Every Parent a Teacher
Passage: Deuteronomy 6:4–6:9
Every Parent a Teacher
December 7th, 2008
Way of Grace Church
I. Being a Home Educator
Even though the statistics are 4 or 5 years old, did you know that over 1 million students nationwide are being home-schooled? From 1999 to 2003, there was 29% increase in the number of home-schooled or home-educated children. These students represent about 2.2% of the total number of students in the U.S.
Now, you might be asking why am I, the father of a child who goes to public school, why am I talking to you about home-education?
Well, I'm doing so because I thought it might be a good way to introduce the topic of home-education. But the home-education I'd like to talk with you about this morning is not concerned with pilgrims or parabolas or dangling participles. The home education I'd like us to think about is, dare I say, far more important than those things.
Do you believe that regardless of how your kids receive a formal education, do you believe that God wants every parent to be a teacher? Well, this morning we're going to answer that question as we continue thinking about this idea of God-centered parenting.
Let's begin this morning by stating two undeniable facts: 1) Our children are always learning. No matter how old they are, they are always learning and being shaped by what they learn. And 2) There are many quote-un-quote ‘teachers' who are trying to teach them. This world is filled with adults, other children, books, television, etc. that can influence your child with certain ideas about life.
Now, while we do have a duty to protect our children from the wrong ideas, one of the most important ways we can do that is by nurturing them with the truth. I think all of us recognize that in a world full of teachers, we always need to be the first teacher in our child's life.
But how and what are we supposed to teach them. Let's open up God's word together this morning and talk about that very thing.
Turn with me to the fifth book of the Bible, to Deuteronomy 6.
II. The Passage: "You Shall Teach...Your Children" (6:4-9)
In this passage, Moses is speaking to the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, and he is telling them about what God requires of them if they are to be His people. Listen as I read from Deuteronomy 6:
4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Now, they are several parts to what Moses is saying here, but I hope it's clear that all of what he's telling them has a bearing on to that single phrase that we find right in the middle of this passage, in verse 7: "you shall teach them diligently to your children".
Very clearly from this Old Testament passage we see that, among the Israelites, every parent was to be a teacher. Now, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you may know that the New Testament contains a similar instruction. Listen to what Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
As head of this household, the father was responsible for making sure that he and his wife were training and teaching their children about the things of God.
But in Deuteronomy, the content of the instruction is clear from verse 6: "And these words that I command you today..." This is what Moses is talking about when he says in verse 7, "you shall teach THEM diligently to you children".
The THEM the Israelites were supposed to be teaching their children were the commands that God was giving the people, commands that were vital to their success or failure when it came to living as God's people. If they did not obey God, and if they did not teach their children to obey God's laws, they would fail to uphold their end of the covenant that they willingly entered into with God when God rescued them from slavery in Egypt.
And if they did not uphold their end of the covenant, God would send them out of the land of promise. So their livelihoods, their well-being as a people was vitally connected to the reality that every generation needed to understand what it meant to be God's people.
But what does this have to do with us? Well, if we believe Romans 15:4, where Paul writes, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us...", then we know that Deuteronomy has some important things to teach us about God-centered parenting, about bringing children up "in the training and instruction of the Lord"
If we are to better understand what Moses is saying here, what God is saying through Moses, then let me suggest that find two aspects described in this passage. The first is what we need to know before we teach our children, and the second is what we need to know about how to teach our children.
A. Before You Teach
Let's explore this passage by talking first about three things we need to know before we teach our children. Here are some foundations we need to lay if we are to effectively instruct our children in the truth.
From verse 4, we see that Our first foundation for teaching our children is a true knowledge of God. Look at verse 4 again: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
This is one of the most important passages in the Old Testament and in Judaism, even today. In a world where everyone believed in many gods, the declaration that the LORD, or literally Yahweh, was one, or as the verse could be translated that "Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone", this was a revolutionary statement.
This wasn't the popular notion of God. This wasn't the every day, run-of-the-mill, "big guy upstairs", "higher power" kind of knowledge. This was a radical knowledge of God that came directly from God revealing Himself. This is the kind of knowledge we need if we are to nurture our children in truth. We need to know the radical truth about God. We need to know who He is. We need to know why He is incomparable; why He is worthy of our worship.
Next, we learn from verse 5 that we Our second foundation for teaching our children is a true love for God. Look back at verse 5: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
This goes hand in hand with our first point. If we have a true knowledge of God, then a true love for God should the true result. And notice the kind of love described here. It is an all-consuming, all-devoting kind of love. Moses is talking about loving God with everything you are; every fiber of your being.
But if you know who God is, that He is perfectly good, that He is perfectly loving, that He is perfectly unique, that He is perfectly powerful, how could you not love Him with everything you are? It's typically the ‘perfections' of a man or woman that causes our heart to swell with love, that makes us love-sick, so that we're always thinking about him or her.
But the perfections of human love can't compare to the perfections of divine love. And if that's true, then we should have a true and total love for God. That's what we should be growing in.
Remember, this is what Jesus labeled the greatest commandment. This is why we were created, to love God with our all.
Now, the final thing we need to understand before we teach our children is clear from verse 6: And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
We see hear that Our third foundation for teaching our children is a true trust in God's word.
It's the word of God that reveals God to us, isn't it? It's what informs our true knowledge of God. It's what fuels our true love for God.
But a true knowledge of God and a true love for God are not complete if God's desires are not filling our heart through faith. To know and to love God is to obey God from the heart. His commands, his wisdom should be on our hearts.
God's word tells us that the only true test of our knowledge of God and the only really proof of our love for God is the condition of our heart, and thus the condition of our life. Is it clear to you and others that God's desires on your heart? Does your life reflect a true trust in God's word?
