Passing God’s Word to the Next Generation

I grew up in a fatherless home in West Baltimore City and after I became a follower of Jesus Christ, and over time, God’s Word has helped me to get a better grip on what fatherhood is all about. 

God has blessed my wife and I will 8 children, 16 great-grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. One passage of Scripture that has helped me to understand biblical fatherhood and parenting is Psalm 103.

This psalm was written by King David in praise of the Lord’s benefits in his life:

In Psalm 103 David begins by calling on his own soul to praise the Lord.  He also calls on his own soul to forget not all God’s benefits. 

Psa 103:1  A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Psa 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;

As David begins to list the benefits he is declaring that God is totally involved in the lives of His children. God, as Heavenly Father, meets all of His children’s needs. 

Psa 103:3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;

Psa 103:4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Psa 103:5  Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

In Psalm 103:6, David goes on to describe the greatness and love of our Abba Father.  He writes, “The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed.”

In other words, the Lord serves as a divine advocate for those who are downtrodden and those who are taken advantage of.  That was me as I grew up.

A third of the way through Psalm 103, in verse 7, David writes “He (God) made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.”

And then, King David continues blessing the Lord…

Psa 103:8  The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 

Psa 103:9  He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 

Psa 103:10  He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 

Psa 103:11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 

Psa 103:12  As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

Psa 103:13  Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 

Psa 103:14  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 

Why would David insert verse 7 in the midst of his blessing the Lord for all His benefits?  Why would he want his readers to know that “Yahweh made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel”?

In order to learn the answer to this question we need to go back to the book of Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy chapter one Moses recounts the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel.  He reminds them of when the Lord placed the Promised Land before His people and commanded them not to be afraid, but to go up and take possession of the land (1:21).

Rather than immediately obeying the Lord, Deuteronomy 1:22 tells us that the leaders of Israel approached Moses and asked that they might send men to search out the land and bring back word about it before they obeyed and took possession of the land.  Verse 23 tells us that Moses took 12 men, one of each of the 12 tribes of Israel and sent them to spy out the land. 

Ten of the 12 men came back with a bad report that caused fear to enter the hearts of the people so that they rebelled against the command of the Lord and grumbled in their tents against Him (The Israelites liked the land but they did not like the people who lived on the land!).

Moses tried to assure the people that the Lord promised to fight for them but they would not trust the Lord (1:22-33). They were terrified by these people and did not believe that God could give them victory (Deut. 1:28). 

The Bible says in Deut. 1:35-36 that God was angry and took an oath saying, “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers, except Caleb…and Joshua”.

Moses himself would also be barred from entering the land due to a different act of disobedience.

Now 40 years later, that rebellious generation died off and a new generation of Israelites was about to enter the Promised Land.  Moses writes the Book of Deuteronomy, which is in fact a collection of his sermons to Israel, just before they crossed the Jordan in the land God promised them..

God had to make His ways known to this new generation of the children of Israel who would go in to possess the land. In Deuteronomy 1:39 Moses describes this generation as the “little ones”, the “sons”, who 40 years earlier, had “no knowledge of good or evil…”

In other words,

  • This new generation, being children at the time, may not have understood judgments God poured on Egypt 40 years earlier because Pharoah would not let His people go.
  • Some in this new generation may not have connected the parting of the Red Sea with the omnipotence of the Almighty God who made a covenant with Abraham, Issac and Jacob. 
  • They weren’t old enough to understand the significance of Mt. Sinai, the mountain that quaked with thunder, lightning and a thick cloud and the trumpet blast that grew louder and louder (Exodus 19).
  • This generation wasn’t the one that, when the Lord descended on the mountain in fire and smoke, cried out to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die”.

It’s 40 years later and Moses speaks to this new generation of Israel to remind them of their history, their God, and His law.

In Deuteronomy, Moses recounts all the history of Israel up to that point in time…the disobedience of their ancestors, their lack of faith, and their rebellious refusal to enter the land because of the bad report of the 10 spies. 

