The Persians wanted to destroy the Jews; today the Persians want to destroy the state of the Jews. Same peoples, same tired story line.
Throughout the generations, men like Haman, Herod, Hitler and Hussein have planned to annihilate the Jewish people. But God will not allow His people to be destroyed nor His purpose for them to be thwarted.
Purim, the Feast of Lots, is observed on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar (February-March). This is a celebration of the deliverance of the Persian Jews over one of the most dastardly plots in history to exterminate the Jewish people.
The book of Esther in the Old Testament tells the story of how the beautiful Jewish woman Esther (Hadassah) and her cousin Mordecai thwarted the evil Haman, who plotted to massacre the Jews.
The book of Esther has been referred to as “a monument in the history of anti-Semitism.” The anti-Semitism shown in the book of Esther is religiously based. The anti-Semitism shown in later Hellenistic-Roman literature through today is purely ethnic hatred. The Jewish people have faced elimination as a group many times through ancient, medieval, and modern societies.
They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance (Ps 83:4).
Imagine a Parallel
Think about how you would feel if a similar situation would happen to Christians in America today. What if the nation decided all Christians should be destroyed just because there are a certain people scattered around the country who keep laws other than the state laws, and they are separate from most of the rest of the people because of their radical religious beliefs (Esther 3:8). What if they were persecuted because they remain a different, distinct group, with morals and values that do not line up with the world’s standards? But not just persecuted—what if the entire group received the death sentence? Maybe it would wake up some worldly-leaning Christians!
Covenant and Promise
Purim is a story of when the Jews lived outside the land of Israel. The Jews are the people chosen to live in the Promised Land. It was God’s land, and he chose one people to live in it to the exclusion of all others. Displacement from the land was punishment for sins, a jail sentence. The Bible explains that when the Jews failed to keep God’s commands and betrayed the covenant, He sent them out of the land. I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth …And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers (Jer. 24:9-10). The Jews’ restoration to the land is a sign that God kept His promise. The covenant of the Promised Land is still valid.
Kit for Bible Journaling Digitally
The name Feast of Lots came from the day that was chosen for the Jews to die by way of lottery. It is interesting to note that the word pur is not Hebrew, but Persian. Thus the Torah, when mentioning it, translates into Hebrew: “Pur: That is, the goral (lot).” All other festivals, including Chanukah (another post-Mosaic holiday) have Hebrew names.
While God’s name never appears directly in Esther, it does appear in acrostic form in Esther 5:4. It is the first letter of each of four successive words – yod hay vav hay, YHWH. This is the only book of the Bible that does not directly contain God’s name. There is no doubt, though, that God was clearly in charge behind the scenes!
What does it mean to teach biblically? Hebraically? The entire Bible is a Hebrew book, not just the OT. The Hebrews have always placed God’s Word at the center of their education. Modern religious Jews (especially Hasidic Jews) continue to focus on God’s Word.
The book The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, is an absorbing novel about two Jewish boys, Reuven and Daniel, which takes place in New York in the late 1940s just after World War II. It’s a deep, heartfelt novel about the struggles of overcoming religious differences, with several lessons on Jewish history and traditions skillfully woven in along the way.
The novel begins with Danny and Reuven as high-school boys and concludes with their graduation from college. God’s Word was consistently the priority in the boys’ education. Throughout the book, both boys regularly studied the Torah with their fathers, especially on the Shabbat, usually for several hours at a time. Once they entered college, they studied the Torah from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then they began academic studies at 3:15 p.m. to 6 or 7 p.m.!
What a lesson in priorities—and what a story of fruit! The Hebrew education method of diligent Bible-focused study has been passed down over thousands of years. The unbelieving Jews don’t have the Messiah nor the Holy Spirit, but they focus their study on God’s Word. Compare this fruit with the fruit from the classical Greek methods used in Christianity.
How many hours a day do we devote to God’s Word?
