The real challenge with this was not so much in searching God for answers but seeing it from His perspective. I read an article written by a Christian Jewish Rabbi. He was writing on the verse Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. He was trying to help Gentiles, that’s you and me anyone non-Jewish, of the Hebrew mindset and how they understood this verse to be.
Our mindset, as a society is very Greek. It is the way we think, we dont even know we think this way. Let me explain, as I understand it. The Hebrew mindset doesnt compartmentalise areas of life the Greek do. For example, the Hebrew sees work and worship as the same concept. In their work they worship their creator, who made them to work/worship (same word even). In our Greek mindset we go to work, and we go to church to worship!
It is the same with our kids we ask the question, Who God made them to be? and we think in terms of career, we think in terms of being an adult.
Jewish parents believe that God made this little baby, He made him complete, with a purpose, with gifts and talents. They believe that it is their duty, as good parents, to determine these things; to understand the gifts and talents God has put in them and to train them in the purpose God has for their child. Therefore the scripture train up a child in the way he should go incorporates the faith he should go, the career he should go, the family life he should go, the social life he should go and so forth. The whole being of this child is to be trained in the way that God has set out for him when he was made in secret! See how our Greek mindset comes into it even while trying to explain this Hebrew mindset. We cannot seem to get a grip on the whole child without breaking it down into parts.
We read the same scripture and we too, want to train up our child in the way he should go. We too want to claim that if we do this he will not depart from it. I like to see this in terms of he will not depart from the plans and purpose God has for him.
In order to train our children for the way he should go; the purpose God has for him we need to understand what that purpose is. I believe there are two ways of getting this:
1–The Bible states what is right for man regardless of nationality, regardless of gifts and talents, regardless of birth order and personality! So therefore, we can take the whole of scriptures and use it as our training manual and we will be on the way to training our children so that they do not depart from Gods purpose for them. Eg. It is God’s purpose for us all to love others therefore we are to teach our children to be able to do this. So, are we teaching our children to love others? This is one of the ways that they are not to depart from; It is God’s purpose for them.
2–The second way I believe we can understand Gods purpose for our children is to pray; to ask Him and to listen to what He has to say to us. There may be several ways that He speaks to you He may give you a scripture, He may whisper something to your heart, something maybe said in conversation or in a sermon. Your heart, if it is listening, will know when God has shown you something. Once He has spoken hide it in your heart.
In the Old Testament, the naming of children seems to have significance throughout the childrens lives. We don’t see this as much in the New Testament though Zacharias (John the Baptist’s father) was made mute until he declared his son’s name, which was the name God had already made known to Zaccharias. God also revealed Jesus’ name to his earthly parents.
Mary knew who her Child was:
I would like to look now, at Mary as an example of a mother who knew Gods purposes for her child.
As a mother, Mary had some incredible things happen to her.
- An Angel appeared to her and told her she was to be the mother of the Son of God
- An Angel appeared to her fiancé and told him that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Angel also told Joseph the babys name
- Mary and Joseph were married. I believe they must have talked of these amazing things
- Then the Shepherds visited and told Mary what the Angels had said of her baby - that he was Saviour, Christ the Lord
- Then Simeon prophesied over the baby
- Then Joseph had more dreams, which gave him direction and saved their child from being killed
When the angel visited Mary she asked, How can this be and the angel gave her an answer. Zaccharias on the other hand asked the same question and was struck mute. There was obviously a heart issue here. Mary’s heart was towards God. In accepting God’s plan for her she was risking her reputation, even her proposed marriage at that stage was at risk. What a place for a young girl to be at. Yet she had the faith to believe in her God.
Do we? When God tells us something are we prepared to risk our reputation? Are we prepared to go out on a limb because God has told us something? Are we incredulous at God’s amazing thoughts – or are we filled with doubt, fear, and uncertainty?
When the Shepherds came to visit they were just agog with the things the Angels had told them. That the child that was born that night in the city of David, was the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. They shared it with Mary and Joseph. Luke 2:19 tells us that Mary kept all these things and pondered on them in her heart. A little more of God’s purpose was revealed to Mary that night. She kept them in her heart and pondered on them.
I believe that is a key for us as mothers. As we seek God to find out who our children are, that we are to keep those thoughts in our hearts and ponder on them.
Then Simeon sees God’s salvation when he sees baby Jesus Luke 2:25-35. As Simeon blesses the baby, as was the custom, he says some things that would leave the Mother, Mary, with some pretty heart wrenching comments. He said, A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel and this to their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy of many others. And the deepest thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed
And then along comes Anna who was also a godly woman, a prophetess and she confirmed the things that Simeon had said by declaring that the Saviour had been born.
The Bible just says that they finished their worship; they finished at the temple and went home. The next thing the Bible says is that Jesus grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Then we read of Jesus at 12; we know the story - his family has gone to the temple and he gets left behind once they all start travelling back home. At 12 years of age the boys could question and be questioned by the Rabbi in preparation for Bar mitzvah, which was at 13. Regardless of how well Jesus spoke, how well he understood the scriptures, he was still Mary and Joseph’s boy and they were concerned that he wasn’t with them.
Jesus said to his parents, he took them to task in a sense, Did you not know I must be about my Fathers business. Mary and Joseph did not understand yet Mary hid these things once again, in her heart.
I believe Mary and Joseph were good, successful parents. They would have had the same philosophy and desired the same outcomes as any parent. What affect did these wonderful events have on them? As they set out to train up their child in the way He should go - How did they fathom His way? These amazing events and words kept in Marys heart must have influenced and motivated them to teach and to train Jesus.
They may not have understood and they may have got it wrong (most Jews would have expected the Saviour to be a warrior king and therefore being in the temple doing my fathers business was out of whack!) But they had trained his spirit, mind and body and he grew in favour with God and men.
Do we have the way of our child hidden in our hearts? Has God revealed secrets about His plans for our children, are we training them so they will be well equipped to worship the Lord in all that their lives are and will become?
My Heart is Encouraged:
The things that I am encouraged by when I look at Mary as a mother
1–She was prepared to loose her reputation over Gods plan for her child. Imagine what people would think of me if I said an Angel told me this about my child! God may ask me to do something that is different, not the normal way of things, in order to train my child am I prepared to lose my reputation?
2–She didn’t understand what was being said to her. We have to remember that Mary, along with all the Jews of that day, were waiting for a redeemer saviour. That wasn’t an amazing concept as much as the fact that he wasn’t a warrior. How did Mary’s own preconceived ideas affect her understanding of what God was really saying? Am I prepared to lay down my preconceived ideas of what my childs life is to look like? My preconceived ideas of the things I am to train him in?
3–Mary and Joseph got it wrong at one point. When they were concerned over Jesus being lost in the temple, they must have been overcome with natural anxiety that overruled what they knew about their child. I can be encouraged that their reaction to their circumstances within their understanding had absolutely no effect on Jesus life ministry. We as parents can’t hold back from asking God to show us the secrets to hid in our heart out of fear of getting it wrong.
So I encourage you today, to seek God, listen to what He has to say to you and I believe He will show you things that you can hide in your mother-heart. The outworking of these secrets in your heart is that you will know the direction to train your children in and know that they will not depart from the purpose God has for them.
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