In chapter five, Moses would also proclaim the Ten Commandments from God for the second time, with new tablets of stone. He would command the children of Israel to take God’s laws and teach them to their children. In Deuteronomy chapter ten they would be commanded to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:12-22).

This new generation of the Children of Israel needed to be reminded of their history so that they would not commit the same acts of disobedience their forefathers did.  They needed to be reminded of who they were and how they were supposed to live, before entering the Promised Land.

Today Christian parents need to take God’s commands and teach them to their children.  We need to be preoccupied with teaching the next generation:

  • Who they are.
  • Who they are supposed to serve, and,
  • How they are supposed to live.

Much of the disloyalty, unfaithfulness and fickle mindedness we are lamenting about in our day has developed over time.  Much of what we are seeing in the culture of our day has resulted from the parental neglect to teach God’s commands from one generation to the next.

I’m old enough to remember the spiritual legacy or heritage that was passed on to my grandparents from their parents, but had a hard time making its way down to me and my siblings.

African Americans used to regularly sing in church the spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and knew exactly what the song meant.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

This song was composed and sung by slaves who knew the Old Testament story about Elisha (E-lish-a), watching the prophet Elijah, who did not die, but was carried off to heaven in “a chariot and horses of fire” (2 Kings 2:11). 

 I looked over Jordan, and what did I see,

Coming for to carry me home.

A band of angels coming after me,

Coming for to carry me home.

They knew the Jordan River was where the Israelites crossed into the promised land (Joshua 4:23) and where Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16-17).

As followers of Jesus Christ, these slaves knew of Jesus’ promise when He said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”.  Their hope was connected to what Jesus said in John 14:1, “Do not let your heart be troubled”.

But the sad situation in our day is that many, no matter what their ethnicity, have never received a spiritual heritage because the truths of God’s Word captured in the pages of the Bible has not been passed from generation to generation.

Back in Deuteronomy, Moses would present the Ten Commandments for the second time with new tablets of stone. He would command the children of Israel to take God’s laws and teach them to their children.

Moses was also preparing them for his departure and the appointment of Joshua, who would take Israel into Canaan.

The word “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law.” This title comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and means “repetition of the law,” or “second law.”

This does not mean that the law given in Exodus is incomplete, or that the law that God gives in Deuteronomy is different. The book of Deuteronomy explains the Ten Commandments in more detail.[1]

The underlying tone of the book is serious and reverential and the major characters of the book are God, Moses, Children of Israel.

Key phrases found in the book are “the LORD spoke”, “go up”, “take possession”, “do not fear or be dismayed”, “commandment”, “Hear, O Israel!”, “the LORD our God”, “I command you”, “love the LORD”,

The main themes of the book are obedience, faithfulness to God, trusting the LORD, and abstaining from sin.

There are direct quotations from Deuteronomy by New Testament speakers and writers and there are also numerous allusions to Deuteronomy in the New Testament.[2]

Jesus

In Matthew 4 when Satan attempts to get Jesus to sin, Jesus responds with the Word of God from Deuteronomy.
Time would fail me if I shared all the passages in the Gospels where Jesus quotes from the book of Deuteronomy.

Paul 

Paul quotes from Deuteronomy in several of his letters and as you research them you will find it obvious that Paul gets his preoccupation with the theological theme of “grace” from the book of Deuteronomy when you read verses such as:

  • Deu 7:7  “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 
  • Deu 7:8  but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 

Peter

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter is quoting Moses as he says to Israel in Deut. 7:6: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
When Peter preaches in Solomon’s Portico in Acts 3, he applies the promise in Deut. 18:15-18 to Jesus, where God says He would raise up a prophet like Moses.

Revelation – In Revelation 17:14 and 19:16 we find a reference to Deut. 10:17 when Jesus, the conquering Lamb of God, is given the title of “King of kings, and Lord of lords”.

