I Have Nourished and Brought Up
But these words were not spoken by modern parents but the God of Israel through the prophet Isaiah (1:2). The Lord goes on to say, "The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib. But Israel does not know; my people do not consider" (Is. 1:3 NKJ). Through the prophet God laments their apostasy from Him.
The prophets reminded
Israel of God's gracious love and care. The
Israelites had been slaves in Egypt and God had redeemed
them and led them out. For forty years God had
marvelously provided for them through their desert
wanderings. He had guided them into the land of
Canaan and enabled them to conquer their enemies, giving
them a land "flowing with milk and
honey." When they turned away from Him Jehovah
had sent prophets to warn them and to lead them back to
Himself. God was so patient. Isaiah affirms,
"But the word of the Lord was to them, precept upon
precept, precept upon precept, line upon line; line upon
line, here a little, there a little' (Is. 28:13).
God trained them like little children with endless
Child training is important and vital. Parents must teach their children the Word of God (Dt. 6:4-9). The home should be saturated with Scripture. Parents are also responsible to train and to discipline their children (Prov. 22:6) and "the rod of correction" may be needed at times because "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" (Prov. 22:15). While children are at home and under their authority they should insist on behavior consistent with the parents' standards. A Christian elder is to have "his children in submission with all reverence" (I Tim. 3:4). And parents must pray and commit their children to God, like Hannah (I Sam. 1:27-28).
Having said all of this one is still confronted with the awesome power of the human will, a will which can choose to serve God or to rebel against Him. This spirit of rebellion grieves the heart of God and has from the beginning (Gen. 6:5-6). If people can rebel against their God they can also rebel against human authority, including the wishes of their parents. It is simplistic to blame godly parents for failure if some of their children turn away from God and their training, unless one is also prepared to blame God.
Parents should do all they
can to train their children properly. Frequent
moves can be very uprooting and unsettling for
children. They need the stabilizing influence of a
church where they have good friends who encourage them in
the right direction. A father who is away from home
too much may put a burden on his wife. But some
preachers and missionaries who itinerate much of the time
have had good success with their children. Here a
strong, stable, assembly environment is vital. On
the other hand, some fathers who are home all of the time
have had problems with some of their children.
There is the mysterious factor of human choice.
As one passes through
life, he comes to realize that often there are no easy,
simple answers. Why does one person turn to Christ
and become a devoted follower of Him and another reject
the Lord and live a life of rebellion? Some believe
in double predestination and believe that human choice is
an illusion. They teach that some individuals are
predestined for hell and there is no choice they can make
to change their destination. But to those who
believe that God is a God of love and that salvation was
provided for all (I Jn. 2:2), then human choice is a
necessity. This too vindicates God in His judgment
on sinners. They have had a choice. The plea
of the prophets of the Old Testament and of the New is to
sinners to exercise their choice and to turn to
God. "Come now and let us reason together,
says the Lord" (Is. 1:18). The voice of the
evangelist still echoes that same cry today.