Little Ones and Locust
As we have seen the story of the signs and wonders we have pointed out God’s power, protection, punishment and his purpose. We have seen that one of the aspects of God’s power being on display that Pharaoh would know who the Lord is but also other nations. God shows his power and might through these signs and wonders for a direct end, not only that His people would no longer be subject to Pharaoh, but that they would be free to serve the Lord. The people are saved to worship God. Along with all the other aspects we have seen in the other signs and wonders of the intensifying signs, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, the power of God against the gods of the Egyptians, the providence and sovereignty of God, this sign has all of those aspects within this plague. However, we will focus on one aspect that is unique to this sign and wonders, mainly that God showed his power so generations would know and worship the one true God. Although Pharaoh sought to stop the next generation from worshiping God, God saves his people, young and old, for his purposes.
Little ones will know who is the Lord
Interestingly in this sign we have a variation in the beginning verse, normally the Lord says to Moses, say this or do this. However, this is slightly different. Here Moses is told about God’s plan and purpose, speaking of the freedom that the Israelites will have. Pharaoh has been told that these signs and wonders are so that he would know, the Egyptians would know and the nations would know that the earth in the Lord’s. However, the Lord speaks to Moses and tells him, “that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:2). This instruction has a personal aspect to Moses as the Lord commands him to tell his sons and grandsons about how he has shown his power and might through these signs and wonders. Moses does this through recording the of the account by writing the book of Exodus. God shows his power and might not only for the sake of the people outside the covenant community but for the people inside the covenant community. Time and time again the people of God will forget the power of God and what he has done to be able to save his people. Right after leaving Egypt they start to complain and start to question. They look back on their slavery with fondness and love. God shows his power so that the people of God would know who the Lord is, and what he has done for them. The reminder is throughout the pages of Scripture, as they stand at the foot of mount Sinai the Lord tells them, before he gives the ten commandments, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt , out of the house of slavery (Ex 20:2).
What is God’s solution to this redemption amnesia? Tell your children and your grandchildren. The covenant model is that children need to be taught and instructed in the way of the Lord, but also the salvation from the Lord. Psalm 78:1-4 says,
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
We tell the story of God’s redemption because the children need to hear it but also the parents need to remember it. We see this principle throughout the whole bible, in chapter 13 we will see the parents need to tell the children about how God saved them, in Deuteronomy 4:9 the Lord instructs parents to tell their children so that we do not forget. In Chapter 5 we are to remind our children as we go about our everyday life, walking or sleeping. In Chapter 6 the children are to be reminded this is why they were to keep the law, because God saved them. Psalm 78 continues to say that we should tell the next generation, even those who are not yet born. That this is why they are to have hope and seek to obey the Lord’s commandments (Ps 78:5-8).
This is not only the Old Testament model but the same applies to the New Testament. Paul instructs fathers in particular in Ephesians to bring your children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Timothy was taught by his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois (2 Tim 1:5). Later in the letter Paul says, “how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15). The ESV translates this word, Childhood, more accurately it means from infancy. A newborn child. What do the scriptures teach children, to be wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Parents and grandparents, the most important thing you will do in this life is to tell and teach your children and grandchildren the Bible. To tell them about God’s power to save through faith. Notice that this is not something to be outsourced, but the roll and responsibility is yours. Fathers, you need to be teaching your children so that they would be wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Right from the womb this should be our number one goal as parents. Sadly, I think we seek to raise lovely children and not godly children. Our desire should be to have our children love the Lord more than us. Not merely mini pharisees but true disciples of the Lord.
What do you do then? Where do you start? Read the Bible to them and pray with them regularly. Now what this means we need to be reading the Bible and regularly praying ourselves. When do you do it, when it works for your family. If you cannot find time, then you have too much on. We show and teach our children not only in what we say to them but more importantly what we do. Do we prioritize family over God? Do we prioritize academic studies over studying God’s word? If church is the thing in our week that is the first to go, what happens when their life is busy in college or work, church will be the first to go. Now, we do not do this perfectly in our house. However, we do try and do this. But also we should not only see this in our family devotions, whenever you are walking or sitting we should be instructing them about the Lord and his salvation. Do not only correct behavior, point them to Christ. Pray with them when they fail and remind them of our hope of salvation found only through faith.
