The well-rounded education of Christian youth is in three phases: the moral, the sacred, and the secular. These are obtained in three different schools: the home, the church school, and the public school.
Each of these schools has its own particularly important duty to perform for the child’s welfare. The public school teaches the child how to get along in society. The church school teaches him how to enter into life eternal. But the home school, besides teaching him moral behaviour, lays the foundation for all phases of education.
Moreover, the child not only begins life in the home, but also spends most of his time there. The home school, therefore, plays the most important role in shaping the child’s life. From this we can quickly see why a broken or an unorganized, careless home can never meet the needs of the child. Only by a miracle can a child brought up in such a home become a decent, law-abiding citizen of the nation, and a respected member in the church.
Yes, I say, only by a miracle can he climb to the top of the ladder in the society of earth, to say nothing of his poor chances in the society of Heaven.
Let me illustrate the work of the home: The farmer casts the seed into the earth, and proper conditions make it sprout and shoot its little blade through the soil. To begin with, though, the tiny plant feeds on the pulp of the seed while piercing its delicate blade upward and sinking its tiny roots downward. Thus while within the shell (the home) is the little plant (the child) enabled to begin to shift for itself in getting food from the soil and sunshine from the air to maintain life. This very same principle works within the home: The child while at home must be gradually at first and then fully put on its own by the parents. If the parents fail to carry out this duty to their child, then the child does not stand the fair chance in life which the Creator has ordained that he should have.
Examples Of Good Homes
At this point I shall read to you something about successful home schools:
Gen. 18:16-19 – “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”
It was Abraham’s hospitality that brought such a great blessing to his home – the three Heavenly guests Who reaffirmed the promise of an heir. And his accommodating act of showing Heavenly guests Who reaffirmed the promise of an heir. And his accommodating act of showing them the way to the city by walking some distance with them, caused the angels to confide to him their sad mission concerning Sodom. No home, therefore, should be “forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Heb. 13:2.
In the verses which we read a moment ago, we are told that Abraham was to become a great and mighty nation because he would command his children and his household after God, to keep the way of the Lord, to do “justice and judgment.” God recognized that Abraham’s home was to be a model home school, and thus this Patriarch of the Ages became a “friend of God,” and the “father of the faithful.” God, you see, honors parents who run their homes right, who command their households after Him.
Shall we now examine to see to what extent Abraham’s was a model home school? – His son, Isaac, you know, was only about seventeen years of age when the word of the Lord came to Abraham that he should sacrifice his only son. The father faithfully obeyed the command, and took Isaac on that trying historical as well as educational journey. Not until the very last minute was he told that he was to be the sacrificial victim. But did he become upset or did he resist when told of it? – No, indeed. On the contrary, he did all that he could to comfort his father, and willingly and cheerfully laid himself upon the altar!
What does all this mean? – It means that Isaac had received a perfect training in his home, and so he respected both the father’s judgment and religion. He was submissive to his God, and full of faith. Knowing that God’s way was for his best interests, he resolved that it would be better to die than to disobey either God or his father.
We shall now go further and look for an example in Isaac’s own home to see what kind of parent and teacher he was. Esau and Jacob were his twin sons, you know, and both of them were raised in his home. If you read between the lines in this familiar Bible story, you will find two teachers and two sets of students in Isaac’s home: Isaac loved Esau, and Rebecca loved Jacob.
Jacob was a helping hand to his mother, and thereby learned how to prepare food that was both attractive and tasty. Thus was he able to make a bowl of pottage which sold higher than any other dish ever sold. Besides learning the culinary art, he was intensely interested in religion, and fitted himself to sit on the patriarchal throne.
On the other hand, Esau was interested only in temporal things, and sacrificed his heirship to the throne for the sake of sports and ungoverned appetite. Rather than become skilled in his religious duties, he became skilled in hunting. Consequently the heirship to the patriarchal throne meant no more to him than the price of a bowl of pottage.
