“Do Not Sin Against the Child!”

“Do not sin against the child,” Genesis 42:22, KJV.

This comment is by Reuben as he and his brothers were in the presence of the brother, Joseph, whom they thought they had gotten rid of several years earlier.  Joseph had been a pain in the side especially of some of his brothers who were sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s concubines, as he “tattled” on them, Genesis 37:2.  Unbeknownst to Reuben, his brothers had sold Joseph to a passing caravan.  But now, years later, here he was, and the past was very much now the present!

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while, even on vacation when I didn’t hardly go near a computer, hence the long time since the last post.

My grandmother used to tell a story about her own family when she was a child.  She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and whenever company came to visit, they were all required to sit on the sofa and be quiet.  People today laugh such an idea to scorn.

From my own youth I remember the dictum that “children should be seen and not heard.”  Again, such an idea is laughed out of court.

Why?

Consider a newborn child.  He has no idea about anything except his own immediate surroundings and needs.  If he is wet, hungry, tired, or any number of other things, he lets it be known in no uncertain terms that he is not happy.  He doesn’t care how it happens – he wants to be happy.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this.  He is a baby.  He doesn’t know anything else.   He doesn’t know any better.

However…

He grows up.

Then what??

That fact that he grows up is why God created parents and the family – to prepare little ones to be adults.  After all, baby animals are often able to cope on their own after just a few weeks.  Not so, human babies.  It may be they will learn most of what they will ever learn in their first few years, but no five-year old is ready for his own apartment.  He has a long way to go.

A baby is absolutely self-centered.  That’s to be expected; he’s just been born.

Parents are expected – nay, required – to teach their little ones that there are other “selfs” in this world and there are things their little ones need to know as they’re going to live among and interact with these others.

Parents are also there to teach their little one that there is something called “authority,” and that he isn’t it!

Because … there is an ultimate authority – God.

God has a lot to say about this in His Word – the only “parenting manual” we need!  Sigmund Freud and the atheist (or “Christian”) psychologists and psychiatrists who follow his or similar philosophies have more to answer for than we can possibly begin to imagine.

In Deuteronomy 11:18, God commanded Israel, “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets [a decorative band or ornament worn] between your eyes.  “These words of mine” refer to what God said in v. 1, “Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.”  Continuing in v. 19, He said, You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” emphasis added.  You, the parent, shall teach them, not the Sunday School, not the school, not “children’s church,” not some “children’s ministry.”  YOU.  (And, yes, I know they didn’t have those things in the Old Testament.  There’s no mention of them in the New Testament, either.)  It is the parents’ responsibility, not someone else’s.  The other things I mentioned may be useful, but they are to be strictly secondary.  Cf. also Joshua 4:4-7.

In Deuteronomy 6:20, 21, God commanded, When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God commanded us?’ then you shall say, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out with a mighty hand.’

Children are inherently curious.  God says that we parents are to use that trait to teach them about the things of God.  And when it comes right down to it, when push comes to shove and the kid wants to know why he should do something, “because I said so, that’s why!”  (Howls and groans from “modern” thinkers.)  Parents are not perfect, by any means (ask my own children), but they are parents.

So important is the role of parents that it was a death-penalty sin for an older child to disrespect his parents.  Babies and toddlers don’t know any better, but an older child was responsible for his rebellion:  “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.  He has cursed his father or his mother.  His blood shall be upon him,” Leviticus 20:9, Exodus 21:17.  Same thing if he hit either of them, Exodus 21:15.  In fact, God required that the Israelite to “honor your father and your mother,” Exodus 20:12.  The word translated “honor” could be translated, “give weight to.”

Years later, when Israel was being judged for its sin, God said one of those sins was, “they have made light of father and mother,” Ezekiel 22:7.

Isaiah 3:12, As for My people, children are their oppressors,…”

While this is spoken about Israel, we see it all around us today.  Little ones in the supermarket or the restaurant screaming and having fits because they’re not getting their way, and their parents having no idea what to do….  Teenagers interrupting government functions or “protesting” on some street corner….  Schools requiring “security officers” because children have been turned into monsters.

Much of the problem has come because psychologists and psychiatrists believe children to be a “blank slate,” on which the proper education, etc., can write and turn out outstanding and useful adults.

Is that true?

