Dr. Zach Crook
The principles outlined in Deuteronomy 6 are essential in order to ensure we are investing in and guiding the upcoming generation. In this passage, Moses is providing instructions to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land. Verse 7 emphasizes the importance of repeating these instructions to our children and discussing them during daily activities such as sitting in our homes, walking along the road, lying down, and getting up. We must intentionally seek opportunities to guide the next generation, especially our own children. With this series, we aim to provide practical applications to help you effectively pour into the next generation. It’s not enough to simply say we should invest in them. We must have clear ways to do so. Over the next few weeks, we will present different examples of how to accomplish this goal.
Moses’ Instructions to Raise Strong Families
Moses tells us to repeat the instructions to our children and talk about them during specific times in our daily routine. We need to find these moments and incorporate Biblical truth, sharing it with our children in a way that they can learn, memorize, and apply it to their lives. As Moses delivers his final sermon to the people of Israel, he stresses the importance of not missing the most critical aspect—our responsibility to teach the truth to the next generation.
Moses not only provides practical ways to pass on the truth to the next generation, but also encourages us to take responsibility as the primary disciple-makers of the upcoming generation. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gives instructions to families on the importance of worshiping God together. He stresses that failing to train our children to follow God and build firm families on the solid ground of the gospel can lead to the downfall of Israel. We see this through Israel’s history, in which they walked away from the truth that God had given them, leading to their decay. Sociologist Carl Zimmerman conducted a study on civilizations over the past 3,000 years, analyzing what leads to their flourishing or decay. In his book, Family and Civilization, he provides insight into the importance of family life in civilization.
The Decline of Strong Families Deteriorates Civilizations
The author discusses the correlation between the strength of the family and the strength of society. Zimmerman studied 3,000 years of civilization and identified seven warning signs that indicate the decay or decline of a culture or nation. These warning signs include an increased rate of divorce, a lack of respect for parental authority, and the breakdown of inhibitions against adultery and all forms of sexuality. Zimmerman, who was a secular humanist and Harvard professor of sociology, wrote that the destruction of the family and the collapse of society occur simultaneously.
We must take action to help turn the tide and prevent the decline of our society. This can be achieved by investing in the next generation and teaching them the truth about God and how to follow Him. We may only be one generation away from losing all influence in our culture, but also one generation away from seeing God do something incredible. Moses’ call to teach our children the truth and worship God is emphasized as a way to build firm families on the solid ground of the gospel.
How to Strengthen Your Family
Each household must consider how it can build firm, strong families. In Deuteronomy 6:10–12, Moses reminds the Israelites of God’s graciousness towards them, how He blessed them with a land full of large and beautiful cities, homes full of good things, and vineyards and olive groves that they did not plant. They had all these blessings that they did not deserve. Moses reminds them not to forget the Lord, who brought them out of the land of Egypt and out of slavery. We need to teach the next generation about God’s grace and how we worship Him because of it.
Moses emphasizes the idea of common grace—the grace available to everyone, saved or lost. We wake up every day and breathe in air, and we have life because of the common grace of God. Despite the issues in our nation, we still live in the greatest country in the world and are blessed beyond measure. We have the freedom to gather in comfortable chairs in a sanctuary with air conditioning, and we don’t have to worry about being arrested for our faith when we walk outside. Christians around the world who gather to worship are putting their lives and families at risk. We must not forget how incredibly blessed we are.
The Grace of God for Your Family
We need to remember that we are no different than the Israelites that Moses is addressing. God has given us so much common grace and many blessings that we do not deserve. This should lead us to have a posture of humility and thanksgiving for who God is and what He has done for us. God saved us miraculously, just like He did for the Israelites, and Paul tells us that we were once enslaved to sin, but now we have been saved through Jesus Christ. We have the incredible gift of saving grace, which means if we trust in Christ, we will have eternity with Him.
Grace should motivate us to worship God. We need to make sure that we teach the next generation about God’s incredible graciousness to us. As we worship God, we should also fear Him. Isaiah’s response to seeing God was not one of joy, but one of recognizing his own sinfulness and unworthiness before God’s holiness. We should have a healthy fear of God’s holiness and perfection as we worship Him. We must teach the next generation to fear and worship God.
The Honor of Raising Children in the Lord
As we consider the next generation, it’s important to remember that all children are created in the image of God. We have a significant responsibility to disciple and raise up the next generation in a way that honors their Creator and heavenly Father. It’s crucial to recognize that this privilege is also an incredible responsibility of teaching our children to follow the Lord. When we contemplate what it means to worship God, we must acknowledge the weight of God’s holiness, which inspires reverential awe. This is the God who spoke the world into existence and formed humanity by breathing into the dust of the earth. We should teach the next generation about God’s grace and the importance of worshipping Him with a healthy fear of who He is and what He has done.
In Deuteronomy, Moses instructs the Israelites to fear the Lord, worship Him, and take oaths in His Name. He warns them not to follow other gods, which is an example of obedience to the next generation. In our current society, it’s crucial to recognize the idols we worship, such as money, power, and success, which can distract us from God’s purpose. We should not turn the dreams God has for us into idols, but instead strive to follow His plan. As William Timperley said, “Worship involves quickening the conscience by the holiness of God, feeding the mind with the truth of God, purging the imagination by the beauty of God, and opening the heart to the love of God, while devoting the will to the purpose of God.” Therefore, we must teach the next generation to worship God with respect and obedience.
Moses is warning the Israelites, and all of us, that we worship God not only because of His grace, but also because of our obedience to what God has called us to do. He explicitly states that we should not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around us, because God is a jealous God. However, our culture today does not value obeying God or His Word, as evidenced by the declining attendance in churches over the past 20 years. This lack of value for corporate worship is easy to follow, but our children are watching us, and they see what we value. Do we prioritize sports, money, or other things over worshiping the Lord? We can claim with our lips that we worship God, but our lives must also reflect this belief.
We desire to worship God and teach the next generation to do the same because it sets an example of obedience for them. Our worship and priority of the Lord will not go unnoticed by them. When we actively pursue our faith, it becomes easier to avoid idolatry. Ultimately, as we understand the truth of the gospel and who God is, we realize that worship is the only appropriate response to it. God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. The next generation is watching us and observing what we value and worship. If we desire to see a change in our churches and nation, we need to show the next generation that we value worshiping the Lord above all else.