TEACHING GOD'S WORD AT HOME
Dear Members in Christ,
Teaching God’s Word at Home (Deut 6:7)
The Mosaic Law gives a clear teaching for all of God’s people in ancient times. The following declaration is uttered even today by people of Jewish descent, the passage from Deuteronomy 6:4-6:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)
This passage with the declaration that “the Lord our God is one LORD” is often referred to as the “Shema” the Hebrew word for “Hear.” This is the repeat of the declaration (re-stated in different words) that God made to His people at Mount Sinai when they first received the Decalogue from God. The passage in Exodus 20:3 says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The declaration of a monotheistic devotion to one God alone seems a given for us. But bear in mind the people of God who stood before Mount Sinai were until recently slaves in Egypt.
Their rigid and obsessive external form of near “perfect” obedience to the outward God ordained requirement for a holy witness will not help them depart from hell.
What about Egypt? Egypt is a place of idolatry, a place where many gods and goddesses are worshipped. So, to the people of God, immersed in the idolatrous muck of Egypt for four hundred years, the idea of a monotheistic faith has to be taught and reinforced to the people. Therefore, when God had made it clear to His people that “the Lord our God is one LORD,” God also told them how to ensure that all their future generations will never depart from this faith. They are to keep these words in their heart (Deuteronomy 6:6).
Teaching the Law of God in their homes
When God gave the laws to His people, He also prepared them to ensure that they will transmit the words of the law from one generation to another. How are they expected to do that? The instruction God gave them was quite simple and straightforward – to teach the word of God in their respective homes. So, we read in Deuteronomy 6: 6, 7:
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
God had given His people the way in which they can ensure that their families and generations will know and obey God’s word. They are to know God’s word and to teach their children. The first step is the individual’s responsibility to know and remember God’s word. Thus the instruction begins with “… these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” No child of God is to remain in ignorance, it is the responsibility of every child of God to know the words of the law of his Lord and Master. There is no surprise to this instruction given, for indeed how is one able to teach, unless one first learn the subject matter to be taught? God had given His people the Levites and priests to teach His people the law.
This is a lesson for us all as well. We must exercise diligence to learn the word of God. Whether you are a Sunday School teacher or an Elder teaching the Basic Bible Knowledge class, or a parent teaching children at home, one must know the scriptures well in order to be an effective teacher.
Teaching the Law of God to their children
The second part of the passage is in Deuteronomy 6:7 which exhorts the people to “teach them (the words of the law) diligently unto thy children.” The God-given way in which the knowledge of His laws is to be transmitted to the succeeding generation of the people of God is by familial teaching. From parents to children. We know that the teaching of the law is not strictly confined to the home. There is also the teaching of God’s word to His people by the Levites and priests. God had given this duty in the book of Leviticus when the LORD instructed Aaron about the duties of the priests and Levites, which is:
“And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:10, 11)
The cycle of the transmission of knowledge of God’s law is clearly understood. The priests and Levites taught the people, and the head of the household would have the responsibility to teach his children. The teaching process is to be diligently carried out, a word which conveys the image of sharpening, like one would work a blade over a whetstone. This is a teaching process which is laboriously and energetically carried out.
The teaching of children is to be done continuously. The words which teach teaching whether sitting, lying or standing or walking is an emphatic way of saying that teaching God’s laws must be as much a part of the family’s daily life as the most mundane activity. In fact, the emphasis is that the teaching of God’s law is to be as common a part as all other activities within the family home.
Practical ways to learn and teach God’s Word in our homes
It is clear that God intended His people to be diligent in teaching His laws. How can we make this our practical priority in our homes? Here are several ways the head of a household can be effective teachers.
Firstly, we can engage in active program of learning to increase our knowledge of God’s word. With the recent developments in the means of learning as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning has become a practical and convenient reality. The Calvary Jaya website has an easily accessed submission form for those wishing to enrol for the FEBC online courses.
The structured learning by enrolment for courses must be augmented by personal meditation and study of God’s word. Remember, one must learn before one can teach. Therefore, this is an effective way to improve and progress in the knowledge of God’s word to enable one to become an effective teacher.
Secondly, parents may take the initiative by setting up a regular time for family bible study. Whether it is weekly session or perhaps more frequently, it is a matter of discretion. But it is vital that it becomes a regular session. Parents can select a weekly portion for the bible lesson. A good way to start is to use the passage of the day from the “Read, Pray, Grow” daily devotion booklet. The family bible study time may include a portion of time for the reading of the bible – a good opportunity for children to read aloud the word of God. A parent can read the devotion notes, or the family can read the notes together, or in a responsive manner.
We pray and hope that the reading and teaching of God’s word in the homes will strengthen the spiritual lives of our people and the family members. May God help and guide us and bring about revival in our lives and in our church. To God be the Glory!
Dn. Lim Seh Beng