Some have called Deuteronomy as “The Book of Romans of the Old Testament” because it contains the Old Testament’s most systematic and sustained presentation of theology.

One of the key passages of Deuteronomy is chapter 6. For this message we will be looking at Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

Deu 6:1  “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,

Deu 6:2  so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Deu 6:3  “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deu 6:4  “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 

Deu 6:5  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

Deu 6:6  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 

Deu 6:7  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. 

Deu 6:8  “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 6:9  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

As Moses prepares a new generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he would teach them the principles they would need to know and practice to maintain a distinctiveness and a uniqueness from the other nations. Our outline is a follows:

An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)
An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)
An exhortation to teach the principles (6-9)

An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)

Deut 6:1  “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it…”

Commandments – The NASB 6:1 begins with the words, “Now this is the commandment…” not commandments. The people had already received the Ten Commandments in chapter five but there was one more commandment they needed to hear. We’ll look at that commandment in verse five.

Statutes – The statutes were the various specific rules and regulations the Jews were to follow. These statutes were sprinkled throughout chapters 6-11. They were things like:

Deut 6:13 – you shall fear only the LORD, your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.
Deut 6:14 – you shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the people who surround you
Deut 6:16 – you shall not put your LORD God to the test

These statutes made it clear what the Jews were to do and not to do.

Judgments – The judgments laid out what would happen, both good and bad, if Israel either chose to obey, or not obey God’s commandment and statutes. Again these judgments are sprinkled throughout Deuteronomy chapters 6-11. For example:

If Israel failed to obey, Deut. 6:15 states, “…the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.”

But if Israel obeyed, Deut. 6:18 says, “it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land…”

The commandment, the statutes and the judgments were designed to set Israel apart from the people of other nations in the land they were going over to possess. 

Deuteronomy 6:2 says, “so that you and your son and your grandson “might fear the LORD your God”.

The word “fear” here means reverence; it is awe and respect for the God of creation and includes the ideas of worship and obedience.

Illust.: When I was in the sixth grade, one day someone was picking on me.  I was a rather short person in those days and a target for the bullies.  On that day a guy named Rodney was teasing me and I was beginning to get aggravated and feel “hot around the collar.”  Then it happened, someone came up behind me and tapped me on my shoulder and I balled up my fist and with all the strength I could muster I swung around and hit Garfield McCoy. 

Now Garfield was around 12 but looked like he was 16.  Garfield picked me up and threw me across a few desks. 

Guess what my first thoughts were as I was picking myself off the floor? 

My thoughts were, “What strength!”  “What might!”  That guy won my respect; he won my admiration.  After we straightened out the misunderstanding, he forgave me and became my friend and volunteered to be my bodyguard! For that time on, I highly respected Garfield.

This helps me to understand what “fear” means in Psalm 130:4.  It means reverence; it is awe and respect for the God who is called in Psalm 91:1 and Rev. 1:8, The Almighty.

The fear of the Lord includes the ideas of worship and obedience.  When you fear the Lord you will be moved to worship Him!  When you fear the Lord, you will be compelled to obey Him!  When you fear the Lord, you will desire to praise Him!

(Psa 111:10 NIV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

(Psa 112:1 NIV)  Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

Deuteronomy 6:2 tells us that Israel was to teach their children and their children’s children to fear the Lord.  The proof that they feared the Lord was that they kept, “all His statutes and commandments”.

Deuteronomy 6:2 ends with the words, “that your days may be prolonged”.  Here Moses repeats the fifth commandment spoken in Deut. 5:16 and he does so as if he was pleading with them, “If only you would faithfully obey Yahweh, He would give you a long life”.

In Deuteronomy 6:3 Moses tells Israel that if they kept the commandments of God they would be blessed: “That it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses says at the beginning of verse three: “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it” – He is telling them that God is to be heard, and attentively considered. The word “listen” is the same word we will see used in verse four; it’s the Hebrew word, ‘shama”.

