For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; They will spring up among the grass like a willows by the watercourses. Isaiah 44:3
Children grew up faster in the first century. Jesus knew, prior to school age, what living under the boot of the Roman Empire meant for his neighbors and the people of Nazareth. Evidence of oppression was everywhere. During the time of His childhood, Caesar Augustus, just for the pure pleasure of flexing his power, sent a mounted army into the temple to slaughter 3,000 Jews at the time of the Passover. (An event recorded by historians.) The Jewish people also had to pass crucifixion scenes lining the road in and out of Jerusalem. Parents taught their children early about God and eternal life. Evil was prevalent so faith was necessary.
In my generation, it was possible to raise children in an overly protective bubble. Many children never went to a funeral; they never encountered a deceased relative. Small communities were usually church going communities. People rarely locked their homes as civility ruled and trust in mankind was possible. While this was wonderful on the one hand, it also produced a generation of people who lived for ‘the now’. There was no urgency to provide spiritual instruction. Need for God was numbed out by peace and contentment.
But “Leave It To Beaver” has long passed. Our world has deteriorated into chaos and evil. Children can’t be protected from the news. Attempting to keep them in a protective bubble is impossible once they approach Kindergarten. While we grieve for their loss of innocence, we are also presented with an opportunity to show them what hope in Jesus looks like. We can model how to live in the promises of God. When scripture is life-saving for adults, children will embrace it as life-saving. Prayer will no longer be perfunctory at mealtimes. It will be a way of life as families look to the heavens together for the grace to live and the hope to endure.
I remember that Josiah, a righteous King, was raised in violent times. His father was the wicked King Amnon. Horrific scenes of child sacrifice were commonplace and Baal worship prevailed. Amnon made Josiah and his other sons pass through fire, practice magic, learn divination skills, and thought nothing of shedding innocent blood in great quantity in front of his children. In spite of this, when Josiah inherited the throne, he turned to the God of his fathers and walked righteously. He was not scarred for life. He did not embrace wickedness though it was modeled exclusively for him as a young boy.
God has chosen these times in which to raise our children and grandchildren. He who calls a people unto Himself makes a way for them to hear His voice. He cups His hands around their spirits and preserves their ability to understand and treasure righteousness instead of evil. Hope is alive and God can be trusted with our little ones.
Though your children walk through the fire, we will not be consumed. Amen