Imagine with me you have a very, very wealthy unmarried, aged aunt. She calls you one day and says; “Can you come over for tea there is something I want to talk with you about.”
You did have other plans but you make time in your schedule for her. I mean, after all, she’s lonely and she’s your favorite aunt, and well, you know, she’s wealthy.
When you get to her home she has tea set up on the veranda. She pours some in your cup and then after inquiring about the children and your job says, “You know me and you know I don’t like to beat around the bush. I have always liked you. I have no children of my own. You are the nearest thing to an heir that I can imagine. Lately I have been thinking that I would like to leave my entire estate to you. In fact I really don’t want to wait until I die I would rather watch you enjoy it.”
You have a wild rush of thoughts. You’re mind goes to the mortgage, the car payment, the delightful little cottage your aunt owns on Lake Michigan. You are too stunned and delighted to speak.
“Well, it seems to me that if someone just offered me their entire estate I might say something instead of sitting there like a stone.”
Now, this little scenario is not going to happen to you. If it does, let me know and I will go open your cottage up for you every spring and close it up every autumn. But you know this is a purely fictitious bit of fantasy. Still, what would you say to your aunt?
Would you say, I’ll get back to you on this… or would you leap up and embrace her and thank her and get to enjoying your new wealth?
What I am going to write about here is more valuable than an entire estate. I want to open my greatest treasure to you today. I don’t always do this. Jesus warned that we are not to “cast our pearls before swine.” In other words we are to gauge the worthiness of an audience before we open up the treasures of truth to people. I trust and pray you will see that I am opening up the very treasure of my heart and sharing with you something of sacred significance. So this is a holy transaction of truth that is about to take place between us. This is holy ground.
I have something so valuable that you could not buy it from me if you had eight million dollars. I have four sons and four daughters. I would quickly turn you down if you offered me a million dollars for any one of them.
God Places High Value on Children.
Psalm 127 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord., the fruit of the womb is a reward. Lake arrows in the hand of a warrior So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them’ They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”
According to the Bible, the children of the righteous are an inheritance from God. (3) Most Bible scholars believe Peter was referring to children when in 1 Peter 3:7 he said a husband and wife are “…heirs together of the grace of life.”
We all have a deep inner longing for influence and significance and the Scriptures teach that children are our tools for impact on this world. David said children are like “arrows in the hand of a mighty man.” (4)
We all labor under the burden of the curse and suffer it’s effects every day, but God has designed a way that we can work to reverse or to lessen the effects of the curse. According to 1 Timothy 2:14-15 we can by bringing children into the world and bringing them up to honor God, establish in our own patriarchal dominion a beachhead against the curse.
The Scriptures always paint a picture of large families of the righteous as blessed or happy. Psalm 127:5 specifically says that the man who has a quiver full of children is a happy and influential man.
Proverbs 23:24 says, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice. And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.” I can tell you that I have personally tasted the fruit from that tree over and over again and it is sweet indeed with no bitter aftertaste.
When I was young I sat in study hall and read a book by John R. Rice called, “The Home.” In it he crafted a picture of the happiness of large families. Every Thursday night during my high school years we cleared the schedule and took the phone off the hook so we could enjoy the next episode of Walton’s Mountain, a wonderful television drama about a large family growing up in the mountains of Virginia during the depression. At the time I didn’t realize what was happening in my heart, but God was beginning to form in be a vision for a large family.
Psalm 127 and 128
Just a glance at Psalm 127:3-5 make evident that in the heart of God children are:
An inheritance from God (3)
Tools for impact and weapons in warfare (4)
A source of great joy and happiness (5)
All through the Bible large families are seen as a special divine blessing and a fountain of great rejoicing. (Read John R. Rice’s chapter on the blessing of a large family is included at the end of this article).
If you will read the Word of God with an open heart you will quickly and clearly see that the heart of God is open to children. You will see that God wants to multiply life, but you won’t have to read far before you see that the enemy of our souls and of God and all that is good and right and holy has a different view of children. He wants to destroy life wherever he finds it. He is especially devoted to destroying the offspring of the righteous. God wants to multiply life, but Satan wants to multiply death.
