The following is an article by Mrs. Ellen G. White found in the May 21, 1985 edition of The Review and Herald.
The directions that Moses gave concerning the passover feast are full of significance, and have an application to parents and children in this age of the world. “Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”
The father was to act as the priest of the household, and if the father was dead, the eldest son living was to perform this solemn act of sprinkling the door-post with blood. This is a symbol of the work to be done in every family. Parents are to gather their children into the home and to present Christ before them as their Passover. The father is to dedicate every inmate of his home to God, and to do a work that is represented by the feast of the passover. It is perilous to leave this solemn duty in the hands of others. This peril is well illustrated by an incident that is related concerning a Hebrew family on the night of the passover. The legend goes that the eldest daughter was sick; but that she was acquainted with the fact that a lamb was to be chosen for every family, and that its blood was to be sprinkled upon the lintel and side posts of the door so that the Lord might behold the mark of the blood, and not suffer the destroyer to enter in to smite the first-born. With what anxiety she saw the evening approach when the destroying angel was to pass by. She became very restless. She called her father to her side, and asked, “Have you marked the door-post with blood?” He answered, “Yes; I have given directions in regard to the matter. Do not be troubled; for the destroying angel will not enter here.” The night came on, and again and again the child called her father, still asking, “Are you sure that the door-post is marked with blood?” Again and again the father assured her that she need have no fear; that a command which involved such consequences would not be neglected by his trustworthy servants. As midnight approached, her pleading voice was heard saying, “Father, I am not sure. Take me in your arms, and let me see the mark for myself, so that I can rest.” The father conceded to the wishes of his child; he took her in his arms and carried her to the door; but there was no blood mark upon the lintel or the posts. He trembled with horror as he realized that his home might have become a house of mourning. With his own hands he seized the hyssop bough, and sprinkled the door-post with blood. He then showed the sick child that the mark was there.
Are parents placing the mark of God upon their households in this their day of probation and privilege? Are not many fathers and mothers placing their responsibilities into others’ hands? Do not many of them think that the minister should take the burden, and see to it that their children are converted, and that the seal of God is placed upon them? They do not restrict their children’s desires, referring them to a “thus saith the Lord.” Many suppose that the Sabbath-school influence will be all-sufficient, and that the Sabbath-school teacher will instruct and educate their children in such a way as to lead them to Christ. Fathers and mothers place their responsibility in the hands of others, and thus perilously neglect their own households.
“He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side; and they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men [men of responsibility] which were before the house.
I am much distressed because there is such manifest neglect in the home in the matter of training the children and the youth. Even in professedly Christian homes, where fathers and mothers would be supposed to be diligent students of the Scriptures, in order that they might know every specification and restriction in the word of God, there is manifest neglect of following the instruction of the word, and of bringing up the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Professedly Christian parents fail to practice piety at home. How can fathers and mothers represent Christ’s character in the home life when they are content to reach a cheap, low standard? The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character.
If parents would fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to be their strength, they would not fail of receiving his blessing in their households. “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.”
The reason why the children of Israel forsook Jehovah was that the generation rose up that had not been instructed concerning the great deliverance from Egypt by the hand of Jesus Christ. Their fathers had not rehearsed to them the history of the divine guardianship that had been over the children of Israel through all their travels in the wilderness. The Lord Jesus had given special instruction from the pillar of cloud, bringing before parents the responsibility of teaching their children the statutes and the commandments of God. They were to present to their children tokens of the power of God, and to perform ceremonies that would provoke inquiry, and give them an opportunity of repeating the works of God in dealing with his people. But the parents failed to act the part that God had assigned them in diligently teaching their children, so that they might have been intelligent in regard to the works of God in leading his people through the wilderness. Had the parents been true to their trust, the children would have seen the mercy and goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ; but the parents neglected the very work that the Lord had charged them to do, and failed to instruct them in regard to God’s purpose toward his chosen people. They did not keep before them the fact that idolatry was sin, and that to worship other gods meant to forsake Jehovah. If parents had fulfilled their duty, we should never have the record of the generation that knew not God, and were therefore given into the hands of the spoilers.
In the New Testament we are exhorted to be warned by the example of the Hebrews in neglecting their duty and in departing from the living God. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” The failures and mistakes of ancient Israel are not as grievous in the sight of God as are the sins of the people of God in this age. Light has been increasing from age to age, and the generations that follow have the example of the generations that went before. The Lord does not change, and a sin which he condemned in former generations should be avoided by us. We should heed the admonition that has been given in the past, and lay hold of the promises that are made for the encouragement of the obedient. If we are learning lessons in obedience, following the path of faith and virtue, we have a living connection with God, and he will be our strength and support, our front guard, and our rearward. The same conditions must be fulfilled by us now as were by those who received rich blessings in former days. The reason we do not have more of the blessing of the Lord is that the professed people of God serve him with divided hearts, as verily as did ancient Israel. They profess to be worshipers of God, but many as verily worship idols as did the Hebrews.
With every generation increased light has shone, and we are responsible for the use that we make of this light. Those who pretend to serve God, and yet cherish selfishness, who seek to fulfill ambitious projects, are lovers of pleasures, lovers of self, and are as much more sinful than was ancient Israel as the light is greater which shines upon their pathway. They have the past experience in the history of the disobedience of Israel, and they know the result of their neglect of duty. They have heard warnings from God as to how to avoid the mistakes and errors of his ancient people, in order that they may escape the results of their own course of action, and they are more inexcusable in their course of sin than was ancient Israel. Many feel astonished that the Israelites should have manifested such ingratitude when God had manifested such love and care for them. They think that they would not be guilty of taking such a course; but let the question be turned upon ourselves. How much gratitude do we render to God for his loving kindness and tender mercy? How easy it is for us to forget God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent! We each come under the condemnation that rests upon ancient Israel, when we neglect to give thanksgiving to God for his daily mercies to us. When the leper returned to give glory to God, Christ asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Is there only one in ten who returns to give glory to God? Is this the proportion who return with overflowing hearts to render praise and thanksgiving for the mercy and loving kindness of our Heavenly Father?