Deuteronomy 21:18-21 states, “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
In connection with these verses, a reader asks, “Did these things actually happen in the OT days or are the verses merely written to show us an example of something else?”
I wrote on this question in the last News and emphasized that the injunction of the text in Deuteronomy must indeed be taken seriously and these words must be obeyed. But I also pointed out that the text was written to Israel as a theocracy, in which church and state were one. There is no such thing as a theocracy here on earth any more. The full theocracy awaits Christ’s return when all the church shall be redeemed.
But I also wrote that the command in Deuteronomy 21 was a command given to God’s covenant people. This is very important, and it is of this truth that I write in this issue of the News.
That Israel was God’s covenant people means that He had established His covenant with Israel in distinction from all the other nations of the earth. That covenant was made with Abraham and his seed. That is, it was made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Having been made with them, it was also made with the twelve sons of Jacob, and thus with the children of Israel.
The children of believing Israel were also in that covenant. They were in that covenant as members of it; as members of it as children. The children, from infancy on, were in the covenant of grace.
The same is true today. Children of believers in the New Testament age are also members of the covenant. They, as well as adults, are members of the church and kingdom of Christ (Acts 2:39; Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 74). They are regenerated, given faith, converted and have the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They must, therefore, be brought up as covenant children.
The case is not, as so many hold today, that believers’ children are, as Jonathan Edwards called them, “a nest of vipers.” They are not unconverted as the heathen. They do not grow up waiting for conversion to happen. They are converted and sanctified children of God. And they must be brought up by instruction from the Scriptures so that they may grow spiritually.
But we know too, and Scripture teaches us, that not all that are of Israel are truly Israel (Rom. 9:6). Just as there are hypocrites in the church at large, there are also children born in covenant lines that are not children of God, not true Israel. Who are true children and who are not is determined by God’s eternal decree. His sovereign, immutable choice decides who are the true children of the covenant and who are not (6-24).
Christian parents are to teach their children the same truth that is preached in the church. They are to hold before their children the glorious promises of the gospel that are made to those who believe in Christ and find their salvation in Him alone. But they are also called upon to warn their children of the pitfalls and evil of sin, of the need for repentance when they sin, and of the just punishment of God upon those who do not repent.
If a family has, for example, an older child that refuses to walk in the way of Jehovah’s commandments, they must put that person, when come to years of discretion, out of the house. They must say to that wayward child, “This is a covenant home. If you will not walk in God’s ways, you may not be in this house. Further, you, because you are an example to the younger children, have, by your sinful ways, given an evil example to your young brothers and sisters. You must leave.”
And if such a one is come to years of discretion, the church must warn him or her of the consequences of walking in ways contrary to God’s covenant. If no repentance is forthcoming, the church must cut such a one off from the fellowship of the people of God.
In this way, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is observed by Christians in the new dispensation. Prof. Herman Hanko
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 17
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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