Deuteronomy 4:1-14 (Part 3) – Moses Joins Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Posted: December 7, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 4:1-14 (Part 3 of 3)

Moses Urges Israel to Obey

Although I was not old enough to remember Crosby, Still, Nash & Young in their hey-day back in the late 60’s-early 70’s and never was a big fan of Neil Young after his song, Southern Man, that he wrote after never setting foot into Southern culture, I am going to appropriate one of the group’s songs this morning. Part of the lyrics from their song, Teach Your Children Well, go like this:


Teach your children well

Their father’s hell did slowly go by

Feed them on your dreams

The one they fix, the one you’ll know by


Don’t you ever ask them why

If they told you, you would cry

So just look at them and sigh

And know they love you


And you of tender years

Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by

Help them with your youth

They seek the truth before they can die


The song was a veiled protest of the reasons that the youth of the 60s were rebelling in ways unknown before that time in America. If parents were wondering why their kids were protesting against the establishment, they only have to look at themselves. In the mind of the youth of the 60s, the world in which they lived needed to be reprioritized where colonialism, greed, the American Dream, the war machine, and the next best gadget could not be all there was to life. If the previous generations had actually lived out the high minded ideals that they taught their children, there would be no dichotomy between the ideals and the reality of who we were as a country. So, the song was basically to say, if want less protest, teach your children well. Not only teach ideals but live them out. Teach them well.


Do we teach our children well? Do we teach them what God has done in our lives? Do we live out the ideals of God’s Word in front of our children? Do we live lives of thankfulness to God before our children? I know that I have done a poor job of this as a parent. Part of the problem of course was that I did not give control of my life to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, until I was 39 years and 8 months old, this month 15 years ago. Even then, the on-going sanctification process of the Holy Spirit on my soul has been slow and hard. I am just now beginning to mature from a “toddler” into a “teenager” as a Christian. Even as a maturing Christian, I have not been the best minister to my children that I could be. I am a much better writer about what God has done in my life than I am a speaker of it. However, I hope that they read my writings so that they can see how God has worked in my life, the miracles that He has wrought in my life, the depths from which He has yanked me from, the valleys He has walked me through, the thanksgiving that I feel for the place that I find myself in relationship to Him in this stretch of my life. I hope that they can see and read about how much I love the Lord for all the things that He has done for me. At the same taken, I must learn to share the stories with them of how amazing God’s miracles in my life are. How there would be no dad to speak to if it were not for God looking after me when I was in my valleys. I need to teach them well. I need to speak of Him to them not just let them read it second hand. I must actively stand before them and teach and preach of God’s amazing grace, providence, and sovereignty. I must teach them well. How will they come to know the God of might and grace and love that I know if I do not teach them. How can they know of the mighty things He has done in my life if I do not share the stories with them face to face? How can they know the God that I know with the same depth of knowledge and feeling that I have if I do not live out the ideals that I write about. I must be more than academic when it comes to my children. I need to be less bookish about God and more open and unafraid to share my God stories with them face to face. I need to think about how my actions reflect on the God that I love as I proclaim being a Christ follower before their eyes. I must teach my children well.


Let’s think about that as we read Deuteronomy 4:1-14 one more time before we move onto the next passage:


4 Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.


3 You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, 4 but all of you who held fast to the Lord your God are still alive today.


5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?


9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 And the Lord directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.


As we read through this passage, we see that Moses wanted to make sure that the people did not forget all they had seen God do. Therefore, he urged parents to teach their children about God’s great miracles. This helped the parents remember as well. It helped them and the children know and remember God’s faithfulness. It provided a means of passing from one generation to the next the stories that recount God’s great acts. It is easy to forget the amazing and wonderful ways that God has worked in the lives of His people. We can preserve these stories of God’s great and amazing grace, providence, and sovereignty by passing them onto our children.


I know for a fact that my children were delayed in knowing Jesus Christ because I delayed in knowing Him myself. It all starts with us as parents. We can expect our children to come to know Christ if we do not know Christ. Although some children come to know Christ independently of their parents, the deck is certainly stacked against them though if their parents do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ themselves. How can we expect our children to know Jesus Christ if we do not know Him ourselves? Even after we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and we are parents, how can we expect our kids to understand who God is and what we believe as Christians if we do not share and talk about Jesus with them. Some Christian theology that is necessary for us to mature as Christ followers can be difficult for children to understand (even as adult children) so it is up to us as parents to teach them well about why we believe what we believe. Why is it that we take our relationship with God so seriously? We must share with them those great acts that He has done in our lives. We must teach. We must teach them well.


Teach them well means for us to share stories of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Teach them well means for us to explain Christian concepts that they do not understand. Teach them well means having conversations. Teach them well means listening to their struggles and teaching them what God’s Word says about that. Teach them well means admitting our mistakes of the past and how God redeemed it through our salvation in the grace of Jesus Christ. Teach them well means we have God conversations with our kids. Teach them well means that we live out what we believe. Teach them well means preserving the stories of God’s faithfulness and sharing them with our children. Hopefully, then, the process will be repeated from generation to generation that comes after us. Then, maybe, our great-great grandchildren can say that if it were not for us teaching our children well, they would not have come to know Jesus Christ.


Amen and Amen.

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