By Irven Lee
Moses found a people who were not well informed about God when he went back to Egypt to lead Israel out of bondage. The Lord sent him for this task. It was not a strong faith in Israel that sent out an invitation to Moses to help them escape bondage and find freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.
During the forty years in the wilderness these descendants of Jacob had a great opportunity to learn much about God and his righteousness. There was a great revelation made. These former slaves were taught by Moses who was given power to confirm his message by miracles, wonders, and signs. Food and water were provided by the power of God in the sight of all. The Lord blessed, punished, and protected a people who needed to learn of him.
After the death of Moses, Joshua continued this leading and teaching process. There may never have been a generation of Jews that knew more about God than those who were given the land by Joshua. Millions of people had grown from childhood to maturity in intimate and personal contact with God in all his power, love, and righteousness.
“The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel. . . And that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor the works which he had done for Israel. . . and they forsook the Lord god of the fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger” (Judg. 2:7-12).
Moses commanded the parents to train their children with diligence. The book we call Deuteronomy is a book of sermons Moses preached near the end of his long and eventful life. In these sermons he made numerous appeals to the adults to train the young (e.g., Deut. 6:4-9). There was none to object to his teaching on this duty, but his suggestion was evidently not heeded with proper zeal.
Children can be taught. They can be taught to have faith and to accumulate knowledge. Eunice and Lois did their work so well in Paul’s day that Timothy had “unfeigned faith,” and from a child he had known the holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14,15). This faith and knowledge made Timothy one of the very best servants of his day (see Phil. 2:19-22). There are very few like Eunice and Lois, so there are not so many rooted and grounded in the truth as was Timothy.
Many general statements could be made about people in America today. One such remark is that there is a pathetic lack of Bible knowledge in our country. There are a few excellent students today, but in some cases their own children are not being well taught. Such students may be too busy writing, studying and teaching others to teach their own children. They may have a feeling that their children may absorb precious knowledge or just inherit it.
We are to buy the truth and sell it not. Peter wrote of precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1; Prov. 23:23). Timothy’s life was truly enriched by these two wonderful gifts from his mother and grandmother. Are you in similar way making your children rich? Parents need to start early and work hard at this worthy task.
Ignorance of the holy Scriptures is not a new thing under the sun. Many in the generation before mine did not attend school much so they were poor readers. They worked long hours to earn a living. Fifty years ago there was a serious lack of effective teachers and song leaders. In those days many attended worship services once a month on “preaching Sunday.” Others attended only during the “big meeting” in the summer. Some speak of the great Bible students in the past with “testaments in their pockets.” I knew a few, but very few, such people.
Now there is school for every one and there are many with their graduate degrees from the universities. There are many known for their great scholarship. Many of these highly educated people have been trained to a. great extent by atheists, and they have been taught to disbelieve the Bible and to have no reverence for God. These educated people are pathetically ignorant of the Bible, but they may often speak with dogmatic arrogance about spiritual things as if their degree with biology gave them authority to speak about Christ and his Father.
There is a great multitude of people who attended school for twelve years, more or less, and who have developed skills and earn good salaries. Many of these watch TV to keep up with the world about them and for entertainment, but they do not read. The TV networks are not teaching people to be Christians! They teach promiscuity, evolution, and materialism. It is hard to reach many of this segment of the population because they do not listen to the gospel or read it. Of course, they are not teaching their children.
We are taught to pray for more laborers in the vineyard. They will have to be found among those who “give attendance to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13). If people close their, eyes, stop their ears, and harden their hearts, there is hardly any way to help them. Even the Master and his apostles did not reach such people (see Matt. 15). The faithful need to shout the gospel from the housetops to awaken those who are asleep spiritually. Children of the spiritually blind are not well taught, of course. Preachers, teachers, and parents should, by all means, do their “homework” and be well prepared to teach the needed lessons.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 24, p. 747
December 17, 1987