Back in the late sixties, a popular song came out called, "Teach Your Children Well." It was addressed to the freewheeling hippy generation, which had tried to cast off all the restraints and rules of their parents’ generation. While the song reflected noble intentions, I always thought that there was a great deal of irony reflected in it, that that rebellious generation would somehow succeed in teaching their children where their parents had failed.
Today I write about two things:
- The spiritual problem of rebellion
- The need to teach our children good things
I’m afraid that my generation (born in 1960) succeeded in teaching our kids all too well. In many ways we taught them that lifelong commitment in marriage is outdated. We taught them to cast off the roles of husband as provider and wife as mother and homemaker. We taught them to do whatever feels right, whether sex, drugs, drinking, or any other impulse. And, we taught them to feel good about themselves while they walked out on their marriages and coped with all their various addictions. But while my generation largely failed because we cast off God’s standards, the theme of that song is still true — we must teach our children well.
You see, the family is at the center of God's purpose. There is a reason why God chose marriage to portray the relationship He has with His people. It is primarily in the family that a Godly heritage is handed down from generation to generation. God chose Abraham and promised to give him a family and from that family to make a nation to bless other nations. Abraham's family was the foundation of the nation Israel, from which the Savior came. Then, through that Savior, God brought all believers into a final spiritual family—the Spiritual Israel.
Throughout the history of Israel, we see a recurring problem. In our study of Isaiah, it shows up three times in the first chapter alone. Rebellion. It was this sin, coupled with pride, that ultimately severed the good relationship that National Israel had with God. What about us?
The 1960’s in our country was an era of rebellion. It was the beginning of a specific onslaught against the youth of our nation, and most of the parents were caught off guard by the rapid changes. Even our music (rock music) was based upon rebellion, and there were a thousand theme songs to urge on the children of that era.
Our society, for the most part did not know how address this problem of rebellion. It wasn’t handled well. The church is different though. The people who enter the New Jerusalem will be those who have gotten the victory over the spiritual sins of pride & rebellion. They are a new spiritual Israel, characterized by submission to the authority of God, and humility to be sanctified & justified.
I’d like to share seven consequences if rebellion is not resolved in a person’s life.
1. Reject Correction (Proverbs 1:24-25). You can never tell a rebellious person anything (and I may be exaggerating that). But those of you who are married to a rebellious spouse, you understand what I’m saying. Anything you ask them to do, they’ll react. If a person is locked inside against authority, that will affect every statement in a relationship.
2. Destroy God’s reputation (1 Timothy 6:1). The Bible says that if you do not respond with a proper attitude to your masters (or employers) your example will destroy God’s reputation.
3. Experience guilt. (Romans 13:5). Rebellion always leads to moral failure.
4. Experience Calamity (Proverbs 1:25) God says I will laugh when your calamity comes—because of your rebellion. God is not sympathetic when we allow a stronghold of rebellion to develop in our life.
5. Unmet needs. “The rebellious live in a barren land” (Psalms 68:6). Only God can bring water into a dry life.
A couple years ago a husband & wife came into a counseling office… Their relationship was in trouble. The wife was frustrated because the husband wouldn’t buy her a big house. The husband was frustrated because the wife always tried to control him. She wanted material things, and he wanted her...to .…quit controlling him. Their life together was a dry, barren land. And their children were watching all this. Teach your children...we teach our children a lot by our examples.
So they asked Jesus to clean up their lives. She cleaned up her rebellious attitude towards her husband and her materialism. He cleaned up his bitterness towards his wife and they emotionally connected. They went home. Two weeks later the husband called and said “something strange is happening. I have to be on the road 3 days per week, and my wife always wants to be with me….so we decided that from now on she will always go with me on these trips. And he said “We’re having a honeymoon. I get off work at 5 every night and we’re always in a different place and we just take off and have fun every evening. We’re having a neat time!”
“What about that house…?”
The husband said “She doesn’t want a house anymore.” She just wants me. She doesn’t like being apart from me.”
What happened? A citadel of rebellion was broken and it changed the temporal focus a wife had, because she now felt love. Let me say this. The heart of every individual doesn’t want things. They want a relationship. When you get to the core of every person’s heart, we all want the same thing. We want to receive loved, and to give love. They’re only into materialism because they’re not feeling love. Rebellion plays a big part in locking a relationship, because it makes two individuals live independent of each other. "The rebellious dwell in a dry land."