Think it through. Wherever Satan begins to get a foothold in a culture a baby murder campaign is close at hand. Satan hates the seed of the righteous. He hates the offspring of believers. Notice the baby murder campaigns in the Bible.
The pagan nations commonly sacrificed children to their gods. In Egypt Pharoah tried to wipe out the seed of the godly through a policy of murder. After the birth of Christ, Herod had babies killed. And in America today we have the shameful growth industry of abortion. We have taken infanticide to a new depth of depravity. It is all sanitized, shrouded in medical terms and terminology, but it is the same grisly child-sacrifice it has always been. And the same pallid face and dark influence is behind it. Satan hates children. He has a special hatred for the descendants of those who follow the Creator. The evil one hates the fearful and wonderful creation of God and he is bent on death, theft and destruction.
What dark force could so pervert the mind of a man that he would override his instinct to protect a child? What strange, twisted, depraved thinking could make a young woman pay to have her own little baby murdered within her? There is no way to understand that without seeing behind it the working of the evil one.
Worldliness is Alive and Well
An anti-child spirit is obvious in our culture today, but are the people of God affected by this attitude?
If you love God you hate abortion and you love life, but if you are perceptive you will observe that Christians are being influenced by the world spirit in this area. The reigning philosophies of our time press on us from all directions and we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are immune from being infected with them. These godless philosophies are in the water we drink, they are in the air we breathe. They are subtly woven into our art, or literature, our media, popular music and cinema. Satan has his pulpits and he has his preachers and they are dressing death in fancy clothes.
What is worldliness? Worldliness is when the people of God adopt the principles and practices of the world around them that are contrary to the law of God. The world around us does not consider children a blessing. Consider the warning of Psalm 106:35-38:
…But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, [even] the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.
When the people of God “mingle among the heathen” we will learn their ways and eventually we will not value children the way God’s people should value children. Eventually they sacrificed their sons and daughters and the land was filled with blood.
Do we really consider children a blessing? The word warns us never to call a blessing a curse and a curse a blessing. Or do we see them as a blessing only up to a point? Are they a blessing as long as they do not interfere with my acquisition of other “blessings” and “opportunities?”
In an article on birth control in Christianity Today, October 11, 1991 said, “It’s easy to forget [that children are a blessing from the Lord] when the technological nature of birth control makes fertility seem like a disease that needs to be cured. And when prophets of overpopulation make children seem like parasites on a withering planet. And radical feminists make childbearing seem like a roadblock on the highway to economic justice”.
In 2002 Moody Magazine reported that abortion is becoming very common among professing evangelical Christians.
Would this not be an example of J. B. Philips paraphrase of Romans 12:1 “Don’t let the world squeeze you into it’s mould.” Don’t we all feel the squeeze when it comes to popular attitudes about children?
The freedom we currently have to bear children in large numbers is one of our most squandered freedoms in America. It is a blessing and a privilege millions of Christians have overlooked. Think of China today. How would we feel and how would we react if we were denied the right to bear children. Would not there be a great outcry from the pulpits of America if such freedoms were denied? Yet were is the outcry now against the same worldly spirit creeping in at the foundation like a deadly gas. We have the freedom but if we don’t exercise it do we really see it as freedom?
Years ago John R. Rice often spoke of the blessing of large families. He would often preach on the subject and encourage people to welcome children. Another great theme of his preaching was soul-winning. Once when he was well up in years and sometimes a little confused, he was preaching to a large group of thousands of women and he challenged them to be soul-winners. During the invitation he asked them to stand if they wanted him to pray that they would be fruitful in soul-winning. Hundreds stood and he began to pray for them. In his confusion and enthusiasm he moved to his other favorite theme and began to pray that they would be physically fruitful and that God would give them many children. Observers said women were dropping like flies all over the vast auditorium. They were not sure a large family would be a blessing. Most of us are not sure.
