One of the most memorable pieces of Holy Scripture about conveying to children the teachings, commands, and precepts of God is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your gates.” (See also Deuteronomy 11:18-19.)
A similar, but less remembered passage of scripture, is found in Psalm 78:1-7. The Psalmist spoke of statues and laws decreed by God to Israel, “which he commanded their ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born. and they in turn would tell their children.”
The oral tradition of passing scripture from one generation to another was important in Biblical Israel. Everyone didn’t have a Bible or a scroll or anything in writing. It was of supreme importance, especially for children, that the word of God be taught orally.
We live in different times, of course. We have Bibles, children’s Bibles, Biblical story books, videos about Jesus, Jacob, Moses, Noah, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, David, etc. What we may not have is parents passing along Biblical teachings to their children–at least on a one-to-one, personal basis.
Instead of posting on the refrigerator door the passage from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we post schedules for soccer, football, basketball, and baseball games; music lessons; tennis lessons; after-school activities. There’s nothing wrong with all that. In fact, they are good things. They bring parents, especially dads, and children together.
But it seems to me that when it comes to important principles and spiritual matters, parents are the best teachers, particularly with young children. When I conjure up images of the Israelites teaching their children like it says in Deuteronomy, I probably overdo it a bit. The Israelites were hardly perfect. It would be difficult to count the number of times they rejected God and failed to follow his teachings, oral or written. We do the same at times. But there are times when we have opportunities to sit with our children as we put them to bed, share a meal, transport them from one game to another, or just play with them in the backyard to teach them about God, Jesus, and their way of love, so that your children will teach their children.
In II Timothy 1:5, there is a sweet passage of scripture that describes what is said in Deuteronomy in a way that we understand a little better: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you, also.”