In verses 1-3 Moses exhorts Israel to observe the principles but this is not simply a call to obedience for obedience’s sake, or obedience so they can be happy and live long.

Moses was calling Israel to obedience for God’s glory. Any personal blessing they received from the Lord for their obedience was only a by-product of their relationship with Him, not as an end in itself.

Moses was calling Israel to obedience as an evidence of their love for God.  We will see that Moses was calling Israel to obedience so that their faith would be perpetuated from generation to generation and that through their faith and obedience they would be a witness and ministry to the world.

Moses begins chapter six by giving an exhortation for Israel to observe the principles.

An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)

In verse four, we come to what is known as the Shema. 

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

“Hear O Israel”. The word “hear” (also used in verse three) is the Hebrew word, shâma‛ shaw-mah’ and means “to listen” or “to hear intelligently”.  In grade school my teachers used to say to our class, “Give me your undivided attention!

Deuteronomy 6:4-10 has been called the Magna Carta of the home. Verse 4 was, and still is, the very first verse in the Torah that each Jewish boy and girl is taught by their God-fearing parents.  This is the verse that every devout Jew recites each day.  The God-fearing Jew is even taught to utter the Shema when dying.

The Shema was what separated Israel from the surrounding nations that practiced polytheism…the worship of many gods. 

The word “shama” means “to hear” but not just to hear the sounds, but to hear and obey. Put differently, “Shama” isn’t simply you or your children rote reciting or memorizing the Scriptures; it is writing the Scriptures on the tablet of your heart so that it will affect your behavior. 

Deuteronomy 6:4 also says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

In many English translations, each letter of the word LORD in verse four is capitalized, telling the reader it’s the Hebrew word, Yahweh.[3] 

The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”’”

Israelites grew up knowing the Shema and pledging their allegiance to Yahweh.  They were not to follow the gods of the nations inhabiting the lands they were about to enter. (Deut. 6:13-15).

  • Ashtoreth, the fertility and maternity goddess of the Canaanites was connected with sensuality and involved ritual prostitution. The priests and priestesses of Ashtoreth also practiced divination and fortune-telling.
  • Chemosh and Molech, the Canaanite gods that demanded the ritual sacrifice involving passing children through fire—the same children born due to sensuality and prostitution.
  • Baal and Marduk, the “climate gods” of sky, rain and thunder and lightning and associated with fertility and vegetation.  . 
  • Milcom, the god that the Ammonites sought for knowledge of the future.

Its interesting that the pagan and demonic “gods” of 14th century BC are still worshipped today.

The Israelites were to worship no other gods but the one true and live God, Yahweh, who created the heavens and the earth. They were to pass this command to obey God’s Word to their children and children’s children.

Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

The LORD is one (echad, which speaks literally of a compound unity), One God…not three…not 40 gods as the Egyptians worshipped…not the 15 “greater gods” and the hundreds of lesser deities of the Babylonians.  1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us: “there is one God.

As Israel conformed to God’s law, the people would function as God’s servant-nation, representing God and His character before the surrounding nations of the world.

God called Israel out from among the nations of the world to be His own people.  Israel wasn’t to be an end to themselves but a means to an end so that they would be a witness…a missionary nation (Exodus 19:3-5).

They were to be God’s possession among all the nations…a “priest-nation”.  They received the Law of God and were to be an obedient “prophet-witness” (unlike Jonah) to the Gentile nations (Deut 6).  They were to be a priestly nation.

As one generation of Israel would praise God’s works to another, the world look at Israel and find out what God was like.
Israel was to be God’s “priest” that would usher the inhabitants of the world into the presence of God.
Israel was to be the vehicle through which God would bring forth His Son, the Messiah—the Savior of the World.