It’s The Economy, Stupid.
Many limit their family size because of economic fears. In the afore-mentioned Christianity Today article it says; “Evangelicals hear conflicting voices about birth-control. And many are confused. Some have adopted the dominant cultural ethos: smaller families make for an increased standard of living. Many couples have turned to dual careers and limited families not to increase, but to maintain their standard of living. Others, who may have drunk still more deeply at the springs of culture, have chosen to delay or avoid having children in order to establish themselves professionally and financially. For them, it seems, children are not always blessings, but are hurdles in the hasty race toward success.”
I remember an older pastor years ago strongly challenging me about our desire to have a large family. What about provision? How are you going to feed them and clothe them? How are you going to pay for their college education? My pastor friend told me churches would not want a pastor with a large family. He told me parsonages are not large enough for a large family. He asked me if I had any idea how much it cost to send children to college these days.
God gave me this answer. “I have been young, now I am old, but I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.” I said I don’t have to be concerned about bread. I have to be concerned about righteousness.”
Years have passed and God has been faithful to supply all our needs. We have had needs and we have had pressures but some of the greatest lessons in the reality of God that I have seen and my children have seen are lessons in God’s provision. I have prayed that my children would see and experience the reality of God and God has used needs to demonstrate His power and show Himself real in their lives. I could write pages and pages of examples of God’s goodness, as many of you could. God has met all those needs. My greatest problem over the years of raising a large family has not been begging bread, it has been over-eating!
In 1997 I met with the pulpit committee of a church where I would eventually have a fruitful ministry. When they asked me about my family I told them I have seven children. I waited for a reaction. One of the men laughed and said, “That’s nothing, our first pastor, Pastor Paulsen had eleven children.”
They handed me the church’s financial statement and I glanced at it as I drove away. The salary they would pay would be equal in amount to the salary I earned from the previous church plus what I earned moonlighting in insurance claims. Our needs would be met.
Later I discovered that included in the compensation was a beautiful five, bedroom parsonage and full payment of my educational expenses to pursue a post-graduate degree. This was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
After six years God clearly led us to our present ministry at the Character Inn. The Inn houses a college program where at the present writing our firstborn is a Junior and our next-born son has completed his first semester.
Our former parsonage had a fireplace and five bedrooms. Our current home here at the Character Inn has a beautiful fireplace in the lobby, over four-hundred bedrooms, and three full buffet meals a day. That is exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you ask or even think!
We should concern ourselves with the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33) He will see to it that we have the things we need.
We are not called to accumulate things. We are called to make in difference. We are called to kingdom work. We are to concern ourselves with the Great Commission. If the people of God are passionate about making a mark on this world, they should consider their family size. A large godly family can make a mark for God on this world long after we are gone. This is how God’s people should think. We are told to take dominion. Isaiah said; your descendants …will raise up the foundations of many generations and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in .” (Isaiah 58:12)
What is your vision for your family? Do you have a God-given vision for kingdom impact? Do you have a patriarchal vision? Get a vision for a godly home filled with children.
My heart is stirred when a sit at one end of our dining room table for a meal and the family gathers in. My daughters usually sit on one side, my sons on the other and Lois facing me at the other end. The table is filled with bounty. It is the very picture of Psalm 128
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel! (Psalm 128:1-6 NKJV)
May God restore to our hearts a great love for children until like Christ we say “Let the little children come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is a chapter from a book by John R. Rice called The Home.
God’s View of Children
by John R. Rice
No literature in all the world reveals the heart of mankind as the Bible does. The Bible gives us examples of evil men and women. But thank God it also contains a vast picture their heart’s desires, what were their joys and hopes and triumphs and fears. The good people in the Bible longed to have children, rejoiced exceedingly when God gave little ones to them to rear for Him.
The first woman who ever cradled a baby in her arms was Mother Eve, and she exclaimed with joy, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Gen. 4:1). I can almost see the face of that woman. She who had the first felt the birth pangs of travail to bring a child into the world and whose eyes were first lighted with mother love and whose arms had first circled a little mite, a baby, was happy! And that is the way all the good women of the Bible felt about babies.
