What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(4)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 6th April, 2021

Introduction:

The best and truest educators are parents under God. The greatest school is the family …the moral training of the child, the discipline of good habits, is an inheritance from the parents to the child which surpasses all others.[1]

Hebrew education was intensely practical. The common opinion held that a man who did not teach his son the law and a trade, the ability to work, reared him to be a fool and a thief. It is said that Simeon, the son of the famed Gamaliel, observed; ‘not learning but doing is the chief thing.’ [2]

I. God, our First Educator:

Adam and Eve’s education in the garden, is instructive. Having made all things in six days, God’s command to Adam and Eve, was that they should “rule and have dominion”(Gen.1:26-28), which some have called the Dominion (or Cultural) Mandate. He gave them commands and instructions regarding their responsibilities in the garden, which was to be a proving ground for them. His law is perfect (Ps.19:7), and His education was perfect (Job 36:22), but this doesn’t mean that life was easy for them. There was plenty of work to do in the garden, and this couple had to work at everything from scratch, without tools, ladders, a manual, a hardware shop, or a home. But God blessed them (Gen.1:28).

Adam and Eve’s education meant that they learned to obey God’s Word, understanding that there would be consequences for their disobedience (Gen.2:17). God Himself provided them with their theological understanding, their epistemology (their source of knowledge), their ontology (understanding of who they were), and their axiology (their values). As part of their education, Adam and Eve would need to be taught and understand mathematics (1:28), botany (2:15), agriculture (2:5, 15), language (2:19-20), systems of classification (2:19-20), defence (2:15), human anatomy, biology and reproduction (2:23), and teamwork (2:23).

II. Noah’s Educational Process:

God’s plan to destroy the earth because of wickedness in Noah’s day, meant that after the flood, He would be left with a couple, their three sons and their daughters-in-law. The coming cataclysm required that He commence a new educational process; the eight people would need additional information. So, He began with a father.

God spoke to Noah (Gen.6:13), and gave him information, instruction and commands (6:14-8:32), and promised to make covenant with him (6:18). The survival of Noah’s family required that he accept God’s educational directions. His family needed to accept that he had heard from God, and in accordance with God’s revealed plan, they needed to carry out all the necessary work for 120 years. They would need to be pioneers in building the ark, and pioneers after the flood, rebuilding a godly civilisation.

After the flood, God blessed them (9:1), repeated the command to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (9:7), and made the promised covenant with Noah (9:8-17).

III. God identified Education as a vital Role for Parents: Gen.18:17-19.

God had a plan for Abraham. He had chosen Abraham, just as Christ has chosen us (Jn.15:16), and this meant Abraham had authority in his family and household, which may have numbered many hundreds, or even thousands of people (see Gen.14:14), to command, direct and teach.

The first aspect of Abraham’s authority from God, was to “…command his children…to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice”(v.19). If these conditions were met, the promises of God to Abraham and his seed would eventuate. These aspects of God’s promises to Abraham, are applicable to parents today (Heb.13:8).


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” 1973, p.185.

[2] ibid., p.183.

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