Deut ch 6 v 5-9 …. 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, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Israel are now on the borders of the promised land. The forty years of wandering in the wilderness are coming to a close. Another generation has arisen to replace the one which the Lord said would die because of their sin of unbelief. Except for Caleb and Joshua and probably some of the priests there is a new generation standing on the borders of Canaan. For the most part, these individuals were not at Sinai. For those who were, they were too young to be held accountable. Before they are permitted by the Lord to cross the Jordan and enter the land to possess it, the Lord has something for them to hear.
Moses is instructed to rehearse in the ears of the whole nation the law for a second time. He will remind them of certain aspects of their journeyings to date. More importantly he will teach them afresh concerning the law of God.
Before they can enter the land they must learn about the importance of God’s law. This law will be the way of life in the land. It will govern their lives and control all the activity of life in the land. They will only be enabled to enjoy all that God has for them in the land, when this law is respected, established and obeyed.
Tied in with this understanding of the Word of God for themselves, will be the propagating of it to succeeding generations. This is just as important. Each rising generation must be taught the Word of God. This is so vitally important that the Lord will instruct Israel concerning it before they enter the land.
Consider the importance of the Word of God in educating children.
I. The Word of God is the final rule on all matters of faith and practice.
The Lord speaks about the law being bound for a sign upon their hand and as frontlets between their eyes, cp. v 8,9. The Jews failed to understand this in its proper context. Later in Scripture we read of those who literally rolled up portions of the law and bound it upon their forehead or to their hand, called ‘ Phylacteries’. They also put portions in containers and fastened them to the doors of their houses. It became a ritual. It is still done today by orthodox Jews. But they miss what it really means.
By using these terms the Lord meant that the Word of God was to govern all their lives. It was to govern the mind, the will, the heart; all of their actions. It was to govern their homes and their conduct outside their homes. The children were to be taught these things concerning the Word of God.
A. Human reasoning is not the final authority. The reason of men can never be the final court of appeal. There are no absolutes in it. It is given to change. One man’s view will contradict the other. It is conditioned by the times. Man does not have a full knowledge. It is so limited. The wisdom of men is foolishness with God. It is the religion of Humanism. Man is the centre of Humanism. He decides all things for himself.
State education is built on humanistic reasoning. It sets man’s reasoning up in the place of God’s Word. Whether morally, socially, scientifically, etc; the State has set the Word of God aside. Its court of appeal is what man says. This is the philosophy that is found in state education.
It is so dangerous because it finds a natural ally in the heart of the child. They are inclined to believe it. It breeds godlessness, immorality, rebellion, in short, the works of the flesh.
B. The Word of God alone is the final authority. It has been given by the Supreme Being. The One who had complete and perfect knowledge of all things. It is Truth and always so. We protest against those who do not hold to this position. We say it is unscriptural to set the Word of God aside. We teach that our lives are to brought under its governance and authority. It is to rule our homes, the Church, society, business and such like. Surely it most govern the educating of our children as well. The Lord says it should. If we do, then it calls upon us to teach our children in an environment where God’s Word is the final and only rule of faith and practice.
II. It is only the Word of God that can impart true knowledge.
Is it not striking to note that on the borders of the land God does not begin to instruct this rising generation in war, agriculture, industry, and so on? Rather, on the verge of Canaan He teaches them the Law of God, cp v 5-7. It is only the Word of God that can give a true knowledge. Set God’s Word aside and it does not matter what else you know, you do not have true knowledge. That is the spirit
that is abroad to day. Professing themselves to be wise with the wisdom of this world this generation has become fools because they have turned away from the fount of true knowledge.
A. Without a knowledge of God one remains in darkness and ignorance. Someone may glean facts and information, but unless that material stands in relation to God on high it is not true knowledge. An individual may have an intellectual capacity described as brilliant, but without a knowledge of God he is a fool. He has no knowledge whatsoever. He may have education, But he still is a fool before God. Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. If God’s Word is not honoured there will be no true knowledge.
B. The Word of God alone can bring man to a true knowledge. It is by the entrance of God’s Word that light is brought to the soul. The Word of God addresses the needs of man. It will teach him what he needs to know about the physical world around him and his own spiritual condition before God. It will teach him that he lives in a fallen world cursed by sin and death. It will teach him in his own heart he is depraved and inclined against God. It will teach the path of life that leads via the cross. It will teach the importance of the spiritual above the physical.
Understanding the Word of God will bring an individual to a true knowledge of themselves and the world around them. It will fit them for life in this world and the next. It will bring them to know God. John 17:3, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Only God’s Word does this.
C. God’s Word must therefore be the chief means used in educating children. If all this is so, then it brings us to this conclusion, namely, that in order to have a true and proper knowledge God’s Word must be taught.
Does this happen in state education? Is there an overriding principle which states that all that is taught must be in accordance with God’s Word? They will laugh at you in the Department of Education for believing that.
III. The Word of God sets forth the manner in which a child is to be taught.
On the banks of Jordan this people heard how they were to teach their children the Word of God.
A. These things were to be taught diligently to the rising generation. Extreme care and continual attention was to be given to this matter. The Lord knew what awaited the rising generation in the land. They would be assailed with the sins of the ungodly and the temptation would be presented to conform and be like them.
There were succeeding generations where evidently they were not taught diligently. We read of a generation rising up which knew not the Lord.
Every thing is against the parent as they seek to raise their children. There is an ungodly world, just waiting to compass to child. There is the devil who is out to devour as the roaring lion. There is the natural depravity of the heart of the child.
Therefore diligence is required in raising the children. You only have one opportunity. There’s no going back and doing it differently.
The word ‘diligently’ comes from a word meaning to sharpen a sword or point of an arrow. Surely it suggests young lives being formed and fashioned by God’s Word so that they may be useful to his glory and honour. Ps 127:3,4, Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Great care would be taken so as not to lose the edge or the point on a sword or arrow. So likewise great care must be taken so that the fashioning of young lives is not ruined by that which is the very antithesis of God’s Word.
B. Only those who have been taught themselves can teach the children. These parents were listening to Moses. They were being taught by God through Moses. They in turn were to go and teach their children.
Those who have any influence upon our children must be people with the character of v 5, And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. People without this character cannot teach the children of God’s people.
This manner of teaching is to be the norm at all times, whether they are in the home, outside the home; when they begin the day, throughout the day and at the end of the day.
In the light of God’s Word there is only one place where the children of God’s people can be taught and that is where this Book is honoured, which is within a Christian School.
A sermon preached by Rev Brian McClung at an Christian Education Regional Rally in Armagh Free Presbyterian Church