It seems everyone today is saying how families are the number one priority for our wellbeing. On television, commercial after commercial, features families playing and shopping together. Insurance companies advertise that we must take out life policies for the future of our families.
Political parties can claim their policies are centred on what is good for families now and in the future. When significant community leaders are interviewed about their important roles, they often respond that the most significant aspect of their lives are their families.
We are a family orientated community.
I have been reading that a senior Australian Magistrate is calling for all Bibles to be removed from courtrooms. Apparently he has labelled them a relic of the past that belong in a museum. He has likened the Bible to the “gavel, the wig, quill and ink”. For him, apparently the Bible has no place in modern society or the courtroom.
This so called antiquated book will well-outlive our sceptic Magistrate as we as a community look for models to make our families strong and therefore our society strong. Because in so doing we need to look no further than the Bible for the perfect model of community and family. In fact, in the first few books of the Old Testament we discover God’s plan for the family and how it should be ordered to fully benefit our neighbours and world.
The Nation of Israel was called to live out this basic model of Family in order that they may flourish as a nation. We should focus on God’s way which was spelt out from the beginning of humanity.
Firstly, the Bible indicates the family should focus on God and the word of God. It is only then that the family will know the valuesthat are eternal. Values such as love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself. This family focus on God and his values is seen in Deuteronomy 6:3-9 “3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Secondly, God’s perfect model for families requires that they have protection fromgovernment and the support from all of us. For example, the Ten Commandments say, “16 Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
As well commandments such as you shall not murder or commit adultery are there in part to ensure the family unit does not break down. Families need to stay together and not be divided by anger or lust.
Thirdly, God was way ahead of our current politicians in planning for the financial resourcing of families. God in his wisdom declared that if families were not resourced then they could fracture and society would be the poorer. This is seen, for example, in the Year of Jubilee.
After 49 years everyone is to return to their family property and their extended “clan”. You could not sell off the family property birthright, even if you ‘mortgaged’ or ‘rented’ the land, it would return to the family after 49 years. By this process, families were financially protected. Chris Wright in his book “Living as the People of God” states the ‘land becomes one of the most prominent features of the entire sequel of the Old Testament story.’
The focus on the family is not a modern idea, but God’s plan! Only by returning to God and his values can that plan be fully lived out. Let us ensure that the family is focused on God’s word, is protected and encouraged by society as well as being looked after through resources and finance. Pray for our families.
Rev Dr Ross Clifford AM is the Principal of Morling College (NSW Baptist) and author of numerous books many of which focus on Christian Apologetics. He is a Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance, President of the Asian Baptist Association, an acclaimed international preacher and speaker, a columnist in many Christian publications, winner of many national and international awards and for many years the Sunday evening Sydney Radio 2CH host. Ross is married to Bev, father and grand father.