Grandchild Sunday – 2019 LSB #’s 740, 867, 739
Text – Deuteronomy 4:9
But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children & your children’s children.
YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN
How many of you know someone who has tried to run away from home? From television, the image is an icon in the minds of the Boomer generation – a young boy with a stick slung over his shoulder, a towel tied on the end, & all of his worldly possessions wrapped up inside – leaving home because of some perceived injustice.
How many of you know someone who is still running away, whether from home, or from family members, or just running away from responsibility in general? And how about you, what are you running away from right now, at this moment or in this phase of your life? Have you ever sat down & thought about it, about why so many people are running away?
The Word of God makes the answer very clear in just its 3rd chapter. From the moment that Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, she & Adam began to run, & every single one of their descendants has been running ever since. Their 1st born son – Cain – ran away from God. The author of the sermon text – Moses – he ran away from God too.
King Saul, King David, King Solomon, the Biblical record of their lives is punctuated with moments where they are running away from God. In our culture today people are literally running away from who they are, from the very identity of their genetic makeup. People born biologically male want to be female & vice versa.
Can you explain to your children & your children’s children why everyone is running? Have you stopped to consider why you are running? Even more important, are you able to share with your children & your children’s children what the answer is? Moses writes from experience in the sermon text when he says: “Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children & your children’s children.” What are the memories that Moses is speaking of? That’s the key. Going back a few verses before the OT reading, he wrote:
“You saw for yourself what the Lord did to you at Baal-peor. There the Lord your God destroyed everyone who had worshiped Baal, the god of Peor. But all of you who were faithful to the Lord your God are still alive today – every one of you.” (Deuteronomy 4:3-4 NLT)
When the Israelites, while following Moses to the Promised Land, were in the vicinity of Peor, some of them fell into idolatry & worshiped Baal. As a result of their sin, the men of Israel were judged by God with a plague, & 24,000 of them died. However, every single Israelite who was faithful to the Lord was delivered from that plague of death.
That good news – bad news scenario is what Moses urged the people never to forget. They saw it with their own eyes & were to pass on those memories to their children & their children’s children. But Moses isn’t only speaking of the death or life events of Baal-peor.
The grand narrative of the Bible, the really, really big story, begins with creation – & it ends with the New creation. Yet, in Deuteronomy 4, Moses places himself & his audience into the story to change or to affirm your behavior:
“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children & your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT)
It’s significant that Moses enfolds the audience into what has happened in Israel’s story. As he spoke to the people about to enter the Promised Land, those hearers were not at Mt. Sinai any more than you were. The entire generation of Mt. Sinai was already dead. Nonetheless, Moses states that ‘you’ saw certain things. He claims that ‘you’ did certain things. He clearly intends for the audience to put themselves in to the story’s past so that they can join the story in the present, & make the story end the way it is supposed to end even in to their future. Yahweh works powerfully through you as you trust & believe in His Word & in His Promises.
Yes, every single time we sin you & I are “running away” from our Creator & our Savior. And yet, each new sin also creates an opportunity to run back to our Creator & Savior. Do you remember the words Jesus spoke in the Gospel reading? “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46 ESV)
When we sin we are running away from God & into the darkness, but Jesus came so that we do not have to remain in the darkness. Your children & your children’s children do not have to remain in the darkness. Whether you are currently darkness or light, you are already in that story. The only question hanging out there is this, “Which part of the ending will you be?”
Will you remain in the darkness, or, in humility, will you allow the Holy Spirit to draw you into the light? And once the Holy Spirit has drawn you into the light – you have a story to tell – a story of darkness & of light; a story of sin, but also of deliverance.
“…Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children & your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT)
Finally, you should also note that, in writing those words, Moses says absolutely nothing about your pastor. It says “you” should pass them on.
It is tempting to think that on Grandchild day ‘the pastor’ needs to come up with some clever & creative & cute way of passing on the faith to the children’s children in one easy sermon, or in one super happy worship service, or at least in one extremely catchy children’s message. So, did Moses get it wrong when he wrote those words so many years ago? Does the Holy Spirit just not understand that grandparents really are incapable of passing on the faith? Or is it possible that you have been struggling to trust in your Creator & Savior to keep His promises? Has He not already delivered you from the darkness & brought you into the light? Then, come out of your darkness & tell that story to your children & your children’s children.
The good news for each of you is this – you can stop running away from your God given identity, or from your job, or from being a godly parent or grandparent. You can stop running away from telling the story of all the ways in which the heavenly Father has brought you from darkness into the light. You can stop running in the darkness & begin sharing the light of Christ.
Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46 ESV) Amen.
Let children hear the mighty deeds which God performed of old, which in our younger days we saw, & which our parents told. So make to them His glories known, His works of power & grace; & we’ll convey His wonders down through every rising race. Our sons & daughters we shall tell & they again to theirs that generations yet unborn may teach them to their heirs. O teach them with all diligence the truths of God’s own Word, to place in Him their confidence, to fear & trust their Lord. Amen. LSB 867:1-4.
Backstory: Grandchild is a word that apparently does not exist in the ancient Hebrew language. When I read the blessing at the end of Psalm 128 that says may you live to see your children’s children, I realized that is the way the Hebrews described grandchildren. I typed it into the computer and it told me instantly that grandchildren are referred to ten times in Holy Scripture.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet