Summary: There is a closer tie between our view of children and our view of God than we might ever suspect.
A REWARD FOR OBEDIENCE
“These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
“Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and let the male children live?’ The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”
To an astonishing degree, the Faith of Christ the Lord has been reduced to irrelevance among modern evangelicals. Participants in the services of the churches are focused to a dismaying extent on fulfilling their own desires. Seeking to feel fulfilled and satisfied about their own condition, they fail to seek God or to discover what pleases Him. Without doubt, we have adopted many ideas and concepts which have their roots in the world, bringing them into our efforts to worship God. Thus, we are confused about how we should live as Christians and incapable of pleasing the Lord our God.
One area that reveals a form of spiritual schizophrenia is the contemporary attitude toward children. Increasingly, churches reflect the attitude of this dying world, viewing children as a bother and a burden. Let me illustrate what I mean. In a former congregation, I inherited a “children’s church.” Children’s church can be a blessing to a congregation, but it is a demanding ministry. Consequently, dedicated servants willing to instruct children, giving up their own time in order to provide the service required, grow weary. When staffing that “special time” for the children became a problem, I recommended to the leadership of that congregation that we should look at doing away with the programme, introducing children to the services of the congregation.
A prominent leader within the church immediately and vehemently objected, stating that if he were required to bring his eight-year-old son into the worship with him and his wife, his family would immediately begin to attend elsewhere. He did not wish his “worship” to be disturbed with the presence of his child. The child was a distraction to what he thought was really important—his personal time of worship.
His attitude was not so very different from the attitude of multiplied numbers of people among the churches of our day. However, that attitude must be contrasted to the expectation of parents that is presented in the Word of God. The LORD instructed Moses, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so” [DEUTERONOMY 4:10]. This command is iterated when God commands, “You shall teach [the words that I give] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” [DEUTERONOMY 6:7]. Again, this command anticipates what God would communicate soon after. “You shall teach [My words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” [DEUTERONOMY 11:19].