Psalm 58:3 says, They go astray from the womb, speaking lies.”  While that verse refers specifically to “the wicked,” experience tells us that it’s universally true.

Tell me, any of you who read this blog and have children, did you have to teach them to lie?  To be dishonest?  To take that which isn’t their’s?  To be selfish and not “share”?

Or did they come by it “naturally”?

So, you see, parents have a great responsibility to teach their children to mind, to obey – and yes, I recognize that’s “old-fashioned.”  There’s another old saying:  “As the twig is bent, so the tree is formed.”  After a tree is grown, it’s too late to try to make it straight if it’s crooked.  That has to be done when the tree is still a “twig”; it’s still young and supple and malleable.  The same with that young life.  That’s the time to teach and train it, not when it’s course has pretty well been set and it’s been confirmed in rebellion.

Remember, what’s “cute” at three or four will likely not be cute at 8 or 12 or 32.

And remember, you’re preparing your child not only for time, but for eternity.

Do not sin against the child – or the adult he or she will become.

Advertisements

Revelation 3:14-19, Laodicea: The Church of the Good Self Image, part 2.

“And to the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish that you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, having become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked  – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may be not revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Be zealous, therefore, and repent.  (NKJV) 

In our last post, we looked at the city of Laodicea and how our Lord used the situation of the city to instruct His church.  We saw how the Lord presented Himself to the church as the True and Faithful Witness, as the One who shows the credibility of God’s Word (the “Amen”), and as the One through whom everything had been created, even the very environment in which Laodicea found itself.  He had quite a lot to say to the church there, this church which was so very pleased with itself.

How they saw themselves, v. 17,  ‘I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing.’

In short, they had arrived.

How the Lord saw them“you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,” v. 16. “You are wretched, poor, blind, miserable and naked,” v. 17.

In short, they hadn’t even started.

What about this thing of “cold and hot and lukewarm”?  Mostly, it’s thought that “cold” is either lost folks or Christians whose names are on a church role, but they’re not at all active in the church.  “Hot” speaks of feverent service to the Lord.  “Lukewarm” is kind of the Christian who comes to church once in a while, puts a little money in the plate, “believes” the Bible, but has no real enthusiasm for the things of God.  One maybe who serves “God and mammon”.

The Laodiceans would likely have understood it differently.  They were dependent for their water supply on aqueducts bringing water from two different springs some distance away from the city.  The thing is, one of these springs was hot and the other was cold.  By the time the water from either of these springs reached the city through these aqueducts, it had become lukewarm.  These waters were also heavily contaminated with minerals, so that lukewarm water would be undrinkable, hence the reference to “vomit,” or as the KJV has it:  “spue” (the old spelling of “spew”).  Have you ever taken a drink of something that was repulsive?  You don’t swallow it; you immediate spit it out, you “spew” it out.  You get rid of it right away.

When the Lord said that He wished they were either “cold” or “hot,” He wasn’t saying He wished they were either lost or saved, or fervent.  Cold water and hot water both have their uses.  Jesus was saying He wanted them to be useful to Him.

How different is their view of themselves and the Lord’s view of them!  There is so much that could be said about this!  They judged themselves by what they saw in the mirror, so to speak.  Perhaps they looked down on some of the other churches as not being quite up to their standard.  This is contrary to Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:12, For they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  You see, we can always find someone “worse” than we are.  The trouble is, “they” aren’t the standard.  The Lord Jesus is.  Only a fool thinks he or she measures up to that standard!

What He counseled them, vs. 18, 19.

“To buy”.  This reminds me of Isaiah 55:1, 2, Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.  Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? 

This doesn’t mean that the things the Lord offers and requires are for sale.  There is no amount of money or wealth which can “buy” a single blessing.  At the same time, there is a “cost” to obtaining these things.  We have to let go of the world if we want to take hold of the blessing.  We cannot serve this world and the Lord.  Cf. our Lord’s teaching in Luke 14:25-33.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t have responsibilities in this world; it means that we can’t let them come between us and serving the Lord.

– “gold refined in the fire.”  This refers to “faith.”  Cf. 1 Peter 1:5, which speak of faith as being more precious than gold that perishes.  

“that you may be rich.”  James 2:5 refers to the poor of this world rich in faith (KJV).  The poorest believer has more wealth than the richest billionaire can even begin to imagine, Matthew 16:26.

