“And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” – Judges 6:13
Children learn from parents. Sometimes it is amazing to watch and hear what they say. They can make you proud by how quickly they pick things up or sometimes make you realize you need to watch what you say or do in front of them more carefully. No one doubts that parents have an influence on their children and what they learn. God knew this would be the case, and it is His plan for parents to teach their children in the ways of God. We can read about the influence of parents in different people’s lives in the Bible, Gideon being one of them. He was a man greatly used by God, but God’s Word gives us insight into what he had learned, and did not learn, from his parents.
During Gideon’s life the children of Israel had been delivered into the hands of the Midianites because of their sin. They cried unto the Lord, and the Lord, through His mercy, was going to save them through Gideon. An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon while he was threshing wheat and said, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12). “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13). Gideon had obviously heard of the true God. He had learned that God had saved the children of Israel from Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land through His might and many miracles. However, Gideon now thought God had forsaken them and did not seem to understand why. Perhaps he had missed or forgotten that God had warned the children of Israel not to serve the other gods of the land, that doing so would lead to punishment by God. Or perhaps it wasn’t just that he had forgotten, maybe he was never taught those commands and warnings of God. For later that same night, God gave Gideon another charge: “…throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock…” (Judges 6:25-26). Gideon’s father, Joash, had taught him about at least two gods: the true God of heaven and a false god. Joash was such a follower of Baal that he had an altar of worship for him. However, Joash failed to teach Gideon all the commandments and judgments of the true God Who had performed miracles and showed His mercy and grace on their people. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses urged the people to teach their sons and their son’s sons all the commandments of the Lord, including to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Moses said “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” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Somewhere along the line Joash was content to tell Gideon of the good things God had done and was able to do, but not of the warnings and conditions to the blessings of God. Joash passed down stories of the miracles of God and their nation’s history while also worshipping another god. Gideon’s father did not fear the Lord and love Him with all his heart and failed in his duty to teach Gideon the commands of God. Therefore Gideon did not understand the judgment of a holy and righteous God upon their nation’s sin. Gideon’s father failed in his responsibility. Are you obeying God’s command to teach your children diligently so they know the one true God? Do they know the commandments of the Lord so that they can obey them? Do you obey them yourself? Are you serving two (or more) gods as Gideon’s father did? You have a responsibility to your children, your grandchildren, and those around you. They need to know that there is a hell and there is judgment for sin but that there is a way to heaven: Jesus Christ. Teaching them at home, reading Bible stories, and talking of God (while vitally important and a command of God) is not a replacement for regular church attendance. Making excuses and having other priorities during church time will not make your children learn the commandments of the Lord, for He commanded that we assemble ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). On the other hand, there are parents who bring their children to church faithfully but do not speak of it at home or live a different life at home. Children learn the god you teach them. Is it the true God? Yes, He is loving and full of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. But He is also holy, righteous, and just. Proclaiming that God is good and loves everyone while leaving out His hatred of sin does not teach God’s true character. Yes, He does love everyone. He loves us so much He sent His Son to die for our sin which also shows how He cannot tolerate sin. There had to be a payment for sin, and His Son made that payment. The most important decision every person will make is whether or not to believe on God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. If our children and loved ones have not heard that truth and do not put their faith in Jesus, they will spend eternity in hell. When we as mothers, grandmothers, Sunday School teachers, and Christians keep that truth constantly before us in our hearts and minds, then all other ambitions, commitments, and excuses will be put away in their proper place. We have to put God first, loving Him with all our hearts. We are commanded to teach our children the full Word of God. Will you do it? Will they hear the truth from you?