O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old- what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their forefathers— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.
But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert? When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for his people?”
When the LORD heard them, he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat.
He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power. He rained meat down on them like dust, flying birds like sand on the seashore. He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.
But before they turned from the food they craved, even while it was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel.
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland! Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power— the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan. He turned their rivers to blood; they could not drink from their streams. He sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them. He gave their crops to the grasshopper, their produce to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamore-figs with sleet. He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility— a band of destroying angels. He prepared a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death but gave them over to the plague. He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert. He guided them safely, so they were unafraid; but the sea engulfed their enemies. Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land, to the hill country his right hand had taken. He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance; he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.
But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes. Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols. When God heard them, he was very angry; he rejected Israel completely. He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among men. He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy. He gave his people over to the sword; he was very angry with his inheritance. Fire consumed their young men, and their maidens had no wedding songs; their priests were put to the sword, and their widows could not weep.
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine. He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame. Then he rejected the tents of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim; but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loved. He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
You can change the direction of an entire nation within the span of a single generation. You need only change the curricula at the teaching level. What teachers impart to the students they encounter will determine the direction of the nation when those students begin to live out what they’ve learned. Here are a couple of dramatic examples, one ancient and one contemporary.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. (Judges 2:10-12) The author is speaking of the children of the men and women who accompanied Joshua across the Jordan to possess the Promised Land, only one generation after the conquest. It ushered in the lowest point in Israel’s history.
In the early 1900’s The German School of Higher Criticism’s “Documentary Hypothesis” disputed the authorship of the five books of Moses. It claimed they were actually produced about 400 BC by several groups of men who were writing stories about Israel’s past that had previously been handed down orally. They mounted similar attacks against the authenticity of Daniel and other books of the Bible as well. The goal was to present the Bible as a work of human, not divine, origin.
The introduction of this error into the major seminaries of the US gave rise to the modern rationalism of the 1950’s that within a single generation turned most major denominations away from a literal interpretation of the Bible. Having denied its supernatural origins, they then denied its Author’s supernatural power. By making Him small enough to fit in their minds, they made Him too small to solve their daily problems, let alone insure their salvation, and deprived their shrinking membership of its eternal destiny. This, more than anything else, has led the US into its “post-Christian” era.
In the first instance, parents neglected to teach their children of the miraculous power of the One Who freed them from their bondage in Egypt. In the second, a lie was introduced into the education process. In both cases the outcome was disastrous.
The point is this. The one who controls the content of the education process controls the destiny of its students. Who determines what your children are learning? Between grades K-12 they’ll experience about 14,000 hours of classroom instruction. During that time they’ll also spend nearly 19,000 hours in front of a TV. But even if they attend church faithfully, they’ll only get 520 hours of Christian Education. If current trends continue, the combined 33,000 hours of TV and school will indoctrinate them into a worldview that’s increasingly hostile to the one we espouse. How can a mere 520 hours of Sunday School possibly equip them to resist?
It’s time to employ two secret weapons you already possess; your influence over them and your computer. A half hour spent a couple of times a week informally discussing one of the Bible’s Children’s Stories will teach them about God’s love like nothing else can. Don’t know enough about the stories to have a discussion? Go to the directory called Children’s Stories for Adults on our right hand menu bar and pick one. They’re free for the taking. Your kids will get a powerful defense against the lies they’re being taught. The unexpected bonus is how much better you’ll get to know the Lord, too.