Education and the Lord’s Inheritance

Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Pentateuch, given to Israel through Moses just before they entered the promised land. Of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy is the book of the inheritance.

The word “inheritance” (or derivatives from it) is used 26 times in Deuteronomy. Its first use is Deuteronomy 1:38, which says,

Joshua the sun of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.

What is the significance of this for us as parents? The scriptures make it clear that education is a parental task. This was evident from Genesis onwards. Concerning Abraham, God said  that

…I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him (Gen.18:19).

The principle of parental responsibility for education was later confirmed. Where? In Deuteronomy, of course, because children are an aspect of a godly inheritance.[1]  The Bible says that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov.13:22).

Godly education begins with the fear of the Lord: instruction in and obedience to His commandments. But it goes much further than that. It clearly links faithfulness and obedience to His commands, with receiving His inheritance. The two cannot be separated.

Here’s an example:

Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle… (Deut.7:12-14).

Not one word of this is negated or withdrawn in the New Testament. In fact, Paul tells us that

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power towards us who believe (Eph.1:18-19a).

When it comes to instructions to children about their parents, Paul is quite comfortable going straight back to the Ten Commandments, telling children to “honour your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)” (Eph.6:2). Then he goes straight on to direct fathers to not “provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph.6:4), all of which is reminiscent of God’s original comments concerning Abraham.

The point of what I’m saying is this:

Children need to know not just what they are being educated in, but why this education is taking place. According to scripture, education is primarily the development of God-honouring attitudes, values and behaviour for life. That requires the consistent and daily exposure of children to scripture, not just as a piece of novel or interesting literature, but as the Word of the God of creation, for them to understand and totally obey.

God’s faithful promise is that there will be an outcome from all this: blessing for an obedient people.

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God (Deut.28:1).

Conclusion:                                                                                                                             

Yes, good education will involve some Maths, Social Studies and other academic subjects, but these are to be secondary to the main thing.

What’s the main thing? A child understanding that they have been created by God for a purpose, to glorify Him forever. They begin to glorify Him by learning from His Word how to obey Him. His promise to His people from Genesis to Revelation (which pertains to both this life and the next) is that He has an inheritance for them to receive.

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son (Rev.21:7).

Now, isn’t that something worth preparing children for? Then, they will really “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps.34:8), and be ready to acknowledge, “You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name” (Ps.61:5).


[1] For more on this, see Gary North’s 1999 economic commentary on Deuteronomy, “Inheritance and Dominion,” (73 chapters plus an Appendix). Free to read, at http://www.garynorth.com.