Zechariah’s Child Rearing Manual
I remember holding both my children right after their birth and being so in love with them, so blessed and so incredibly afraid all at the same time…could I do this, how should we raise them, how will this change our lives?
It would have been nice for someone to give me a list of “do’s and don’ts” before I left the hospital and I think at each birthday….wouldn’t that be cool? Your child gets birthday gifts why not the parents? “Here is a reminder of your child’s purpose and here are the challenges you will face this year, oh and here’s how to handle those challenges”.
Well it does happen, occasionally; several times when the birth of a “special” child was recorded in the Bible an angel appeared with specific instructions about how the child was to be raised. Samson’s parents were given specific instructions, “raise him as a Nazarite, don’t ever cut his hair, he is not to ever touch wine”…and God gave Zechariah specific instructions and insight into the future of his son, John the Baptist.
- He will be a joy and delight to you
- Many will rejoice because of his birth
- He will be great in the sight of The Lord
- He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth
- He is never to take wine or fermented drink
- Name him John-which means “Yahweh is Gracious”…what an amazing name for this special child
Your Secret Name
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Now it seems like this would be an amazing gift, to have an angel appear and tell you these things about your future child, however, Zech was “gripped with fear”. Isn’t it funny how we pray for something and believe for it (in this case, for decades) and then when it happens at times we too are “gripped with fear”? And yet, the angel told Zech…”don’t be afraid”! Over and over we are told “don’t be afraid” and yet fear is often our companion; especially when it comes to raising our children. We fear our own incompetence, we fear danger, evil influence, evil attacks on our child, and even their own free will.
I remember Phil’s dad sharing with us about this very topic. Phil’s mother was killed in a tragic car accident when Phil was 8 years old, leaving 3 children in the family for his dad to raise. Dad told us he was gripped with fear daily over his children’s safety and his ability to raise them alone. Finally he had to release them and their well being to God so he could have peace in his own heart and not drive his children crazy with over-protection.
The angel also told Zech what his son would do when he grew up (again, wouldn’t that be a great thing to know at birth?)
Zech’s son John would:
- Bring the people of Israel back to the Lord their God
- Go before The Lord, The Messiah, and Prepare the Way in the spirit and power of Elijah
- Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers
- Turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous
- Make ready a people prepared for The Lord
Ha! I’m not sure if knowing that would give me comfort or more fear…could I raise a child who would do all that? You would surely have to release him to The Lord at that point.
What the angel didn’t tell Zechariah…these might make you say…uh wait God…why don’t you give this job to someone else’s child?
- Your son will live in the desert with the Essene’s (“rebel” religious/political party of the day…think “Tea Party” on steroids) and live on the land, especially locust and wild honey
- Your son will have many followers and be dearly loved, however, rulers will hate him (we all want our kids to be loved, right?)
- Your son will eventually be imprisoned and beheaded for speaking the truth to a roman ruler and making his wife angry
So maybe it wouldn’t be that great to know your child’s entire future; but there are specific directions in the Bible on raising kids…these come to mind, I’m sure there are more
- don’t exasperate them with heavy handedness
- note their “bent”…pay attention to what they love and are drawn to and train them to their destiny
- discipline them because you love them, not because you are angry
- stay faithful to your spouse, don’t divorce (yes that one is in the Bible)
- have their best interests and God’s interests at heart as you deal with them
- don’t let the sun go down on your anger
- be motivated by love, not fear
- walk in the spirit, not the flesh
These alone are enough to keep us busy on ourselves.
My children are adults now and my grandchildren are well on their way to becoming adults and we love our family deeply. We all do our best with what we have, right? and God does the rest. I clearly remember Phil telling me that God showed him when our daughter was a teenager; we need to have more fun with her…it’s important that we do that. And in later years shared that he was being too heavy handed and demanding and would likely break our son’s spirit if he didn’t change.
I do think if I would have paid more attention to what the Bible said about how I should live my kids might have had an easier time as kids and as adults. Unfortunately I spent more time helping “needy” people more than my own children, of course, in the “name of The Lord”. I now know I missed some golden opportunities with them and some really important moments; but God’s grace is bigger than my human failure and our kids are amazing gifted adults.
What do you think?
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