Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Old Testament: Father's Cathechism

Exodus 12: 26-27 “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.”

Exodus 13:14-15 “And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’”

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers. So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.’”

Joshua 4:6-7 “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.’”

Joshua 4:21-24 “He said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.’”

The Hebrew term “father” has its origin in childish speech (pronounced aba).
[1] The emotions of those Hebrew fathers listening to their children pronounce their names for the first time are no different than the emotions of fathers today. If you are like me with your child, you hang on to every word and action of your little one. I can sit next to our couch and can remain totally captivated by my daughter’s coos. What is more amusing is when I talk back to her in her own language. I believe my wife is more enthralled with my baby talk than she is with our daughter’s. I try to capture every new movement that she makes with our camcorder, and I am obsessed with a camera. There is not a position or angle that I can’t take with a camera.

Fathers will often tell me how they remember every little detail of when their children were babies and can often describe in detail each moment. I wonder what our children would say about their first memories of their dads. Were they workaholics who lived and breathed their jobs everyday? Or were they couch potatoes who never relinquished the remote control and knew all the scores of the latest games? Or will they remember a dad who taught them about God and His Word? Their lives exhibited a life of holiness and they set an example of what it means to follow God with all of your heart.

The previous verses are examples of fathers who were instructed to teach their children about the work of God in Israel. The Exodus verses (12:26-27; 13:14-15) center on the Passover where God delivered his children from the bondage and slavery of Egypt. The verse in Deuteronomy (6:20-25) elaborate on the first commandment, that is, not worship any false gods or idols. In the Joshua passages (4:6-7, 21-24), another important event occurred in the history of Israel. When the Israelites entered into the Promise Land, they established a memorial made from the rock of the river bed as a perpetual symbol of the faithfulness of God.
[1] Gottfried Quell, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. V. Ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich. Trans. By Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 960.

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