Children Don’t Need School (12)

There is a continuing relationship in the Bible between seed and subduing. Genesis 1:28 commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply (seed) and to subdue the earth. After the Fall of man, God’s covenantal promise to Eve involved her seed: hers would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen.3:15) and God’s curse on Adam involved the ground and his efforts to subdue it. The importance of genealogies in Hebrew culture was based on this promise to Eve: tracing the covenant line and the lines of those who had become the seed of Satan…

Abraham received two promises, the promise of a land (12:1) which would be given to his seed (12:7). Here would be a land for Abraham’s seed to subdue for the glory of God.[1]

Abraham had two problems when it came to children. Firstly, for he and Sarah, this really seemed impossible. It was, for most of their married life, until God gave them a miracle, and Isaac was born.

Secondly, when Isaac did come along, Abraham had to prepare him for his inheritance, the promises of God. This is no simple matter for any godly parent, for God is certainly faithful, but we manage to find plenty of ways to get ourselves in tangles, and make a mess of things, through sin. Inheritances can be forfeited by poor and evil choices, and Genesis itself is packed full of stories of that, from Cain to Reuben.

Genesis 24:1-8 shows us that Abraham had reservations about Isaac’s capacities to make a wise choice, when it came to a wife. Abraham wanted his servant to go on a journey for him, and bring her back, for he was confident that

…He [God] will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there (Gen.24:7).

That way, Isaac would just need to welcome her and marry her. That made it very simple! That didn’t mean that all would be plain sailing. Isaac nearly did make a mess of it, when he (many years later) wanted to bless his elder son Esau.

Implicitly, this would be in breach of God’s word to Rebekah, for He had said to Rebekah, when Jacob and Esau struggled together in the womb, that “…the older [Esau] would serve the younger” (Gen.25:23). Furthermore Esau, without a care, had sold his birthright to Jacob, for a bowl of stew (Gen.25:29-34). Why would a godly father wish to give his blessing to a son displaying these character qualities?

It took some fancy footwork on the part of Rebekah and Jacob to get around Isaac’s thoughtless plan (see Gen.27), but they did. I believe they were justified in doing so.

North points out that

Rebekah understood the motivation and character weakness of her husband. She had seen him favor Esau with his love from the beginning. Now he was about to defy God, cheat Jacob, and bless the elder son. Like Esau, Isaac was guilty of the sin of honoring his belly more than God’s promises, almost like the belly-worshipping sinners criticized by Paul (Phil.3:18-19). There was no time to lose. Rebekah made an assessment concerning the likelihood that she and Jacob could convince Isaac to reverse his judgment of a lifetime concerning the respective merits of the two sons, and she decided that deception, rather than an appeal to God’s word, was more likely to succeed. After all, the two sons were 84 years old. Isaac had not yet seen the light.[2]

Later, the scripture described Esau as “… a godless person…who sold his own birthright for a single meal” (Heb.12:16).

Godly children (even as adults) need instruction in what it means to be a faithful son or daughter, and a steward of the Lord’s inheritance. This is a subject that the scripture has a lot to say about, and it certainly begins with the child’s attitude towards God and His Word.

Is this what you’ve been training your children in?


[1] Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.172.

[2] North, p.189.

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