A New Lesson from an Old Source
God has not left us to wander aimlessly in the wilderness as we raise our children. He has given us a blueprint for multigenerational faithfulness. That blueprint is expressed throughout the Bible, but there is one place where it reads like a how-to manual. That place is Deuteronomy 6.
I must admit that I haven’t always liked the book of Deuteronomy. In fact, the first time I read it, I didn’t like it at all. It seemed as though the God whom I had come to know and love in the Gospels and epistles of the New Testament was absent in the book of Deuteronomy. I remember my astonishment the first time I realized that the Mosaic Law unapologetically called for stoning in cases of disobedience and lawbreaking. I was also put off by what I considered archaic laws and regulations.
That all changed when I learned how pivotal the book of Deuteronomy is in the overall structure of the Bible. Moreover, I was amazed at the frequency with which Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy and its companion, Leviticus. Eventually I came to love this book of the Law. I have also grown to appreciate its relevance in my everyday life. That’s right, I said Deuteronomy is relevant today! Much of its relevance, however, is lost on those of us who have been unwilling to press forward in our attempts to read, understand, and appreciate the Old Testament.
Think about it—Moses sits down and examines the situation. Israel is on the threshold of a monumental occasion. They are about to possess “the Promised Land.” They had an opportunity forty years earlier but were unwilling to trust God to defeat the inhabitants of Canaan. Two lone voices, Joshua and Caleb, stood out in the crowd as Caleb said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it” (Num. 13:30). However, the people sided with the naysayers and did not go forward.
Now, forty years later, Israel once again stands on the verge of possessing the Promised Land, and Moses, the great leader that he was, decided to give them a few final instructions. Thus he stood before the people to give the law again. Thus the book bears the name Deuteronomy (deutero = repeat; nomos = law), a restating of the Law.
What would you say to a group of believers about to enter a land occupied by pagans? What would you say to the faithful if you knew their faith would be challenged at every turn? What would you say to a group of people upon whom the burden of carrying and representing the covenant message of God rested? Moses knew exactly what to say. He gave them God’s word. That word echoes through the halls of history and still resonates today.
A Worthwhile Pursuit
You and I desperately need the words of Moses’ challenge. You and I are living in an age and in a culture that is tearing at the very fabric of the Christian community. How many of us look at our teenaged sons and daughters and know they are not with us? How many of us lay our heads on the pillow at night and know that as soon as our kids leave the house they are probably going to leave the faith as well? All of the statistics point to children leaving when they get to college, but my experience and my conversations with Christian parents leads me to believe that the problem manifests itself much earlier.
There are many worthwhile pursuits in this world, but few of them rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord and keep His commandments.
I am often stopped after a sermon by a mother fighting back tears as she asks, “What can I do?” These women want to know what they can do to intervene in the life of their teenagers who are on the way out. I am often stopped by fathers who shake their heads as they say, “I wish I had heard this twenty years ago.” I try to offer comfort as I encourage them to try to make an investment in their grandchildren.
Not long ago a father stopped me after I shared a message on multigenerational faithfulness and said, “Wait right here.” He gathered up his whole family, admitted his failure to live according to the biblical mandate, and asked me to pray for him right then and there. Another gentleman came up to me after a message, grabbed my shoulders, and sobbed as he pleaded, “Tell me it’s not too late.” On another occasion the mother of a rebellious teenaged daughter who had grown up in the church grabbed my hands and said, “Please pray for my daughter; she has left home, and I don’t know where she is.” Over and over I am reminded of how high the stakes are in this battle. We are not talking about children getting bad grades or even getting in trouble with the law. We are talking about young men and women turning their backs on the faith of their fathers, and worse, on God Himself.
There are many worthwhile pursuits in this world, but few of them rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord and keep His commandments. I desperately want my sons and daughters to walk with God, and I am willing to do whatever it takes, whatever the Bible says I must do in order to be used by God as a means to that end. My prayer for you is that God would awaken in you that same passion.
This article is adapted from Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God by Voddie Baucham Jr.
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