In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the LORD sent miraculous signs and wonders--great and terrible--upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers. The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. (Deu. 6:20-25 NIV 1984)In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gave a set of instructions in anticipation of the nation's entry into the Promised Land. His primary concern is the preservation of the faith for the succeeding generations. In summary, this set of instructions consists of the following:
1. They should carefully observe the Lord's law while living in the land.
2. Their loyalty should be to YHWH alone. The Shema in verse 4 is not just an affirmation of monotheism; it is also a confession of allegiance to the One True God. And so immediately after the Shema, we read: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (verse 5)
3. The Word of God must be diligently taught to the younger ones in every opportunity and in every possible means. (verses 6-9)
4. Know that there will be bitter consequences for disobedience (verse 15)
When this whole-hearted devotion is observed at home, the children will be puzzled. They may begin to wonder, "What's all the fuss about these dos and don'ts in the law that we are meticulously observing?"
"Why are we so loyal to YHWH? What makes him different from the gods of the neigboring countries?"
"All my classmates are free to view this film, why can't I?"
When the child could no longer keep it in, he will approach his parents and ask them about it (verse 20). Thankfully, God himself prepared an answer for the parents long before the children ask (21-25)
- Israeli parents were to tell their offspring about their miserable condition before salvation came. "We were slaves my Son, we were weak and miserable slaves, but God set us free." In the same manner, contemporary Christian parents must say, "My son, we have never been enslaved by human tyrants but we were miserable slaves to sin until the Lord broke the bondage"(Romans 6:20).
- Israeli parents were to tell the child, "My son, God rescued us by doing miraculous deeds proving He is the true God and not the gods of Egypt." Likewise, contemporary Christian parents ought to tell the younger ones, "The God who has done miraculous deeds in the past is the same God who saved us by his power. We were formerly serving false gods, but now we were given the privilege to worship the One True God." (1 Thess. 1:9)
- Israeli parents were to tell the child, "We were not only emancipated from slavery; we were also placed in this land flowing with milk and honey." Contemporary Christian parents ought to tell the kids, "We were not only delivered from the power of sin, we were also granted every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph. 1:3)
- Israeli parents were to say, "My son, other nations may be stronger than us; their armed forces are larger and more powerful than ours, but as long as we are faithful to the Lord, we'll be safe and sound in this place." So contemporary Christian parents ought to say, "Son, there may be so many threats to our well-being: poverty, famine, persecution, sickness, criminals, terrorists, wars... but as long as we are in God's loving arms, we are eternally safe." (Romans 8:35-39)
- The fifth one will keep us Christ-centered and cross-centered. For an Israeli parent then would say "if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." Yet the New Testament reveals that no one has ever achieved that righteousness by perfectly obeying the law. As a result, the entire human race is under a curse (Gal.3:10). This is the very reason why Christ died, that he may grant us the righteousness we are unable to attain from the law (Gal.2:21). In Christ, we are righteous before God (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Cor. 1:30). So Christ-centered and cross-centered contemporary Christian parents, you know what to say :)
Books on Christian Parenting: