Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?
We’ll also read about:
As we start the book of Esther, we’ll look at what God was up to, and the un-fairy-tale like ending for the other young virgins taken as “potential queen for a night.”
Yesterday in Romans 1 we read about God’s rebuke to “wise fools” who reject God and the downward spiral of sin that follows. In today’s reading in Romans 2, God speaks to believers, warning us of the danger of self-righteously judging others.
Esther 1 & 2
Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees
Esther 1 & 2:
Young Virgins & a Selfish King
The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all, He is seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world.
The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone has been invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.
Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, he strips away her crown.
But when the king sobered up and got over his fit, he realized what he had done. He missed the queen, so the men devised another plan—to bring all the beautiful women in the kingdom to the palace and let him choose the one who suited his fancy as the new queen.
As glamorous as it might sound to have a chance to be queen, this was not a good thing for these young girls. They were probably mostly very young teenagers. And notice it says, “Esther also was taken” (Esther 2.8). This was not voluntary; these girls were taken to the palace.
Each of them was to spend one night with the king and never to be with him again unless she was chosen. In the meantime, they would have lost their virginity to a lecherous king who cared little about anyone but himself. And in that society, what was left for them in the way of marriage and family? They probably would be supported afterwards, but I think it would have been a lonely existence—never to have a husband or children of their own.
But God was at work in the situation and was setting the stage to use this pagan king and Esther to do something great.
God is Always at Work
From the viewpoint of the psalmist it looked like God had forsaken his people, but we know He had not. Sometimes we feel that way, but we must know that God is at work even when we can’t figure it out.
This is not a guarantee that our children will always walk with God. What it does mean is that if we are faithful to train our children in God’s ways, they will never be able to get away from the truth they’ve learned. It will follow them like their shadow! So even if they make bad choices, the truth will be there to guide them back, when they repent, just like the prodigal son in Luke 15.
Our job is to be faithful: faithful to take our children to a good Bible-believing church. Faithful to teach them by example and as we go about our daily activities.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We should also teach God’s Word to our children in a formal, systematic way. That is not, primarily, the church’s responsibility, but ours. Family devotions is one of the most neglected responsibilities in the church today. There is nothing that will impact our children and grandchildren more than to see us faithfully read and study God’s Word individually and to faithfully and formally have times where we read and study God’s Word together as a family.
Randy Patten, the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly NANC) for many years, says we must remember there are three factors at work in our children’s lives: there is our teaching and training, there is their will, and there is the Holy Spirit. Continue reading