Walking Through Old Testament Law with Kids

February 20, 2024

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Today's question says, "What is the best approach to getting through the Old Testament with kids? I'm having some trouble, even myself, getting through many of the commandments that came from God. All of the sacrificing animals, splashing blood, condemning to death for not wearing the right color, and ordaining procedures. Please help."


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, those of you who are watching this podcast on YouTube, you may have noticed that I am wearing a different shirt than I normally wear, and this is very purposeful because it has to do with the question that we are going to be answering today. So today's question says, "What is the best approach to getting through the Old Testament with kids? I'm having some trouble, even myself, getting through many of the commandments that came from God. All of the sacrificing animals, splashing blood, condemning to death for not wearing the right color and ordaining procedures. Please help."

So really appreciate this question because it's an important one for us to think through. That the Old Testament is the inspired word of God, yet sometimes certain portions of it can be really difficult for us to understand in our 21st century context. So we need to think through how should we understand the Old Testament and then what can we do to help our children understand it.

Now, before we dive down deep into answering this question, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast. Also ask that you would just invest the two seconds that it takes to give this content a rating that really helps other people discover this content so we can equip more Christian adults to get their kids thinking critically and biblically.

Now, before we dive down into answering this question, I wanted to address a certain portion of this question that this question said or the questioner said, that they're having trouble understanding all of the sacrificing of animals, splashing of blood, condemning to death for not wearing the right color and ordaining procedures. Now, there is a lot of animal sacrifice. There is a lot of placing blood in different places. There's a lot of instructions about how to ordain priests and other Levites, and there are some crimes that are punishable by death. However, this claim condemning to death for not wearing the right color. When I first read that, I thought, man, have I just always missed that in Leviticus numbers and Deuteronomy and I actually searched and I could not find anywhere that people in the Mosaic law were condemned to death for wearing the wrong color.

Now, what is in the Mosaic law is commandments forbidding God's people in the nation of Israel to wear a wool and linen blend. In Deuteronomy 22, there's a commandment against that, that the people are not to wear clothing made of wool and linen. And then in Leviticus chapter 19, the people are forbidden to wear clothing of mixed fabric. However, the punishment for these crimes was not death. So I just wanted to clear that up at the front end of the podcast. Also, in the show notes, we are going to link to an article from the Got Questions ministry that actually explains why there were these commands, why were the Israelites commanded not to wear a mix of wool and linen, and then also just not to wear a mix of any type of fabric made of two different blends. So just if you have questions about that, check out the article that we're linking to in the show notes that will provide a pretty thorough explanation of why those commandments are there.

Now, as we think about this question, how do we make it through the Old Testament? How do we help our kids do this? I think there are two parts to this question, and the first part of the question is how do we make it all the way through? How do we make sure that we make it through and that our kids make it through? And then the second part is how do we understand the mosaic law and then help our children understand the Mosaic law? So those are the two different parts of this question that we're going to look at today.

So the first part, how do we make it through the Old Testament? And so what I'm going to talk you through is something that we do in our Studying the Bible Curriculum at Foundation Worldview because in our Studying the Bible Curriculum, we are helping equip children from the ages of eight on up with the skills that they need to soundly read, interpret, and apply Scripture. And at the end of that curriculum, once we have given kids all of these skills that they can use in reading the Bible, we challenge them to actually read through the entire Bible and we give them a reading plan that is developmentally appropriate where we tell them we've skipped over certain narratives like we have not included the Song of Solomon because that's just not appropriate for an 8-year-old to read. We've also skipped over some more of the narratives like Lot and his daughters or Judah and Tamar, just passages that are not appropriate for an 8-year-old to read. And we tell them, these are important parts of God's word. Eventually you'll read through them, but just not right now. So what I'm going to walk you through is some of the stuff that we do in our Studying the Bible Curriculum. So one really important thing is that we make sure that our kids understand the whole story and how different portions or different narratives fit in to that whole story.

