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10. Helping Our Children Walk in God’s Blessing (Genesis 48-49)

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After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’ “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem). When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.” So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked— the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm— bless these boys. May my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. May they grow into a multitude on the earth.” When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you will Israel bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. As one who is above your brothers, I give to you the mountain slope, which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power. You are destructive like water and will not excel, for you got on your father’s bed, then you defiled it—he got on my couch! Simeon and Levi are brothers, weapons of violence are their knives! O my soul, do not come into their council, do not be united to their assembly, my heart, for in their anger they have killed men, and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their fury, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel! Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s sons will bow down before you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah, from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches and lies down like a lion; like a lioness—who will rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him…

Genesis 48-49 (NET)

How can we help our children walk in God’s blessing?

In Genesis 48-49, Jacob is sick, bed-ridden, and about to die. When Joseph heard about this, he and his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were probably in their early twenties, immediately went to Jacob’s bedside. Jacob blessed Joseph as the firstborn by passing special privileges to his two sons. First Chronicles 5:1 confirms this:

The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn— (Now he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph, Israel’s son. So Reuben is not listed as firstborn in the genealogical records.

As firstborn, Joseph would receive a double-portion of the inheritance. The way Jacob enacted the double-portion was by officially adopting Joseph’s sons—Manasseh and Ephraim. They would receive the same rights as Jacob’s other children. This is why whenever you see a listing of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joseph is never included, because Manasseh and Ephraim took his place. The reason there are twelve tribes instead of thirteen is because Levi is typically not listed, since they did not receive a land inheritance (cf. Num 1:6-15, 47-48).

When Jacob blessed Joseph’s children, he was acting in faith. He is placed in Hebrews 11—The Heroes of the Faith chapter—because of this act. Hebrews 11:21 says, “By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped as he leaned on his staff.”

After adopting and blessing Joseph’s sons, Jacob blessed the rest of his sons in Genesis 49. Without a doubt, Jacob was acting in faith as he blessed them. These blessings were more than prayers, they were prophecies, which were fulfilled in each individual and their future tribes. Since there is so much minutia in the prophecies, we will not work through the details. Instead, we will consider general principles on how we can help our children walk in God’s blessings, as was Jacob’s purpose in offering his patriarchal blessing.

Certainly, this message directly applies to parents but also indirectly to grandparents, future parents, and spiritual parents. For future parents, failure, as a general principle, often comes from lack of preparation. We would do much better in marriage, parenting, and any endeavor, if we gave great thought and labor to them before entering those institutions. Therefore, this message has applications for everybody, whether married or single.

Big Question: What principles can we learn about helping our children walk in God’s blessing from Jacob’s patriarchal blessing?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Encourage Their Interaction with Mature Believers

After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed … ”Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance.

Genesis 48:1-3, 5-6

When Joseph heard that his father was weakening, he took his sons to Jacob. Certainly, the hope was for them to see their grandfather before his death, but Joseph also hoped that they would receive a blessing from Jacob. God had promised to bless the nations through Jacob—his blessing was valuable.

Similarly, as parents (or future parents), we must remember that we are not the only ones who will contribute to our children’s futures. As children grow older, often friends, teachers, coaches, or pastors have more influence than we do during certain stages and seasons of our children’s’ lives. Therefore, it’s important for parents to be strategic in raising them. It has often been said that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and it is true. Parents must put their children in strategic places where they can be blessed by others. Certainly, this includes relationships with godly family members like grandparents, uncles, and aunts, but it should also include relationships with faithful church members. Since God made the church to be his body, we receive much of God’s grace and blessing through other believers. Those who neglect the church or who are marginally connected to her, miss out on much of God’s blessing. Married couples need the advice and prayers of older married couples. Young mothers need the encouragement of older mothers. Children need not only their parents’ blessing, but also that of other mature saints.

Parents should pray about strategic partners (and communities) and seek them out. Like Joseph, we should take our children to them for prayer, counsel, and discipleship.

