Volume 22, Issue 9 (March 1, 2020)
Make Them Ask
By Johnathan Banning
The Lord struck Egypt in Exodus 12. He struck the land in such a way that the Bible tells us there would be a great cry. A cry the likes of which had never been heard and would never be heard again. With the tenth plague, God smote the firstborn in Egypt to such a degree that Scripture divulges that no house of theirs was found without death inside. Goshen, the residence of the Egyptian slaves known as the Israelites, remained unharmed. The Lord had given them commands that they ought to cleanse their houses of leaven, eat their meal with their bags packed and smear the blood of a lamb or goat on their doorposts. They executed the Lord’s command, and so when judgment came the Lord passed over their houses.
In giving this command, Jehovah set up a “permanent ordinance.” Every year they were to observe this memorial in the same manner. When they left Egypt they were to observe, when they conquered Canaan they were to observe, when they dwelt in Canaan they should remember the Passover. “You shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite” (Exod. 12:24-25).
Moses then makes a prediction. After hundreds of years and multiple generations, offspring will come who did not experience the ten plagues or the liberation. Children will come who did not hear the great cry of Egypt or see Moses, by the power of Jehovah, part the Red Sea. Children will arrive who did not observe the inaugural Passover and they will ask, “What does this rite mean to you?” (Exod. 12:26).
It makes sense why they would ask. Passover changed, for a moment, the ordinary life of the Israelite. Imagine if you can, what this must have looked like from the eyes of a child. Mom and dad throw all the leaven out of the house (for a week!). Then we eat dinner dressed like we are ready for a road trip. Finally, we take a valuable lamb, kill it, and smear its blood on our house. Kids will wonder, “What is going on with mom and dad? This isn’t normal.” That’s what the Lord intended when He instituted the memorial. He wanted to make the children ask. He wanted the behavior of adults to spark the inquisitive mind of the child, so that when they asked, the parents had an opportunity to teach their children about Jehovah. “. . . You shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes’” (Exod. 12:27).
I think any parent can find some application in this text. We learn that children are watching, children are curious and it is our duty to live in a way that will spark their inquisitive minds and make them ask.
• I can sing praises to God in a way that will make them ask, “Why do we sing in worship?” When they know that it matters to me, when they can hear the passion in my voice, they will ask.
• I can observe the Lord’s Supper in a way that will make them ask, “Why are we so still and quiet in the middle of worship? Why don’t we move, talk, play with our toys or read our books when those eight men stand up and pass out those trays?” When I partake in a worthy manner, with steadfast focus and determination, they will ask.
• I can pray in a way that will make them ask, “Why does Daddy pray so much? Why do we always bow our heads before we eat or go to sleep? Who are we talking to and why do we talk to Him so much?” When prayer becomes a part of the schedule it doubtless will lead to questions from those inquisitive minds. The answers to those questions are the keys to salvation and eternal life.
• I can live in a way that will make them ask, “Why are we always busy on Sunday, and why do we always go to worship? Why don’t we go to the movies on Wednesday night? Why do we stop in the middle of nowhere on a road trip and go to church where we don’t know anybody when we travel on Sunday? Why can’t we watch the movies that all my friends watch? And why do we read that book at night, the Bible? What makes that book so important, surely it isn’t better than Harry Potter?” What a joy it will be to answer those questions for our precious children.
What example have you set? A child’s questioning illumines what I truly value. My life should lead them to ask about Christ, His church and our father who is in heaven. They should ask about God and why we serve Him. Now, we have tremendous opportunity, let us not pass over the chance to make them ask, “What does this mean to you?”