Hearing, Learning, and Fearing
Moses is 120 years old. His voice is still strong, mind still sharp, and his body is still capable. He is told by God that he will get to peer over and get a peek at the Promised Land, but that he will not be able to go into the land. This was because of is disobedience in striking the Rock.
God gives Moses a “song” to declare to the people. Following the song and some final words, Moses hikes up Mount Nebo and dies. Amazingly, God buries Moses. No-one knows where the burial plot is to this day.
Interestingly, we get an idea of effective parenting and effective communication from the instructions Moses leaves with the people in this farewell address:
Deuteronomy 31:12-13 says, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”
Please note the underlined words above. Perhaps you want to underline them in your Bible. Several times in Scripture this idea of “Hear and Fear” and of “Hear, Learn, and Fear” are found.
In the narrative of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving God’s promises concerning blessing and cursing. The nation of Israel would be blessed and prospered when they worshipped God alone. They would be cursed and other nations would conquer them when they would worship false gods. Much of the rest of the Old Testament is dedicated to this underlying theme of Israel’s blessing and cursing, their wandering and coming back to God.
Consider the teaching points Moses gives: “Hear, Learn, Fear.”
Hear. If you have ever been a teacher in a classroom of students or have taken classes on the subject, you know that you cannot teach someone if you do not have their attention. The student must give their “hearing” to the teacher.
Limiting classroom distraction, and insisting on a student to focus are part of the “hearing” aspect of instruction. There are many distractions in school settings today; it could be the glib comments of another student, the immoral seduction of a immodestly dressed girl, or the profane words of a teacher.
In addition, the student must want to focus and the parent must make the student motivated to want to hear the instruction in the classroom.
In much the same way, the Lord wants us to “hear” Him. God wants us to listen to His Word. Avoid letting other people distract you from hearing the message of the Lord. Do not blame others for your lack of focus or lack of attention.
In parenting, be sure to help you child focus on the main things in life, not the inconsequential. Develop their listening skills. One reason we listen to many radio dramas in our home is to develop the “hearing” senses in our children. Being able to give instruction and not having to repeat it several times is a good goal for parenting. Our children should be taught to “hear” well.
Learn. Learning takes place in every area of life. We learn responses to others, defensive mechanisms so others do not hurt us, and reactions to undesirable situations.
When you were in school, you learned both good and bad lessons. You learned some academics, and you learned some immoral or sinful behavior from other students. We learn from what we are “hearing” the most. If you are hearing and focusing on the facts of History or Science, that is what you will learn. If you are hearing people mock or curse God – that is what you will learn.
Be careful what you are learning and from whom you are learning. Who we listen to dictates much of what will be learned and what we will end up believing.
Parents have a challenge of developing the “learning” of their children. From the classroom to the living room, you are responsible to make sure they are hearing the correct teaching and learning the Christian way to perceive and live life.
Limiting TV, controlling social media outlets, and having specific guidelines for cellphones is part of your parental responsibility. I would not encourage any teen to have a cell phone or computer alone with them in their bedroom at night. The heart of your teen is the target for many evil people who want them to “hear” them and then in turn “learn” from them.
Fear. Like Moses addressed the “Children of Israel” we can appropriately determine to have the same course of action in our parenting approach. The goal of “hearing” and “learning” was to “fear” God.
Fear is a term that can be misunderstood today. Biblical fear of God means “to fear; morally, to revere; be afraid, and to hold in reverence.” The Lord is someone Who means what He says and says what He means.
Sometimes we are “afraid of being caught.” That is not the same as the “Fear of the Lord.” Fearing God has to do with a respect, reverence, and wonder for God – His might, power, ability, and Who He is – the King, Judge, and Savoir. We should want to please Him. There are blessings and consequences to all our actions.
Just like a child who loves his earthly father but is afraid to do wrong because he knows he will displease his father and face punishment -we too are to fear the Lord. Just look at the criminal justice system for an example. Those incarcerated had a disregard for the law – they did not fear the consequences nor have a fear for the law.
One of the greatest tragedies about many Christian families today is that we can make our kids “Hear” but we do not get them to the “Learn.” Then others have their kids “Hear” and “Learn” but they never get to the “Fear” part.
The passage does say “Learn to fear.” It is one thing to learn about God and another thing to learn to fear Him. Somehow each parent must guide their children to have an overriding fear of God in their heart. Here are four ideas to help:
- Follow through with promises. Be a parent of your word.
- Follow through with consequences. Do not rob your child the good (and sometimes painful) lessons that consequences bring.
- Focus your family life on pleasing the Lord. Let them see the underlying principles of loving God and others more than self.
- Let your kids see your Christianity in such a positive way that they will want it for their lives too. Like Ecclesiastes 12:13 instructs: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”