The Fundamentals of Famly in the Assembly
(Formerly The Decline of the Assembly - Where are the Children?)
JKS October-November 2003, Revised April 2006, February 2007
My beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I say this with all due respect, I would like to address a major issue before a growing number of assemblies around the world, that of decline and closure. While much opinion could be expounded, I challenge all of us to look carefully at the scriptures to find the cause of this decline. The brethren have been known for their quoting of Acts 17:11, of the Bereans and their willingness to search the scriptures to see if these things be so. Unfortunately as I have observed in many assemblies, we have held tightly to the outward practice of head covering and the preservation of the Lord's remembrance feast and I am very grateful for that, but many other truths which could be rediscovered aren't being taught. We spend much time and effort looking at how we can support overseas missions either by our finances, prayer or going ourselves and this too is noble however if we are disobeying God in the most basics, we are like Saul who disobeyed God's direct command under the guise of self-sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). As you will see, our assemblies would flourish and our witness in the world would be great, far more than all the missionaries on the field today, if we obeyed the basics which have been sadly discarded. Let's start at the beginning:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The very first commandment given to both animals and man was to multiply and replenish (overflow) the earth. 100 to 200 years ago this wouldn't have been any ssue as Christian families trusted their family planning to God and many large families with great Christian influence filled many prominent positions in society. Jonathan Edwards (from a family of 13), John and Charles Wesley (from a family of 19) etc are household names in Christendom. This century though, with the prominence of feminism, the power of the media and the carnality and worldliness of the church, the majority of Christians have embraced without question the ways of the world. Even the animals who only received one command (Gen 1:22) still multiply in abundance. It all starts with the family unit, God’s basic building block. This command was repeated again to Noah in Gen 9:1 and again to Jacob in Gen 35:11. It was never revoked. If you destroy or undermine the basic family unit you destroy God's basic building block of society. Modern experts teach us that the world is over populated but this too is a myth. If this were a danger, God would have told us. His command was to be fruitful and multiply and overflow the earth. Since we have only populated less than 1 percent of the earth's useable surface, we've got a long way to go. In countries where starvation is occurring, it is due to political corruption, mismanagement of resources or animals having dominion over man rather than man having dominion over the animals, worshiping the created rather than the creator (Prov 13:23, Rom 1:21-25).
3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
(How many is a quiver full? It has been suggested that this number is about 5. The truth is that the quiver here is a warrior’s quiver and it probably held 12 to 15 arrows. The point is not so much how many but that God is the one who fills it until He deems it full.)
1 <> Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
Are these just the psalmist’s words? Proverbs 15:5 I can hear the protests that this instruction was given to the children of Israel. The Jews were supposed to be a light to the nations, teaching them God's truths. God never asked the children of Israel to go into the heathen to be trained. On the contrary He told them to be separate. His commands to parents are seen in Deut 6 and 11 as we have seen. God Himself is referred to as a strong tower, shelter (Ps 61:3), a refuge (Ps 9:9, 14:6, 46:1), protecting wings (Ps 17:8, 36:7, 57:1), rock, fortress, deliverer (Ps 18:2), Father of lights (James 1:17), Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:14, 26) e tc. Don't you think that the ample examples of God's fatherliness as a protector mean anything? Psalms 37:25 Job 6:24 For further reading, please note the following resources. (I am not commenting on other doctrinal stands which these authors may hold, only the biblical views of raising Godly families)
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brough t them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Strong’s Lexicon No. 23. aganaktew aganakteo ag-an-ak-teh’-o; from agan agan (much) and acyov achthos (grief; akin to the base of 43); to be greatly afflicted, i.e. (figuratively) indignant:—be much (sore) displeased, have (be moved with, with) indignation.
There are only two incidents recorded in the New Testament where the Lord was provoked to sore displeasure, this incident and the incident where the people had turned the temple into a house of merchandise (John 2:13-17). I believe this says something very powerfully about what God thinks of children as does the following:
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Listen to what the Lord said as the women bewailed him on the way to Golgotha. While this may have direct application to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and to the Great Tribulation, it certainly reflects the sentiments of many today and indicates the rapid social decline leading up to the end.