For example, when we are reading through the Mosaic law where it can be really difficult to read through all of the detailed procedures about how to ordain a priest, how the temple, the tabernacle was supposed to be constructed, all of the different types of sacrifices, the different types of laws of what the people we're supposed to do and not supposed to do, we want to make sure our children have an understanding of where the Mosaic law fits in to God's big story. That it takes place after the fall of mankind. It takes place after God had called the nation of Israel out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When he was giving them his law, he was making a covenant with them, showing how they were to honor him in the land that he had given them. And this was all in setup of eventually the Davidic Kingdom and the Davidic line to usher in Jesus the Messiah. And so if you're interested just in more information on how to make sure our kids understand the whole story of the Bible, highly recommend that you check out a webinar we previously did at Foundation Worldview called Teaching Our Kids How to Read the Bible. So we will include that a link to that as well in the show notes. So highly recommend you check that out. So the first thing, we just need to make sure that our kids understand the whole story of Scripture so that anytime we're reading a different narrative or different commands, our kids understand how that passage fits in to the bigger story.

Then the second thing that I would recommend for helping us and our kids make it through the Old Testament is to really focus our reading each day to focus in on a few different things. And one thing that we do in our Studying the Bible Curriculum is we train kids to ask anytime they're reading a text. Is this text descriptive? Is it describing people, places and events? Or is it prescriptive? Is it giving commands for things that people are to do or not to do? Because there's a difference between a descriptive text that is telling us of people, places, and events in God's story versus prescriptive texts which are giving commands. And then we train the kids to ask if a text is prescriptive like the Mosaic law is, we train them to ask, who is this command prescriptive for? Because when Paul is giving Timothy a certain command for him to go somewhere and retrieve some parchments, obviously that command is not for us today. We're not supposed to go to some other town and retrieve Paul's cloak in parchments. And there are certain commands that God has given to the nation of Israel that are not prescriptive for us today, when God gave specific commands about how the nation of Israel was to go into the promised land and what they were to do to conquer that land, those are not commands that God has given us today. God has not called us as Christians to take over any physical land. So we train kids to ask, who is this text prescriptive for? And then if it's a descriptive text, if it's a text that's giving descriptions about people, places, and events, we train the kids in are Studying the Bible Curriculum to ask what truths are revealed in this narrative about God? What truths are revealed about humans and what truths are revealed about God's big plan? So that rather than just looking at a narrative like David and Goliath or Daniel in the lion's den or the parting of the Red Sea, rather than saying, how does this apply to my life? They're looking for, okay, what is revealed about who God is in this text? What is revealed about who humans are and how does this text fit into God's big plan?

So that would be my encouragement for making it through the Old Testament. Make sure that you and your kids understand the whole story of the Bible and how these different parts of the Old Testament fit in with that grand story. And then ask yourselves anytime you're going through a passage, is this text descriptive or is it prescriptive? If it's descriptive, what truths about God, humans, and God's big plan are revealed in this text? If it's prescriptive, ask, who is this passage prescriptive for? So that's the first part of this question. The second part of this question, specifically focusing on understanding the Mosaic law. Now this is something over which Christians have different views. If you like reading and if you're interested in theology, highly recommend that you check out a book called Five Views on Law and Gospel that this book just takes five different views. Five different theologians have written in about their views of how Christians are to understand the Mosaic law. So that's more of an academic book. So if you're not an academic reader, you're not going to want to go into that book, but if you are, that's a great resource.

Now in our Studying the Bible Curriculum, one thing that we say is that our goal at Foundation Worldview is to stick to the core tenants of the historic Christian faith. And then those secondary and tertiary doctrines, we leave those up to individual parents or church leaders to talk through with kids. However, when it comes to the Mosaic law, when we are teaching kids how to read the Bible, that is a secondary issue that we do just have to cover. And so we explain that we take a certain view of that and we know not everybody is going to have that exact view. And so we encourage parents or church leaders or Christian educators that if they have a different view to let their kids watch through the lesson and then explain why they don't agree with that view.