The American Jewish community is famous for academic attainment. Twenty to forty percent of students at Ivy League schools are Jewish.13 In the 20th century, Jews, more than any other minority, ethnic or cultural, have been recipients of the Nobel Prize, with almost one-fifth of all Nobel laureates being Jewish. Twenty-two percent of Nobel Prizes in all categories awarded between 1901–2003 were Jewish. This is an astonishing percentage for a group of people who add up only a twenty-fourth of one percent of the world’s population! 14
There is no shortcut method to a sound education. If spiritual training is to be a priority in your children’s education, you will be required to make a major commitment of your time and your resources. As the psalmist wrote: His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:2). Although ancient Israel had no formal system of schooling, learning and knowledge were considered the greatest goals in life—parents today would be wise to make the spiritual education of their children just as high a priority.
So strongly did the early rabbis feel about the priority of education that they said it should not be interrupted, even for the rebuilding of the Temple. Israel was to acknowledge the Lord’s authority in every circumstance and turn of the way (see Psalm 16:8 and Proverbs 3:5–6). The ultimate prophetic vision in the Bible was that all peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other (1 Kings 8:60).15
Dwight Pryor explains the Hebrew’s view of learning for life:
Shortly before his death, the exemplar Moses reminded Israel that the Torah’s guidance and instruction are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live… (Deuteronomy 32:47). To study God’s Word so as to obey it was the greatest joy and chief duty of any son of Abraham. Study was supremely important because Torah (teaching) was supernaturally given. The process of diligently engaging and wrestling with the sacred text enlivened and sanctified all of one’s existence. Learning was for life and life was for learning…. Study leading to obedience was an act of devotion that engaged the whole person—heart, soul, mind and might—not just the intellect.12
Methods of instruction were largely by repetition; the Hebrew verb “repeat,” came to mean both “learn” and “teach.” Mnemonic devices such as acrostics were therefore employed. Scripture was the textbook, but that other books were not unknown is evidenced by Ecclesiastes 12:12. The value of rebuke was known (Proverbs 17:10), and an emphasis on corporal chastisement is to be found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, but discipline was much milder in Mishnaic times.
Until comparatively late times, it was customary for the pupil to sit on the ground at his teacher’s feet, as did Paul at Gamaliel’s (Acts 22:3). The bench was a later invention.
Jewish education’s whole function was to make the Jew holy and separate from his neighbors, and to transform the religious into the practical. Such, then, was normal Jewish education; but undoubtedly there were schools after a Greek pattern, especially in the closing centuries b.c., and indeed Ecclesiastes may have been written to combat deficiencies in such non-Jewish instruction. Hellenistic schools were found even in Palestine, but of course more frequently among Jewish communities elsewhere, notably in Alexandria.
In the infant church, child and parent were told how to behave towards one another (Ephesians 6:1, 4). Church officers had to know how to rule their own children. There were no Christian schools in early days; for one thing, the church was too poor to finance them. But the children were included in the church fellowship, and doubtless received their training there as well as in the home.
The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach explains the Hebraic education methods. The Bible outlines how we should teach our children. The Hebraic aim of education was ethical and religious. Study is a form of worship. The method ois a f instruction in the home was oral, and learning was accomplished by practice. The Hebrew taught no distinction between sacred and secular areas of life. Every detail of life, therefore, must be set aside and consecrated to the glory of God (the opposite of today’s popular Greek approach).
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165
Do we love His law?” One cannot love what one does not know. A person cannot do or understand what he has never learned. We are commanded to learn law (the Torah, scriptures or Bible) day and night and to teach it to our children—we can attempt to do so by attending church and homeschooling (a good start).
We need to know the Word of God. Not skim it, not as something tacked on but as the focus of life. This requires repeated reading. You cannot learn what the Bible has to say by reading it through once. This must be repeated daily.