28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Note it says "they shall say", not that God says. In 70 AD people may have thought it better not to have to bring children through such a terrible time but their motive was to save the children. These days it is selfishness that creates this sentiment. Today, children are portrayed as a nuisance, a burden, something which stands in the way of a career or leisure and the majority of western society limit their number by birth control. Even Christians have jumped on this bandwagon without any search of the scriptures. I know of a Godly woman who was branded filthy by an elderr when he learned that she was expecting her 6th child. The filthiness was in the mind of that elder, not in the heart of this dear sister. For if believers search the scriptures they would see that nowhere does God call children a nuisance or something to be avoided or limited. God never called a woman filthy for having many children. On the contrary, they are a blessing, and those who had none were the cursed ones in scripture, not those with them. Besides, God commanded us to be fruitful and throughout the scriptures it is assumed that marriage would result in children (except where the woman was barren). Even in barrenness there are examples of where prayer turned this barrenness into fruitfulness (See Gen 25:21, 1 Sam 1:11-17). In the one case of the use of birth control in Genesis 38:8-10, where Onan spilled his seed on the ground, God showed His displeasure at Onan's selfish attitude to raising up seed to his dead brother by destroying Onan. While some may say that this was because Onan did not fulfil his obligation to his brother, God was displeased at him spilling his seed. His motive for not raising up seed was selfishness. Even discounting the story of Onan, It is God who opened or closed the womb in scripture, not the will of man (See Gen 4:25, 20:18, 29:31, 30:22, Ex 23:26, De 7:14, Ps 113:9.
Certainly no offense is intended to those sisters in the Lord who through no fault of their own remain childless even after prayer. For the unmarried, the childless or elderly, the encouragement is to love what God loves and hate what God hates and to recognize that the modern a ttitudes toward children are antiscriptural. Even if one is without children, knowing what the scriptures teach should dictate ones attitude toward children or young families.
As we have just seen from Psalm 128:4, the man who feareth the Lord and walketh in His ways shall have children. The reason why this is of paramount and basic importance is that it is through the family unit that Godly seed is raised directly. I often wondered why many verses seem to indicate the saving of parents implies family salvation. It is not that the children inherit the salvation from the parents but the fact that once the parents are saved they should bring up their children in a godly manner. From the promise of Proverbs 22:6 this leads to our children's salvation.
The second major thing which has happened in modern times is that the role of the government has changed from the biblical definition of rewarding the good and punishing the bad (Ro 13:1-3) to taking over the responsibility of the family. Education has been given to the state and biblical discipline is very much frowned upon or even outlawed. In some states of Australia and in the US, home schooling is discouraged or must be conducted under very stringent guidelines. God never intended for this to be so and throughout the scriptures, children were to be instructed by their parents, not the church nor the state. This has been partly due to the feminist movement and a confusion of the roles of men and women to the point where the extremely noble and absolutely important role of raising children to be valuable members of society has been scorned and demoted to something base and honourless. If you search the scriptures, there is no higher job than that of raising God's gifts to us and to see that they follow Him and obey Him so that they also fill eternity with His praises!
While we are to obey governmen t and higher authorities, this is only if what those authorities command is according to God's Word. There are ample examples of where man disobeyed his rulers because what the rulers decreed was contrary to God's Word (See Ex 1:22-2:10, Dan 3:18, Acts 5:28). Just because abortion or homosexuality are legal, does it mean we should allow it in our churches? Of course not! So too, we should diligently protect and train up God's precious gifts to us in accordance with the pattern and examples in God's Word rather than following popular opinion and worldly trends and throw our children to the wolves or Philistines. Even so-called Christian schools can' t fulfil the role that a child's own God-given parents can. Again, these truths were not even challenged 100 to 200 years ago.