But pay attention to the fact that the Lord says, “Buy from Me.”  It isn’t enough to have the faith of your parents or your spouse or your church.  They may have true faith, but they can’t give it to you.  They might be able to show you the way, but you have to get it from the Lord yourself – and that’s done through reading and studying the Bible, the Word of God:  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17.  You can hear it through faithful preachers and teachers or from others, but faith must become yours and not just theirs.

– “white garments that you may be clothed.”  This speaks of righteousness, and since it must come from Christ, it refers to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, For He [God] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It’s just a couple of weeks until Christmas.  But that little “babe in a manger” didn’t stay there, though the world leaves Him there.  He grew up to die on a Cross, not as an accident, not as a criminal, but as a substitute.  That little, helpless infant was to be God’s substitute for believers.  He would grow up to live that life we could never live, be that person we could never be, and die that death we could never die.  His life satisfied God’s law by obeying its every provision.  His death satisfied God’s law by paying the price for every broken provision.   He paid the price for the sins of believers.  God looked at Him on the cross as He looks at us in our sins.  He looks at us, if we’re believers, and sees us as righteous and perfect as His Son was, and is..  Mind you, we’re neither righteous nor perfect in ourselves, but we’re accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6.  It will only be because of Him that we make it to heaven, forgiven of our sins and considered to be righteous.

“that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”  I admit that I don’t understand all that’s involved here, or any of it, really.  The idea seems to be prevalent that everyone will make it into heaven and all will be sweetness and light.  That doesn’t seem to be the picture here.  The Lord is talking to one of His churches!  About their shame….  And 1 John 2:28 speaks of being ashamed before Him at His coming.   Clearly, there is something here to think, and to pray, about.

As for those who are not His –

Revelation 20:11-15 paints a scene with which we really have no comparison, and which many reject or try to water down:  this idea of final, eternal judgment.  To many, hell is only a swear word, but Scripture says it’s an awful reality.  Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, that’s what every man and woman faces.

“anoint your eyes with eye salve.”  As we mentioned earlier, Laodicea was famous for three things:  commerce, fashion, and medicine.  This last is what our Lord refers to here.  Laodicea was especially noted for an eye salve, or a poultice, to be placed on the eyes.  Jesus uses that word here.  He wants them to be able truly to see what they really are: “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  To see that He and He alone has what they need: true riches, a covering for their sin, and understanding of spiritual truth.  And that they might see that they do need these things.

Some people might think all this isn’t very “loving.”  We seem to have the idea that “love” means tolerance, that we just accept anything and everything.  We seem to have lost the idea that anything can actually be “wrong.”

It’s because the Lord did love this church that He told them to repent, to change their attitude and their activity.  If He didn’t love them, He would just have let them go their way.

You see, unlike modern, unbelieving child psychology, our Lord believes in raising His children, not letting them raise themselves.  And that sometimes requires discipline.  A godless world equates the idea of discipline, which in Biblical terms includes corporal punishment, with child abuse.  But the Lord at His most foolish, as the world thinks of it, is wiser than all the people who oppose Him.  We see the results of Dr. Spock and his disciples in the chaos that has enveloped our young people and our culture the last two or three generations.  That’s the real child abuse.  To let youngsters run wild, to grow up as rebellious and miserable adults, with no thought or understanding that actions have consequences.  To wonder what went wrong when their world falls apart, or to blame everyone else for what they themselves have brought upon themselves.

I didn’t really mean this to be about raising children, but this is what the Lord does for us.  This is what the Lord was doing to the church at Laodicea.  They were so satisfied with themselves.  He wanted them to be satisfied with Him.

Hebrews 12:3-11, Consider…

[3]For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  [4]You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  [5]And you  have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons:  ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; [6]for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’
[7]If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  [8]But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  [9]Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live.  [10]For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  [11]Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (NKJV)

In turning their attention away from those who had gone before, and our attention as well, and turning that attention toward the Lord Jesus, the writer repeats and amplifies what he said in v. 2, “Consider Him….”  Not just “look,” as in v. 2, but “consider.”  Not just a casual glance, a passing interest, but spend some time looking at Him, thinking about Him, who He was and what He did.

In the verses before us, what He did was to endure the hostility of the leaders of His culture.  Or, as the KJV has it, the “contradiction of sinners against Himself.”  The word translated “hostilities” is “antilogia,” literally, “to speak against.”  I think “contradiction” sums it up nicely.  And it’s the first word in the sentence, emphasizing this action of sinners against the Lord Jesus.

