Exploring Deuteronomy Week 6: All in the Family
Pastor Dan’s most recent sermon, “Children” is available online here.
This week, Pastor Dan continued in Deuteronomy 6, where Moses tells the Israelites to love God with all that they are. The commands of God are to be a continuous part of their lives — they should teach them diligently to their children, they should talk about them on the road, at home, when they get up and when they lie down. The words of God should be everywhere and in everything the people of God do.
Deuteronomy 6:9 says that God’s words should be on the door frames of their houses and on their gates. This command has been taken literally — have you ever seen one of these?
It is called a mezuzah, and Jewish people place them on the door frames of their homes. In Israel, where the above picture was taken, they are posted on the gates that lead into Old City Jerusalem. Mezuzahs contain the words of Deuteronomy 6 and 11, and people touch the mezuzah when they pass through the doorways, as a reminder that God’s words should be always with us, no matter what.
So yesterday, Pastor Dan talked with us about the importance of teaching our children the ways of God. Deuteronomy emphasizes this so often — one of the book’s main themes is remembering. God reminds the people that they are soon entering into a land where it will be easy for them to forget God and His great deeds. But it is crucial that the Israelites teach the next generation about God — they must not forget. God gives them His word and His holidays and His prophets in order for His people to remember Him so that it will go well with them!
The importance of family and teaching children about God is crucial throughout the whole Bible. In Hebrew, the word for family is mishpahah. It comes from the root verb, shapah, which means to fuse or join together. What is interesting is that in the Hebrew mind, the word family does not only include parents and children. It includes the extended family as well — parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Your family is a unit! This makes what Pastor Dan said yesterday even more relevant for all of us. Whether single or married, with kids or without, all of us either belong to or know families where we can be influential through prayer, sharing the Bible, and living out an example of what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Shall we continue with our fun Hebrew lesson?!
The book Our Father Abraham points out the significance of horeh, the Hebrew word for parent. Like the word torah its root seems to come from the verb yarah, which means to “cast, shoot, throw, direct.” A parent is to direct his child in the way of the Lord, to cast them in right direction, to teach her kids what it means to walk on God’s path. Pastor Dan pointed out that in the Bible, the father is often called upon to lead in this area. Proverbs emphasizes this over and over.
In Bible times, family units often lived together in one big building or compound. Oftentimes a father would build his home, and his children and extended family would live there with him. If a son got engaged, he would leave his bride-to-be and go to his father’s house to prepare a room for he and his wife to live in. He would build on an addition to his father’s house, and when it was ready, he would return for his bride and they would live in their new addition. Families stayed together in Bible times. (This is why the story of the prodigal son is so powerful. The son chose to leave his father, abandon the family, and go out on his own. This would have been uncommon and selfish during that time period.)
In light of this, we can gain new insight into Jesus’ words in John, when He says that His Father’s house has many rooms and He is going to prepare a place for us. This is the language of family and marriage. We are the bride of Christ, and He is adding additions to His Father’s house before He comes back to get us so we can live in the presence of the Father, Son, Spirit and the family of believers forever.
Deuteronomy has a lot to teach us about what it means to live in community, live as family, and teach one another how to follow God with all that we are. I’m excited to learn more on this topic next week!
* What stood out to you most in Pastor Dan’s sermon yesterday?