But Israel had drifted away from the call of God on them as a people.  They drifted and were being destroyed.  Carnality had set in.  Idolatry was being practiced.  He old generation was judged and the new generation had to be reminded of God’s law and His ways.

In Deuteronomy chapter five Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments first introduced in Exodus chapter 20. Now in Deuteronomy 6:5 Moses is letting Israel know that their love for God is expressed in their wholehearted commitment to the Lord.

Verse 5 says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”. – The verb “to love” was to be their covenantal commitment and complete devotion to the Lord. The heart was considered the seat of the mind or intellect, so that one could “think with” one’s heart. 

In other words, the Israelite was to be totally committed, devoted and loyal to God with their whole mind. As Psalm 103:1 says, they were to love God, “with all that is within me”.

In Matthew 22:37-38, when Jesus was asked “What was the greatest commandment of all,” He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 as He defines the Law in its essence: love the Lord with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. More than just a list of dos and don’ts, Jesus summarizes all the law in terms of loving God and your neighbor.

As Moses prepares a new generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he left them…

…An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)

…An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)

An exhortation to teach the principles (6-9)

Deu 6:6  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 

Deu 6:7  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. 

In order to insure that this wasn’t just a one-generational obedience to the command of God, in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, we find that Israel was to pass down the knowledge of God to their children.

I believe that this is what David was thinking about as he penned Psalm 145:3-4  “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts”. 

As Pastor George taught last night, Israel wasn’t just to pass on information, but an explanation that would cause the next generation to praise, boast and glory in the Lord.

But this is where Israel fell short.  In the book of Jeremiah (ESV) we find outlined an all-too-common deviation by the people of God, from obedience to disobedience.

Jer 2:1  The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 

Jer 2:2  “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. 

Jer 2:3  Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” 

God called Israel to Himself and blessed them, and provided for them, and protected them in the wilderness as a faithful husband would do for the bride he loved.

Jer 2:4  Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 

Jer 2:5  Thus says the LORD: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 

God asks His people, “Was there some kind of unrighteousness or unfaithfulness found in me? Were any of the good things that I promised you fail that you would go far from me to seek false gods and their idols?”

We see in verse 6-8 that it got to the point that the people did not remember the Lord…the priests did not remember the Lord…the kings did not remember the Lord, and the prophets forsook and forgot the Lord.

God says in Jeremiah 2:9 that He would “contend” with His people.  The word “contend” means to quarrel and to find fault, to charge, to judge.

There is a progression of the people’s transgression in this passage and it happens in each successive generation; even today:

  1. We start with not seeking the Lord.
  2. We move to not knowing the Lord (through His Word).
  3. Then there’s transgression and sin against the Lord (and His Word).
  4. And finally we have a total transfer of allegiance from the Lord to false gods and idols (idolatry).

In Deuteronomy 6:7 Hebrew parents were commanded to “teach the words of God diligently to their children, and shall talk of them when they sat down in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up.”

In order for parents to do this, the Word of God was to first reside in their own hearts (vs. 6). 

Q: Can you truly share with, and model before, your children that which you have yet to make your own?

God’s Word must be first impressed upon the parent’s heart. The whole soul of both mother and father was to be brought under the influence and impression of God’s Word. It was only then could they impress God’s commandments, statutes and judgments upon their children.

Moses must really want to drive home his point to fathers and mothers about redeeming the time and using every opportunity to instill the knowledge of God into the tender minds of Israel’s children.

In Deuteronomy chapter 11 he implores Israel to make sure they remain under the blessing, and not the curse of the Lord.  In this chapter Moses repeats, almost verbatim, what he commanded Israel in chapter six:

Deu 11:16  “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 

Deu 11:17  “Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. 

Deu 11:18  “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 11:19  “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 

Deu 11:20  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 

Deu 11:21  so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 

Deu 11:22  “For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 

Back in Deuteronomy  6:7 Moses says, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.” 