In these two youth we see two opposing aims in life – one was given to sports, the other to religion. Isaac was well aware of this, but since he loved Esau more than he did Jacob, and since Esau was the eldest son, he saw no reason that Esau should not receive the blessing and sit on the patriarchal throne. Rebecca, however, was quick to discern that Esau was unfit for the position, and that Jacob would make good at it. So it was that while on the one hand Isaac instructed Esau to prepare a feast and come to him for the blessing, on the other hand Rebecca advised and helped Jacob to impersonate Esau and obtain the blessing by taking advantage of his father’s dim eyesight. This deception, of course, worked out as it did only because Providence was at work.
Now, let us see what we have learned about the training of Esau and the training of Jacob: Since Isaac was closely attached to Esau, and Rebecca to Jacob, and since Esau was a failure and Jacob a success, can it not be concluded that Rebecca succeeded in properly schooling Jacob, whereas Isaac overlooked Esau’s need of getting acquainted with God and with the duties in the home that were his?
From this comparison I take the liberty to say that Isaac was a somewhat indulgent father, and that Rebecca was a more firm and strict mother. True, there must have been one kind of material in the make-up of Jacob and another in the make-up of Esau, but Esau should have been reproved; and if reproof could not help him, then the blessing should not have been offered to him. No, firmness should never give way to indulgence.
Next we shall peek into the home school which Jacob himself conducted, and see what were the results. Considering the facts that his family was larger (thirteen children in all) than the families of his forefathers; that all of his sons were accepted to become the progenitors of the subjects of the church eternal; that his son, Joseph, had perfect control of himself, nurtured a forgiving spirit, respected his father, clung to Heaven’s precepts, and found favor with God and man; – I say that by all these facts we know that Jacob gave his household the finest training possible. At the very least, he raised one of the greatest and the most noble characters the world has ever seen.
I believe that time will permit us to consider another good home school, the home into which Moses was born.
Knowing that Abraham and his seed were to sojourn in a strange land only 430 years, Moses’ mother realized that the time of deliverance from Egyptian bondage was at hand in her day. But Pharaoh’s decree demanded that every Hebrew male child be cast into the Nile, and so in spite of it she determined to hide her newborn son. Peradventure, she thought, he might be the one to lead the Hebrew host out of Egypt and into the promised land, and if so, God would spare him.
Three months later, though, she found that she could no longer hide Baby Moses, and so rather than take the inevitable risk of losing him, she made a little ark, put the infant into it, and placed it in God’s care on the Nile. God took charge of the situation and the child lived. Now note the miracle: As soon as the king’s daughter saw the child, she knew that it was a Hebrew child, but rather than let him be put to death as Pharaoh had decreed, she adopted him! Moreover, Providence designed that the child should be raised in a Hebrew home. Thus it was that Baby Moses was Providentially returned to his own mother for care, and all home expenses were paid from the king’s treasure!
Evidently after witnessing all these miracles, the mother knew positively that Moses was to be the deliverer. And the home training which he was given during those twelve years with his mother, Moses never forgot even amidst the rank and file of the world’s greatest royal throne of his day.
Indeed, the training one receives in the home, you see, is the foundation of his entire future.
Examples of Bad Homes
In vivid contrast to these good homes, I shall call your attention to one or two bad home schools, and the results of them.
First I am thinking of Lot’s home. O, yes, I know that Lot was a great figure in Sodom, but no one would hear his plea the night Sodom was to be reduced to smoke and ashes for the winds to carry away and for the Dead Sea to lodge over. No, not even his own children who were comfortably situated in their respective homes would listen to him. Only two of his daughters escaped the great conflagration, simply because the angels snatched them out as brands from the fire.
What a failure was Lot’s home! What a great loss! Two causes underlay all that came upon him: first, because he pitched his tent toward Sodom; and second because he neglected to bring up his household in the fear of God. Moreover, had Lot led into Truth and righteousness even ten souls out of that vast population of Sodom, he would have spared both Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction.
May I now speak to you of another bad home, that of Eli’s, the ancient priest of Israel. He, as did Lot, made a complete failure of his home, although time and again he was warned about his neglect.
1 Sam. 2:27-35 – “And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon Mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at My sacrifice and at Mine offering, which I have commanded in My habitation; and honourest thy sons above Me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel My people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before Me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from Me; for them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall no be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in My habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from Mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise Me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in Mine heart and in My mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before Mine anointed for ever.”
These verses reveal that Eli was reproved for his carelessness in not commanding his household after God. He was even forewarned of the inevitable results of his laxness; that his household, his entire posterity, would die in the flower of age if he thus continued on. But Eli did nothing about it, and therefore suffered the results which he had been warned about.
Are not these things written for our learning, for our ensamples? Why, then, are more homes wrecked today as a result of bad home training, or no training, than were wrecked in the days of Eli? And, strange as it seems, this catastrophe occurs more often than not in homes where the parents are so very particular that their children not enter a public school but obtain their entire education in the church school. Indeed, the fault does not lie with the church school itself, but in the fact that the parents expect the parochial school to assume the responsibilities of parenthood – to do that which the parents themselves fail to do. And let me tell you that be it the church school or the public school, neither one can take the place of the home school.
Besides, since the church schools are largely a family affair, to a great extent ordered by the parents themselves, these schools already have proved a miserable failure! If you doubt this alarming statement, then poll your church membership, and to your surprise you will find that the majority of them are the product of the public school, and that the majority of the church school graduates are out in the world. After hearing these remarks, a sister polled her church and found that 70% were educated in the public school; 27% in both public and church school; and 3% in the church school only!
This is not all: You will find that the church members who are half converted, or not converted, are usually, if not altogether, the product of the church school. Still further, you will find that the greatest champions against timely Truth, against “meat in due season,” and the promulgators of abominations in the church, are generally the product of the church school!
My experience for years in the gospel work has proved to me that what I am saying is true. Do not misunderstand me; I am not accusing anyone. I am only trying to help each of you for your own good to awake to the situation, and to take heed to the Word of God. Soon the authorities may begin to jail the parents, too, upon the arrest and misdemeanor of the children, if the homes continue to carry on as they now do.
A noted writer and authority on social relations and problems, Leon J. Saul, has this to say in his book entitled, Emotional Maturity: “There are no problem children, only problem parents and problem environments.”
And if I now become your enemy because I tell you the truth, then will you not yourself confirm these things?
God’s System Of Education
We have now seen the results both of good home schools and of bad home schools, but we shall be most helped by looking into the system of education which Inspiration recommended, and by making it our system for teaching the young. It is this:
Exod. 12:22-27 – “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as He hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, Who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.”
Josh. 4:5-7 – “And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the Ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: that this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”
God, we see, sets memorials for the important things of life so as to provoke inquiries. Parents should do likewise to create interest in the things they want their children to be instructed in.
Deut. 6:4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
The important things of life should ever be held before the children, and always in an interesting way, – never in a way to make them tired of religion, and never in a way that will cause the study to become a drudgery.
A Bad Tree Cannot Give Good Fruit
Both parents and children should ever remember that God is counting on them, and that they themselves can either build or restrict their futures. This we see most notably in the following:
Because the work of Jesus was of tremendous importance and of great consequence, God was exceedingly particular about the parentage of Jesus. For this reason he chose the lineage of Abraham (a good tree), of Isaac, Jacob, Judas, Jesse, David, and down through the line of lineage to Joseph, who became the husband of Mary. Even though Joseph was to be but a foster father to Jesus, God was particular in choosing him.
And as careful as God was about who the foster father of Jesus should be, He was even more particular in the selection of a mother for Jesus. Thus God chose the Saviour’s mother from the line of Joseph, the son of Jacob.
How do I know what was the parental lineage of Jesus? – Well, His foster father’s lineage I know from the chronology which Saint Matthew gives. And His mother’s lineage I know from Moses’ prophecy of which I shall now read: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel).” Gen. 49:22-24.
Not only was Jesus’ parental lineage carefully selected, but so also has been selected the lineage of every one of God’s men who were entrusted with weighty responsibilities. Why, I ask you, would such precautions be taken if the parents do not bear the most important part in the life of the children?
It must now be remembered, then, that though the child obtains his properly rounded education in three schools – the home, the church school, and the public school, his most important school is the home, for the child is largely what the home makes him.
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” Deut. 28:1-6.
It would do your soul good if you read at home about the parents’ duty as set forth in Counsels To Teachers, pp. 158, 159; Testimonies For The Church, Vol. 3, pp. 143, 144; and the children’s duty in Exodus 20:12; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Cor. 6:15-20.