As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents and imitate their example within the first seven years of so of their lives. (Numerous studies have proved this time frame out and can be researched with much resources on the Internet.)
Deuteronomy 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 5:10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
We read in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 about how the sins of the parents are passed on to the children from generation to generation. We can assume that it is because those sins are learned in the early formation of that child’s life and those proclivities toward certain sins will generally stick with them for the rest of their lives. They then pass those sins and character traits to their children, so the sins of the fathers are passed from generation to generation; unless they are recognized for what they are and are repented of; then this chain of destructive behavior can be broken if this person decides to repent and then keep God’s commandments.
It cannot be stressed too much that it is of vital importance that parents train up their children in God’s ways and it must begin as early as possible, just as soon as the infant is born.
The lessons that the child learns and the nature that he picks up during the first seven years of life or so have more to do with forming his character than all that he learns in future years. We know that God can do miracles with those that He is calling out even if they have had bad influence and have developed bad character traits.
Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 1 and 2 that God calls those that are weak, base and despised, and we can rejoice that the influence of Satan can be erased by God and replaced with the His divine nature; but still we are blessed if we know these things and seek to inculcate this knowledge into our parenting practices and teach them to our progeny.
I realize that the world we live in makes it very hard for us to implement these principles, but still, we must do our best knowing that we too are still in training for the times ahead when God will be the supreme King over all the earth and Satan’s influence will be banished from impacting the children during that time. God’s leaders will be those who have learned these things, who wholeheartedly endorse God’s way of child rearing and will then be able to teach other parents as God would have us to teach along with His principles and precepts in these matters.
In the world of artists and builders we know that the most skilled workers sculpt and build with clear plans and designs before them. A sculptor with no design in mind makes chips and markings to his stone haphazardly and without thought as to what his piece will turn out to look like.
A builder without a blueprint constructs a house that is dysfunctional and unattractive. It seems that this is how most child rearing is being done in our modern times. But those God is calling and who want to be godly parents must have a design, a plan for what they want their child’s character to be and how they can help them to fulfill the purpose for which God has designed them for.
We must think ahead of what we as parents want to build into our children’s lives and then work to implement those plans. Consider the words of Jesus:
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Or the words of the psalmist that wrote these two Psalms of Ascents that we recently studied during the Feast.
Psalm 127:1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Psalm 128:1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. 128:2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. 128:3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. 128:4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
From babyhood, the character of the child is to be molded and fashioned in accordance with God’s divine plan set before us, with the parents constantly referring back to it to see how they are doing and if we are correctly implementing the things that God has shown to us. And then with prayer and humility, knowing that we do not have all the answers and that we too stumble sometimes; we pick up from mistakes, learn from them and keep at it. We determine in our hearts that we will never give up on our mission to instill God’s attributes and virtues into our children’s precious developing minds.
We too can be in wonder and appreciation during our children’s formative years as they ask us questions and as they are in awe of the things that they are seeing perhaps for the first time then ponder on those things. Our children are to be a delight to us and not a burden for they too can teach us so very much even as we teach them.
In conclusion, it is therefore so very important for parents to devote their time and energy to building a foundation for their child’s character. It is critical because a child’s human nature and spiritual character will be shaped no matter what, one way or another. It will either be molded by godly loving parents and by the godly influence they wield; or it will be molded by the evil influences that permeate most of our culture in this world. The character development of our little ones cannot be left to chance.
As Called Out People of God, We CAN Teach Our Children
Young inexperienced parents may think that they don’t have enough Bible knowledge to teach their children. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have been called by God and have His Spirit dwelling in you and can read and study the Bible, you can teach your children God’s Word.
The mandate to teach our children can be a great motivator to study God’s Word in- depth for ourselves, to then prove all the things that we believe and to make sure that what we teach is what we are suppose to teach. In fact, the whole process of teaching others is a very effective way of learning these things first for ourselves. When we are teaching others, we tend to study a subject even more thoroughly, we are conscientious of the need to teach very accurately the things that we want others to learn. So be strong and do not be afraid. If God commands that we teach our children, He will equip us with the capability to do it.
If God has called us at a time when our children are already past their formative years, begin where you are, and even if your children are already grown, learn as much as you can so that you can give your adult children wise advice when asked; and prepare yourself so that God can use you to teach them and others in His Kingdom.
God will supply you with everything you need to be able do this if you are willing to apply yourself to learning His whole Word. You don’t have to be a seminary-trained theologian to read the Bible and to be able to explain about what it means. God does not call us to do something and then not give us the means to be able to do it.
After all God commands each one of us to always be ready to give an answer for our hope. If we can answer strangers, we should also be able to teach our children.
It is to such a people that God does want to teach the whole world of His ways and precepts. The people of the world are not going to do it; look at the mess the world is in because of the lack of godly and Bible based teachers.
That is a part of our calling, Brethren, to become teachers and to do it with zeal and gusto, and with all of our might! God gives us our children to practice on and if we are looking to Him, He will guide us as to how and what to teach.
We must give our children a biblical worldview, and we must instruct them in the Word of God. In fact, if they grow up without the Word of God there is no biblical worldview, there is only misery and failure up ahead for them.
God places His command to honor our fathers and mothers right in the midst of the Ten Commandments, right at the beginning of the commands that have to do with doing good to our neighbors and not harm. It is the only command that has the promise that if we keep this commandment, our days will be prolonged and that it will go well with us.
This promise is general, for we know of many that honored their parents and died at an early age, but this is speaking more specifically of obeying our parents who teach us the things of God (and obeying our heavenly Father) and that if we learn to trust God our true Father in heaven and obey these things, that we will have a long [eternal] life with Him in His Kingdom where we will be blessed and all things will go well for us for all eternity.
Deuteronomy 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
The most valuable gift we can give to our children is the gospel message, which is teaching and warning to repent of all sin and to seek God’s righteousness and to keep His Word above all else.
When we teach them the way to salvation, the way of forgiveness of sins, and then to keep all of the commandments which are the laws of that Kingdom; in this way we prepare a small part of humanity (the part that has been entrusted to us through our children) and we start with our own dear family. From there we reach out as we have opportunity to call others to this message of sincere repentance and a baptismal commitment to “Go and sin no more.”
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus gave His disciples a very clear DIRECTIVE to go and TEACH all nations all things that He had taught to them; and what better place to begin than in our own homes and with our own children.
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations [God’s Word], baptizing [the sincerely repentant] them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Freely God has called us and given us His commandments, sound doctrines and truths; we are to freely give it to others beginning with our most precious possessions, our children!
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting. Constance left any association with TheShiningLight in late 2017 and is no longer of like mind.
At the end of 2016 Constance retired from writing for TheShiningLight, and in 2017 she drifted in another direction and disassociated herself from TheShiningLight.
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.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand [to keep them in our activities], and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes [always in our minds and thoughts] .
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house,and on thy gates.