GOD placed such an emphasis on reaching and teaching children His ways, that his prologue to the commands for the generation of Israelites that would enter the Promised Land in Deuteronomy includes this warning,
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your GOD at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (emphasis added)
Throughout Deuteronomy there are admonitions to teach the children. These are not mere Bible stories either, but deep discussions of faith and doctrine.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
Notice the strength of the words employed. “Impress them on your children.” “Talk (discuss) about them.” Children should be encouraged, at all ages, to discuss doctrine, scripture and their thoughts about the Lord.
So critical was the teaching of children to GOD’s plan that it played a significant part in His choosing of Abraham as the father of this new people. In Genesis 18:17-19 we read, “And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD to do justice and judgment, that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” GOD knew the character of the man he had chosen and a vital trait was his commitment to command (teach) his children.
Was this merely an Old Testament theme? Not at all. Let’s look at that famous scene where the disciples are trying to keep the children away from the Master. I like to imagine Peter acting like a well meaning, but uptight usher on Sunday morning shushing the little ones and advising the parents that they need to take them to “Sunday School”, usually in some out of the way place where their noise won’t interrupt the really important work of adult ministry. But Jesus wasn’t having any of it. He reprimanded the disciples and then took them to school.
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 9:13-14
So what is it that GOD knows about children that causes him to place such an emphasis on them? [Find out on Monday when we post part III]