Long before Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang, “Teach Your Children,” Moses told ancient Israel to “Keep these words….recite them to your children….and write them on the doorposts of your house.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Moses knew that the survival of his nation depended on families passing on to their children the stories of the nation and God’s direction to her. Not one to miss a teaching opportunity, Moses, on the occasion of Israel crossing the Jordan River, instructed the nation to have twelve men representing the 12 tribes within Israel to take twelve stones and build a pylon. Its purpose? Moses explained:
“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you? Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off so that Israel could cross unhindered.” Numbers 4:1-9.
Similarly, “When in the future your children ask you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall tell them what God did for us in Egypt.” Exodus 13:11-16.
Moses knew that it was the total responsibility of the older generation to teach the younger generation. He would have never said, “We’re going to leave it up to our children to figure this all out.” Instead, conscientious parents diligently left reminders of what it meant to be a God-follower because they knew they were rearing the next generation.
The importance of diligently teaching one’s children becomes very evident after Israel came to dwell in Canaan, the land God had promised to her. Commenting about the spiritual state of Israel, still very young in her history, the writer of Judges wrote in Judges 2:10,
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or REMEMBER the mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt.”
Parents who don’t send their children to school raise ignorant children. Parents who don’t teach their children how to recognize generosity and express thanks raise ungrateful children. A nation that does not teach its citizens how good government works raise disconnected and lazy non-voters. The truth of this is evident in every discipline: how to cook, how to drive a car, how to balance a checkbook, and how to love God.
As Crosby, Stills, & Nash and Moses all said, “Teach your children.”