Application Question: Outside of your parents, who made the most impact on your spiritual life? In what ways should parents plan for these strategic partnerships?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Give Them a Vision of God’s Kingdom

Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’ … “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him”

Genesis 48:3-4, 49:10

When Joseph and his children came to see Jacob, Jacob mustered his strength, sat up in the bed, and then recounted the blessings that God decreed over his life and his descendants: God was going to make him fruitful, make him a group of nations (referring to tribes), and give his descendants the land of Canaan (48:4). This blessing represented many things: It wasn’t just God’s personal promise to Jacob; it was God’s redemptive plan to bless the nations. God initially gave this promise to Jacob’s grandfather and father—Abraham and Isaac. When the world was largely polytheistic and had rebelled against God (at the Tower of Babel), God planned to bless Abraham’s family so they could be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:1-3). In fact, God told Abraham in Genesis 22:18 (NIV), that the nations would specifically be blessed through one of his seeds—the messiah (cf. Gal 3:16). Later, Jacob elaborates on this promise when blessing Judah; he said, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him” (49:10). This seed, originally promised in Genesis 3:15 who would crush the head of Satan, would be a world-wide ruler who would come through Judah, and all the nations would obey him. Jacob reiterated God’s promise to his children—something he, no doubt, shared many times before, but adding new details about the messiah. Their lives were bigger than themselves and their success. God had called them to participate in the world’s redemption. In the same way, parents bless their children by giving them a kingdom vision instead of a primarily secular vision.

When Jacob adopted his grandchildren, he was giving them the opportunity to participate in that kingdom vision. These two grandsons, who were half-Egyptian and being raised as Egyptian royalty, would have to forfeit their Egyptian heritage. By faith, they would have to associate with despised shepherds and give up the prosperity of Egypt. It’s clear that the grandsons and their children did forfeit their royal Egyptian heritage, as the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim eventually became slaves along with the rest of Israel (cf. Exodus). In being willing to associate with Jacob’s family, the sons displayed the character traits of Israel’s future deliverer, Moses. Hebrews 11:24-26 says,

By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure. He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.

Similarly, parents bless their children by both giving them a kingdom vision, as well as opportunities to participate in it. God is completing his kingdom plan now through worldwide missions. All nations will be reached with the gospel, and Christ is going to return to rule on this earth. The question is whether we and our children will participate. Jacob gave his grandsons a chance to participate; Joseph didn’t hinder it, and the sons accepted. They became two of the greatest tribes in Israel.

Application Question: How can we give our children a kingdom vision?

  1. We do this by teaching them to pray for God’s kingdom daily (Matt 6:10), praying for God to use his church to reach unbelievers and impact the world, and praying for Christ’s return.
  2. Also, we offer them opportunities to participate by serving the church, using their gifts on the mission field, and other service activities. The earlier their kingdom vision is encouraged and nurtured, the more likely they are to be faithful to it in the future, even as Joseph’s children did.

Application Question: Why is it so important to give children a kingdom vision and opportunities to participate in it? How did God develop a vision for his kingdom in your life? How should we seek to do that with our children?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Share Our Faith Stories with Them

Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’… But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem) … Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked—the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm—bless these boys…

Genesis 48:3-4, 7, 15-16

Not only was Jacob sharing God’s redemptive plan with his children as he talked about God’s promises and the messiah, but he also shared about his personal relationship with God and his experiences while following him. God appeared to Jacob twice at Luz (also named Bethel, Gen 48:3): God appeared to him when he left his father’s home, going to Haran to look for a wife (Gen 28). God appeared to him a second time after he left Shechem with his family, where his sons murdered all the men in that village. When Jacob got to Bethel, he led his family in revival. He built an altar, had his family get rid of their idols and worship God there (Gen 35). Later, after returning from burying his mother’s nurse, Deborah, outside of Bethel, God revealed himself to Jacob and gave the promises mentioned in this passage (35:9-14, 48:3-4). Also, Jacob shared the most difficult time of his life, when Joseph’s mother, Rachel, died (48:7). When Jacob prayed for Joseph, he spoke in faith about his experiences. He called God ‘the shepherd who guided him all the days of his life’ (48:15) and ‘the Angel who protected him from harm’ (48:16)—probably referring to the time when Jacob wrestled with God before meeting his brother, Esau.