You may ask, what is wrong with all this? Don't children need socialization? Experts teach us that early learning centres, child care and school are good for our children. Surely it must be good for women to work and supplement the family income. Isn't that good stewardship? Hasn't society progressed in the last 200 years? Hasn't public schooling improved our society? All we need to do is go back to the scriptures and history itself to see that all of our modern problems with rebellious teenagers, children abandoning the faith, unemployment, drugs, sexual promiscuity etc, etc are all because modern ways are totally antiscriptural and our silence has all but destroyed the assemblies. How can 25 children with a handful of adults who neither have the children's best interest or spiritual state at heart be good? There is a secular book which describes what happens when children are without direction, Lord of the Flies. From scripture we see:
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 15:33
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
During recess and lunch time, our children are exposed to peer group pressure. Their minds are still developing and trying to make sense of all of the value systems around them. At these times there is often limited adult supervision and they can easily fall prey to harmful influences from other children whose parents do not share the same biblical values. Even in Christian schools, there are many children from nominally Christian backgrounds who will negatively influence our precious gifts. It is a known fact that many activities which occur in public schools also occur in Christian schools, even reputable ones. The experts' definition of socialization is also antiscriptural. It basically states that a child's peers help him determine what is and what is not acceptable. The online dictionary at www.dictionary.com lists one definition of socialization as " the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture."
Parents as ordained by God, are the ones who should determine what is acceptable behaviour for a child. Children also learn more about getting along with people and what is acceptable behaviour better if they mix with a wide range of age groups, not just the homogeneous group in the fabricated environment of a classroom. The large and even extended family is thus the most suitable place for training about relationships.
I have known many good Christian families with children whom they have struggled to bring up in the ways of the Lord see their children go astray because they have fallen into bad company and esteemed the advice of peers better than the training of their parents. Either the following verse is true or God is a liar:
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
This does not say the child will return when he is old, it says that he will not depart!
Since God is not a liar, something else must be wrong. Yes, it is who is training our children. God never gave the state the responsibility of teaching our children. It is an obvious fact from history and an easy observation from modern society that those to whom we commit our children have the greater influence. Yes, there are exceptional families who have allowed the state to teach their children and their children have not departed from the faith but the principle is still clear in scripture that this was not intended. Imagine, your children wake up at 7 am, go to school at 8:30 until 4:00, come home and spend a few hours with you and then go to bed. The time they have spent in the company of other children and teachers is more than the productive time of input at home. Add to this television and other time wasters and it is no wonder that parents lose their children to the media and the world.
17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
While this is talking about a promise to Abraham, the principle still applies, God had respect for Abraham because he knew he would "command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment;"
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
I can hear the protests that this instruction was given to the children of Israel. The Jews were supposed to be a light to the nations, teaching them God's truths:
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
1 Corinthians 10 is clear as is 1 Timothy 3:16-17 that all scripture is profitable for doctrine, etc. Yes we are not under the law but don't you think that something is wrong when all of the chaos of the last 100 years was unheard of when Christians followed the most basics as far as God's order for the family? The instructions to the children of Israel were thorough. They were to instruct their children throughout the day from the time they woke up till the time they slept. The instruction was in the ways of the Lord as well as practical and necessary lessons for living. After all, God's laws weren't just dos and don'ts, they included ethical business practices, food preparation practices, cleanliness etc. While we are in the age of grace and not law, all this really means is that our salvation is not dependent upon us keeping the whole law but on the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the whole law and by faith His righteousness is imputed to us. This does not mean that we throw out all of God's principles and practical instruction given to those under the law. As He said, it was their life (Deuteronomy 32:47). One might argue that there is not a word in the New Testament about any of what I am talking about. Does God need to lay the foundations of family order again? God's revelation is progressive, each new truth revealed builds upon a prior one (Isaiah 28:9-10), and it generally does not do away with a prior one unless specifically stated.
5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.
1 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
1 A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heare th not rebuke.
5 A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regarde th reproof is prudent.
2 I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me:
I've heard it said that we should allow our children to mix with the world, that is how they grow and learn responsibility. We shouldn't shelter them. Again, this is unscriptural and the wisdom of this age.
3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.
You may ask, what am I getting at? Well, if we get back to basics, allow God to build our families, if women and men filled the roles God has ordained for them, if we train up our children in the way they should go, then the number of believers in our communities would outrun the unbelievers in a very short time, perhaps 2 or 3 generations, especially as the unbelievers are limiting their families with birth control and allowing the state to teach the ungodly ways of depravity to their children. Look what happened to Israel when they were obedient:
7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
Christians, be wise, even Muslims know the power of numbers. Their deliberate desire is to outnumber the Christians and while the Christians follow the ways of the world and forget God's very first commandment and what He thinks of children, they will continue to succeed.
