Advertising the Kingdom and
Teaching Children the Gospel
These are some of the instructions which the Lord gave to the people of Israel to prepare them for the establishment of the Millennial Theocratic Society, of which the nation of Israel was supposed to be a foreshadowing. The Kingdom of God was supposed to be so pervasive in the lives of the people that it would literally be advertised on every home.
"So you must lay to heart these words of mine, you must tie them to your hands as a momento and wear them as a badge on your forehead; you must teach them to your children, talking to them when you are sitting at home and whe you are on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up: you must inscribe them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates -- that your life and the life of your children may be prolonged in the land which the Eternal swore to give to your fathers as long as the sky hangs over the earth" (Deut.11:18-21, Moffatt).
The western world is known for its adverstising bill-boards. You cannot go down a street without seeing a large bill-board advertising some product or other. And at night, in the bigger cities, you are confronted with neon light adverstising. The world knows how to advertise its products, but do we?
On the lintel of every New Covenant Christian home is the inscription, "Set-apart to Yahweh" (Zech.14:21), and within our homes are to be found quotations from the Bible in framed pictures and in other places. These not only provide meditations on the holiness of God within the home but are also a wonderful way to witness to vistors by non-compulsive means, especially if they are tastefully laid out with beautiful accompanying pictures.
One of the best ways of educating children in the ways of the Lord is to talk to them about the Gospel situationally so that they grow accustomed to thinking in God's way. The heart of Gospel education is not the Church Sunday School or in other formal settings -- far better to put it into a natural setting.
Nature walks, for me, provide a wonderful way of explaining Gospel principles to my children. Take a stream or a river, for example. The Book of Psalms is a wonderful source of teaching materials. This one, from Ezra, is one of my favourites:
In the preceeding verses the priests and Levites had gathered silver and gold articles consecrated to the Lord and were to bring them to the Temple at Jerusalem (v.28-30). Now nothing is accidental in the Word of God. And when details are noted in the sacred text, there is usually a reason. The river here is the Ahava, a fairly meaningless word on its own, until you realise that in Hebrew it means "love". The destination of the priests was Jerusalem, meaning "City of Peace".
"Then we departed from the river of Ahava..to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us.." (Ezr.8:31, KJV).
So a picture begins to merge -- a spiritual message hidden beneath the outer text of a physical journey from a physical river to a physical city. As Christians we are a "royal priesthood" (1 Pet.2:9) -- that is, everyone who has received the New Birth and is walking in the Way (Jn.14:6; Ac.24:14) -- we are the New Covenant priests. We are on a journey to the Celestial City, the New Jerusalem, our heavenly home. We bring with us consecrated spiritual gifts -- gold, the treasure of kings -- which God placed in the Garden of Eden, in a part called Havilah (="the Gold of God") (Gen.2:11). That gold is our spiritual gifts, our service, etc.. But on its own is it worthless. We must "set out" or "depart" from the river of Love -- only then will our gifts be acceptable. Only then will the hand of God be upon us. Only then will be obtain our peace.
A living symbol like a river will make an impression on a child's mind. Use it to teach other principles. Jesus teaches that the person who obtains the New Birth will obtain water which gives everlasting life (Jn.4:7ff). Water is "eternal life"! Go to the river bank and see if you can find a stone that has been eroded into a smooth pebble. Explain to the child that the love of God is like water -- powerful enough to erode the sharp edges of the most stubbornly unfeeling heart yet soft and comforting to the touch. Involving physical sensations like sight and touch will bring the Word alive. This is how I like to teach the Gospel, by means of parables, as the Master did.
Using the two books of Scripture -- the Bible and the Book of Nature -- we can make child education a rich and rewarding experience based in the here-and-now. Children are not philosophers and do not appreciate things too abstract. We ought to teach as God teaches.
May your life and the life of your children be prolonged! Amen.
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 15 February 1998
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