Jacob shared the mountain top experiences and the valley experiences with his children, and he spoke of them in faith. God had led him like a shepherd both to the mountain tops and through the valleys of life and always miraculously protected him. As he shared these realities, no doubt, it encouraged Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim to be faithful in their own lives. God would bless them, guide them, and protect them if they were faithful to him.

Likewise, we must also share our faith walks with our children. They must not only hear God’s Word, but they must hear it incarnated in our testimonies of God’s faithfulness. If Jacob was bitter about God and doubting God, it would only have created the same in his children. However, though Jacob complained plenty throughout his life (especially after losing Joseph), he now looked at his trials and blessings through a God-lens. The Lord used all of it for good and for his ultimate blessing.

Sharing our faith walks with our children implies that we are attempting to faithfully walk with God, both on the hilltops and in the valleys. One of the main reasons children often continue to follow God throughout their adult lives is because of the faithful walk and example of their parents. Conversely, many children turn away, despite attending church and hearing the Word preached, because they didn’t see it lived out in their parents’ lives. Parents must both share their faith and live it out in front of their children.

As we consider this, it is good to remember the story of the demoniac, whom Christ healed. After his healing, he asked to follow Christ, but instead, Christ called him to stay where he was and share with others what God had done (Lk 8:39). There is power in our testimonies, and therefore we should tell them often. Psalm 107:2 (NIV) says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story…” Revelation 12:11 describes how believers in the end times defeat the devil “by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Are you sharing your testimony with others? They need to hear it to defeat the devil and find encouragement in their own spiritual lives. Also, we need to make it a habit to recount God’s faithfulness for our own spiritual good because it is so easy for us to forget his faithfulness.

The importance of sharing our testimonies should encourage us to practice disciplines like journaling and collecting keepsakes to help us remember God’s faithfulness. Israel remembered God’s faithfulness by putting leftover manna in the ark (Ex 16:33), by collecting rocks from the Jordan river after God parted it (Josh 4), and also by writing songs (like the Song of Moses—written after Israel crossed the Red Sea in Exodus 15). These disciplines helped them remember God’s faithfulness and pass their faith on to their children.

Application Question: In what ways have you been blessed by the testimonies of others? Why is it so important to share our testimonies? Have you ever benefited from disciplines like journaling, collecting keepsakes, writing poetry, to help you remember God’s blessings? Share a quick story of how God redeemed you—set you free and used bad for good in your life.

To Bless Our Children, We Must Pray for Them and Their Children

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.” So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked— the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm— bless these boys. May my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”

Genesis 48:8-16

In Genesis 48:15, it says Jacob “blessed Joseph”; however, Jacob’s prayer was primarily about Joseph’s children. Likewise, one of the greatest ways we can bless our children is by blessing their children. Certainly, this is true when grandparents partner with the parents in discipling and raising the children. But it’s also true when grandparents (or future grandparents) pray for their future children’s children. When Jacob prayed for his two grandsons and his twelve sons, he ultimately prayed for their lineage—children that were, as yet, unborn.

