Since the beginning the family has proven to be the strength or the weakness of a culture, society, nation, community, and even a congregation of the Lord’s church, depending upon if the family goes with God or against him. There came a time in the history of God’s people in the Old Testament when through the prophet Jeremiah God said, “Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven, and they pour out drink offering to other gods…for the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:17-18,30). The service that should have been given to God in the family had not turned out to be a family affair of worshiping false gods. Everyone in the family was involved in the false worship, from the children to the parents. They all participated as a family and brought disgrace upon the nation. It was not enough that the people of God were involving the whole family in false deity worship, but also that they would go to the Lord’s temple and act as if they were serving the one true God. The Lord said through Jeremiah, “and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name…Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes” (Jeremiah 7:10-11). Whole families had essentially participated in making the Lord’s temple a den of thieves and God was displeased with that.
What should the families have been doing? “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9). “You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7,9). These are the things that families of the children of Israel should have been doing as a family. God had provided his word to them so that they could maintain their faith in the family and that together the spiritual lives of the parents and children would be built up. However, they chose to dedicate their lives and families to serving the world.
What happened during the time of Jeremiah in the Old Testament should serve as an example and lesson for Christians today. It is so easy for families to become involved in every activity in town and little by little the faith begins to fade away in the family. What happened to God’s people during the time of the prophet Jeremiah did not take place over night. There were days when they were so busy that they did not have time to teach their children in the morning or evening. Little by little they skipped their “Bible reading” and “teaching Bible lessons” to the children and finally there was no faith. As Christian parents we need to maintain the diligence of teaching our children when we “walk by the way…lie down…and rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7,9). It can be a family affair of studying God’s Word together or as in the case of God’s people in the Old Testament it will be a family affair of making the Lord’s house, the church, a place equal to the world. May we follow the principles set forth by Moses and taught by Paul (Ephesians 6:4).