Go now to the home of B’tu’el your mother’s father, and choose a wife there from the daughters of Lavan your mother’s brother. Genesis 28:2
I wonder how Jacob felt, when his father sent him away, to his mother’s brother? What were his emotions, when he left his family? Scripture is silent in this regard, so it is up to each one of us to remember our own times of ‘leaving home’ and drawing our own conclusions.
How about you? When you first left home, how did you feel? I know, when I left home, at the age of 17, I was none too happy. True, I didn’t leave alone; my family left with me, but all my friends were left behind, and we were moving to an unknown. I’m sure each of you has experienced similar events. Do you remember the emotions which arose, as a result?
For me, the unknown has often held dark shadows. Very seldom have I reacted positively to the unknown ahead of me. And this time was no different. I knew we would be moving to a place where we would be the only Jewish family and that we might face discrimination, once the community learned of our ethnicity. So, these thoughts weighed heavily on my mind, as we prepared to leave.
Now, when I look back on my experiences, I realize my fears were not actualized and our relations with others were fairly comfortable. Oh, yes, there were moments of discomfort, when one fellow student asked me on the school bus, “Where are your horns?”, having seen Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, with rays of light, resembling horns, rising from his head. Fortunately, these were few and far between.
Were there other biblical figures required to leave home, their friends and families? When David left the court of King Sha’ul (Saul), his heart was heavily laden. This is shared with us in 1 Samuel 20:41, when Jonathan told David he had to leave: “David got up from a place south of the stone, fell face down on the ground and prostrated himself three times; and they kissed one another and wept each with the other until it became too much for David.” These were hard emotions, experienced by the young lad. I think we can all understand how he felt.
How did you feel, when you left home for the first time? What emotions coursed through your brain and your heart, when you ‘severed’ your roots? Did you have Yahveh with you, to guide you through what may have been a traumatic experience? Without Him, such experiences can be very traumatizing, as well as being quite exciting. How our experiences go often depends on the underlying motivations.
For example, in Luke 15, we are presented with the story of the prodigal son, verses 11-32. We are not given this son’s motivations for leaving the family home, but, from his actions, we may assume he was immature and may have felt suffocated by his father’s rules. We know how his situation turned out. How many of us, when we were immature and had the burning need for independence, made the same mistake and squandered some of our early opportunities? O.K. you can put your hands down, now. Just how might parents prepare their children for their departure from the security and warmth of the family home?
Scripture has a good deal to say to parents about raising a Yahveh-honouring child. In Proverbs 22:6, we read – Train a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it. And, in verse 15, we find – Doing wrong is firmly tied to the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away from him. Notice here, King Solomon, the author of this collection of wisdom, recognizes the seed of ‘original sin’ existing within every child. There has been much discussion regarding the use of the word ‘rod’ in the Book of Proverbs. Assuming the author was referring to the same rod used by shepherds, when they guided their flocks, its use signifies a guiding and leading function, rather than a whipping punishment function. Can you imagine what such would do to the bodies of vulnerable sheep?
Then we find advice to children, in both the Hebrew and the Apostolic Scriptures. In Exodus 20:12, we read – Honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which Adonai your God is giving you. As this teaching is found in the ‘Ten Commandments’, the heart of Torah, it carries with it one of the strongest imperatives placed on the Word of Yahveh. Indeed, in the Gospel of John we find the Words of Adonai Yeshua – If you love me, you will keep my commands. As the only Scripture available at that time was the Hebrew Scriptures, Adonai Yeshua was obviously referring to the commands He placed in Torah.
And then, in Colossians 3:20, we find the words of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, as he advises us – Children, obey your parents in everything; for this pleases the Lord. Let this teaching be partnered with the following from Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, don’t irritate your children and make them resentful; instead, raise them with the Lord’s kind of discipline and guidance. In these two passages, we may see the interconnection between ideal parenting and proper behaviour of children.
There are a number of encouraging passages throughout Scripture, which may guide parents. In Jeremiah 29:11, we read – For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Yahveh, ‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. And, then, in Romans 15:13, we find – May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Ruach HaKadosh you may overflow with hope. When there is hope in the future, within the family, leaving home for the first time may not be so traumatic.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.