Our purpose should be to know God and encourage our children (and grandchildren) to LOVE the law–for God’s Word to be in us. We must seek Him through His Word—not on a surface level—but digging through Scripture seeking God’s way–seeking the Truth. We need to turn off the television. Our generation is being robbed of great opportunities to learn the truth by the continual flood of television.
Seek God daily FIRST and diligently. By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
The goal of learning God’s Word is never to be better than another—it is to know Him. I wrote “The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach” to explain what I have learned after a lot of trial and error—the importance of seeking God first daily—never to rely on man’s teachings but lean on the Holy Spirit’s leading. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding. Proverbs 9:10.
It’s not enough to attend church and avoid the appearance of evil. God, in this world, has appointed wisdom to the structure, method and goal of our learning. It is not enough to simply borrow a curriculum and sprinkle it with Christian words.
Wisdom is far above any other goals. When we and our children REALLY love the law we will not stumble —but first we need to know it—not just know of it–not just a introduction to it or an overview—know it—have it written on our hearts.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1–2).
Renew your mind with His Word—humbly, not pridefully—to know Him. When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. Pro 11:2
My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:21–24—Beautiful! Read it again! “Life for your soul.”
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119
Let’s turn off the televisions and let God’s Word minister to our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Every year I receive many, many emails from nervous, anxious, frustrated mothers trying to make decisions about the year’s new homeschool plans.
Some are deciding to homeschool, some are deciding on teaching approaches, some are deciding on curriculum. The common thread is fear of making the wrong decision.
Putting Things In Perspective
Dear Ones, I would like to help you put things in perspective.
What if, in one day you lost your health? You were 100% disabled and unable to care for your family and home? What if during this time you had to decide on your husband taking on a new job, moving to another state, selling your home and depending on someone to buy you a new home all while you are disabled? How would you feel? What would you do? I believe I know my readers well enough that you would answer “I would pray and seek God.”
During a crisis it is easy to call out to God because we can’t rely on ourselves. But God wants us to call out to Him in all decisions – especially homeschool decisions! Of course, God cares what you teach your children. He wants you to come to Him and to have faith that He will lead you.
But My Mind is Like Spaghetti!
Many of you know I had open-heart surgery. In this time we have been tried and tested and had to make many major decisions due to our new circumstances. My husband described my mental condition when he said, “My mind feels like spaghetti!”
I was able to put my situation in perspective when I heard of a woman undergoing an operation for brain cancer. When I heard the details of her circumstances my heart surgery seemed like a splinter.
It is easy for Christians to slip into anxiousness in any circumstances when we rely on ourselves. Being anxious is normal to the world, but we have a command from God:
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Phil 4:6)
We should not be anxious because our decisions should not rely on our limited abilities but on God’s unlimited abilities. We cannot begin to build a faith-based life until we accept God’s way as the only way in every circumstance. He honors our desire to make wise and biblically sound decisions. When we commit our decision-making to Him in prayer, He reveals the correct course. It’s that simple, no matter how big or small the decision.
Trusting God to make our decisions does not mean faith is passive. The Hebrew word for faith is emunah. It means faithfulness, persistent determination, holding steady, holding firm, holding true to what is true: the faithfulness of God. Our readiness to fully devote our life to the service of God and sacrifice our life for the sake of God is the expression of our emunah in God.
Hebrews 11 , the faith chapter, shows an action following every mention of faith. Our first task is to go to God in prayer and ask Him to lead us. Then, we must consciously decide to trust Him for an answer and wait with assurance and anticipation that He will follow through on His promises and then walk forward in faith that our course is the right one. But, we have to lean on Him who knows the end from the beginning. He knows which path is right. He knows which course will lead us to His will.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5)
Making Informed Decisions
Jesus explains we are to find out the facts before we make decisions. ‘
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’
Study the pros and cons of any decision in your own mind, talk to your spouse. Listen to the Lord’s leading. He promises to guide you. Then, pray again to affirm your decision.
One Step at a Time
You don’t need to see months down the road. You only need to make one step at a time. God’s promises give you the light you need to guide you, just as He guided the Israelites out of Egypt. Don’t grumble and complain – just follow. Get alone with God and pour out your request to Him until you receive the calm assurance that you’ve made the right decision. Trust Him wholly. Don’t let doubts and fears drive you back to bondage.
We allow circumstances to become overwhelming when we take our eyes off Christ and slip into “what ifs.” But there is a peace when we seek God. Pray for wisdom, see your God leading you in all your ways, take one step at a time, fully trusting He will provide all your needs in His timing.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8).
After you pray, listen closely for any feelings you may have. If you have feelings of peace, excitement, happiness or joy afterwards, then you know you’ve made the correct decision as long as it lines up with Scripture (God will NEVER answer prayer with something that does not line up with the Bible). If you feel confused, depressed, unsure, uneasy or disturbed, you know it’s not the right decision. God will lead.
Our heavenly Father has told us to ask and we shall receive, seek and we shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto us. Don’t lean on your own understanding when a confirmation of your decisions is so easy to obtain. Ask God in faith, nothing wavering and you can go forward in confidence that your choices are right.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Matthew 6:31-34
Remember to prepare for eternity–not for one semester.
Then I hung the Bible of the Bible Wall Chart-(From Amazon) above the timeline and attached strings from to the Bible stories to show where the story can be found in the Bible.
I am addicted to my timeline. I can’t tell a Bible story without showing the children when the even occurred. We use sticky notes to make area not listed on the timeline. The boys get pretty creative with drawing of wicked kings. LOL
You can get the Giant Bible Time Line at Amazon for about $15.00. It is sturdy (not laminated) and 10 feet long but comes in 4 sections so if your wall space is limited you can stack it.
In Anders book you’ll find helpful icons that will give inspiration for title page illustrations. It helps you learn to position key Bible characters, places, and events in chronological order so that you can “think your way through” the entire Word of God.
Your children and you will learn as you divide the notebook into the 12 eras of Biblical History. Thorough each era will focus on main events, main people, and geography. Divide sections with index dividers or colored paper dividers, and make a title page for each section. Make a table similar to the one below to show the contents in each section.
I purchased a TN timeline at a local teacher store. I added index cards citing important world events during the same periods.
This is a little tip that can make a huge impact on your Bible time. This morning I wanted to make a page on Romans 12 “Cling to What is Good” As I made this page I listened to the book of Romans on Youtube. I love it!. I listened to the entire book.
Studies show that seventy percent of children do NOT learn well in the way the schools teach-lecture/ textbook/ test–most students need more.
Learning styles researchers state there are 4 identifiable learners. The four-step lesson cycle is a way to teach to all four learning styles. It does not isolate one type of learning but, instead, teaches in all four ways so that students relate to the subject in the way that is the most comfortable for them, and improves their ability to learn in other ways as well.
Type 1: Creative Learners are people-people. They need to know how the material relates to their lives in a personal way. This type of learner does well with praise and feedback.
Type 2: Analytic Learners are interested in finding out facts. This type of learner does well in school with the lecture/study/test methods. Most children need more.
Type 3:Practical Learners are curious about how things work; ninety-five percent of engineers tested are Type-3 learners. They perceive things concretely and process actively.
Type 4: Influential Learners are self-taught learners. They need to find ways to use the material in life.
Public schools teach for the needs of the Type-2 Analytic Learner, but studies show that seventy percent of children need more. The Heart of Wisdom curriculum incorporates a four-step learning cycle in every lesson so that at some time during the lesson each learning style is addressed. Each lesson contains a section that will appeal to each type of learner. Each student is motivated by feeling comfortable in one of the steps as well as being challenged to be involved in the other steps.
