Commit yourselves completely to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Teach them to your children . . . so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. - Deuteronomy 11:18-19, 21
Parents have often expressed concern about public schools. In their complaints they point to violence, unruly behavior, the availability of drugs, declining standards of discipline and teaching, the absence of spiritual principles, and the overt communication of material that they believe is either inappropriate or just plain wrong.
Many parents have responded by withdrawing their children and teaching them at home. Home-schooling has grown remarkably in popularity during the late years of the twentieth and early years of the twenty-first centuries. Critics of this approach were surprised, therefore, when the first three places in the 2000 National Spelling Bee were won by home-schooled children—one of whom had placed second in the National Geography Competition the previous week.
Spiritually-minded parents who home-school their children like to point out that when Moses instructed the children of Israel about life in the Promised Land he told parents not only to “commit yourselves completely to these words of mine” but also to “teach them to your children” (Deut. 11:18-19). Moses was referring, of course, to the things that the Lord had told him to tell the people. Not everybody applies these instructions in the same way that home-schooling parents do, but every responsible parent should be making serious application of them.
Moses’ point was that, in order for the children of Israel to live well in the Promised Land, they must honor the Lord with lives characterized by loving, trusting obedience. They were told to write out the Lord’s instructions (11:20) and “Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead” (11:18). This was a highly visual reminder that their thoughts and actions were to be in accordance with the Lord’s wishes and expectations.
The Lord did not leave anything to chance as far as the teaching of divine principles to children was concerned. He told parents, “Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again” (11:19). The Lord was pointing out to them that the disciplines of morning and evening instruction—at breakfast and at bedtime, for example—are invaluable, and that life is full of teaching moments.
Whether at home or on a journey, wise parents should by word and example take the opportunity to answer children’s questions, to provoke their curiosity, and to correct their misunderstandings. And the purpose of this kind of education? “So that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish” (11:21). That should be incentive enough!
For Further Study: Deuteronomy 11:16-32
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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