INSTRUCTING our CHILDREN in GODLY WAYS: "The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation." (Joel 1:1-3)
The prophet Joel, whose name means ‘Yahweh is God’, may have been a contemporary of the prophets Hosea and Amos who lived in the 8th century A.D. His prophecies were addressed to the southern nation of Judah, as he warned them of God’s judgment that was coming upon them on the ‘day of the Lord’.
However, the calamity that happened to Judah in recent years was unprecedented. No event in their recent history could compare to the catastrophe that was caused upon them by the ‘locusts’. In fact, Moses had prophesied that God would use locusts to punish His people if they were disobedient (Deut. 28:38, 42). The locust plague is a pictorial representation of the impending invasion of Judah by an army from the north (Assyria). This prophecy was partially fulfilled when the Babylonian army invaded Judah, but in the future, this prophecy would be fulfilled completely through an Assyrian invasion.
Knowing what had happened already and what was about to happen, the prophet Joel urged the elders of Judah to tell their children real-life stories of what God had done among them in the past (v. 3). These stories would include events of important things that needed to be remembered that the elders were aware of. These events were more profound than anything that had happened during their time and during the days of their fathers (v. 2).
Today, we as God’s people should also pass on the stories of what God has done in our personal and societal lives. For doing this, first of all we should be able to discern and distill God’s work among us that we can communicate intelligently to our future generations. We should be able to tell them both sides of the story - both the good and the bad – and share with them both our pleasant and unpleasant experiences. We should be careful to pass on both God’s judgments and His mercies to our future generation (see Deut. 4:9; 6:7; 32:7; Psalms 78:1–8). When we do that, we will equip our younger generation to walk wisely in godly ways, and be effective representatives of God’s kingdom in their generation as well.
So, as God’s people, we should intentionally pass on to our children, our grandchildren, and even to generations yet unborn, the real stories of what God has done in our lives. The older we get, the more important it is to transfer our experiential knowledge of what we have learned about God and about life to our future generations. We are one of the most valuable links that our children have concerning their godly ancestral heritage.
Let us instruct our children in godly ways as we transfer our experiential knowledge regarding the nature, character, and wonderful ways of God. When we do that, our children and grandchildren will get a deeper understanding of how God works behind the scenes, whether in judgment or through a revival. This profound understanding will help to avoid our generation relying on worldly sources of guidance. It will also align their priorities with the purposes of God in their lives.