This focus was to be for them an encouragement and strengthening, as it took them away from what they themselves were suffering.  They were to look to that One who had suffered with and for them, who had made it possible to look ahead to a day when suffering would be a thing of the past.  Where their suffering in this life would bring them great reward in the next.  They were to do this to prevent themselves from becoming “weary and discouraged.”  If we have any understanding at all of human nature, that’s always the problem when we spend too much time looking at ourselves.

Our Lord warned His disciples along this line while He was with them.  In John 15:18-20, He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

But there was something else the writer wanted them to remember:  a reason, at least, for their suffering, vs. 5-8.  It’s a form of discipline.  God understands what happens when we get too comfortable.  We tend to forget our need of Him.  He also understands that this world is in opposition to Him and if we get to following it, then we’re not following Him.  So trouble comes to us in various forms to remind us of important things.  And this trouble may have nothing to do with “persecution.”  It may be sickness or financial difficulty.  Whatever it is, actions, whether ours or someone else’s, have consequences, and it’s sometimes the innocent who pay the price.  So it’s true, we may not “deserve” a lot of what happens to us, but sometimes it’s also true that a lot of the trouble that comes our way is simply the result of our own doings.  David found this out the hard way after his “affair” with Bathsheba.  His life was never the same after that.  Whatever the source, trouble comes our way to remind us not to get too comfortable in what someone called “these tenements of clay.”

The writer uses the example of earthly fathers in his teaching, v. 9.  In our day and time, this probably doesn’t mean as much, because “father” is almost a curse word, and it’s up to Mom to raise the kids – single moms and all that.  “Dad” skates by either as a non-entity or a simpleton.  And the idea of discipline that the writer uses is most certainly frowned on in our society:  For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives, emphasis added.  Any real idea of discipline, or making a child “mind,” is frowned on.

Let me tell you a story.  I don’t think I’ve ever posted it on the blog.  My grandmother was a teacher.  When she was just starting out, she applied for a job at a particular school.  This school had been through three teachers very quickly because of a certain student in the school.  He simply drove them out by his actions.  Now, the school board was honest with her and told her of the problem and asked if she were still interested.  She asked if they would back her up.  They would.  So she took the school.  Remember, this wasn’t a monstrous structure like what passes for “school” in our day, where kids are herded together like cattle.  Sure enough, this kid began to make trouble.  I don’t remember exactly how she told the story now, but she grabbed him by the arm and took a yardstick to him.  When the student got home, and his parents found out what happened, they wore him out, too.

Fast forward about 25 years.  Grandma and Grandpa are on a vacation trip through New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns.  This was in 1946 or ’47.  Out in the middle of nowhere – no interstate highways, no “rest areas” – the car began to overheat, so Grandpa pulled into a little service station to get some water for their ’39 Studebaker.  He walked around to the back of the building – and fell over, dead.  As it turned out, the assistant district attorney in this little town – out in the middle of nowhere – was this same fellow.  He thanked Grandma for straightening him all those years before, because if she hadn’t, no telling where he would have wound up – certainly not on the right side of the law.

Now…

you can imagine what would happen if Grandma were a present-day teacher and tried that with a “troubled youth” in her class…!

We’ve gone so far away from any idea of raising kids to be respectful and obedient that we’ve brought about the mess we see them in today.  Not all of them are troublesome, to be sure, there are still some who are raised right, but the majority of them, to varying degrees, live lives that wouldn’t have been tolerated in my youth, let alone in Grandma’s!  She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and when folks came to visit her parents, all the kids were required to sit quietly on the sofa until the visitors were gone.  “Children should be seen and not heard” is a dictum that’s gone the way of the dinosaur.  They certainly weren’t allowed to scream and carry on in the restaurant or grocery story like we see two- and three-year-olds doing so today!  These little monsters run the family, and their parents have no idea about what to do, and indeed, are powerless to do anything about it.  I see these little ones around today and wonder what their parents are going to do when their kids get old enough to really do damage.

We see what’s going to happen with the rampages and shootings done by young people that are so in the news today.  Liberals, who’ve rejected Scripture in every area of life and who are responsible for the chaos in our society, believe that “gun control” is the answer – the only answer.  While this post is not a defense of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, it might serve as a rebuttal to this simplistic non-solution.

