When Leslie and I were much younger, we used to attend a youth workers conference at a camp here near our home.
The preaching was so good at this conference!
As part of this conference I attended a session on Old Testament messages that was taught by an older, Southern evangelist. He was the rare breed of teacher that was able to break Scriptural truths down into simple and memorable truths. He was good!
Well, he started to teach us how to preach from Old Testament passages. And, as I have thought back on this moment, I have realized that what he taught was not only applicable for teaching from the Old Testament but also in studying the Bible on your own.
He kept going through well-known stories from the Old Testament and then saying,…
“Head for Jesus!”
When you teach on the Manna in the Wilderness, …Head for Jesus
Elijah on Mt. Carmel, …Head for Jesus
Jonah and the big fish, …Head for Jesus
Head for Jesus…!
So, let’s apply this to Moses’ final teaching in the last few weeks of his life to the Israelites that we find in Deuteronomy. If you didn’t know, that is exactly what the book of Deuteronomy is. It is the last word from Moses to the Israelites, and it is filled with warnings, encouragements, and what to do when and how for the future.
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses goes through the Shema and the Teach Them Diligently statement and then he talks about what God is going to do and to keep themselves from idolatry. Then in verse 20, Moses references the why. He says,
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and statutes…”
And, Moses continues on to tell them how they should answer their son when he asks why they do all these rituals and live this way. The response that he gives them is very interesting because it is instructive to us today.
I believe that it informs us on how we are to answer our children today regarding why we take such great effort to stand apart from the larger popular culture; why we have a different habit on Sundays; why we believe what we believe; and other differences between Christians and the larger culture.
However, I also believe it is instructive to us because many times we get caught in lesser lights.
One of these areas that I believe homeschoolers are susceptible to following lesser lights is our motivation for homeschooling. For instance, when we are asked why we homeschool, we will reference a bully or bad teacher or practicality or getting them into a great college.
There are differences between catalysts and callings which I will talk about later. Moses in Deuteronomy 6:20 is focusing on calling.
Below, I am going to record Moses’ instruction on the question or “Why” and then filter it through the instruction of this Southern preacher. You can actually find a much more extensive discussion of Moses’ instruction to the Israelites in my wife’s book, “Teach Them Diligently” which you can click here to get now.
Deuteronomy 6:20-24 –> Head for Jesus
We were Pharoah’s slaves in Egypt,,,,,,,,,,,,We were hopeless and could not help ourselves
And the Lord brought us out of Egypt……….The Lord Jesus redeemed us by his power and might
And the Lord showed signs and wonder……The Lord Jesus asserted his power through miracles
And he brought us out from there…………….Jesus set us free from our sin and shame
That he might bring us in and give us……….We followed Jesus to claim His promise
Commanded us to do all his statutes………..That we might show ourselves unique for Christ
For our good………………………………………….That he would keep us from evil
So, why do we as Christian parents do the things that we do? The answer is to pass down a legacy of serving Christ and to equip our children to be reproducible believers in the work and redemption of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that multiplying disciples starts in the home, and that God has instructed parents to take on this mantle.
Moses described this calling. In the word of the Southern Evangelist described above let’s…Head for Jesus.
In parenting and really all of life, there is a catalyst and a calling. To borrow from one of my children’s favorite Bible stories when they were young, there are Big Fishes and then there are specific instructions from the Lord.
If you remember the story of Jonah, God instructed Jonah to head to the Israelites’ arch-nemesis of Israel—Ninevah—to urge them to repent or face the judgment of God. Jonah runs in the opposite direction and God sends a big fish, which leads to Jonah following God’s original calling. Jonah heads to Ninevah and preaches to the king and citizens, and they repent.
So, why did Jonah go to Ninevah?
Was it because of the big fish or because of the calling of God?
Imagine—hypothetically—what would happen if Jonah told the Ninevites that he came there because a big fish swallowed him up and spit him out on the shore near Ninevah and that was the reason he came. Probably, the big fish would have become an idol and God’s message to the Ninevites would have been muted.
Sometimes we get the catalyst confused with the calling to the point that the catalyst obscures the calling. This doesn’t make the catalyst evil or wrong. Jonah was thankful for the big fish and the big fish had a great role in the story.
To relate this to homeschooling, the big fish might be bullies, or a bad teacher, or failing schools, or special needs, etc. but the calling is that God has told each of us to raise our children in the shadow of what he did on the Cross and the Great Commission. I think we miss that in all of the distraction and hustle of raising children we give the catalyst for homeschooling greater credence than our calling.
For instance, imagine that academics actually becomes the main motivation for homeschooling in our family, or we become focused on protecting our children. Both of these reasons,–and really any reason short of Jesus Christ and discipleship–will become an idol if we allow it to take over primacy in our relationship with our children. Idolatry does not lead to freedom, joy, peace, or a sense of accomplishing something lasting.
Returning back to Moses and the Israelites, keep in mind that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The people Moses was talking to in Deuteronomy had parents that were slaves and struggled with disobedience, murmuring, and a longing for the bondage of Egypt. That is what is so amazing with the word that God used to describe what he did when “ChaRuT” or engraving the Ten Commandments on a stone tablet. I will go into greater detail in another email about this. However, to give you a headline, the original Hebrew for engrave that is used to describe what God did has a double meaning of engraved or bind and freedom.
God was instructing the Isrealites toward freedom and giving them a path to peace, joy, accomplishment, and freedom. Freedom that is realized when we get the “Why” right.
We at Teach Them Diligently see our mission as encouraging you to seize the role God has for you and helping you precede with greater confidence as a servant of Christ. We truly do believe that homeschooling when done Biblically will strengthen and build up your family in Christ.
Come On! I am virtually begging you to come to these events. Let us be your guide in this journey of Strengthening Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling.
You need this!