The Adventist movement has experienced rebellion, especially in the last 5-10 years. It is manifested in the attitude of some towards the theological position of the church regarding male & female roles. I don’t know what else to call it but rebellion. Where did it come from? It came from within.
Some of us learned to rebel when we were young, and then we grew up and got married. If the sin of rebellion wasn’t resolved from the heart, we carried that attitude into our homes. Then we joined the church. As adults, it’s hidden inside. So we said subconsciously “I’m not going to be rebellious anymore.” But nothing changed on the inside, and we began going through life reacting to people. "The rebellious live in a dry land..."
If there’s no rain, your needs never get met. You can’t grow anything. That’s exactly what God says will happen to a rebellious person (or organization).
Let me ask you a question. Do you live in a barren land because you’re always reacting to something? Or is your heart responsive & open where you are enjoying relationships?
6. Opens a person to Enemy attack. (1 Samuel 15:23). God had told King Saul to do a thorough job. He did it part way and then decided “God made a mistake.” So he did things his own way. God sent a messenger to Him with these classic words:
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee (1 Samuel 15:23).
Who was the original rebel? Satan. In the occult, people give ground in their heart to the enemy in order to get something back. They want power. A person involved in witchcraft places himself under Satan’s authority and Satan controls that person. It’s the same with rebellion. People give ground to the enemy in order to get the power to do what they want. And without Jesus, people never get free because Satan controls that part of their life. "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." Rebellion takes us out from under God’s protection. The very first king of Israel was a symbol of what would happen to the nation, and any person who cultivates rebellion in their life.
Now I don’t understand everything about how the enemy works when he influences a person’s life, but I know the enemy is deceptive and he’s trying to figure out any way he can get into a believer’s life to destroy their effectiveness. And in our culture, rebellion is acceptable. You don’t have to look very far to find it. And I think the enemy has gotten a huge opportunity to destroy believers here. Ask God if you have a problem with rebellion/defiance. If you have a problem with rebellion, ask God to break it.
7. God will exert pressure (1 Samuel 12:15).
If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God: But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10).
If a person has the sin of rebellion in their life, God will bring calamity on them to break that. I experienced this consequence in my young life, and even as an adult there have been times when God fought against me because my heart wasn’t right. What is the opposite of rebellion? A heart that is open to respond to God and others. Responsiveness leads to obedience. Let me ask you a question. Is your heart responsive to God’s Word? Does the spirit of prophecy make your heart react? Are you locked towards the Bible? Or can you say with David “I delight in thy law O God. The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” The opposite of rebellion is obedience. In 1 Samuel 15 God says "To obey is better than to sacrifice." Jesus has something better for us than the pointless merry-go-round of sin & offering, sin & offering, and sin & offering. God wants to do something special in your heart. He wants you to be free.
There are five solutions to rebellion:
- Acknowledge & confess (1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:5).
- Identify & resolve the cause (Psalm 139:23; Lamentations 3:40).
- Submit to the Lord and His Word (2 Chronicles 30:8; James 4:7).
- Respond openly to those in authority (Peter 2:13).
- Allow the Holy Spirit to control your life (Ephesian 5:18).
Therefore lay up these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deut 11:18-19).
In Genesis 48, we see Abraham's grandson, Jacob, handing his heritage in God to his son, Joseph, and to his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim. He adopts Joseph's two sons as his own, blessing Joseph through them. One reason this chapter is here is to explain why Joseph isn't listed as one of the tribes in Israel. He got a double inheritance through his two sons who were adopted by Jacob.
Out of all the events recorded in Jacob's long life, the author of Hebrews selects this episode as his example of Jacob's faith: "By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff" (Heb. 11:21). Jacob has not yet received the fulfillment of God's promises. But he blessed these two young men, believing that God would keep His word through them. In that act of faith we see Jacob imparting to his son and grandsons the most important thing he could have given them, namely, faith in the promises of God. From this chapter we learn that the most important thing we can give to our children and grandchildren is not a college education or a large inheritance.
As parents, we should feel greatly blessed of God if our children are blessed of him. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, Yes! That's what I want! I would be gratified if my children and their children after them go on to love the Lord, even if I never achieve what the world views as "success." The most important heritage we can hand down to our children and grandchildren is faith in the promises of God. I encourage you to put aside everything that would hinder you and to work at giving your children that kind of godly heritage. If your children are grown up and gone, then ask God to bring others into your life that He can bless through you. Teach your children well. Renounce any rebellion in your life and walk in submission to God and His Word.