Let me tell you another story – one I may have used on the blog before.  When I was a teenager – and not a model one by any means – the high school I went to in a large city out West was in a “tough” neighborhood.  Years later, one of my friends characterized it as a “ghetto” (although I suppose that’s too harsh an assessment in this day of political correctness).  Most of the times I walked to school, about a 45 minute trip (and no, it wasn’t uphill both ways).  If it was bad weather, my Mom, who had to be at work at 7:00 AM, would take me to school, and I would be the very first one there – even before the lunchroom staff.  In the basement of this “tough” school was a rifle range – with rifles and live ammo (locked up, of course).  I qualified as a marksman on that range.  But there was never – ever – any idea of trouble because of the presence of those guns.  It just wasn’t thought of.  You could buy rifles at the local dime store.  I don’t remember ever hearing of a “drive-by shooting” or of a rampage like we hear so often about today, even when we lived in an area of town which now suffers those.

The trouble today isn’t the presence of guns, in spite of the rantings of liberals, but the abandonment of our youth to their own devices and the rejection of Scriptural principles for life and living.  Perish the thought that we damage their “self-esteem”!  But the problem is that they’ve got too much self-esteem.

God told Israel something about this.  In Hosea 4:6, He told a rebellious and wicked Israel, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

We don’t like this idea of God.  We want a God who is all loving and soft, a kindly grandfather-type who smiles at the foibles and follies of His children.  The God of the Old Testament is characterized by unbelievers as a monstrous bully, but even Hebrews, a few verses from where we are, describes Him to those who thumb their noses at Him: For our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.

Israel had been given clear and strict instruction about the raising of their children.  These kids were to be grounded in the Scripture Israel had, which had a great deal to do with how God had delivered her from Egyptian slavery and how she was to live in light of that.  She was warned about forgetting God.  In Deuteronomy 8:11, Moses warned Israel about this, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you this day…, emphasis added.  Israel hadn’t “forgotten” God in the sense that He had slipped their minds; they were very aware of His existence, they just didn’t pay any attention to what He said.  As a consequence, they didn’t raise their children right, and their children went further astray even than they did – with all the consequences of that.

In the same sense, we have forgotten God in our day, and we see the consequences all around us.

But, the writer tells us, there is an “afterward.”  By the grace of God, my wife and I raised four children to mature and productive adulthood.  It wasn’t easy for my wife, though.  She was able to be a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years, until the kids got a little older.  I worked long hours and even when I was home, I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t a very attentive father.  I still had some growing-up to do, too.  But now, we’re able to rejoice in grandchildren and have watched four of them grow to the stage where they are getting ready to leave the nest, so to speak.  It’s been a joy to watch them grow from infancy to where the boys are taller than we are.  I kid our daughter that in a few years, she might be a grandmother herself and she tells me that she isn’t ready for that!

The point is, the troubles of life may be hard to go through.  Compared to what our Lord suffered, though, they are nothing.  One of the Reformers said that his sufferings were but chips and slivers compared to his Lord’s cross.  And if I understand Scripture what we see today is nothing compared to what lies ahead, though it’s very difficult to see that sometimes.

The writer makes an interesting and challenging statement in the middle of his thought.  After saying that chastening is simply God disciplining His children, he says, But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons, v.8.

“Illegitimate.”

That doesn’t mean anything today, but it was a big deal back then.  And, spiritually speaking, it doesn’t seem to mean very much today, either.  According to some, we’re all children of God, so there aren’t any illegitimate children.  Others seem to have a very broad definition of the term, “children of God.”  Our writer has his own definition: enduring chastening, or discipline.  This seems counter-intuitive to our time, in which many think that trouble should be the farthest thing away from the Christian life.  Health, wealth and all things good – these are the Christian life, not trouble.

It’s true in this country that we’ve enjoyed a long time of freedom in spiritual matters.  This country was founded with respect for the Bible and Christian principles, regardless of what the revisionists tell us.  Though it’s always been around in some form or another, it’s only within the last decade or so that opposition to the Bible and Christianity has really become public policy.

I don’t know what the future holds in the short term.  I do know there’s coming a time when, in the words of Daniel 12:2, many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament.

Until then, consider Him who endured such hostility of sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged….