If Jesus dropped by your church or home, what do you think he would say? Based on what we have learned about the Jewish Jesus that founded the Kingdom of God Movement in first century CE Galilee, it would not be, “Are you saved?” Instead he would ask:
What are you teaching your children and grandchildren?
Why would that be the first thing Jesus would want to know? When God saw that the evil of the man was great in the earth, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all day long, and that the earth was filled with violence – He wiped the entire human population (except for one family) off the earth with a flood. The path that led an entire generation to their deaths can be summed up in God’s words – “the inclinations of their heart were evil from their youth.”
In a previous email, Nations Will Guard the Way of Yahweh With Abraham’s Sons, I discussed why God chose Abraham:
Abraham will teach his children how to guard
the way of God by doing TZEDAQAH and MISHPAT.
A teacher, in the Hebrew culture, is like a potter who molds and shapes clay to make things. The teacher molds and shapes the hearts of children. It is important to understand that in the Jewish culture of Jesus, the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) includes laws, commandments, and instructions – it is a repository of insights from which wisdom for livings one’s life can be derived. It was the primary textbook for teaching people that wisdom in the time of Jesus.
Newly born children do not arrive with instruction manuals. And while hundreds of professions require that you become pre-certified, a new parent, with no experience at all, is expected to raise a healthy, productive child by what amounts to on-the-job training. This fact magnifies the value of shared wisdom among parents, all trying to do the best job they can. At times, the challenges to succeed can seem endless.[i]
A potter must have mental image of what kind of vessel he wants to make. He must also be able to identify the type of material he will be working with. A teacher must know the subject matter that he will be teaching. He must also know the natures of the students he will be teaching. Teaching a quiet shy child requires a different approach than teaching a charismatic outspoken child. One of the great revelations of teaching is that the intervention of a grownup in a child’s life carries almost as much risk in squashing their ambitions as it does in nurturing and inspiring them.
My son, hear the instructions and discipline of your father,
and do not forsake the instructions
and directions of your mother;
for they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
and decorative chains about your neck.
This is from Proverbs 1:8-9. God wants every child to be welcomed into the world by it’s first two teachers – its father and mother. They must discover the nature of their child before they begin molding and shaping its heart. How important is this?
Remember how God described the generation that He destroyed by the Great Flood -- “the inclinations of their heart were evil from their youth.” God wants the inclinations of children’s hearts to be “good” from their youth. TOV is the Hebrew word translated “good” in our Bibles, but “good” does not convey the Hebrew meaning of TOV to English readers.
For something to be TOV it must protect lives, preserve lives,
make lives more functional, and increase the quality of life.
Every Jewish person, from the time of Jesus until now, knows the verses below from Deuteronomy 6:4-6:
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God. The Lord is one!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your strength.
These words, which I command you today, are to be in your heart.
The teacher must have these words in their heart, so he or she will be able to teach them to the child. Teaching those words begins with teaching children the meaning of TOV and demonstrating how to do TOV.
This is the first line of defense in preventing
the destruction of an entire generation of people.
It is also the beginning of creating
a society of Peace and SHALOM for our generation!
Teaching our children and grandchildren insights from which wisdom for living their lives can be derived is essential for them and the community. I will continue this series in my next email.
Choosing Lives 1st by Doing TOV,
Helping People Examine Their Beliefs
● Adopt Shared Morals & Values ● Network to Make SHALOM
[i] Letters from an Astrophysicist By Neil DeGrasse Tyson © 2019; W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY; p. 60, 89.