Text: Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord, our God, the Lord is one. 5 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 And these words that I am commanding you today shall be upon your heart. 7 And you shall impress them on your children and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk in the path, when you lie down, or when you rise up. 8 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for bands on your forehead. 9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In A Friends of Abused Families Publication, published by the Washington County Domestic Abuse Services in the state of Wisconsin, the following statements were made. It has been reported that seeing domestic violence has more severe consequences for children than seeing street crime. Unlike street violence, when violence occurs in the home, the child knows and cares for both the victim and the perpetrator...Witnessing domestic violence can result in sleep disturbances, night terrors, fearful flashbacks, emotional detachment and/or separation anxiety. As children grow, they may have problems with learning and peer relationships. The fears that can follow living in a violent home make it difficult for children to concentrate on school work, because their attention is on more serious concerns. In reference to relationships outside of the home, it is difficult for them, if not impossible, to trust others because they couldnt trust their own family members.
What children see and hear in their homes profoundly influences them and their lives. On the one hand, domestic violence is a hot bed of troubles for them. On the other hand, a Christian home is the seed bed for their physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well being. Since the children learn from both the parents good and bad traits and examples, Christian parents must strive to be teachers who exert a positive spiritual influence on their children.
This text provides the opportunity to speak to you about the familys home environment and the type of instruction parents need to provide to their children, as well as to speak to you about an incomprehensible truth about the Lord himself.
The opening verse tells us this about the Lord: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord, our God, the Lord is one.” No, this verse is not unnecessarily repetitive. It has a reason for naming the Lord our God three times in one sentence.
The Bible is not only the Lord’s clear inspired Word, but it often couches divine truths in a majestic numerical code. For example, the Bible uses the number four and word groupings of four to refer to this world. It has given us the expression “the four corners of the earth.” It refers to the world’s population in the fourfold description of “every nation, tribe, people and language.” In like manner the Bible uses the number three and word groupings of three for the Lord. For example, instead of simply saying he is the eternal God, it says he is “the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is coming.’ ” It uses such word groupings of three for the Lord, because he is the one God in three persons. He is the Triune God, the Three in One God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in the New Testament in numerous passages, mentioning the three persons of the Godhead specifically by name--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity is also taught in the Old Testament in such a verse as this one: “The Lord, our God, the Lord is one.” He is named three times, once for each person of the Godhead, yet he is one God.
We cannot understand this doctrine of the Trinity logically. How God can be three separate, distinct persons and yet be one God is beyond our comprehension. The Lord does not ask us to figure this out, however; he tells us only to believe it. This we do, for his Word, which is the truth, tells us he is three persons in one God. To be saved, we must believe this. As the Athanasian Creed states: Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity.
The church has long used the equilateral triangle as a symbol for the Triune God. As the equilateral triangle is one geometric figure that has three separate, equal sides and angels, so the Lord is one God who is three separate, equal persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our family’s Lord is this majestic Triune God. Being his people, we are told: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Our heart will be bound to the Lord like the hearts of a little boy and girl were bound to their father. Their father had begotten them and given them life. He was merciful and kind to them. He was always with them. He helped them. He guided them through life. He poured out his blessings and gifts on them. Thus the boys and girls hearts were attached and committed to their father. He was first in their heart. In the same way, the Lord, our Triune God, will be first in our heart. We will love him with all our heart, soul and strength. He created us and has given us life. He is merciful and kind to us. He is always with us. He helps us according to what he knows is best for us. He guides us through life enroute to our heavenly home. He pours out his blessings and gifts on us. Thus we love him with all our heart.
The Hebrew word for “love” is the equivalent of the Greek agape love. It is a love that gives and does what is good and right for the other. We and our family are to love the Lord with all our heart by doing what is good and right for him. We do so, when we obey his commandments. Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey what he commands.
If we are honest with ourselves, we know how we have failed to love him with all our heart by obeying his commandments. We know, whether we are a husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, that the Bible is true in saying we all have sinned. Sin is lawlessness, a disregard for the Lords law and commandments. How we have disregarded his first commandment to love him above all! Much of the time he and his Word have not been first in our hearts. We have put ourselves, our wants, our good times, and our pleasures before him. In our Christian home and family, where he has especially commanded love to abound, we have sinned against him time and again. If we are parents, we know our sinful failings in raising our children. If we are children, we know our sinful failings to obey our parents in everything. The Lord declares that the penalty for our sins against him is death, not only the physical death of our body, but the eternal death of our body and soul in hell, a place so horrible that the demons do not even want to go there.
Having failed to obey his commandments, let us be sure to obey his Word to put our faith in Jesus, his Son. Though we deserved only his punishment in hell, the Lord loved us so much that he gave his one and only Son on the cross as the atoning sacrifice to reconcile us to himself. Because his Son, Jesus, paid for our sins with his innocent life, the Lord our God does not count our sins against us. He has forgiven them all. He holds the gates of heaven open to us, inviting us to enter through faith in Jesus. Since the Lord has loved us in this gracious manner, we in turn will love him by rededicating ourselves to living by his commandments. What is more, as Christian parents we will dedicate ourselves to teaching our children about him and his Word.
Moses told the Israelites, “And these words that I am commanding you today shall be upon your heart. And you shall impress them on your children and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk in the path, when you lie down, or when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for bands on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
What Moses told the Israelites is God’s will for us parents today as well. Ephesians 6:4 tells us to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
We parents must teach our children the Lord is their Savior God and instruct them in his Word, just as surely as we parents must teach our children all the other things they need to know to live in this world.
There was a father and mother who did not teach their children. They never taught their children to wash themselves and to brush their teeth. They never taught their children table manners and etiquette. They never taught their children to behave and to get along with others. What kind of adults do you think those children became? They became rebellious rabble and slobs, whom no one could stand, and whose lives were failures. In the same way, parents who do not teach their children about the Lord their God and his Word, raise ungodly sinners whom the Lord wants no part of.
The Christian education of the children begins in the home. Sunday School and Day School are intended to assist the parents in instructing their children, not to replace the parents teaching their children at home. Parents should not think that when they have dropped off their children at the church door, they have fulfilled their obligation to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. Sad but true, such parents who think this, and fail to give their children spiritual instruction at home, usually by their example undo and nullify the training their children receive in the churchs Sunday School and Day School.
Parents ought to actively teach their children the basic truths of the Christian faith at home. Martin Luther emphasized the parents teaching their children the Ten Commandments, The Apostles Creed, The Lords Prayer, and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and of Holy Communion at home. When the children were old enough to attend Holy Communion, he maintained that the church would examine their children to see if they had been thoroughly trained. If they had not been, the children must receive further instruction until they understood the basic truths of the Christian faith, so they could examine themselves before attending Holy Communion.
While conducting actual classes around the family table is a necessary method for teaching the children, the Holy Spirit through Moses revealed a practical method for parents’ teaching their children. “Speak of them (the Lord's commandments) when you sit in your house, when you walk in the path, when you lie down, or when you rise up.” From morning to night parents should use the situations that arise as opportunities to apply the Word of God in a practical manner to their children. At all times and in every place the parents should keep the Word of God before them and their children.
Lets say a Christian family had a garage window that had been broken for some time. Then one day a windstorm arose that damaged another part of the house. The parents called their insurance company to place a claim. Before the insurance adjuster arrived, the parents asked their children, Do you think we should tell the insurance adjuster the windstorm broke the garage window? The parents made the children struggle with the issue of honesty and telling the truth. The parents asked them, What would our Lord want us to do? Which commandments tell us what we should do? Through the discussion the children learned the meaning of the seventh and eighth commandments, You shall not steal, and You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor. They learned that the Lord said they should be honest at all times and not lie.
Another Christian family took their children on a camping trip for a vacation. While sitting around the campfire and looking up at the stars, the parents taught their children that God had created those stars on the fourth day of creation. While fishing the parents taught their children about the beauty of Gods creation and how richly he had blessed them with all that they need to live, like the fish they caught for supper. The next day the parents learned from a weather report on their portable television that a severe storm was approaching. By going around to warn the other campers the parents taught their children to love and to help their neighbors.
This kind of practical day to day instruction through discussions and by examples teaches the children that Christianity is not an hour a week spent in church and a classroom, but a daily manner of living and decision making. Through such instruction the Christian faith is not only taught by the parents but caught from the parents.
Parents have an awesome job to do. The Lord blesses them with their children--precious little souls for whom Christ died. They are sinful human beings by nature, however, whose little hearts are only inclined to evil and foolishness all the time. The parents have the job of raising those little sinners into God-fearing adults. Doing so takes a lot of hard work and effort, a lot of teaching and good practical examples.
There is always more that we can teach the children, for we have a majestic Triune God who surpasses our understanding and whose Word is like a bottomless well to draw from. They need to know, as do we, that when they have sinned, the Lord our God, the Lord who is one, loves us all and has saved us all through his Son, Jesus. In him we have forgiveness and salvation. To him we can show our love by obeying his commandments. Amen.