I find it interesting that Jesus Himself spoke about the necessity of people coming to Him as children, but in Ephesians 4 we receive the encouragement from Paul to grow up in our faith.
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
There’s nothing wrong with being a child, and we all started out that way. However, there is something wrong with the picture when a 40-year-old is acting like a seven-year-old. There is a natural development to our physical lives here on earth. As we get older, we become wiser ideally, and we certainly become more mature. Although I’m sure it does happen, you do not see very many adults throwing temper tantrums in the grocery store. The time for being a child, while entirely necessary, has passed, and our hypothetical 40-year-old needs to grow. He does not become a new person, but he does develop.
I think about that in our spiritual lives. Yes, we need to come to Jesus Christ as children with faith, and that will always be part of our identity. However, there needs to be development. Then needs to be maturity. We don’t want Christians who don’t know how to be Christians. As Paul said, we want to understand our doctrine so that we don’t get deceived.
Obviously, people will develop at different rates, and it is not a question of salvation. However, it is a part of our natural development in Christ. Just like we grow up in our physical bodies, our spiritual lives should develop as well. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to worship God with our minds along with our hearts and souls.
Yesterday, I wrote about how it is really debatable if Nebuchadnezzar actually became a follower of the one true God. However, there is one potential strike against that theory in Daniel 5. Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, knew very little about God. He saw a hand writing on the wall, and he called Daniel because he knew he could interpret dreams, but he didn’t recognize the power of God.
Dan 5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
Dan 5:23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
As Nebuchadnezzar’s son, he knew about his insanity, and he would have known about his proclamation in the previous chapter. He could have at the very least understood, as his father did, that the God of the Bible was someone very special. You would have hoped that if his father truly become a believer that he would have passed to his son.
That does bring up a very interesting point about parenting though. Parents are certainly responsible to teach their children in the way that they should go. The world might say that that is indoctrination and cast this training in a negative light, but all that they can propose is a system where we indoctrinate with an alternative method. There is no value-neutral upbringing; it is a large responsibility for parents to determine what values they want their children to cultivate.
That being said, children do not always follow. In this chapter, Nebuchadnezzar’s son knew everything that happened, but he still turned his back on God. Therefore, we have kind of a dilemma. On one hand, parents need to communicate Biblical values to their children. That is true. It is simultaneously true that the children are individuals who might choose to ignore the things of God. That is not the parents’ fault. Individuals make individual decisions. Nevertheless, parents still have the responsibility to do what they can to train.
Again, we really don’t know if Nebuchadnezzar really became a follower of God, but it seems to be at least true that his son did not carry on his at least recognition of the power of God. As parents or future parents, we ought to do all that we can to raise children in the right way. This doesn’t mean absolute sheltering, but it does mean training and engaging.
Proverbs 22 provides some parenting advice that add that some people have a hard time with.
Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I say that people might have a hard time with this because evidentially, I think we all know some parents who have done the best they could to train their children, but those children have abandoned the way that they were taught.
In this case, it is important to consider the type of literature we are talking about here. If you think about a proverb, it is basically a one line piece of wisdom. It is not supposed to be a doctoral dissertation. It is not supposed to be an exhaustive examination of how to raise children to become good adults. It is a memorable phrase that teaches a general truth. It is certainly generally true that if you raise your children in the right way, they will continue on that path.
This does not cause any problems with inspiration though. It is certainly possible that Solomon was as inspired to write in this proverbial type of form as Luke was to write in the narrative form. God used Solomon to communicate in these types of sayings. We don’t need to worry that communication in this kind of general proverb threatens anything about the reliability of the Bible. We don’t even need to worry about inerrancy. We don’t need to worry because of the literary type that it is understood Solomon was inspired to write in.
Even if this proverb is not a promise, I still think it is very important for all parents to consider. You have a lot of influence over the development of your child. Certainly, they might rebel later in life, but there is no doubt that parents have an important job to do. I’m not a parent, but if you are, please take care to raise your child in the right way.
Psalms 127 says that it was written for Solomon, and it reads like a set of Proverbs. There are only five verses, and they all seem to relate to having a successful family. Let’s talk about each of the five versus individually and see how they all fit together.
Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Psa 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psa 127:4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Psa 127:5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Verse one could certainly be referring to a literal house, but in context, it seems like we are talking about a family. God is not going to literally build your house, so it seems like this verse would be metaphorical. Unless God is at the center of the family, it is not going to go as well as it might have otherwise.
Also, as we move on to verse two, we learn that it is not worthwhile to worry. That relates directly to the rest of the chapter. Parents worry about their children all the time. I feel like that is part of being a parent, and that is part of what it seems like verse two was put there.
We are talking about building a family that follows God, and while it might be natural to worry about it, we should not worry that much.
Why should we not worry so much about children? Children are a gift from God (although I’m sure parents wonder about that every so often haha). If you have brought them up the right way, then we get to verse four where they are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man. They will be strong, and they will be able to be used by God.
Basing your family on God is where it all starts. If you are a parent, try your best to be a great witness for your children. They will notice, and you will have an influence even if they don’t show it all the time.
Leviticus chapter 12 is incredibly interesting because I think that it definitely has the potential to be vastly taken out of context. This is the type of chapter where many people point to one verse and all of a sudden blow everything out of proportion. However, I want to point you to a particular part in this chapter that I think is overlooked.
Lev 12:6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
One of the main criticisms that people raised about this chapter is that boys and girls are treated differently in verse two and verse five. However, I want to point your attention to verse six where we can see that the sacrifice related to having a boy or a girl is absolutely identical. This is not in any way trying to imply that females are more sinful or some type of punishment.
Since the offering is identical, it follows that the problem must be of the same magnitude.
On that note, I realize that I keep using negative terminology relating to the process of having children, but I keep coming back to the words of David in combination with what we have learned about the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Yes, childbirth is definitely a happy time, but there is some problem there. Another person is now on his or her own in a fallen world that is not at all what God had originally wanted for humanity. I think this is the sorrow that is being referred to in Genesis 3:16.
I think that is also why this chapter refers to the necessity of a sin offering when having a child. Another sinful being has been added to the world, and that sin needs to be atoned for. We are all born with sin nature. There is no avoiding it, and every new life brings to the world as well.
I know that this is a really not the happiest note to the you on, but let me leave you on a much happier note. Jesus died to cover all of our sin for all of eternity. Even though we all have this nature that we cannot avoid, Jesus sacrificed Himself to pay for our debt. That is great news for you and I who can now be saved by the grace of God.
A few important offerings are explained throughout Exodus chapter 29. Also, the role of the priest is explained in some detail. However, we are given a reason for all the detail at the end of the chapter.
Exo 29:45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
Exo 29:46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
If the Israelites were faithful and followed through with all of the sacrifices, their relationship with God would thrive.
I think it is somewhat similar with how we should operate today. When we do what God wants us to do, our relationship only grows stronger.
Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We are supposed to follow God like children. When you think about little children, their natural curiosity probably comes to mind. Children always want to learn more about the world around them which is understandable given that they have not had very much time to learn everything about how the world works.
God is an infinite being, so it is impossible to know everything about Him. However, we need to have that desire to make this a better and better relationship. We need to want to do what God wants us to do, and we need to learn more and more about Him. It is hard to develop a relationship with someone that you never spend any time with.
Just like the Israelites, when we follow God, we get to know Him better and we are more sensitive to His leading.