The Dancing Puritan

Saturday, March 9, 2013

From Age to Age: A Biblical Framework for Family Worship




Are you stuck in the present? After all there are bills to pay, schedules to meet, demands to be met in the daily fare of life. It is argued that one cannot live anywhere but the present; the past is gone and the future is not yet. Our problem is that we are so stuck in the present that we miss the big picture and lose the ability to learn and dream. That is true in every area of life including family life.

Much of what we learn about the family in the Bible is from a Hebrew perspective. Family life among the Jewish people was deeply rooted in the past and was thoughtful about the future. Where did the Jewish people develop such a multi-generational perspective?  From God Himself.

In Deuteronomy chapter six the heart of Israel’s theology and practice is displayed.  They were to know and love God.  The fathers were to remember the promises that God had made to their forefathers (3).  They were to take that knowledge of God and make sure that it  was burned with the iron of conviction upon their own hearts so that they could teach their sons and grandsons (6, 2, 7, 20-25).  The passage gives us a multi-generational family perspective of forefathers, the present fathers, sons and grandsons.  Past, present and future people all made up the family portrait. The Hebrew family understood that they were deeply rooted in the past and that they were to have a vision for the future.

Family worship embraces a multi-generational view of family life with a vision to learn of God’s faithfulness from ages past, invest biblical truth in the present age with an eye to the future age.  The Hebrew view of family life was from age to age. God had taught their forefathers.  They had passed the faith down to their children.  The present generation was recipients of that trust and had a responsibility to future generations.  Age to age!

Resting on that foundation consider this biblical framework for family worship.

Visionary Thinking is Essential in Family Worship.  In Family Worship we need to look back to the lessons of biblical history and then we need to look forward with the hope that our grandchildren will be impacted for godliness. This requires thinking beyond the next bill we have to pay.

Biblical Knowledge and Wisdom are Required in Family Worship. “And these words that I command you today must be on your heart” (vs. 6).  The truth that God is one and therefore is to be loved, feared and obeyed was to be branded with the hot iron of conviction upon the hearts of the fathers. This was prerequisite for training their children.  J.A. Alexander in his book, “Thoughts on Family Worship” wrote: There is no member of a household whose individual piety is of such importance to all the rest as the father or head...Where the head of a family is lukewarm or worldly, he will send the chill through the whole house...

Diligence is Required When Leading Family Worship (vs. 7-8).  The goal of family worship is to pierce the hearts of each family member with the truth about God. The faithful parent leading their children to worship God will seize daily opportunities to teach (sitting, walking, bedtime, morning) as well as more structured times of instruction. They will look for ways to keep the truth about God and the call to love Him constantly before the eyes of the family (8-9).

Blessings are Promised to Those Who Will Lead Their Families.  There were very specific promises given to Israel regarding inheriting and enjoying the land (2,3).  The New Testament has no problem lifting those promises and applying them to the Christian Church (Ephesians 6).  The Christian parent has every reason to be hopeful for the spiritual well being of his family as he lovingly and joyfully exposes his family to God.

What are some of the reasons that family worship should be the practice of your home?

In the midst of plenty (or lack) there is the temptation to forget God (10-12; Proverbs 30:8-9).  We must remember God.  Family Worship is an important arrow in the quiver to hit the bull’s eye of our memory with the truth about God.

We are constantly tempted to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 6:14-15).  Other gods may take the form of job, technology, sports, popularity, people or anything else. A god is that to which we devote an inordinate amount of our time, money, energy and we invest hope in.  We buy into the promises of peace, prosperity, popularity of whatever the god may be offering and we are willing to bow down to appease and receive from our gods. Family Worship is a constant reminder that God is to be the sole object of our faith and obedience.

We are often challenged with the thought that God is not trustworthy (16-17).  Family Worship is an opportunity to show from biblical history that the God who has been faithful in ages past will be faithful to this present age and will be faithful in the ages to come.

Family Worship gives us opportunity to declare the gospel (20-25).  As Hebrew parents would recount how God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery to the land of promise; Christian parents have the opportunity to recount how they were delivered from slavery to sin, are being delivered daily from the power of sin and will one day be delivered to heaven’s land where there is no sin.

Is Family Worship worthy of your time?  I think that it is.  From age to age it has been God’s design that we declare “...the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4). Remember the past. Engage the present. Invest in generations to come.