Gather the family; open your Bibles; we will play that favorite game of yesteryear, “Name That Grandparent.” The questions for today’s contest are:
1. Who was the worst grandparent in the Bible?
2. Who was perhaps the best grandfather found in Scripture?
3. Which Biblical grandparent missed the cruise of a lifetime?
4. Which New Testament grandmother made a big difference?
The answer to number one is Athaliah. Her story is found in II Chronicles 22:10. What horrid thing did she do to qualify as “the worst grandparent in the Bible”? Consider. When a mother kills her own children, she commits infanticide. Athaliah committed grand infanticide, because she murdered her own grandchildren. Her motives were pure evil; she killed them and other relatives so she could reign as queen. Ugly, isn’t it? Grandparents are powerful people. They may not rule kingdoms, but they can strongly influence their grandchildren.
Deuteronomy 4:25 warns of the danger of grandparents leading their grandchildren astray. Those who are grandparents and those of us who hope to be grandparents should take this calling seriously. We must be sure that our children’s children are safe in their relationship with us.
Moving to question number two: this grandfather was awesome, yet you would likely never think of him. That is because he is not him but Hur. A grandfather at the time of the Exodus, Hur held up Moses’ hands so the Israelites could win a victory over the Amelekites (Exodus 17). A short time later he was said to be one of Moses’ primary assistants (Exodus 24:14). Large clans and lineages of faithfulness were established through his descendants (I Chronicles 2:50-54). His most famous offspring was his grandson, Bezalel, the master craftsman and construction foreman for the Tabernacle and its furnishings (Exodus 31:2-4). Bezalel must have been young at the time of the building of the Tabernacle, perhaps even in his late teen years. Yet he completed a major responsibility successfully because the Lord “filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” The Bible shows the significance of this grandfather/grandson relationship by listing Hur’s name in five of the seven passages where Bezalel is named. The relationship was important to the Lord. Let us all pray that He places the same value on our grandchildren’s relationships with us.
The answer to question three is an oldie but perhaps not such a goodie. Methuselah is best known for having lived the longest life, 969 years. Wow! Do you know how he died, or when he died? He died the year of the flood; in fact, he may have died in the flood. His grandson built the ark to save mankind; however, the Bible says that only Noah was considered righteous (Genesis 6:9-12). Where was Grandfather Methuselah? He and the rest of mankind died; only his grandson, his great-grandchildren, and their wives were spared. Not only did he miss the cruise of a lifetime but he also missed something even more precious. He missed the fellowship and bonding that occurs when men work together to accomplish a great task. It could have been a wonderful story: grandfather and grandson working together to build an engineering marvel. Methuselah had a unique opportunity to have a wonderful impact on his great-grandchildren and generations of descendants. Unfortunately the opportunity was washed away. It is certain that we will not have as many years with our grandchildren as Methuselah did, but we can commit to using the time the Lord gives us to enrich their lives.
Our fourth and final answer is Lois, a Jewish grandmother who started a wonderful thing. First she believed, and faith went from her to her daughter, Eunice, then to her grandson, a young man named Timothy (II Timothy 1:5). Timothy was taught the Scriptures from childhood (II Timothy 3:15) and became one of the great teachers and preachers of the first century church (Acts 16:2-3). All of this happened without the support of his father who was a non-believing Greek (Acts 16:1). Yes, this godly grandmother made a difference. All grandparents can. They can help pick up the slack, especially when things are not as good as they could be or should be. My brother-in-law has to travel a lot with his job; his absence is very hard on his family. It is fortunate that he and my sister live very near my parents who fill in the gap for their grandchildren. No, the grandparents do not home school as effectively as my sister does. No, they do not perfectly substitute for a daddy who is gone, but they do make a difference. Those grandchildren are a testimony of what a grandparent can do. May the Lord show us our place in our children’s families and the difference we can make there.
My wife’s parents live one mile up the road from us. They made the decision to be near their grandchildren and us and moved to our neighborhood about five years ago. I must confess that I have always really liked them. I found it very easy to “fall in love” with their daughter because I liked them and respected them so very much. The depth of their relationship to the Lord, their values and convictions, their unwavering love, and their willingness to cheerfully help us out of a jam (Company is arriving in sixty minutes, and the house is a mess!) have been wonderful blessings in our lives. Our youngest children ride their bikes up the hill to “Dar and Da’s house” every chance they get, and our young adult sons go up there to play bridge with them. These two oldest children were even blessed to have a few years with their great-grandmother. When they were tiny, she would spend hours upon hours playing games like peek-a-boo with them. How much we would be missing if our family were only two generations deep!
Let us add another question to our list. Are grandparents ever told to home school their grandchildren? Check Deuteronomy 6:1-9 for the answer. The command to teach children to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and mind was spoken to parents and grandparents (verse 2). We know of some grandparents who have taken on the task of home schooling their grandchildren in the absence of a parent who would not or could not do it. May God bless these grandparents who are making a difference. Others assist by teaching children skills that time-starved parents would never get around to – important things like fishing, sewing, or cabinetmaking. A grandparent’s greatest contribution to the home school is the encouragement and totally biased support that is given to their children and grandchildren.
As these examples in the Bible show us, the influence of a grandparent can be great or small, good or evil. The decision is left to the grandparent. Some might think the decision is made late in life, but in fact, it must be made early-on, many years before the children are grown. Generally, as we grow older, we do not change; we simply become more of what we have been all along – more joyful, loving, and faithful; or more miserable, negative, and irritating. If you were twice as much yourself as you are now, what kind of grandparent would you be? What kind of difference will you make in the lives of your children’s children? May I suggest that you begin to consider your role? Observe; listen; take notes; think it through. If you do not have a parent who can mentor you in this, seek some assistance and find someone who can. If God is so gracious as to grant us grandchildren, we should meet these little ones with books and heirlooms, stories and pictures, faith and love in hand. Let us pray that God finds us willing lumps of clay who want to be molded into grandmothers and grandfathers who bless generations.
Larry Arnold – has written 4 posts on this site.
Larry and Maureen Arnold as well as their sons Jed and Nathan were speakers at the 2003 THSC Convention and Family Conference. Larry is the author of The Patriarch’s Calling – Establishing a Lineage of Faithfulness. The Arnolds live in Bulverde and have been homeschooling for twelve years.