A long time ago, some very wise men gave us this very good advice: "On the Lord's Day, after every one of the family apart, and the whole family together, have sought the Lord (in whose hands the preparation of men's hearts are) to fit them for the publick worship, and to bless to them the publick ordinances, the master of the family ought to take care that all within his charge repair to the publick worship, that he and they may join with the rest of the congregation: and the publick worship being finished, after prayer, he should take an account what they have heard; and thereafter, to spend the rest of the time which they may spare in catechising, and in spiritual conferences upon the word of God: or else (going apart) they ought to apply themselves to reading, meditation, and secret prayer, that they may confirm and increase their communion with God: that so the profit which they found in the publick ordinances may be cherished and promoted, and they more edified unto eternal life."
The Father's Pastoral Calling
The very wise men at Edinburgh who issued this Directory for Family-Worship in 1647 were endeavoring to accomplish many things, not the least of which was this: they were endeavoring to get Dad to open his Bible, and teach his family the Word of God. Dad ("the master of the family"?!?! — apparently the lofty principles of political correctness had not made it to the shores of Scotland by 1647) is to see that his family is prayerfully prepared for public worship on the Lord's Day. After public worship, Dad is to engage his little scholars in "spiritual conferences" based on the morning's Bible lesson, catechism lessons being memorized, or other topics from the word of God. The very wise men at Edinburgh understood that if this godly practice of study and prayer and praise could be established on the Lord's Day, it would be an easy thing to have these wonderful "spiritual conferences" on the other six days as well.
In the Bible, children are commanded to honor their fathers and mothers. It is a difficult thing for children to honor the God of their fathers if they do not know the God of their fathers. It is a difficult thing for children to respect the convictions of their fathers if their fathers have never spoken of their convictions. It is a glorious thing, however, when fathers open their Bibles in the midst of their homes. It teaches the children that their fathers have a God. It teaches the children that the God of their fathers has spoken infallibly in a book called the Bible. It teaches the children that there is truth, eternal truth, in this universe. It teaches the children that Dad's authority in the home does not derive from the fact that Dad is bigger, but that Dad also is under authority, God's authority, and that God appoints Dad to be his messenger to this home. It teaches the children that they belong, not to the state or the other would-be messiahs of the day, but to God, and that their future is in his hands. And as instruction in God's eternal word takes place in the home, it is an easy thing for other godly instruction to take place as well. This is good news for parents and children and grandparents and all those who love God's truth; it is bad news for America's state-church, the government school, as it stumbles and bumbles its way, with all the grace and elegance of a three-legged brontosaurus, to its well-deserved demise.
Sacrifice for the Covenant Seed
Those of us whose motto once was "Don't trust anyone over thirty" are now well past that particular milestone, and we have begun to realize that we are not nearly so clever as we once imagined, and that those who have gone before us are much brighter than we once recognized. The very good counsel of the very wise men of Edinburgh calls upon us to sacrifice our ease and comfort today for the sake of our children's good today and tomorrow. If we have never made a habit of Bible reading and prayer and intelligent conversation with our children, now is an excellent time to begin.
The Psalmist taught us that God established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded (not requested) the fathers (generation one) to make known to the children (generation two), that the generation to come (generation three, not yet born) should arise and declare them to their children (generation four), that they (the fourth generation) might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments (Ps. 78:1-8). Here is an amazing thing: the fourth generation setting its hope in God because of the faithful teaching of the first generation; great-grandchildren keeping the commandments of the God of their great-grandfathers. Perhaps many of us don't know what we will be doing ten minutes from now; how can we think in terms of four generations of children who have yet to be born? It's an enormous task, an awesome responsibility; a man who would in faith pursue it must have an all-powerful, all-sufficient God who can do more that he could ask or think.
Long journeys can begin with little steps. So, Dad, what did you teach your great-grandchildren today?
Topics: Family & Marriage