Last week I wrote about my frustration with my 4-year old nephew because I didn’t know how to make him behave. As a result, I received some great godly advice. This morning as I was reading Joshua, I stumbled upon something that I believe will help all of us.
In Joshua 8:30-35, Joshua gathers the Israelites after their victory over Ai and builds an altar to the Lord so that they can worship God. Joshua then reads the Law of Moses. What stands out for me is verse 35 where it says, “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the aliens who resided among them.” When they renewed their covenant with God, they included the children. The children listened as Joshua read the consequences of blessings and cursing and what God would do in the life of His people.
What this text communicates to me is that we should explain to our children the consequences of obedience and disobedience. As the text says, we should not withhold one thing from the Word of God and explain to them on their developmental level the blessings of obedience and consequences of disobedience.
This text also reinforces that children are never too young to learn about the glory of God. Joshua gathered all of the people so that they could worship and thank God for their victory over Jericho and Ai. The children participated in the worship and celebration. From an early age, they learned about God’s relationship with their people.
In Matthew 19:13-15, people brought children to Jesus so that he might bless them and the disciples rebuke them. But Jesus responds, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (v. 14). This and Joshua 8:34-35 teach us that in those moments of power struggle with our children, we should bring them to Jesus through teaching them the consequences of their behavior. We should help them choose blessing over cursing, and we should bring them before the altar through prayer and worship.
What are your thoughts on these two texts when it comes to child rearing?