Reading Bible Stories to a Seven-Year-Old

These days I have been pondering on the Book of Deuteronomy. I was deeply impressed with a recent Living Stream Ministry's training on the crystallization study of this book. I knew Deuteronomy meant second law, or a respeaking of the divine law. Moses was rehashing God's commandments with all the statutes and ordinances to the younger generation of the Israelites, to prepare them to enter into the good land. But little did I know the sentiment and the pressing burden that Moses had, just like an old grandfather admonishing the young ones. Moses knew what were about to happen, how the children of Israel would turn away from God. Moses was almost pleading to the children of Israel to not forget Jehovah, to remember all He had done, and to obey all His commandments, truly for their own good.

There were too many crystals brought forth during that Deuteronomy training. But one thing that I had been considering in recent days was the importance of the next generation - our children.

Deuteronomy 6:20 says, "When your son asks you in the future, saying, What is the significance of the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances that Jehovah our God commanded you?"

When the children ask us concerning God, why we believe in God, who God is, what He has done, what should we say?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 say, "And now, O Israel, what does Jehovah your God ask of you except that you fear Jehovah your God so that you would walk in all His ways and love Him and serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul; so that you would keep the commandments of Jehovah and His statutes, which I am commanding you today, for your good."

God commanded us to fear Jehovah our God, to love Him, and to serve Him with all our heart and our soul for our good. How can we bring our children to have such hearts toward God?

I asked these questions over and over again. To answer Deuteronomy 6:20, the verses that followed seemed to be rather plain to me. It was a laying out of the facts, "Then you will say to your son, We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt, and Jehovah brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And Jehovah put forth before our eyes great and grievous signs and wonders in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his house. Then He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, that He might give us the land which He swore to our fathers. And Jehovah commanded us to do all these statutes so that we would fear Jehovah our God for our good always and He would preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness to us if we are certain to do all this commandment before Jehovah our God, as He commanded us."

I had the thought - would the retelling of such stories suffice? Would the children simply receive?

A few weeks ago, on a Friday night, I was sitting down in a home gathering. Our home gathering has always been small and informal. In our midst, there are two small children, a seven-year-old and a-four-year-old, whom we all love and cherish. They seem to really enjoy Friday nights as well, with different adults taking turns to play with them and reading them children stories. Recently the seven-year-old began to write cards for the adults, and the younger one kept asking when he could start writing because he also would like to write cards to others.

That particular night, M, the seven-year-old, brought me her Bible-stories picture books. I was pleasantly surprised that she could read now. So we read the books together, I would read a paragraph and she would read the next. As we were reading, she would pause to make comments or ask questions.

We were reading the story of Moses and the children of Israel's exodus from Egypt. She was a bit startled by the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the sea that swallowed up all the Egyptian army. She was beginning to feel sorry for the Egyptians, but then I noticed how she corrected her sentiment and aligned her feelings with God's people. Of course, she also made comments about the way they looked and dressed in those days.

She picked up another book. It was Noah. After counting all the animals and asking whether they really all fit into Noah's ark or not, we read through the deluge. She then said aloud, "I don't want to be evil, I don't want to get washed away!"

I guess she got too excited, so next she handed me Daniel in the lion's den. She was puzzled why Daniel was punished by the king - how could he be punished for praying? I simply answered, "King Darius did not know God." She frowned and said, "An adult does not know God?" She ran to her mom who was sitting across the room, "Mommy, do you know who God is?" To which, her mom definitively responded, "Yes, I do." M exclaimed, "King Darius does not know who God is!" Her mom then asked, "Does Daniel know God?" M responded, "Yes, he does." Her mom asked again, "How do you know that Daniel knows God?" M did not immediately answer, but then she said quietly, as if she said it to herself, "He prayed."

M turned to me and asked, "Katherine, have you read these stories before?" I responded, "Not these picture books, but yes, I have read these stories before from the Bible. These stories are all in the Bible." She asked again, "Are they real?" My heart welled up with joy, with hope, "Yes. They are real. They happened long time ago."

I know these children have been listening to Bible songs and they are regularly in children's meetings (Sunday school). They have God-fearing, God-loving, and God-serving parents. They also have adults who are praying for them in this home gathering. This must be what was on Moses' heart. Pray much concerning our children and impart into them the Bible stories, the seemingly plain yet the living word of God. Help them to cling to God's word, to live not by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out from the mouth of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 8:3). Lead them gently to fear God, to love God, and to eventually serve God with the help of the Bible.

I am not an expert, but the Lord has encouraged me deeply. 


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