Hear Sarah, rejoicing over her son given her when she was ninety years old, “God hath made me to laugh so that all that hear will laugh with me…Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age” (Gen. 21:6,7). And she named the child Isaac, meaning laughter, so that everyone who ever called his name would remember how happy his mother and father were when the little one came after long years of prayer?
When Rebecca left her home in the East to travel by camel to marry a man she had never seen, to become the bride of Isaac, her loved ones sent after her this blessing: “Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let they seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24:60). Above everything else they wished Rebecca to have the great blessing of a large family. And that wish was half prayer and half prophecy inspired of God, for this same Rebecca became the mother of the whole race of Isreal from which came the prophets of God through whom He gave the Scriptures and from which came the Saviour Himself.
How Leah rejoiced in her children! After the birth of her first son Reuben she said, “Surely the Lord hath looked upon my afflictions; now therefore my husband will love me.” After the birth of Simeon she was comforted and said, “Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also” (Gen. 29:32, 33). Almost as good as having a husband’s love was to have a son! And when her third son, Levi, was born, she said, “Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons” (Gen. 29:34). When Judah was born, she said, “Now will I praise the Lord” (Gen. 29:35).
And what about the beloved Rachel, favorite of Jacob? Was she happy that her husband loved her best of all? No, she envied her unloved sister who had children, and she sobbed to Jacob, “Give me children or else I die” (Gen. 30:1). when God gave children to their handmaids, to be called their own sons, these two sisters, wives of Jacob, greatly rejoiced. When Rachel had a son of her own she said, “God hath taken away my reproach” (Gen. 30:23). You see, these women measured their happiness by the number of their children. And they readily saw what so many women today fail to see, that married love depends very largely on the normal process of having children come into the home to bind husband and wife together and make the home what God intended it should be.
Let Hannah, the godly wife of Elkanah, become a model for Christian women everywhere. She had no son, though her husband loved her dearly. Poor Elkanah, troubled by a woman’s tears, specially since they were from the eyes of his well-loved Hannah, said to her, “Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is they heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Sam. 1:8). A good husband and his loving care did not satisfy the heart of a woman which was made also to love little children.
Such married love, she knew, ought naturally to culminate in offspring. And God noticed Hannah’s fasting and tears and heard her heartbroken cry and gave her a child. She ‘lent’ that baby to the Lord to become a prophet, and he turned out to be Samuel, the great man of God. When children are so loved and longed for, they are likely to be specially blessed. When they come in answer to prayer and when they are dedicated to God and reared for Him, how blessed are the results! More women should be like Hannah, who longed and prayed for a son.
When Elisha the prophet was given a prophet’s chamber in the home of the great woman of Shunem, he tried to think what good thing he could do to reward her for her care of comfort her heart and reward her was to intercede with God for her that she might have a son. And God gave the son! No other happiness as great could have been given her. One who reads the narrative in II Kings, chapter 4, can sense how God feels about the blessing of children and how godly people also feel about the joy of the little ones that God sends to godly married couples.
In Luke, chapter 1, read how John the Baptist was given to aged Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth. He could hardly believe it when the angle made to him the glad announcement, “Thy prayer is heard; and they wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13, 14). When the little one was born and Elisabeth brought forth her son “her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her” (Luke 1:58). Would it not be blessed if every woman who is pregnant, every woman who is privileged to join with God in the creation of a human being could feel as Elisabeth did? We are told, “And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men” (Luke 1:24, 25). such a blessing it is to have little children ! How rich a mercy does God show on the man He allows to conceive and bear a little one, her own baby, flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone!
Everywhere in the Bible it is implied that children are a great blessing sent from God. Psalm 127:3-5 states this expressly: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Those who believe the Bible, those who feel about the love and home and family as Bible Christians and saints did, will delight to have families and will pray that God will give them large families of sons and daughters, as the heritage of the Lord. “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”