Yesterday was a spring day to remember, a gift from God, unseasonably warm, more appreciated because it came after a long cold spell of ice and freezing rain. One week it was very winterish, and the next was all brilliant yellow buttercups and white-blossomed plum and Bartlett pear trees. It was one of those windy 72-degree days in the hills of Tennessee that always provoke me to say (tongue in cheek, of course), “This is a bad winter day in the Millennium.”
But this day was made more special by the children present. I was out applying composted manure and hay to the garden and disking it all in, getting it ready for planting potatoes, cabbages, and onions. When I reached the end of my row where I turn to make another pass, I looked across the yard and was blessed by the most beautiful sight. Not too far away, my wife was working in the herb garden, with several kids, none older than four years, working and playing around her. They were pulling weeds and placing stones. One was digging in the sand pile. The warm wind stirred their hair and clothes. They were having more fun than most people have in a month.
Beyond them, I could see several more kids playing on the swings and slides. I could hear them squealing with delight as they swung so high that the chain went slack. Further on, I saw two more kids dragging their plastic kiddie cars to the top of the steep concrete drive. I stopped to watch, hoping that someone would come out and rescue them before they did what it looked like they were going to do. But no, they mounted their red and blue vehicles and simultaneously shoved off down the hill, screaming their exuberance with the prospect of winning the race. The little three-year-old boy beat the five-year-old girl to the bottom. She lost control and veered off onto the grassy bank where her ‘race car’ slowed. The little fellow jumped out and started dragging his plastic race car back to the top. He was the champ. But I could see that the girl wasn’t a bit daunted. She dragged her car out of the grass and raced to the top to try it all again. More fun!
Two of the kids were my grandchildren, but the others were a various assortment of No Greater Joy workers’ children and three children of a visiting missionary. At the time I didn’t take note, but as I write this I recall that the kids represented Shem, Ham, and Japheth—the complete spectrum of all the races. (You remember the sons of Noah and the division of the races at that time, don’t you?) Three of the kids were black, three were oriental, and two were Caucasian, friends all.
My wife noted my tractor paused in its rounds and looked up to see what I was doing. I let out a joyous whoop and waved a hallelujah greeting before turning my Kubota tractor back into the warm wind and lowering the disk into the black, organic soil. I had to thank God and rejoice that this moment of deep pleasure is just a foretaste of the glory that is yet to come during the Millennium in the kingdom of Christ.
As I continued my disking across the garden, I recalled the passage Brother Davidson read during our wedding so many years ago, suggesting that we claim this promise for our own. And we did!
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto…”
(Deuteronomy 28: 2)
Wow! God’s promise has become our testimony. The passage says it so well, and Deb and I have certainly been overtaken by blessings. We have lived in the city and been blessed, and have lived in the fields and hills and been blessed. We have been blessed when we come in and when we go out, when we lie down and when we rise up. Our God took charge of heaven’s storehouse of blessings and “commanded the blessings upon” us.
Our sons have been “as plants grown up in their youth”, and “our daughters as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalm 144:12).
My wife has been “as a fruitful vine by the sides of [my] house.” My children are “like olive plants round about [my] table.” We have seen our “children’s children, and peace” has been upon us (Psalm 128:3).
It’s not too late to claim this promise for yourself and your children right now.
“The LORD shall increase you more and more,” you and your children.
“Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth”
You can still say, “I and my children are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.” Do it right now.
Jesus loves little children in a special way, from the moment they are conceived. The disciples, like many adults today, thought that children get in the way of “adult” worship. If you are concerned about children getting in the way of “your” worship, very likely God is not paying attention to your worship anyhow. Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16). Think about it, the kingdom of God is not constructed of brick and wood and padded pews. It is constructed of children—“of such is the kingdom of God.”
Jesus spoke of departed children; I suppose those who died before reaching a state of accountability—that would include all aborted babies and those stillborn or who died from disease early in life. “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Like a small child looks into the face of his mother, soliciting a smile, or pleading for attention, the angel presence of little children look into the Father’s face, and he looks back. Rejoice, for your little ones who have gone on are not lonely or sad; they are being babysat by God the Father.
Speaking of the coming reign of Christ over the earth, the prophet observed, “And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (Zechariah 8:5). Every day in the Millennium is going to be better than the best of our moments here on earth. The curse will be lifted from nature. The prophet Isaiah said of that time, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6–9). Can’t you just see it? Jesus surrounded by little children playing—aborted children, children killed in war, children taken by disease, every nationality and race, from every age, all growing to maturity in the Kingdom of Christ? Children still nursing (suckling child), playing in the hole of what was formerly known as a deadly serpent, but without harm. Thinking on what the prophet said, I can visualize a small child walking down a sidewalk in a peaceful neighborhood, leading his pet lion past sleeping sheep and cows. The lion spies a meal and runs over to take a big bite out of someone’s lawn. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Bring it on! I won’t mind seeing my grandkids grown to maturity in the Kingdom of Christ.
In the meantime, we fathers need to be like Abraham. God chose him to be the father of a great nation for one virtue that he exercised. God said of him, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). Don’t leave the children out. God had them in mind when he gave the Holy Spirit to his people, which is why we have taught our children about God at the same time they were learning the difference between a boy and a girl and between Mama and Daddy. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Isaiah asked the question and then answered it. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9–10).
The Lord Jesus Christ so identifies with children that he said when we receive a child in his name we receive him (Matthew 18:5).
So don’t waste your time on adults or adult church. Did you hear about the time Jesus was invited to speak in a big urban church on Sunday morning? The church was packed out early. At 10:30 he was not there, so they started the singing without him. At 11:15, when the preaching was supposed to start, Jesus still had not showed. The people were greatly disappointed, because he had promised to come and minister. The preacher left the platform and went back to his office to get the letter of acceptance. Yes, the date and time were correct. How could the sovereign God, who knows all, make a prior commitment and then fail to keep it? The preacher delivered an old sermon and let the congregation out at 12:00 as usual. When the parents went by the children’s church to get their kids, they heard the greatest hilarity going on. When they looked in, there was Jesus putting on a skit for the kids. The pulpit committee approached him afterward and expressed their disappointment at his failure to show. Jesus responded, “I was on time, and I ministered to the church just as I said, and they ministered to me—for of such is the kingdom of God.”