Christians should be cautious when studying learning-style theories. As with other truths, nonbelievers take a discovery, as the secular world often does, and distort the principles to fit their secular worldview. New Age religion and humanistic psychology take things like learning differences and brain dominance and use them as an excuse for sin. The pagans of ancient Greece recognized the principle of personality differences and then proceeded to label different personalities to fit their pagan beliefs.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are responsible for most of the psychological teachings of the four personality types. Not only were both men unbelievers, they were anti-Christian. The humanistic psychology that is creeping into our churches today is not in line with biblical principles, is not of God, and is ultimately destructive. Any time that psychology or the names Freud or Jung come into play, a red flag should wave.
This does not mean we must shun useful inventions because nonbelievers discovered them, just as we would not discount inventions such as the automobile or eyeglasses, which we use every day. It simply means that caution should be exercised and all things should be checked against Scripture for ways they can be used to accomplish God’s will.
The Bible describes how different people are given different gifts and talents. Anything you read about learning styles should line up with God’s Word and never be used as an excuse for sin or shortcomings. They should not be used to categorize or label. They should be used to realize the benefits of teaching new concepts through different modes of learning and to help children who are having difficulty grasping or retaining information. In fact, we should not teach exclusively to any one particular learning style–else the student would only learn in one mode. We need to teach children to recognize their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.
The fact is that people have different preferences in all areas of life. Some of us like broccoli, and some of us like spinach. Some of us prefer red, and some prefer blue. Some of us prefer discussion and interaction, and some prefer to be quiet and alone. And of course, in different stages of life, we change, and our preferences can change. The task for educators is to prove this to students, so they will understand the importance of every learning mode in preparing them for the unforeseen and ever-changing patterns of their lives.
Different Gifts and Talents
The most important thing to know about learning styles is that no one style is any better than another. We all have different intellectual strengths. No one fits into a box; we are all unique individuals created by God. Each of us is a combination of the four types, more or less in one or two categories.
The Bible teaches that we are all different parts of the body of Christ and one part is no better than another part.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body [were] an eye, where [would be] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [would be] the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where [would be] the body? But now [they are] many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness. For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members shouldhave the same care one for another (1 Corinthians 12:12-25).
Left Brain/Right Brain
In the last 20 years, neurosurgeons have discovered that each of the two hemispheres of the brain is responsible for different modes of thinking and specializes in certain skills. Studies reveal that the left brain is mostly responsible for logic, sequence, and rational thinking. The right brain is mostly responsible for random, unordered, and intuitive creativity. A student’s age, home environment and background are also factors in determining which hemisphere of the brain he or she will use more.
Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic
There are many ways to categorize learning styles. Most of us are familiar with the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels of learning. Visual learners prefer to learn by seeing and watching demonstrations. Auditory learners prefer to learn through verbal instructions from others or themselves. Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by direct involvement and doing things with what they are learning.
While we are teaching our children to study, research, and write, we need to remember that they are establishing and perfecting tools that they will one day use to God’s glory, depending on their unique, individual talents.
Homeschoolers sometimes get so wrapped up in academics they forget the one needful thing.
Martha was very busy with preparations as Mary sat at the feet of Christ. When Martha complained about Mary, Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40–42).
Only One Thing is Necessary!
The lesson is simple: only one thing is truly necessary. Everything else that does not promote that one thing is extra. A willingness to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word is the most important thing we can ever teach our children. Sensible Martha had many accomplishments, but worry and trouble were her rewards. Mary, on the other hand, was praised for choosing that good thing which was itself her reward and which would not be taken away from her.
Martha’s preparation work was not wrong; in fact, it was important. It was Martha’s focus that was wrong. It is your focus that makes the difference. Social achievement, which the world stresses so much, is important; but it is nothing without Christ.
“But what about academics—math, language arts, history, and science?” Of course these things matter, but only as they sharpen your focus on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Academic subjects are important tools, but they are only tools, not the goal. The moment academics cloud your view, to whatever degree they slow your pursuit of God’s will, they then move from being helpful tools to what Jesus calls “cares of this life.”
