Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Covenant Succession

This was my sermon outline for a message delivered at Sovereign Grace Fellowship (Nampa, ID:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “One Generation to Another”

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV) — 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

God commends that children be educated:

–          Diligently

–          Talk of them

–          Write them

Why?

1. Because God desires a holy seed:

Malachi 2:14–15 (ESV) — 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

2. God wants our children to be taught the goodness of God so as to nurture their faith so that they might receive the promises by faith:

Deuteronomy 5:16 (ESV) — 16 “ ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

One might protest that this was Old Testament under the Old Covenant and that God no longer reckons our children as bound to the terms of such a covenant, however Paul quotes this very same commandments in the context of the New Covenant and the relationship of children to the promises of the covenant:

Ephesians 6:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

There is continuity, therefore, within the structure of the covenants as it regards our children.

–          Children are bound by the 5th commandment, with the qualifier of “in the Lord” (in faith)

–          The promise of blessing in Canaan in the Mosaic covenant was a shadow of the greater blessing of eternal blessing in the new heaven and earth that Jesus promises in the New Covenant.

We train our children knowing that God alone can do the work of salvation in the heart:

–          Moses knew that the 10 commandments and blessings and curses of the covenant looked forward to a day of New Covenant Renewal where God Himself would work in the hearts of His people:

  • Deuteronomy 5:29 (ESV) — 29 Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!
  • Deuteronomy 10:15–16 (ESV) — 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
  • Deuteronomy 30:5–6 (ESV) — 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
    • Notice that the promise of God to circumcise hearts includes the offspring. This is a New Covenant renewal passage where God pledges Himself to work in His people and also unto their children.
    • This doesn’t guarantee that every child is saved, but does show that God pledges Himself to our children, looks upon them with promise, takes them into consideration in His covenant purposes.
    • God made no such promises to the children of outsiders. God does show particular kindness to our children, seeking the circumcision of their hearts. This all comes about as we parents do what He asks us and trust Him to what He can only do, circumcise hearts.

–          The children were born in the promised land, but their enjoyment was conditioned upon faith. I also happen to believe that our children are born as objectively “holy”, yet their enjoyment of the promises in the New Covenant require faith.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:14 (ESV) — 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
    • This objective status as being “holy” is not a lifetime guarantee that every child of the covenant gets an automatic pass to the blessings of the covenant. If one becomes a covenant breaker, they are subject to exile.
      • We must not view our children as complete outsiders to the promises, as unbelievers whom Jesus rejects…after all Jesus blessed children, even infants who were brought to Him
      • We must not also view our children as automatic heirs apart from their maturing faith. They must set their hope in God, as is described in this Psalm:

Psalm 78:1–7 (ESV) — 1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

–          We are called to “tell the coming generation of the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done”

  • The Passover meal was instituted to be a perpetual reminder of what God really did do in Egypt and redeeming His people.
    • Communion was instituted to be a perpetual reminder and means of grace for what Jesus really did do on the cross by redeeming us from Satan and the wrath of a Holy God.
  • The children were to be told about the crossing through the sea under Moses
    • Baptism points to how we cross through the waters and come out a new creation
  • The children would learn about Noah, David and Goliath, The walls of Jericho under Joshua’s conquest and much, much more.
  • All of this points to Jesus. Don’t just teach your children about things that happened a long time ago without connecting to Jesus, through whom all the promises find their amen.
  • Noah points to the salvation found in Jesus, David points to the greater warrior who destroys a greater foe, Jericho points to Jesus’ victory over His foes without using the sword but by the mere words from His mouth.
    • The design of all storytelling is that our children “set their hope in God”
    • We don’t constantly ask our children if they believe the true stories we will them. They would actually get suspicious if we constantly asked them if they really believed that there were 7 days in the week, or if they truly believed you were their parents, etc. Therefore teach them the truths of redemption as objectively true, not as something that might be true if you believe in it, but as true. Tell them that Jesus died on the cross to save them from their sin. No 3 year old will say, “that’s nice, I’m going to heaven and don’t need to believe it”.
    • I’m not denying the necessity of faith, but am rather concerned that we don’t undermine childlike faith by constantly looking upon our children with suspicion and being cautious of telling them that Jesus is their Lord who bought them on the cross. Tell them!!! Deal with unbelief later if you should see doubting or confusion, etc, but don’t give your 3-5 year olds a thousand qualifications on how Jesus might have died for them on the cross.
    • We tell them the story of redemption as objectively true so that faith, wonder, awe, and hope might arise. Faith comes by hearing the word of God…your teaching begets faith through the Spirit:

–          Romans 10:8–17 (ESV) — 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

  • Parents, be mighty ministers of the word of Christ in your homes
  • We shouldn’t be overly suspicious of evidences of grace in our children, as if there is no way they proceed from faith, for God is able to regenerate the hearts of our children at a young age.
  • At the same time, we must not equate outward compliance as sure evidence of regeneration. You could very well teach your children salvation by works when you commend their works as proof of regeneration.
  • As parents, we embrace the tension of devoting ourselves to God’s will for us (as parents) and entrust our children to Him. God uses the means of our teaching and nurturing, but it is Him alone that can do that work within the heart. We parent on our knees.
    • As they grow older, they should learn what baptism and communion are and what they signify. As they grasp the meaning and also desire to come to Jesus through these means, then we will sit down with them and ask them on what date and time they got saved…no not really, we would ask if they trust in the promises, whether they have faith right now, and you take it at face value, just like Jesus embraced the worship of little ones without a rigorous interview of each child.
    • What we are seeking is Covenant nurture of the next generation because this is what God desires. God is for us and for our children:

–          Psalm 145:4 (ESV) — 4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

–          Psalm 103:17–18 (ESV) — 17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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