It is also interesting to notice that modern education over emphasizes reading, writing, arithmetic and other disciplines and while it is obvious that one needs to read, write, add up etc, the over emphasis is a detraction and a distraction from what God would have us instill in our children continuously, that is, His words of wisdom for practical living. Again, even the muslims practice this, the first 12 years of a child’s life are spent learning the quran. How well we’d do if we spent the first 12 years teaching our children God’s Holy word.
Satan has used the elimination of children before to try and stop the Saviour from being born. Now, he has lulled the church into accepting birth control, allowing the state to educate our children and to destroy the family unit by confusing the roles of the woman and man and he is succeeding.
How can we rely on the world to teach us about birth control, education, and what is good for our children?
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1 Cor 1:20-21
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Bookshops and parenting magazines are full of so-called expert advice. Many of these experts don't even have their own children! Besides, they speak from a Godless perspective. These experts train the teachers, childcare workers and through these publications, many parents.
Homeschooling is relatively unknown amongst assembly folk. Even secular research has proven beyond a doubt that homeschooling works. The question is not does it work but why does it work so well! I t is obvious. Firstly no-one has the best interest of their children at heart than parents and parents can teach one-on-one or one-on-a quiver full, which is a far cry from one-on-twenty five. Besides, as I've said before, God gave parents the responsibility to teach the children. When we stand before the Lord, no school certificate or university degree will mean a thing. If we have trained up our children to be God fearing, obedient and wise and if we have trained them to be good future husbands and wives, passing on a trade or skill as was done in the past, even setting up a home business for them to continue, this will be worth far more than any academic qualification. Parents have been made to feel like they are incapable and that children mus t needs be rebellious. The experts tell us that we must leave their education and training to the state and the majority of Christendom is lapping it all up without question. While I can't be dogmatic that every child must be homeschooled, the principle still stands that parents and not the state or the church are responsible for their own children. If our children go astray due to external education or peer group associations then we will be held accountable since we delegated our responsibility to someone else. Yes, the children have a free will of their own but as Proverbs 22:6 promises, correct training will yield predictable results.
Let us briefly look at what God said about Eli and his failure to restrain his sons. The full details may be found in 1 Samuel 2:12, 2:22-25, 27-36, 3:13-14 and 4:11. Note particularly 3:11-14:
1 Samuel 3:11-14:
11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
Let us turn to a positive example of a father who trained his children well. This impressive example is found in Jeremiah 35. God is so impressed with this family that their obedience resulted in a promise that there’d always be one from this family standing before the LORD, that is, this line would always have a Godly representation. This one family was also used as an example to warn and plead with the majority of Israel who had forsaken God’s law.
1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
2 Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.
3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habaziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites;
4 And I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan, the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, which was above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door:
5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.
6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:
7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.
8 Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;
9 Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:
10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
12 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
13 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will ye not receive instruction to hearken to my words? saith the LORD.
14 The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are performed; for unto this day they drink none, but obey their father's commandment: notwithstanding I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto me.
15 I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me.
16 Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me:
17 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.
18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:
19 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
Children are also likened to olive plants (Ps 128:3) and arrows (Ps 127:4). Olive plants if not pruned and controlled become a wild nuisance. On the other hand, small olive plants which are nurtured and trained in the way they should grow do not grow wild and have no scars from pruning since the pruning was done while they were young and tender. The later you leave the training, the more scars will be seen and the less likely the success at directing their growth. Arrows in the wrong hands cause much destruction. Well trained arrows however can save a nation. No arrow will change course midflight.
Back to the allowing of God to control our family size ... The question may be asked, what about finances? Isn't it bad stewardship not to use birth control? Let me ask, if God gives the increase (which He does), that is, no child is a mere accident but a gift from God, won't He supply for the need provided we are obedient? What does David say?
25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
What does Paul say?
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
What does the Lord himself say?
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek :) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
It has been said, if the Lord is not Lord of ALL He is not Lord at all. If children are a gift from the Lord, which the scriptures say they are, then He will provide for His gifts!