Parents should regularly pray for their children—asking God to save them, train them, and use them for the kingdom. They should pray for God to prepare godly spouses for them, for God to raise up godly mentors and friends who will impact them positively. But also, parents should pray for their children’s children (even before they are conceived). God is not bound by time and, therefore, can answer prayers for decades and centuries into the future. Before Christ went to the cross, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe through them (John 17). He was praying for us over 2000 years ago. Similarly, we should pray for our children and the generations who will come through them, including spiritual children. God delights to bless family lines. Exodus 20:6 says, he shows “covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Application Question: Why is it important for parents to pray for their children and their children’s children? If you are a parent (or future parent), how do you pray for your children (or future children)? How should the fact that God covenants with a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments affect us (Ex 20:6)?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Accept God’s Unique Path for Them and Encourage Them in It

When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you will Israel bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

Genesis 48:17-20

When Joseph brought his children to Jacob, whose eyesight apparently was very bad (like his father, Isaac, before him), he positioned the oldest, Manasseh, towards Jacob’s right hand—the hand representing his strength—and the youngest, Ephraim, towards Jacob’s left hand. Then as Jacob prayed, he switched his hands—representing special favor over the youngest. When Joseph noticed this, he was bothered and tried to switch Jacob’s hands—saying, “Not so, my father, for this [Manasseh] is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head” (48:18). Joseph had been preparing Manasseh for the right of first-born. He was to be the son of privilege, who would one day receive the double-portion. However, Jacob said that the youngest, Ephraim, would become greater than Manasseh. In fact, the tribe of Ephraim eventually became so large, the name was used synonymously for the Northern Kingdom—the ten northern tribes of Israel. Throughout the patriarchs’ story, we have seen several reversals: Isaac was chosen over Ishmael, Jacob was chosen over Esau, Joseph was chosen over the older brothers, and now Ephraim was chosen over Manasseh. This shows God’s sovereign right to choose for his own purposes, apart from man’s effort or choice. In Romans 9:11-13, Paul makes an argument for election based on God choosing Jacob over Esau.

But there is another lesson here, which applies more directly to our parenting: Like Joseph, often parents have their own plans for their children, which sometimes conflict with God’s plan. Parents must realize that their children are not ultimately theirs. They are God’s. Therefore, as parents, we must help our children discern God’s purpose and plan for their lives and not what the world says or what we prefer.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” “In the way that he should go” can also be translated as “his way” or “his bend.” The word “way” comes from a Hebrew verb used of a bow launching an arrow. When a person shoots an arrow, the tension must align with the natural bend in the bow or it will break. This is also true in raising children.

Some parents damage their children by forcing them into a way God didn’t wire them for. They may do this by pushing their children into specific career fields, such as the medical field, engineering, athletics, or music, even though the children show no aptitude or passion in those areas. God gives us children who are already uploaded with a unique and specific program, just like a computer. We can’t use software uniquely made for an Apple with a PC. It’s the same with children. Some will be wired towards arts, technology, or serving ministries. It is the job of parents to get to know the way God wired their children so they can encourage them in those areas.

As we get to know their unique wirings and giftings, we must affirm them. With Judah, Jacob calls him a “lion,” which was fitting (49:9). As the lion is considered the king of the jungle, Judah was a leader. He used his leadership gifting for evil, as he encouraged the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, but after he had matured, he used his leadership gifting for good, to get Jacob to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt with them so they wouldn’t die during the famine. While in Egypt, Judah offered his life for Benjamin’s, when Benjamin faced potential enslavement. He was truly like a lion—a gifted leader. With Naphtali, he spoke “delightful words” (49:21). Perhaps Naphtali was gifted at singing or writing poetry, and his descendants would be as well. With Joseph, he called him a “fruitful bough” (49:22)—everything he did prospered. Jacob not only affirmed the favor on Joseph’s life but rewarded him for his godly character and faithful stewardship of his gifts—including giving him the right of firstborn and a mountain slope in Canaan (48:22). As we discern our children’s gifts and interests, we must affirm those gifts, help guide them to paths where they can develop and use them for God’s glory, and at times, reward them for their faithfulness as encouragement.

With Manasseh and Ephraim, God had a different plan for them than he did for Joseph. As Joseph discerned God’s plan, he had to accept it and help his sons walk in it. We must do the same with our children, lest we discourage them and hinder God’s purposes for their lives.

Application Question: How can parents help their children discern their unique gifts and paths? Why is it so common for parents to actually fight against God’s unique path for their children?