So the view that we take in our Studying the Bible Curriculum is that the Mosaic law represents a covenant that God made with the nation of Israel. As Christians, we are new covenant believers, and many of the laws that God included in the mosaic covenant still apply to us as Christians, but they apply to us not because they are in the Mosaic law, but because they are a part of the new covenant that God makes available to all people. So the Mosaic covenant says, you shall not murder. We as Christians know that we shall not murder. Those are specific things, commands that we know that we have been given as part of the new covenant. However, there are things like I talked about in the beginning of this podcast, there are things like wearing clothing of mixed blends that we are no longer required to follow that rule because we as new covenant believers are not under the covenant that God made with his people at Mount Sinai. We are part of the new covenant.

Now, not all Christians believe this, and if you don't, that's something that you're going to have to explain to your children and why. But that's our position at Foundation Worldview. In fact, the reason that I am wearing this shirt is because this shirt is a shirt that is a blend. It's 76% Merino wool and 14% linen. And that is not the percentage, but the blends of wool and linen is exactly what was forbidden in Deuteronomy 22. However, it is my position that because I am a new covenant believer and I am not under the Mosaic covenant, that that is a law that does not apply to me. That is a prescriptive command that was prescriptive for the nation of Israel for a very specific purpose. And you can find out that purpose if you look at that article that I linked to in the show notes, for Got Questions, but that is not a law that I am bound to today as a new covenant believer.

Now, what we do cover in our Studying the Bible Curriculum is we say that the law, the Mosaic law reveals who God is and what he values. So even though not all of the laws that are included in that covenant are ones that we as Christians are required to follow, they're still valuable for us to read and to learn from because they reveal who God is and what he values. And I'm going to show you how this applies and how we can do this with our kids and show them that the law reveals who God is and what he values. I'm going to read for us a passage from Leviticus chapter 14. I'm going to read verses 33-48, which most of us would consider a very not interesting part of Scripture, but I'm going to model for us how we can take these parts of Scripture that may be difficult to get through and help us and our kids understand more of who God is and what he values.

So Leviticus chapter 14, verses 33-48, says, "The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a cause of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, 'There seems to me to be some case of disease in my house.' Then the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, lest all that is in the house be declared unclean. And afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day, and look. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which the disease and throw them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall have the inside of the house scraped all around, and the plaster that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other plaster and plaster the house. If the disease breaks out again in the house, after he has taken out the stones and scraped the house and plastered it, then the priest shall go and look. And if the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprous disease in the house; it is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones and timber and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city to an unclean place. Moreover, whoever enters the house while it is shut up shall be unclean until the evening, and whoever sleeps in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes. But if the priest comes and looks, and if the disease has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, for the disease is healed."

Okay, not the most riveting portion of Scripture for us to read. However, when we read this and then ask ourselves, okay, what does this reveal about who God is and what he values, the fact that God has very specific instructions for what is to be done and what is not to be done when there is some sort of mold or fungus growing in the house? Well, one thing that it reveals about God is that God is a God of order. He didn't just send his people off into the promised land and say, well, I hope it goes well. Do your thing there. No, God is a God of order that he cared down to the very tiny details of the stones and plaster in the house. He is a God of order.

And then what else does it teach us about who God is or what He values? It teaches us that God cares for his people. We might be sitting here and thinking like, oh my goodness, really? Did we need all of this description about mold or mildew being removed from a house? But think about what would've happened in the ancient Near East. If mold and mildew were allowed to grow rampant while the people were wandering around in the wilderness, or eventually when they settled the promised land, what would've happened? There would've been huge outbreaks. And what would've happened in this time? Before antibiotics were developed, there would've been a massive plague and people would've died from diseases. And so God cares for his people. He cares for the health of his people. In fact, during the time of the Black Plague in Europe, there was one community that was spared mostly from the Black Plague, and that was the Jewish community because the people of Israel were still following these commands that God had given in the Mosaic law, and they kept them healthy.

And so even when we're reading these parts of God's law where we think, do we really need this kind of detail about this kind of thing that's going on in the community, we can ask ourselves and we can have our children ask themselves, okay, what does this reveal about who God is and what he values? And all of a sudden, a really boring passage about mold and mildew reveals that our God is a God of order and that he cares deeply for his people.

So I hope with what I've modeled for you in this podcast, you can just take some of these things and implement them with your kids as you continue to read through Scripture with them, because we want to equip our kids to soundly read, interpret, and apply Scripture.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

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