Little ones will go to serve the Lord
The second point that we see in this plague is that Pharaoh seeks to limit those who can go and worship the Lord in the wilderness. Pharaoh tries to add a condition to the people of God leaving. He asks the question in verse eight, which ones are going to go? Moses tells Pharaoh that all of God’s people are called to serve him, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord” (Ex 10:9). Eighty or so years ago Pharaoh sought to be able to wipe out the sons of Israel, now he is seeking to be able to hold the children of God’s people. Just as the covenant community seeks to instruct the children in their midst. The enemy seeks to be able to divide the children from the parents. The simple question Pharaoh has is, who is going to worship the Lord, and Moses’ answer is, the Lord’s people. Who are the Lord’s people, those who are young and old. Pharaoh tries only to send the men and sends Moses out of his presence. This is nonnegotiable for Moses. Children are a part of the Covenant Community. They are able to be able to go and serve the Lord, just as much as the adults. This is what Jesus says in Mark 10:4, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” In Christ’s mind children are not second-class citizens they are citizens in his kingdom. If our children are set apart from the world within the covenant community, why would we then malign them on the outskirts. We should have the same view of Moses and Jesus, we worship together. Think of what this does for our children, not only are they exposed to the means of grace, but they see that you as a parent are exposed to them as well. They see you repent, sit under the word of God, need to be fed and sustained by Christ through his sacraments. They see you are not some form of super hero, but you need Jesus.
More practically how can we as a church not merely say we love children but show how we love children in our service. Most churches love the idea of children in a service but in reality, children wriggle, and do not understand cues, or being quiet. I believe this church does a great job. But here are four things we can seek to do. Tell the parents that we love having them and their children in the service. I would much rather be preaching or praying over crying babies than dead silence. Make sure you encourage them in what they are doing. Although we have different styles of parenting, from different cultures or generations. They chose to come to church and bring their children, you can have many excuses not to do that, but they are seeking to do the right thing. Thirdly, don’t stare. Curiosity is ingrained in all of us and we seek to be able to turn and look what the fuss is. But imagine having a horrible Sunday screaming and yelling trying to get the kids in the car to make it to church on time. But you walk through the doors late, the children not acting like angels but more like Legion in the gospel accounts, and as you seek to walk to your seat, everyone have their eyes on you. Some of us find it hard to make it to church on time, without dressing little people who very quickly undo what was done. Lastly, get to know the children, notice how Moses tells pharaoh that the covenant community is for both young and old. How special it is when grownups take time to talk to children and ask them about what they like and how things are. Generally speaking, children do not bite. Get to know their name and show them you love having them at church.
Little ones will grow in the Lord
When we consider the narrative in Exodus, we find that it centers around a generation destined to enter the Promised Land. This generation, once referred to as “little ones,” has a significant role in God’s grand plan. As we delve into this passage, we discover that it’s not just a historical account but a powerful lesson in generational faith. Deuteronomy 31 paints a vivid picture of this generational progression. Moses instructs the assembly: “Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God and be careful to do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12). Those “little ones” who were small children while these plagues were happening, witnessed or heard about God’s mighty works in Exodus are now the men and women tasked with transferring their knowledge of the Lord to the next generation. The journey of faith doesn’t end with one generation; it’s a relay, where the baton of belief is passed from hand to hand.
Physical growth is inevitable; children grow into adults. However, the real question is whether they will also experience spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul underscores this point, urging us to put away childish ways and mature in every aspect into the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15). This maturity involves moving beyond the spiritual milk and embracing solid food. In many Christian circles, there’s an emphasis on raising our children in the faith, and this is undoubtedly crucial. But it’s not just about growing up within the church; it’s about growing up in the Lord. Our faith journey should not stagnate at childhood. The lessons learned in Sunday school, the bedtime Bible stories, and the songs sung at vacation bible school should serve as stepping stones for spiritual growth into adulthood. Christ even grew up, in wisdom and stature and in favor of God and man (Luke 2:52)
The transition from childhood to adulthood in the faith is a profound and vital process. It’s about taking ownership of our beliefs, deepening our understanding of God, and living out our faith in a complex world. The “little ones” from Exodus can serve as an inspiration for the children of today. They were not excluded from the worship and service of God. They were included, encouraged, and empowered to learn to fear the Lord and keep His commandments.
As we contemplate this generational faith journey, we’re called to be mindful of how we, as adults, impact the spiritual growth of the “little ones” in our midst. Will we nurture their faith, providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to grow into mature believers? Will we create an environment where they can learn to fear the Lord, not just through our words but through our actions? Will we inspire them to take their place in the ongoing saga of faith, carrying the torch of belief forward into the future?