To Bless Our Children, We Must Discipline Them and Help Them Become Disciplined

Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power. You are destructive like water and will not excel, for you got on your father’s bed, then you defiled it—he got on my couch! Simeon and Levi are brothers, weapons of violence are their knives! O my soul, do not come into their council, do not be united to their assembly, my heart, for in their anger they have killed men, and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their fury, for it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel!

Genesis 49:1-7

When Jacob spoke of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, they didn’t receive any blessings. They essentially received curses. Reuben slept with Jacob’s wife and therefore didn’t receive the right of first-born (49:4). Simeon and Levi, though the next oldest didn’t receive it either. They murdered a whole village of men. Jacob said that they would be scattered throughout Israel (49:7). When Israel received their land allotments, Simeon was so small, he received his portion as part of Judah’s (Josh 19:9). Levi received no land allotments at all—only cities within the other tribes’ lands (Josh 14:4).

These three sons lost their blessings because they succumbed to undisciplined urges. Reuben struggled with lust, and Simeon and Levi struggled with anger. The descendants of Levi also struggled with anger, as seen in the example of Moses. Why was Moses initially kept from leading Israel? He became angry and killed an Egyptian. Why was he kept out of the promised land? He became angry at Israel and smote a rock, in disobedience to God. Often, whatever we struggle with is passed on to our children and their children.

As parents, our job is to discipline our children so they can learn to discipline themselves. Proverbs 13:24 says, “The one who spares his rod hates his child, but the one who loves his child is diligent in disciplining him.” When parents don’t discipline their children—promptly, without anger, and fairly—it leads them to lack self-discipline. They may struggle with anger, lust, lying, laziness, or other vices. These sins may ultimately keep them from God’s blessing.

Therefore, like Jacob, we must train up our children so they can become disciplined and walk in God’s blessing. With the tribe of Levi, because of their repentance, they turned their curse into a blessing. During Israel’s wilderness journeys, individuals in the tribe were noted for their zeal for God. Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas came out of Levi. When Phinehas disciplined a man for rebelling against God, God promised that his children would have a permanent priesthood (cf. Num 25:10-13). In fact, God called the entire tribe of Levi to oversee the temple, the sacrifices, and the instruction of Israel. Because they were scattered throughout the tribes, God used them to bless the entire nation, as they ministered to all the tribes. If we are going to bless our children, we must discipline them, teaching them to repent of sins so they can faithfully serve the kingdom.

Since parents ultimately represent the heavenly Father (cf. Rom 13:1), we must use his discipline as our model. Hebrews 12:5-6 (NIV) says: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” The passage describes two aspects of God’s discipline—rebuke and chastening. Through his Word, God rebukes us by telling us what’s wrong (often spoken by others). He also chastens us, which basically means whips or scourges. God chastens us through trials—sometimes these trials are needed to specifically help us obey the commands God already taught us. Parents should use both means as well. Our primary discipline is communication: teaching, instructing, and correcting. When children don’t listen to our correction, we use stronger methods like corporal punishment. In Proverbs, this is often symbolized by “the rod” (Prov 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15). The book of Proverbs is really about parents instructing their children and helping them become wise. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; even if you strike him with the rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will deliver him from death.” If we don’t appropriately train our children, it hurts them and potentially generations after them.

Application Question: Why is it so important to discipline our children? What types of discipline did your parents use on you? What are some principles that parents can employ to help them discipline their children appropriately instead of excessively/abusively?

Conclusion

How can we help our children walk in God’s blessing?

  1. To Bless Our Children, We Must Encourage Their Interaction with Mature Believers
  2. To Bless Our Children, We Must Give Them a Vision of God’s Kingdom
  3. To Bless Our Children, We Must Share Our Faith Stories with Them
  4. To Bless Our Children, We Must Pray for Them and Their Children
  5. To Bless Our Children, We Must Accept God’s Unique Path for Them and Encourage Them in It
  6. To Bless Our Children, We Must Discipline Them and Help Them Become Disciplined

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

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