Importance of Education
Every person should know the Bible because of the admonitions given in this passage.
A young boy once approached his father to ask, "Dad, why does the wind blow?", to which the father responded, "I don't know, son." "Dad, where do the clouds come from?" "I'm not sure, son." "Dad, what makes a rainbow?" "No idea, son." "Dad, do you mind me asking you all these questions.?" "Not at all, son. How else are you going to learn?"
In the verses following v. 18 we are given a list of things we can do in order to know God’s word and particularly the commands of God. Before that in vv. 16 & 17 we are told of things we need to be careful of. The admonitions to follow are there to help us to avoid these problems.
Warning I. Deception
A. There are other influences in the world that are trying to pull you away from God. Rather than being deceived by those influences God wants us to have hearts that are steadfastly connected to God. These are false gods that are trying to deceive us.
Warning II. Turning to other gods
A. A solid understanding of God’s commands will help to keep our hearts and our minds pure and focused on the one true God.
Warning III. God will become angry
A. There are a few places in the bible where we see God’s anger aroused. This is probably not something we should take lightly. God’s anger can bring some pretty hefty consequences.
Warning IV. There will be no rain
A. This obviously will affect the water supply. There will be less to drink, cook and clean with. Ther are other consequences as well.
Warning V. No crops
A. When there is no rain it is hard to produce crops. This is one of the things that would happen.
Warning VI. Death
A. An inability to survive would come. No water and no food lead to death. All of these are consequences of living a life that is not obedient to God’s commands.
At the beginning of v. 18 the word therefore is used. These warnings are things we would rather avoid. The way we can avoid them is by following the admonitions that follow.
This passage is a part of the message given following the Ten Commandments. God had given the Israelites the commandments in Exodus. Now about 40 years later they are receiving them again. This passage is a portion of the directions which accompany these commandments.
Admonition I. Fix the words to your heart and soul
A. I would have to say that the construction of this is very specific. The first place where the commands of god are to be affixed are to the heart and soul. Everything in a person’s life would center around their heart and soul. When we make decisions we often make them as heart decisions. Often in the Bible the words “heart” and “soul” are used interchangeably. This is the place where we find the operations center of a person’s life. If a person is good we might say they have a good heart. If a person does something evil or wrong we look at the heart. The heart is the center of the person’s being and therefore it intentional that God would emphasize that the commands should be affixed to the heart first of all.
B. When the commands are affixed to the heart that will influence the decisions a person makes. It will also cause them to take note of the commands with everything that they do. I would think of the commands, which are affixed to the heart of a person, as being a filter. Everything to goes into the heart or out of the heart must first travel through the heart. The heart will filter those things and allow the good to enter and exit, but the bad will be trapped.
C. We do what we can as a church to teach the commands, but affixing them to the heart is the decision of each individual. It takes a personal decision along with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I cannot force anyone to affix the commands to their heart.
Admonition II. Tie the words to your hand
A. I have occasionally come across someone who has put a mark on the face of their watch. One time as a reminder to pray the Promise Keepers group sent out small stickers to put on our watches. Someone realized how often a person looks at their watch. It seems like it might have been as often as once every two minutes. If people remember to pray when they look at their watch or heed the reminder of the mark on their watch it has done its job.
B. Also in v. 18 God tells the Israelites that they are to tie these words on their hands. Perhaps those people had the same habit as people today. They spent a lot of time looking at their hands or their wrists. The Israelites understood this to mean that they were to tie a small parchment to their wrist with the commands on it. This is great if they will remember the commands every time they look at that piece of parchment. This certainly was not to be an exercise in attaching paper to your hand.
Rather it was a reminder of the commands God had given to them. Every time they looked at that piece of paper maybe it was a discipline in reciting those commands to make sure they were kept.
C. Two weeks ago Teen Challenge was here. To be on the drill team I believe they must memorize over 60 verses of Scripture. If those young men are able to continue on that path of memorization it will be an incredible assistance in their life. I would say that most Christians would do well to do part of what they are doing. Your brain is a muscle and it must be exercised. What greater way to exercise your brain than by memorizing Scripture.
Admonition III. Fix the words to your forehead
A. I would guess that all of us have had a time when we had a hair or something else that was hanging in your line of vision, but you could not get rid of it. It is hard to focus on anything else when you know that thing is somewhere within your line of vision. It serves as a distraction to anything you are trying to do. It seems to always be on your mind.
B. I believe this is what god had in mind when he told the Israelites that they were to bind the commands to their foreheads. They were to be like that hair hanging in your eyes. It was to be a positive distraction. The Israelites ended up taking this literally. They made little boxes or pouches that they attached to their forehead with the commands in these vessels. It is a literal response to a symbolic action God wanted these people to take. It was more important for them to have the commands in the mind rather than just dangling from their forehead.
C. God’s greater purpose is that the commands would always be on our minds. It would be something that would shape who we are and what we do. It would influence our decisions and our actions. It would be a part of everything that we do.
Admonition IV. Teach them to your children
A. All of the admonitions up to this point have dealt with learning the commands for ourselves. In v. 19 the emphasis is on teaching the commands to children. We should know the commands for ourselves, but we should also make them a part of our family as well. A man of God has the responsibility to make sure that his family knows about God and the commands of God. In every part of life the children are to be learning about God. In the passage it says that fathers are to talk about the commands to their children when they are sitting or walking or lying down or getting up. I believe it is safe to assume that fathers are to teach their children all of the time. No matter what is happening in their life they can be teaching the commands to their children.
B. Under the right circumstances it only takes one generation for a nation to turn pagan. However, if the parents are diligent in teaching their children then they will learn and grow. Let me give you a few examples from the Bible. In Joshua’s day the people said we will serve the Lord. The next generation created their own brand of religion mixing what they liked of the Jewish faith with what they had learned from the people inhabiting the land. The following generation did not even know God. King David was a man after God’s own heart. His son Solomon was not as devoted to God. He was married to many women, some of whom had different religious beliefs. Solomon’s children did not even know God. They were lost.
C. I beg of you fathers to pass your faith onto your children. If we are not fervent in our faith then we are sacrificing the next generation. Our children need to see that faith in God is a priority in our lives.
Admonition V. Write them on your doorframe
A. I believe that this is another way in which we will keep the commands of God before our eyes. This must be something important for God to suggest all of these ways to keep this information before us. It is something that must be central to our lives.
There are Some benefits of living this kind of life. In v. 20 it is pointed out that if we live according to the commands, then our days and the days of our children will be multiplied. In other words we will have a long life. I am sure this meant a lot of the people of Moses’ day, because many of them were probably not living long lives. They were now faced with a time of uncertainty, because they had lived in the wilderness for 40 years. This was grant them stability. This is stability which would mean a lot of most people.
Another benefit of obedience would be that they would take possession of the land. They had not entered the land 40 years earlier. They were fearful of the people who lived there. In v. 23 God promises the people, “then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.” They were finally going to have a home of their own. They would be a force to be contended with. They were a powerful army, even though they were entering the land as nomads.
There are benefits to be had when you put God in his rightful place in your life. It is important for us to make sure we know the commands of God and that we live according to those commands, we also need to make sure that our children know them. Make sure that you learn.
There is so little margin between where we are and moving to a completely pagan world. In order to avoid becoming a pagan nation we must teaching our children. We do what we can as a Church, but it is the ultimate responsibility of the parents to teach their children. The church serves as a secondary means of educating our children. The church cannot be a substitute for what happens at home.