By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 10-12
Key Scripture Verses: Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
Moses is telling the people who are about to enter the Promised Land how their fathers and mothers and their ancestors before them were cared for by God and the wonderful acts he had done for them. These individuals were not the ones who directly witnessed God’s leading the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, so Moses is telling them the history and recounting the law that was given to them by God, instructing them in how they are to behave in obedience to God’s decrees as they enter Canaan.
He tells them again how God gave them the Ten Commandments; and, how these were so important that when the tablets the original ones were written on were broken, God wrote them again on new tablets and instructed Moses to build the ark of the covenant to put them in for safe keeping.
Moses tells the people that God not only wanted them to know the commands and decrees, but to live by them on a day-to-day basis.
And, these laws were not just for the adults—they were to instruct their children in the law. This was not just an academic exercise for memorization. God wanted them to know these backwards and forwards. He wanted everyone in the household to know these laws and to abide by them. When he says that he wants them to write them on their gates and their doorposts and to talk about them with their children when sitting at home or upon waking and going to bed, he means that they were to know them so well that they lived by them in their coming and going and in their usual, daily activities.
Just today I was listening to a Christian broadcast on the radio and the preacher was speaking of how to discipline children and how to teach them about Christ. He made the point that we are not just to teach our children basic ethics, but to help them understand how Christianity is not just about rules of behavior and ethics but that it is about the person of Jesus Christ and relationship with the living God. As you will remember, the first commandment instructs us to love God.
Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. He knew that we would fall short at times, because we are all sinners. But, if we love him and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we will inherently want to please him and to obey him, because he is pure love and pure goodness. To love him is to acknowledge that and to honor and respect him in our behavior.
Jesus summed up the law in two commandments which not only include the rules of good behavior, but also to love him with all of our being: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
We are to teach our children these commandments, as well, as those who are to know Jesus and to be in relationship with him must know these and live by them. If we teach our children these commandments and we live by them ourselves, we instruct them in love.
What greater instruction could we teach our children than to teach them how Jesus loves them and how to show their love for him by following his commands?