Now, whether you are or are not a parent, these foundations are critical for all of us because they are foundational to any of us having a relationship with God. You cannot have a relationship with your Creator if you do not know who He is, if you do not love Him above everything else, and if you do not trust what He's told you.
So Moses tells the people these things, not order to make give them a teacher training seminar. He tells them these things in order to give them life. And if we are not truly connected to the One who made us, then how can we truly teach our children, in truth?
Listen to this: what you worship will ultimately write the lessons your children learn. (x2)
If you worship success, success will be their teacher. If you worship self, self will be their teacher. If you worship diversion, diversion will be their teacher. But if you worship God, God will be their teacher.
B. How You Teach
So even if these foundations are present in your life, that still leaves the question, "How then do I teach my children what God wants me to teach them? Should I spend a half hour doing a Bible study every morning? Is there a book that will tell me what I need to tell them? Should I take them to a particular church program or class? Maybe they should be doing memory verses, or service projects, or journaling, or only watching Christian videos and listening to Christian music. How do I teach them what God wants me to teach them?"
Well, listen again to Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
There is something so vital here that we can't miss. Look at how Moses describes a parent's instruction here.
What we need to see here is that God's word calls us to teaching as a lifestyle.
Whatever decisions we make about books and programs and media and routines, they have to be grounded in a broader vision that my entire life is the classroom in which my children are instructed.
You see, Moses doesn't want them to think that if they bring there kids once a year to the Tent of Meeting, that somehow that kind of religious formalism is true God-centered parenting
No, he wants them to understand that their instruction as parents needs to be woven into the very fabric of their life. The people were to teach God's words diligently to their children. Some translations say, "Drill them into your children" or "Impress them upon your children". Inherent in this is the idea of repetition.
But that repetition was about more than just a routine. It was about God's word being an ever-present part of your entire life.
God's word was to be on their lips when they sat in the house or when they went somewhere. God's commands were to be talked about in the evening when they laid down, but also in the morning when they got up.
And in verses 8 and 9 we see Moses using memorable imagery, not so they would actually print the law on their foreheads or front porches, as some Jews would later do, but simply as a call to remember. God is saying is through Moses, "My words should be as ever-presently obvious to you as the nose on your face or the hand at the end of your arm. Your environment should be marked by my truth."
And the reason all of this was so important is that teaching as a lifestyle is about more than a life filled with teaching. It is about a life filled by that teaching. We see here that God wants us to communicate more than just knowledge. He wants us to communicate a knowledge that changes lives.
Books and programs and media and routines are fine, but the "how" of teaching our children must always and ultimately be about a deliberate attempt to live out your faith, in all of life, before your children's watching eyes.
How we begin our day is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires. What we say about others is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires. How we handle stress is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires. A beautiful sunset is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires. How we spend our free time is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires. How we spend our money is an opportunity to teach our children about God and what He desires.
God's desire is not that you simply teach your children His word and His expectations. He wants you to plant in them a knowledge that blossoms into love and is rooted in faith; He wants you to impart to them your life built on those three foundations we talked about earlier.
This is the home-education all of us need to be involved in. This is what means for every parent to be a teacher.
III. Where Every Lesson Leads
Now it may be appropriate at this time to talk about the content of your teaching. You still may be looking for something practical to use as you attempt to do that. Well, there are good resources out there, including the TableTime verses that we have available on the resource table in back. But I think some of this has to be developed as you grow in your faith, as you walk with your children, and as you listen to them.
I think what is more important for us to conclude with this morning is the idea of where every lesson leads. One of the sayings in the ancient world was that "all roads lead to Rome". Well, if you were with us last week then you understand that when it comes to instructing our children, every lesson must lead to Jesus Christ.
Listen to what Jesus himself said about this Law the Moses gave to the people of Israel, the law that was to be in their hearts and on their lips and for their children. He said...
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)
After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples:
... "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
You see, according to Jesus, the Law of Moses, along with everything else in the Old Testament, was ultimately about Him and the gospel, that Good News of what He accomplished through His death and resurrection.
This is why the Apostle Paul could tell the Galatians: Therefore the Law has become our ï»¿ï»¿tutor to lead us to Christ, so that ï»¿ï»¿we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
The calling of every parent as a teacher, this idea we've talked about this week, cannot ever be separated from what we talked about last week, from the calling of every parent to be a minister of the gospel to their child.
When we teach them about doing the right thing, we have to teach them about the new heart that only Christ can make possible. When we teach them about dealing with difficult people, we need to talk with about the love with which Jesus loved us. When we teach them about God and His creation, we need to talk with them about how Jesus can turn us from worshipping what is created to worshipping the Creator. When we teach them about facing adversity, we have to talk with them about the hope we can have through Christ. When we teach them about the ‘why' of obedience, the ‘why' of following God, of living for Him, we need to direct them to the beauty of Jesus Christ, the captivating beauty of His love poured out for us, His enemies.
No matter what it is we're talking about, whether it's about our words, our money, our mortality; whether it's about security or sex, about responsibility or relationships, every lesson should lead to Jesus Christ. If the whole Bible leads to Jesus, shouldn't our instruction do the same thing?
If you are a parent, no matter how old your children are, God has called you to be a teacher; to be His teacher. It isn't someone else's job. It's your privilege.
If you are not a parent, or not yet a parent, then can I ask you to pray for those who are. Pray that God would empower all of us to love God with our whole life, and then to teach as a lifestyle in light of that love. Pray every lesson would lead to Jesus Christ.
Maybe you will pray as someone who knows the value of such a thing because this is how you were raised. Maybe you will pray as someone who knows the value of such a thing because this is what you needed, but were never given.
May God be glorified as every parent at Way of Grace is growing in grace and then pouring that grace into their child's life. May God be glorified as we see the next generation rise to the very same calling, that Christ may be known.