“Provoke Not Your Children To Wrath”

When we turn our eyes to the Christian home, we must not fall in the trap of a man centered way of thinking, coming out of the pages of the Bible.

What is a family?

God created human families like pictures of God’s family here on earth. We know that Christ is the Head of God’s family. His Bride is the Church. The Church is like the “mother hen that watches over her little chickens”.

Today we will talk about “the little chickens”. Let us begin to read Ephesians 6:1-4

Ephesians 6:1
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Ephesians 6:2
Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

Ephesians 6:3
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Ephesians 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The first verse starts with “Children”! That is not addressed to only the children here. The word “Children” hopefully is addressed to all of us. Hopefully this is the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father. We have a perfect parent in God.

What is the first thing we see in these four verses in Ephesians 6?

God is giving us rules: Obey your parents, honor your father and mother, and so on. But God is not a tyrant. God is a loving Heavenly Father. Every single rule is given because God wants the very best for us. Throughout the Bible God is giving us many more rules, like rules about marriage and divorce, and rules about order in the Church. And many more.

We should see all these rules as testing programs. God is testing us all the time:

Are you going to be faithful?

Are you going to be faithful?

Every household has rules, and that also applies to the household of God. For example, let us focus on verse 4:

Ephesians 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

How can we understand this verse?

What does it mean “to provoke your children to wrath”?

Whose wrath?

And why does it begin with “Ye fathers”?

Well. This verse consists of two parts: the first part is in contrast to the second part. We know what the second part means: “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Therefore the first part means just the opposite: “bring them NOT up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”, so that they will come under the wrath of God!

It is the wrath of God that is in view here in verse 4.

Now. That is an important conclusion. That is worth talking about for a couple hours. Let us start with the second half of this verse:

Fathers who are God fearing fathers (Ephesians 6:4)

Fathers who fear God want the best for their children:

They bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

What does the word “admonition” mean?

An “admonition” is a friendly reproof, which is at the same time a warning against a particular sin. These are fathers teaching their children the fear of God!

What does it mean to fear God?

Does not everyone fear God?

No!

Not everyone fears God. Only those who are drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ will fear God.

It is not the nature of the natural man to fear God. Natural man is in rebellion against God.

The Bible says, ‘We are conceived and born in sin’, and we sin as soon as we come into the world:

Psalm 58:3
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Who is God talking about?

Yes, God is talking about these cute little babies; those little innocent cudlings. Those little bundles of joy!

Doesn’t everyone love these little babies?

No! Not everyone!

Paraphrased, God says: they are not innocent! These cute little babies are unsaved creatures, and they are sinning from the day they are born, and therefore the Law of God says that they are subject to eternal damnation.

The Bible says: From the moment we were created and come into this world we were made like our father Adam after the Fall, spiritually dead. You see, one of the principles of this creation is that “Like begets like”. God says that we all were dead in trespasses and sins, and we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Ephesians 2:1
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Ephesians 2:2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:3
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Therefore, if we are raised by a loving father, he will teach us the way of salvation, because everyone needs to be saved from the path to Hell, that they are on from the day that they are born.

Proverbs 2:1
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

Proverbs 2:2
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Proverbs 2:3
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Proverbs 2:4
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Proverbs 2:5
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:7
He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

God says to every child and every adult who is not yet saved: “incline thine ear unto wisdom”.

What is this wisdom that we are to incline our ear to?

It is the wisdom that leads us unto salvation. It is the wisdom of the Gospel of salvation that is found in the Word of God.

That is the knowledge we must cry for. It is the understanding that we must plead to God for mercy, because we find ourselves on the way to Hell, and we ourselves are unable to change our destiny.

And God says in verse 5,

Proverbs 2:5
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Repeatedly, God says in the Bible:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of God is understanding”. The fear of the Lord is not something of another culture, something of another age. The fear of the Lord is something very practical. The Lord Jesus said:

Matthew 10:28
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

This is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of understanding, according to the Bible.

But who is there that fears God? (Proverbs 3:11-12)

NO ONE! NO, NOT ONE! God says:

Romans 3:11
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Romans 3:18
There is no fear of God before their eyes.

How is it then that there are fathers who seek after the God of the Bible, fathers who fear God, like David did when he taught Solomon to fear God.

Was God exagurating when He said: “There is NONE that seeketh after God”?

No. God was not exagurating the sad situation of mankind.

In order for anyone to seek after the God of the Bible, God has to change that person into a new creature with a different mindset. When the Lord Jesus said in John 6:44,

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him,

The Lord Jesus was actually referring to an earlier statement in John chapter 3: “Ye must be born again”, and the only ones who will be born again are the ones who were chosen by the Father and will be drawn by the Father to the Lord Jesus.

This is the only way!

How does God draw this person to the Lord Jesus?

This can be a little child, or a big child, or an adult, or an old man.

How does God draw this person to the Lord Jesus ?

Remember that word “nurture” in Ephesians 6:4.

“bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”

We looked at the word admonition.

But now, what is that word “nurture”?

Actually, that particular Greek word has been translated “nurture” only once, and that is here in Ephesians 6:4. Once has it been translated “instruction”, and everywhere else it has been translated “Chastening” or “chastisement”. Therefore, this particular Greek word really means the whole training and education of children as well as adults, especially through chastening.

What is chastening?

Proverbs 3:11
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

Proverbs 3:12
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

What is chastening? It is a correction from God. Not just a warning against sin, but a very painful correction, like a father chastens his son for something that he should not have done.

This is how God draws a person to salvation, through some calamity or some painful situation.

This is also how God draws His children closer to Himself, through some painful experience.

God says: “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD”. This means, we should welcome the chastening of the Lord, because chastening is an integral part of God’s dealing with us in our sanctification. It is a sign that we are His children. It is God’s method of giving us wisdom.