Do Not Let the Important Keep You from the Necessary
Do not let the important keep you from the necessary. And, in Jesus’ words, only one thing is truly necessary. It is a message both simple and profound: simple because the truth of it is not complicated, but perfectly evident, and profound because the truth in everyday life cuts across everything that habit and fleshly indulgence have trained us to accept as important or even necessary. A godly person who is determined to know Jesus above all else will find all academic studies based in the simple reality of all things work(ing) together for good to them who love God and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Homeschoolers are blessed with time to study God’s Word. Take the time to set strivings and anxieties aside . Discover and understand who Christ is. Sit at His feet and feast at the table of His mercy, forgiveness, and peace. Learn the unseen things of God. The spiritual life is that good part, which shall not be taken away from you! Or from your children!
True wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. If you really want to teach true wisdom, spend a significant amount of your homeschool time studying and teaching God’s Word. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
How Should We Teach Our Children?With Object Lessons
The Bible’s object lessons provide the answers to mankind’s fundamental questions about life. Jesus’ entire life, teaching, death and resurrection are all object lessons.
As a teacher it is your responsibility to know God’s Word well enough to teach these types of lessons to your children, not only during daily Bible study but by seizing teachable moments throughout the day.
God teaches through object lessons. God commanded His children to put up stones as a reminder in Joshua 4.
The stones were specifically put up in order to prompt children’s questions. When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? The parent’s response is to explain what God has done for them. The lesson is that God cares for His people and provides for them.
And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.—Joshua 4:20–5:1.
We need reminders and we need to remind our children. The Hebrews have a tradition of placing a mezuzah on the doorpost of their homes (Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and 11:13–21). It is customary, upon entering or leaving a residence, to touch the mezuzah. This reverence acknowledges belief in the shema: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. In Jewish tradition teachers introduced letters of the alphabet on a slate covered with honey; the child then licked the slate so that the words of the Scriptures might taste as sweet as honey.
In Numbers 15:28 God told His people to wear tassels or fringes on the four corners of their garments to remind them of God’s commandments. Speak to the Israelites and say to them:
“Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.”
Today, many Jews wear a prayer shawl, or tallit to fulfill this commandment. It has fringes called tzitzit which are tied to its four corners; the tassels are tied into knots, as a reminder of all 613 of the laws of Moses (248 prohibitions and 365 positive commands). The numerical value of the letters of the word tzitzit is 600; there are eight threads in each fringe, and five knots; add these all up and you get 613. The shawl is often worn in religious services.
Reminders are a form of teaching. Some people wear a mustard seed pendant as a reminder of Jesus’ words, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:20).
The rainbow is a reminder of God’s covenant with Noah. I have a friend who uses each shirt she irons as a reminder to pray for that family member. I have another friend who uses the days of the week as a reminder to pray for a specific grandchild. I use the photographs on my refrigerator, dresser, and fireplace mantle as reminders to pray for our twelve grandchildren (I go through the list by chronological age and occasionally reverse the order to make sure every child receives equal time).
The superstition of walking under a ladder being considered bad luck actually began as a reminder of God because medieval theologians suggested that a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle and, therefore, is a symbolic reminder of the Holy Trinity.
Learning from God’s Creation
In this century, most Americans don’t have much interaction with God’s creation. Our forefathers worked the soil, took care of animals, depended on the weather and interacted daily with the natural elements.
Psalm 23 is more meaningful to a sheep farmer because he understands the profound and insightful parallels of the role of the shepherd in the lives of sheep—as a leader, comforter, caregiver, provider, guardian, and owner—to Jesus’ role in the life of the believer.
Vine and Branches
John 15 records one of Jesus’ last messages to His disciples before His death. He chose a vine and branches to show us the way to a life of fruitfulness. My family’s interaction with vineyards is limited, so I’ve attempted use the dйcor of my house as a reminder, like the stones in Joshua. Our home is decorated with rich colors from the vineyard—deep purple, burgundy, and assorted shades of green. My kitchen and dining area are decorated with a vineyard theme.
