Deuteronomy 6 — D.A. Carson

Posted: June 7, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

WE HAVE COME ACROSS other passages dealing with the importance of passing on the heritage of biblical truth to the next generation. That theme lies at the heart of Deuteronomy 6. Fresh points that are especially underlined include:

(1) The ancient Israelites were to teach the next generation to fear the God of the covenant. Moses teaches the people “so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live” (Deut. 6:2). When in the future a son asks his father what the laws mean, the father is to explain the background, the Exodus, and the covenant: “The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today” (Deut. 6:24). We might well ask ourselves what steps we take to teach our children to fear the Lord our God, not with the cringing terror that is frightened of whimsical malice but with the profound conviction that this God is perfectly just and does not play around with sin.

(2) Moses underscores the constancy with which the next generation is to be taught. The commandments Moses passes on are to remain on the “hearts”of the people (Deut. 6:6; we would probably say minds). Out of this abundance, the next words follow: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7). Even what they wore and how they decorated their houses should serve as reminders of the law of God (Deut. 6:8-9 ). We might well ask ourselves how constantly we teach our children the content of Scripture. In ancient Israel children usually learned their vocational skills from their parents, spending countless hours with them, which provided many opportunities to pass on the blessings of the covenant. Our more fragmented culture means we must make opportunities.

(3) Above all, the older generation was to model utter loyalty to God (Deut. 6:13-19). This consistent modeling was to include an utter repudiation of idolatry, obedience to the demands of the covenant, revering the name of the Lord God, doing “what is right and good in the LORD’s sight” (Deut. 6:18). How faithfully have we, by our own living, commended serious God-centeredness to our children?

(4) There must be a sensitive awareness of the opportunities to answer questions our children raise (Deut. 6:20-25). Never bluff. If you do not know the answer, find out, or find someone who does. We must ask ourselves if we make maximum use of the questions our children raise.

from: For the Love of God

  1. Peter Black says:

    Did the Pharisees of Jesus day believe and practice this mandate (Deut. 6:6)? If so, why did Jesus characterize them as “hypocrites”?

  2. Peter Black says:

    Of course the answer to the above rhetorical question is that preoccupation with the Law in any of its categories (moral, ceremonial, Levitical, ecclesiastical, or civil) inevitably results in one of two outcomes: hypocrisy, or neuroticism. How is that? Jesus cited the hypocrisy of the Pharisees’ self-serving belief that they were righteous, because they complied with the Law. The modern equivalent of that is the view of “perfectionism” per John Wesley, which teaches the hypocrisy of thinking that one has pleased God by compliance with the Law. Such persons have missed the clear teaching of Paul, which asserts that “By the keeping of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” If Law-keeping cannot “justify” anyone, then it is a corollary that Law-keeping cannot sanctify, glorify, or otherwise accomplish any of the components of salvation in its broadest meaning. Reformed students understand that truth as the expression of the “sola gratia” teaching. One becomes pleasing to God not by Law-keeping, but by the favor of His grace. Nobody can “earn” that which is extended to mortals only by God’s grace: which is unearned, undeserved, and unmerited.

    The emphasis on Deuteronomy and the Law is a mistaken one: Christian persons should attend to Jesus’ emphasis, which pointed out the errors associated with legalism. All those who truly desire to understand God’s provision of righteousness should ponder the meaning of I Corinthians 1:30. Preoccupation with the Law is not the path to righteousness.

  3. doulos tou Theou says:

    Thanks for reading and responding Peter.

    I’m with you in your first paragraph, but I kinda disagree with the second because it was our Lord Jesus who told the hypocrites of religion that by studying the Law and the Prophets it would lead you to know that eternal life resides with knowing the Christ.
    John 5:39

    In the parable about the prodigal son when the father talks with the older brother the other brother is holding up his “works” & obedience to the father. The father rocks his worldview and lets him know he didn’t love him more or less for his actions, but you don’t get the impression that from the parable that being the younger brother is the way to go.

    Jesus holds the OT in high regard, Paul commends it as holy, and all the other writers quote from it extensively. I’m not advocating Law keeping to “earn” anything, but what Paul says in Philippians 2:12 or Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” It seems to me that there is a certain way the “redeemed of the Lord” should be living into and walking a life style that reflects that they are connected to the vine. Again I’m not advocating Law keeping to “earn” eternal life.


  4. Peter Black says:

    Thanks for the explanation and illustrations. Your comments are well taken.

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