If we are not chastened, if everything in our life is going very well, then we should worry.

God reminds us that we “bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. We deal with our children the way God is dealing with His children. We chasten them, and correct them, and warn them of their sins. Don’t call it mistakes. Call it what it is: SINS.

What if my children do not take correction very well?

It means you have not trained your children very well. Then you have a serious problem, both physically and spiritually, because God says: “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” and “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction”.

When we became parents, we were instantly promoted to expert Child educators, and Child evangelists, and Child psychologists, and so on. But God is helping us, through the Bible, to do our job right, just like He wants it. Here it is. We are going to look at:

Children on the way to fear God (Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 19:18, Proverbs 29:17)

Proverbs 13:24
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

You do not necessarily have to use a rod. Your children may be too young for it, or they may be too old. It is physically difficult to spank an 18 year old son. But there are other ways of chastening. Paraphrased, God says: If you love your children then you chasten them whenever they need it. Teach them the fear of God. If you do not chasten your children, then actually you hate your children, because you provoke them to the wrath of God.

Proverbs 19:18
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

“While there is hope”.

When is that?

That is when they are young, less than 5 years old. Those are the formative years of your children. Don’t waste those years.

In chastening God is not speaking only about sons, but also about daughters. Some children need more chastening than others. But when you have laid down the law, and you promised chastisement when the law was broken, then please follow it up. And do not warn your children three times. Once is enough. But always, chastisement must be done in love.

Does God say: If you chasten your children and if you do all these things that I have commanded, then I guarantee that I will put the fear of God into your children?

No! You cannot bribe God.

Proverbs 29:17
Correct thy son, and He shall give thee rest; yea, He shall give delight unto thy soul.

Trust that God means what He says: God shall give thee rest. God shall give delight unto your soul when you have done what was right. He will give you peace at heart. We must obey the rules that God has given. But in obeying these rules in raising our children, we cannot impose our will upon God. God is sovereign.

But now, let’s look at the first half of Ephesians 6:4. Let’s look at:

Children of Wrath (Ephesians 6:4)

God says: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath”

Paraphrased, God says: If you do NOT bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, then you are provoking the Lord’s wrath upon them.

We know that God is sovereign. But God works through people to work out His plans. God works through parents to work out His plan of Election. There are several examples of that in the Bible.
What happens if parents are not as dilligent as they should be?

For example, look at the household of Isaac and Rebekah. It was far from perfect. Little did they know that they were instruments in the hands of God. God’s plan was: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”. And God used the sins of Isaac and Rebekah to accomplish His plan.

In addition, God gave us the example how NOT to raise our children. Don’t have any favorites among your children.

Why does Ephesians 6:4 start with: “ye fathers”?

Since the father is the head of the household, the father also is called upon to be the spiritual leader of the household. Like Christ is the Head of the Church, the household of God, so fathers are appointed by God to take the spiritual leadership in their own households.

Are fathers the only ones to chasten their children?

No! That is not found in the Bible. Both parents should equally apply “the rod of correction”. What is:

The rod of correction? (Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13)

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

What is that foolishness that is bound in the heart of a child?

That is nothing else than his own sinful nature, the rotten selfish nature with which the child was born.

And where did the child get it from?

From the parents. Like begets like. But if the parents have become saved, then they will realize the condition where they came from, and it is not pleasing to them that this rotten selfish nature shows up in their own children. That is how the rod of correction comes into the picture. The rod of correction is just another word for any form of chastening.

Proverbs 23:13
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Proverbs 23:14
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

The focal point is always the same: “Lord, give me wisdom so that I will train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and please deliver my child from Hell”.

And God warns us: If you do not chasten your children, most likely they will become:

Children on the way to wrath (Proverbs 28:9, Proverbs 30:17)

Allow me to give you two examples of “Children on the way to wrath”.

Proverbs 28:9
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

We want to train our children to hear the law: When I speak you listen, and I will not say this twice.

Just think of what could and most likely would happen if they become acustomed to turning a deaf ear to their parents. Most likely they will turn a deaf ear to God’s Law and end up in Hell. Even his prayer shall be an abomination to God.

The second example is found in Proverbs 30:17.

Proverbs 30:17
The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

The eye is the gate to the soul. This youngster is not mocking or despising his parents openly, but in his heart. God has no pleasant words for this rebellious child. “The ravens of the valley” are exactly the same words as the ravens that fed Elijah by the brook Cherith.

“The ravens of the valley” = “The ravens of the brook”.

What God seems to say is that the providence of God that gave Elijah his daily food, that same providence of God is going to work against this youngster, so that he will not be able to discern good from evil, and will end up under the condemnation of God.

What Is Found in Our Homes?

What example do the parents give to their children?

Do we take God at His word?

Is there discipline in our household?

Is there discipline in our lifestyles?

Look around; what do you see?

TV, radio, Nintendo, toys, the newspaper, the Bible, and so on.

Which of these has priority in our life?

What are our priorities?

That is easy to answer.

How much time do you spend on any of these things?

Then, Is there any time left?

Do you give God your leftover time?

Parents are to be a role model for their children.

How can we be an example to our children if we are living like a hypocrite?

We must be consistent.

Is God consistent?

How involved is God in our life?

God spends all of His time with us. He watches over every detail in our life.

What do parents want for their children?

That they would be kids that walk with the Lord.

We know that God is sovereign, but God did not write Ephesians 6:4 and then ignore it. This verse strongly suggests that we must make sacrifices in all those areas that feed our own ego, and that we must spend time with our kids.

Matthew 6:19
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Only what is done for the Lord shall last.

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Therefore God says to us:

Ephesians 6:4
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

By Alfred Chompff

~ by Test All Things on May 12, 2009.

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