Deuteronomy 4: Children - The Church’s Strategic Investment
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It is not hard to understand why Moses gives so much attention to children in his final sermons to the nation of Israel. With the passing of one generation, it lay upon the next generation—and those after them—to remain faithful to their covenant with the Lord. Difficult lessons had been learned in the wilderness about the cost of disobedience. And so, the book of Deuteronomy speaks of the need to teach children to fear the Lord so that they might enjoy the blessings of the covenant in the land that he was giving them.
But is teaching our children just about preparing for the future? The story of salvation and the book of Deuteronomy provide a resounding ‘no’. Children and young people participated in the great salvation of the Exodus—they ate the Passover lamb, and they crossed the Red Sea. Both young and old were delivered by the Lord’s mighty hand and redeemed freely by his grace. Likewise, from the moment God revealed himself to his people, he was adamant that children and young people were to hear the words that he spoke to their parents:
“Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’”
– Deuteronomy 4:10
It would be a mistake to read this as a command to pass on the word of God ‘when the time comes’. The famous creed of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 makes it clear that it is always time to bear witness to the mighty acts of God and instruct our children in his holy laws:
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
– Deuteronomy 6:7
The “children" so often mentioned in Deuteronomy are not merely the next generation, waiting to be included and taught the ways of God when they come of age. They are participants in salvation and recipients of revelation: "the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever" (Deuteronomy 29:29). In coming days, our New Testament devotions will show this remains true of Christ's church. Ministry to children and young people isn't something to be put on hold or delegated away so that we can focus on the essential business of the church—it is the essential business of the church.
Discipling the young is a strategic investment in the future of the church, but it is also much more than that. The children of the church are fellow members of the household of God and fellow heirs of the spiritual blessings in Christ. So, let us turn to God in thanks for our smaller brothers and sisters. And let us instruct them in the Scriptures that belong to them as much as they do to us.
The Lift Up Your Hearts devotional series for the month of March 2021 are provided by Canon Craig Roberts, CEO, and his colleagues from Anglican Youthworks in Australia. Today’s devotion was written by Dr Andrew Spalding, Academic Dean, Youthworks College. You can find more of Youthworks excellent resources here.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
The Children and Teens Center (CTC). All Saints Cathedral Nairobi are developing an ambitious site dedicated to children's and youth ministry. The outreach initiative aims to reach a billion children worldwide with the love of Christ. The building work is underway. Online Sunday Schools are up and running. Pray for God to bless this vision. #AbillionChildren4Christ
To access daily prayer requests click here: