My family and I like to read through the Bible together. It has become a great habit of ours to read the Bible at the end of a meal, think about it aloud together, sing a hymn or psalm, and pray. This tradition is not unique to us, and is typically called “Family Worship.”
Recently, during family worship we read from Ezra 7:1-6. Now, if you are familiar with this portion of the Old Testament, then you know that it is all about the people of Israel returning from Babylon to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Jerusalem had been conquered because of her flagrant and unrepentant idolatry, adulteries, and injustices. They were captured and conquered by Babylon. God in His mercy had spared a portion of His people, but that didn’t make life any easier for the survivors. But that’s not the big idea today.
When we look at the book of Ezra, and this section in particular, we learn about this man Ezra. We learn about his family line. We learn that he is a direct descendent of Israel’s first High Priest, Aaron, the brother of Moses. This pedigree was important according to Old Testament standards.
As we comb through the details provided by God, we find a tangential point that is of immense importance. The Word of God says, “this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD, the God of Israel, had given…“(Ezra 7:6 ESV)
Quick Question: How was Ezra trained? He was in a foreign land. The Temple had been destroyed. There were no seminaries lying about. There was no online classes or digital lectures to download. He couldn’t join a Zoom call with his favorite Rabbi. So how did he do it? I think we have to return to our initial comments on family worship.
Ezra was an heir of the priestly line. Although his family may not have been the most influential, in terms of national politics (an important reminder for us to remember), they nevertheless stayed the course in honoring God’s commands for parents. What were those commands? God said, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV) In other words, parents, you have the distinct duty of raising your children in the fear of the LORD. Train children in every season. Train children on car rides. Train kids at the ball field. Train them at the dinner table.
There is nothing as relevant as training children in the Way of the Lord. If you and I abandon our responsibility to disciple our kids, someone or something else will gladly disciple them. It may be our TV’s, or our phones, or our computers. Our negligence will inevitably demonstrate itself. The question for our consideration is never, “Will our children become disciples?” The real question is “Who or what is going to disciple them?”
This is also what makes public worship so important. Just today, a friend of mine encouraged me by telling me that his son has memorized some of the parts of our liturgy. He is singing an ancient song named “The Gloria Patri” by heart. By simply bringing his son to church, this dear brother has helped disciple his son so that he can join countless saints before him who have sung of the majesty of our triune God.
In our present ecclesiastical moment, many people have abandoned public worship. But we must never mistake the reality that watching a sermon on TV is not the same as attending church. God commands His people to assemble under the name of the Lord Jesus Christ so that they might be nourished by the Word and Sacraments. We are called to obey our leaders, the godly counsel of pastors and elders, who will give an account for our souls, because such acts are pleasing to God and beneficial to us (Hebrews 13:17). The longer we distance ourselves from that, the worse off we are going to be.
Beloved, in this season of anxiety and uncertainty we need more of God’s Word, not less of it. Our children need God’s Word as well. They need to be raised hearing the hymns of God’s people. They need to see the mystery of the Lord’s Supper and develop a sense of anticipation for the day when they can partake of it themselves. They need to see godly men and women sing the name of Jesus so that they can learn how to do it themselves. Our world so desperately needs people who love like Jesus. Let us do our part by following Him, and showing our children, and grandchildren, to do likewise.
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