Hebrew children enjoyed special treatment when compared with their ancient counterparts from surrounding nations. Child sacrifice as divine appeasement had permeated many cultures. Otherwise, children’s value was often measured by their economic contribution to society. Work productivity, not intrinsic worth, defined their relationship with the adult world. It is painful to say, but some of these attitudes, especially when it comes to economic worth, are found even in our present world. Truly, the day of wrath must come.
Evidently Israel’s apostasy affected the population’s estimate of children. Manasseh’s dalliance with witchcraft and other national religions induced the sacrificing of his sons (2 Chron. 33:6). Nevertheless, Manasseh’s reign was the exception rather than the rule; under more spiritual leadership, Israelites greatly valued their offspring.
Read Psalm 127:3-5; Ps. 128:3-6; Jeremiah 7:31; Deuteronomy 6:6-7. What do these texts suggest about God’s estimate of children? How might a proper understanding of Scripture affect our relationships with children?
Education, birthright, and many other cultural practices clearly demonstrated how valuable children were in ancient Hebrew culture. Not surprisingly, Christ expanded the already exalted position of children, as compared with surrounding cultures, to new dimensions. After all, children are human beings, and Christ’s death was for every person, whatever their age-a point we should never forget.
It’s hard to believe that there are adults so corrupted, so evil, so degraded that they hurt children, sometimes even their own. How can we, in whatever situation we are in, do everything we can to love, protect, and nurture the children within our sphere of influence?