It has little to do with academics. The three ‘R’s of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic may never be discussed. Scheduling is variable, sometimes nonexistent, curriculum often ignored, college degrees are irrelevant, and lesson prep is the furthest thing from your mind. Nevertheless,
You are a homeschooler. Every parent is.
When one discusses a child’s education, questions like the following are asked: …Should we put him or her in a Christian school? Can we afford it? Or can we manage to educate them at home? Will we send them to public school? If homeschooling is even considered, we assume that the decision we are making is whether or not to educate our children, rather than the state, or the Christian school. But I am convinced this is no decision at all—rather, it’s already been made by God.
The God who knew your children before you knew they existed planned from the beginning to place them in your home. He made you their first and most important teacher.
How does a child in Japan learn Japanese? How does a person first grasp his culture? How does he form his habits? Where are these things learned, and how are his mannerisms and worldview most profoundly affected?
Whether or not a child is sent to school to master language, or science, or mathematics, it is the parents who lay the foundation upon which the child will learn everything. By God’s design it is the home that determines the context in which all other education is placed.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God spoke to His people:
“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and on thy gates.”
When these words in Deuteronomy were recorded by Moses, it was not the title, “the Lord” that he wrote down, but the actual Name of God. They were to invoke Him—to call upon His unique Name. It was not only His Oneness, but His particular identity, His holy singularity, that set Him apart. And sharing His identity with His people set them apart, being called by His Name.
God’s focus was not academics; it was identity. It was the atmosphere in which a child was to learn. It was context.
In the centuries following Moses, “Adonai,” Hebrew for “Lord,” replaced the original Name of God. Rather than call upon His name in everything they did—rising up, lying down, sitting in their house—they ceased to speak His name at all. Accurate pronunciation was lost. Then, when they would have wanted to call on Him—to bring His presence into the atmosphere of the home—they no longer knew how. The people who were supposed to do all in His Name, whose identity was to be melded with His—could only refer to a shadow of their past relationship, calling Him “the Lord.” Today, even “Adonai” is often replaced with “HaShem,” or “the Name.” There is a division between the people and their God. What was left when His Name was unknown was empty ritual, remnants of an intimate connection that had been lost.
Today, we of the New Testament church who know Jesus by Name, who once were afar off but are now “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” reconciled to Him, baptized into Him, can have no lesser conviction but to apply that Name to everything we do, especially when and where our children are present, watching, and absorbing this ‘Jesus culture.’
Note the particular activities listed in Deuteronomy 6:7. We are to teach our children diligently of this God while sitting in our house, walking ‘by the way,’ when lying down and rising up, leaving or entering the house. Most of these examples happen at home, and all with the parent present, whether or not the child leaves for a time to be educated academically in a state- or church-run institution.
The words of His law and His Name are to be constantly present in our minds, mouths, and actions, it is as if they are visibly written on our foreheads and bound on our hands. It is to be so obvious that it may as well be written on our doorposts that “Jesus lives here.”
In Leviticus 6:8-13, God makes it clear that an evening and morning sacrifice are to be offered without fail, never to go out, preserving the fire that God Himself ignited (Lev 9:24). Evening, “when thou liest down” and morning, “when thou risest up.” It is that faithful response, the hallowed offering of the day, lifted in thanksgiving to the God who presented us with the present, and to whom we owe every moment.
When the child asks, “Why all these statutes? What do they mean?” God answers in Deuteronomy 6:20-25:
“Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharoah’s bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharoah, and upon all his household, before our eyes: And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”
Why do we teach our children diligently? Because it is our testimony by which we—and our children—will overcome. Because He brought us out, so He could bring us in. Because these words, these laws, this Truth, are our righteousness. They are for our good. Because learning begins with the fear of the Lord. Because we are not citizens here, and this is not our culture. We are citizens of that City whose builder and maker is God.
What we are teaching has little to do with mathematics, or science, or technology, or history—though God is visible in and glorified by all these things. It is the Identity we are defining, whose image in which they were born, and whose visage they mirror. It is He who gives them breath, and life, and sets their boundaries. It is He whose breath gives them life.
They will not hear these words at public school, nor even Sunday school–nor will they settle so deeply within the soul unless it is the parent who is there with the child, waking and lying down, sitting in the house, walking by the way. This is the atmosphere in which the Truth of the God who IS can be most affecting for the child whose parents know well enough to be heard praying for him to the God who is There.
It is identity.
It is context, into which every other lesson or learning experience is placed.
It is treasure invested. The parent’s most valuable possession planted in the heir.
It is soil cultivated and seed sown to bring harvest in a generation the parent will never see, if the Lord tarries.
It is protection and defense against the onslaught of the enemy for days when the child will have to fight alone.
It is the singular offensive weapon named in Ephesians 6, placed sharp in the child’s hand, trained for war, trained to sharpen and protect and preserve the double-edge.
Everyone is a homeschooler.
You are a homeschooler.
Yes, we’re inadequate. But God literally gives us the Script, and encourages us to memorize it. Not easy, no. But simple, critical, and guaranteed to work.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thess 5:24)
(Author’s note: this article first appeared in the Apostolic Witness, August 2014. )