“Teach” – The phrase “teach them diligently” in Deuteronomy 6:7 is the Hebrew word “shanan” (shaw-nan) that literally means to, “point,” to “prick.”  It means to “engrave,” that is, “to teach incisively.”

shanan, (shaw-nan) is also translated, “sharpened”, sharpened arrows, Isaiah 5:28; Psalm 45:5. This is referring to the time and effort required to sharpen an arrow or a knife.

This is more than just sending them to Sunday school or giving them a “Kid’s version of the Bible” with colorful pictures. Hebrew parents were expected to “inscribe” or “engrave” the words of God into their children “minds” and etch it upon their “hearts”.

“Talk” – Not only was the parent to teach the knowledge of God to their children…parents were to talk about the words of God—while they sat in their houses…when they got up in the morning, when they laid down for bed and when they traveled.  In other words, whether home or traveling, they were to share God’s Word with their children.

Please know that I don’t think Moses was talking about homeschooling.  I believe Moses was referring to the teaching and the talking that would overflow from one who “loved the Lord with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind” (verse 5).

They were not to compartmentalize their devotion to Yahweh: “Church/ Home”. They were to make the ways of the Lord known,

  • when they sat down in their house (these eggs and bacon come from the Lord our omnipotent Creator) and
  • when they walked by the way (See that bird in the tree how God takes care of it? He’s our Provider) and
  • when they lied down (thank God for protecting us through seen and unseen danger! He’s our Protector) and
  • When they got up (thank you Lord for giving us another day to serve you! – His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness!). 

Our pastor preached yesterday that “the character of God obligates us to praise Him!”

The Scripture commands parents to be diligent in instructing their children in the ways and words of the Lord so that one generation might declare the works of God to the next. The father and mother who were obedient to the commands of Scripture did just that.

Back in Deuteronomy 6:8-9:

Deu 6:8  “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 6:9  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

Upon entering the property of a Hebrew home, one might immediately tell this family served Yahweh, and not the false gods and idols of the nations.  But don’t think that God was merely concerned about how a family decorates their home with His Word; He was concerned that His Word be on the family’s heart (Deut. 6:6). 

By the time of Jesus was born and during His earthly ministry, the Jewish people interpreted Deuteronomy 6:7-9 by wearing phylacteries, which were small boxes holding parchment with scriptures on them, affixed to their foreheads or hands with leather straps.

Jesus condemned the wearing of phylacteries by the Pharisees because they only wore them to promote their “spirituality”. (Matthew 23:5).

The point of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 is that as Christians we can find ways to constantly remind ourselves of the truths of God. We can keep God’s Word close to our eyes and hands as it were…keeping it constantly within our sight and in our minds and hearts.

Application

We began this message with reading Psalm 103 where King David is in praise of the Lord’s benefits in his life:

Psa 103:1  Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Psa 103:2  Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–

Psa 103:3  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Psa 103:4  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Psa 103:5  who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103 begins triumphantly declaring that God is totally involved in the lives of His children. God, as Heavenly Father, meets all of His children’s needs. 

As we said, a third of the way through Psalm 103, in verse 7, David writes “He (God) made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 

In Deuteronomy 6:5-6 Moses commands the children of Israel: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart”.

As Christians, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:3 we are “a letter of Christ… written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”.

As followers of Jesus, we are “living epistles” that are read by others and God uses our lives and witness to influence and bring others into His kingdom through the Gospel.  Someone has said, “How we live is important because it backs up what we say.”

We can learn from Deuteronomy chapter 6 that God’s people are to mindfully and wholeheartedly obey the Scriptures and make our lives and homes a place where God would dwell, and where the Scriptures are honored, and where our faith is unashamedly on display.

[1] http://smyrnafirst.org/deuteronomy-a-book-for-the-next-generation/

[2] https://thechrist-centeredlife.com/resources/thought/deuteronomy-new-testament/

[3] This is also known as the tetragrammaton.

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