Drying the dishes with grapevine-decorated dish towels, or setting the table with grapevine decorated dinnerware are prompts for several Bible lessons. The dependence of the branch on the grapevine is a model of our relationship with Christ. The vineyard reminds us that we must stay in Jesus to bring forth good fruit. If we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love. As we abide in Jesus we see more and more of Him and grow more and more like Him. Our job is simply to remain. To remain is to hold fast and stay in loving obedience. We are not just staying with Him, standing nearby, watching what is going on—we are connected to Him, grafted into Him. Our identity and existence are bound up in Him.
Israel is also God’s vine or vineyard; see Isaiah 5:1–7, 27:2–6; Jeremiah 2:21, 12:10; Ezekiel 17:5–6; Hosea 10:1; Joel 1:7; and Psalm 80:8–16. The word vine is used to describe both the Jewish people and its Messiah, and reinforces the close identification of Jesus with Israel (Matthew 2:15). God’s remnant, the Hebrews and grafted-in Gentile Christian branches (Romans 9:6ff., 11:1–10, 17–24) will obey God’s commands, stay attached to the true vine, and have the true vine’s power and strength to bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:16–19).
Sowing and Reaping
The law of sowing and reaping teaches that a successful harvest must be preceded by timely planting and ongoing care (watering, weeding, etc.). A similar principle applies in our lives: things we value take time and maintenance. There’s no quick fix for healthy, lasting, relationships in a marriage, family or elsewhere. If we neglect them now, we can’t expect positive results later.
In any living vine the function of a branch is to bear fruit, but it cannot fulfill its purpose unless it remains in intimate connection with the vine. Without that cherished “remain in Me” relationship, it will never fulfill the purpose for which it was created. The Christian who fails to remain in the Vine is as unfulfilled as that of a branch that has been torn from the vine, with no prospect for fruit bearing. There are many more such lessons but I’ll save them for the Plants unit study. When we are aware of teaching moments, these are the types of lessons that should be taught through out the day.
The Bible is Full of these Object Lessons
Jeremiah spoke of honey jars in his object lesson about the destruction of the nation of Judah (Jeremiah 19:1, 10). Hosea was commanded by God to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2–9). This was an object lesson of the sin of the harlotry of Israel in rejecting God and serving pagan gods, and how God would continue to love them and use them as His special people. The book of Jonah is full of object lessons. Most are obvious but some aren’t. God used the loss of the leafy gourd plant that had shaded Jonah’s hut from the blazing sun to ask Jonah that, if he cared about a plant, not wanting to see it die, should not God care about a whole city of people, not wanting to see them die? Another lesson is the comparison of Jonah’s being rescued from a fate he deserved, with the Ninevites’ rescue from a fate they deserved.
Object lessons in Jeremiah include the linen girdle (13:1–11), the potter’s vessel (19:1–12), a basket of figs (24), and bonds and yokes (27:2–11; 28). In Ezekiel: illustrations on a tile (4:1–3), shaving the head (5), moving household items (12:3–16), eating and drinking sparingly (12:18–20), sighing (21:6, 7), a boiling pot (24:1–14), widowhood (24:16–27). More examples include the ram substitute (Genesis 22:1–19), a pot of manna (Exodus 16:32), shedding of blood (Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 8–9), bird’s nest (Deuteronomy 22:5), sackcloth (Isaiah 20:1), grass (Isaiah 40:6–8), almond tree (Jeremiah 1:11–12), little children (Matthew 18:5), a coin (Matthew 22:17), the fig tree (Mark 11: 13–20), foot washing (John 13:1–20), a sheet (Acts 10:10–16).
Each of the biblical holidays listed in Leviticus 23 is an object lesson to remind us of God’s mercy and faithfulness. The biblical holidays are very exciting studies revealing Christ. See Biblical Holidays for more.