Fathers have a responsibility to ensure that they make wise choices early in life so that they are able to adequately provide for their family. We must be diligent and work with our hands and not become slack. God does help those who show diligence but warns that laziness does lead to poverty (Prov 10:4). Thus, the promises above are true provided we have shown ourselves good stewards of God’s endowment of gift and opportunity.
Let us return to the subject of roles. Many argue away woman's role as being in the home. Why did they never argue about this prior to Feminism? Again, let us read what the scriptures say and not what man says about the scriptures:
1 Tim 5:9-15
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
Guide the house (what, an empty house? Should she guide just her husband? Her pets? No, she must guide the children)
1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
The women are not told just to stay home, but be Keepers at Home, i.e. Home Managers. This is far more than just doing house work. Training the children has far more responsibility and worth than any other job since it is concerned with lives and developing characters.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 John 2:15-16
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
One of the reasons why assemblies have lacked some of this teaching is because the elders themselves do not have the scriptural qualification:
1 Tim 3:2-5
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
He must have children who are in subjection. Why? Because most of the valuable lessons which produce the necessary spiritual fruit, wisdom and judgment are learnt first in the home! How can a man rule over that which has been taken out of his jurisdiction? How can he rule over children who spend most of their time away from the home under someone else's instruction? How can he rule over God's assembly if he has not learned the lessons required for this job which can only be taught by raising Godly children? I didn't say this; the Word of God says it.
We have often heard James 1:22
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
The trouble seems to be that we are often like the Athenians who as Paul described are always wanting to hear a new doctrine (but not doing anything about it) (Acts 17:21). This may sound harsh but unless we read the scriptures with the intent of obeying them then all our Bible study is in vain. Also, while we spend much time learning about prophesy and in terpreting parables and truths which God has not finished unveiling, we would do much better to ensure that we do know and obey what has been clearly revealed. There is a place for such study but not at the expense of basic obedience.
Consider Ezra's attitude:
10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.
Consider the words of Ezekiel:
31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
I may still be young and may only have had six children. If my children depart from the ways of the Lord I can only conclude that I have failed as a parent. God does not lie and His promises are faithful and true. What I have outlined is God's Word and not my opinion. Even history will speak volumes about the degradation of this last century as far as family roles, values and responsibilities. It is not too late to start obeying the Lord in these matters. Even older women and men have responsibilities. Older women are to teach the younger women (another reason why this generation is so in the dark about these matters). Older men must teach young men seeking wives the truths in the scriptures about their responsibilities to provide and bring up godly children and not to push their wives into the workforce but encourage them in their extremely important and highly honourable role in child training and home management. Let us get back to basics. The family is everything.
One of the most useful and powerful resources maybe found at Vision Forum Ministries, www.visionforum.org I highly recommend the work of Doug Phillips Esquire!
(The Way Home, Mary Pride's first book is out of print but is still available second-hand on the Internet. I believe this book is essential reading for all new couples. Don't confuse it with her subsequent book All The Way Home which is different.)
The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality
Author: Mary Pride
Publisher: Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Westchester, Illinois
A Full Quiver (Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ)
Rick and Jan Hess
Self-Published - 4th Printing, 1990. ISBN: 0943497833. Softcover, 9 x 6, 236 pages,
"Yes, They're All Ours"
Just an average family. Of fourteen.
Author: Rick Boyer
God’s Vision for Families
A study manual on what God says about having children
Author: Nancy Campbell
Above Rubies, PO Box 681687, Franklin TN 37058-1687 USA.
Are these just the psalmist’s words?
I can hear the protests that this instruction was given to the children of Israel. The Jews were supposed to be a light to the nations, teaching them God's truths. God never asked the children of Israel to go into the heathen to be trained. On the contrary He told them to be separate. His commands to parents are seen in Deut 6 and 11 as we have seen. God Himself is referred to as a strong tower, shelter (Ps 61:3), a refuge (Ps 9:9, 14:6, 46:1), protecting wings (Ps 17:8, 36:7, 57:1), rock, fortress, deliverer (Ps 18:2), Father of lights (James 1:17), Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:14, 26) e tc. Don't you think that the ample examples of God's fatherliness as a protector mean anything?
For further reading, please note the following resources. (I am not commenting on other doctrinal stands which these authors may hold, only the biblical views of raising Godly families)