Terry R. Baughman
“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
Education begins at home and the foundation of understanding is rooted in the institution of the family. God’s design for the family centers around loving relationships and an environment for learning and development. His plan is greater than the present and His work involves more than one generation. He has always included the family in the transfer of traditions, the continuance of the faith community, and the spread of God-centered instruction and understanding.
The sixth chapter of Deuteronomy is the cornerstone of faith for the ancient people of Israel and continues to be the pattern for all three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even Muslims accept the declaration of Moses, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). To this day, observant Jews recite this passage in morning and evening prayers, simply referred to as Shema (also includes Deuteronomy 6:4–9; 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41).
The takeaway lesson from Deuteronomy is more than knowing that there is one God. It is also ingrained in these faith communities that the family is the classroom and the parents are the primary teachers in the most crucial commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus declared that this was the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37–38). It is the greatest opportunity for the family to be able to teach and experience this understanding of God. More than a daily recitation, the knowledge of God should be shared in daily practical examples and living lessons. Again, Moses said, “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
In a culture of increased secularism, removing references of God from the public sphere, it becomes more urgent that families commit to the transference of truth to the next generation. We cannot depend on schools (even Christian schools), media, or culture to teach the Word of God to our children. Establish a daily habit of reading the Bible (or Bible stories) together. Share your personal faith and pray openly over meals and during family time to communicate the vital knowledge of God, recognition of His daily care and His loving plan for their lives. This will be their foundation of enduring faith.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).