I read an interesting portion of Scripture this morning in Isaiah 3. God is speaking judgment over Jerusalem and Judah due to their heart rebellion from the will and ways of God. He says,
- The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable. (v. 5, emphasis mine)
- Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of His glory (v. 8)
- As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths. (v.12, emphasis mine)
We do not know the exact situation. We know that many of the women (if not all) were haughty in luxury and oblivious to the oppression of the poor (see vv. 14-23). I won't go here this morning. We know that there is a scrambling for someone to rule--to ease the pains (vv. 6-7). We know that those who remained faithful would be rewarded; but likewise, those who behaved wickedly would be repaid.
But the portion I wanted to focus upon was in regard to children. I thought it was so interesting that twice God mentioned the role of children in this passage of judgment. First He mentioned their rule, then their insolence and oppression.
Again, I am new to the parenting camp. Only five years ago was my oldest child born. Between my three kids, we are mainly dealing with loose teeth, potty training, and young sibling bickering. I am clueless to the pressures of interacting as a parent with middle school hormones and high school rebellion. BUT, God is ever-faithful and graciously gives words of wisdom.
Sometimes it seems that we as parents--myself included--scramble for a ruler, someone to teach us how to handle these kids that can tend toward insolence and oppression. There are a number of "reality" parenting shows and a plethora of books--which can be very helpful! But, our ultimate source for understanding is God Himself.
First, these little people under our care are our mission field. We are called to train them up in the ways of the Lord--and not just on Sundays. After the Lord gave the greatest commandment to His people--to love Him with all their being--He then instructed them to teach His ways diligently to their children--when sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). From morning to night, in all that we do, we are to teach His ways.
Second, this training includes discipline. God rewards obedience--I'm not talking necessarily materially. And He disciplines disobedience--that we might remain within His created boundaries of safety. Likewise, we as parents must discipline disobedience in order that children will rightly learn truths like their need for a Savior, God's amazing grace, and His ever-reaching forgiveness.
Third, none of this can be done in our flesh; it must be of the overflow. If we as parents are not loving our God with all our being, how can we expect our children to love Him rightly. As with all heart evangelism, our words of training must be of the overflow.
May we be people that see our children as gifts from Him, given that we might handle rightly, building a generation that loves deeply this Sovereign God. We will not be perfect, and neither will they--they may even greatly rebel. Thankfully we serve a gracious and merciful God. So in as much as depends upon us, I pray we (I!) walk faithful--in His strength--through our parenting mission field today.