Deuteronomy 6:1-9 tells us
“And these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgements, which Jehovah our God commanded to teach you so that you might do them in the land where you go, to possess it, that you might fear Jehovah your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you, and your son, and your son’s son, all the days of your life, and so that your days may be prolonged. Then hear, O, Israel, and be careful to do it, so that it may be well with you, and that you may greatly multiply, as Jehovah, the God of our fathers has promised you, in the land that flows with milk and honey. Hear, O, Israel. Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart. And you shall carefully teach them to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates.”
In a nutshell, God is telling us here He takes our education in Him very seriously. He does not want His people, His children to be ignorant of Him: who Hs is and what He is. This is reinforced in Psalm 78:1-7 where we see that this duty of education extended to the whole of society:
“An instruction of Asaph. Give ear, O my people, to my law; bow down your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will speak dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their sons, showing to the generations to come the praises of Jehovah, and His strength, and His wonderful works that He has done. For He set up a testimony in Jacob, and ordered a Law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their sons; so that the generation to come might know; sons shall be born, and they shall arise and tell their sons, so that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His Commandments; and might not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set their heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful with God.”
In Hosea 4:6 we find one reason for the Lord’s insistence for on-going education, year after year, generation after generation where He says
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being priest to Me. Since you have forgotten the Law of your God, I will also forget your sons, even I.”
God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ was of the Father and was one with the Father and He too took our education in God very seriously. He lambasted the teachers and the religious leaders of His day for concentrating more on their ideas of God’s words, than God’s. They were reading the Word, but not understanding and hearing the Word but not listening. This was not new in Israel as God told Isaiah 3:27
“Your first father has sinned, and your teachers have sinned against Me.”
God’s requirements were that His word, His commandments were to be taught to the children from generation to generation. The New Testament also holds this position.
Paul in his writings charges the fathers with the responsibility of education their own children saying in Ephesians 6:4“And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In Jewish custom and tradition, the father is charged with the ultimate responsibility for the biblical education of the children and as born-again Christians we have inherited the same requirement of duty for the born-again fathers. Unfortunately, over the generations, for one reason or another, Christian fathers have shrugged off this biblical imperative to the Church or to no one. The result is that Christian children are ill prepared for adult Christian life and Christian adults live more in the flesh and the worldly, than the Biblical and righteous ways we are called to.
Unless children are correctly schooled and grounded in the Bible and basic theology, when they become adults, the worldview of Satan and the lies of the enemy will control their life and it is a very hard task indeed to correctly re-align them toward the Kingdom-view which all born-again Christians must live within.
Certainly there is a role for the mothers in the education of the children and the Bible is supportive of this. Indeed Second Timothy 1:5 reminds of us this as Paul commends Timothy’s mother and grandmother for helping him mature in the faith. This is not the central issue. God has given to the man in a marriage, authority over the wife and the family. With authority comes duty and conditions for operating under that authority.
The father may delegate the duty of education to others, for example the Pastor, and there is biblical support for this too as Paul call Timothy and Titus in First Timothy 4:11 to “Command and teach these things.” But that is not the point.
Luke 12:48 clearly tells us that “For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required. And to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” The Lord has clearly made the father responsible for the biblical and theological education of their children and the Lord will hold them to that responsibility. Failure of others to perform that duty on behalf of the father, will be no excuse and does not absolve the father of the guilt of his failure.
Note: This post is based around ideas and research from J.I. Packer & Gary A. Parrett’s book “Grounded in the Gospel – Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way”.