Moses gives parenting instructions to the children of Israel. The issue he was addressing here was a stubborn and rebellious child who would not be obey their parents.
This is a part of the Law that I was intimately familiar with as a child. I was the “stubborn” child and my father reminded me MANY times of the fate of stubborn children in the bible. I truly wish I had looked up this passage when I was a child and seen the rest of the story.
Being stubborn alone was not the requirement for being “thrown a rock concert.” (That is what I always called it, to myself, when he brought up the fate of the stubborn child.) This child was rebellious and would NOT take direction. He was a “glutton and a drunkard” (verse 20b). He made a practice of doing his own thing and refusing to follow his parent’s instructions.
My stubbornness centered around believing I was right in some point and not wanting to change my course or opinion. One example is going blow for blow with my mother when I was very little. I was swatted for something and I hit back. Eventually she won I’m sure. She is the one who gave me the stubbornness to begin with.
I didn’t however totally disregard my parent’s instructions. I followed their wishes, not always willingly or without complaint, but did as they instructed. By the time I was “legally able to make my own choices” I was so ingrained with their values and choices that I continued to do as they would have wanted, mostly. I did step out of line on more than one occasion but my parents values live on in me.
Thinking back over the fact that I didn’t check out chapter and verse for this issue when I was young is probably a good thing. I would have used it as fuel for my arguments. But it also might have helped me emotionally in some ways.
The child Moses is pointing out here is one who, no matter how hard the parents try, will NOT listen to discipline. This individual has been indulging in resistive behavior their entire life. They have made a pattern out of defying authority and have no desire to change. Their behavior has led them to a path of destructive behaviors. I would venture to say that drunkenness and overindulgence were the milder behaviors. “Gluttony” can come in many forms. It can be in food, drink, drugs, risk taking, sexual behaviors, thrill seeking, anything that carried to the extreme is dangerous and life consuming.
The person who is ultimately brought before the elders has had every opportunity to change their behavior and refused to do so. Their behavior is also impacting their family. The parents have come to the end of their limits and sought help.
Today we would be doing “interventions” before the end. I have a feeling they probably did in bible times too but I don’t know for sure. We don’t eliminate the problem anymore. We medicate it, imprison it, turn our backs on it, and hope it goes away. I would venture to guess some of these people make up the homeless population and prison population in many areas of the world.
God wanted to keep these kinds of attitudes OUT of His people. He commanded a permanent solution and one that would scare anyone else who had ideas along those same lines from pursuing them. He put in a good deterrent system. But that didn’t stop all the problems from cropping up anyway. Even with this command, it wasn’t followed strictly forever.
In our society we have raised more rebellious children because we have become reluctant to discipline them. It is now to the point where it is almost illegal to discipline them. Children are precious but they need rules and guidance to grow into healthy members of society. Those that are not given any direction or limits become destructive. They grow up believing the entire world is there to serve them. When they reach adulthood they continue trying to satisfy their own desires at the expense of anyone else who gets in their way. WE HAVE CREATED A MESS! And now we have to live with the consequences. Instead of purging the “evil” we have invited it to sit down at the table and eat its fill. But this is exactly what God told us would happen in the end.
Father God, thank You for keeping my parents working on me. Thank You that they never gave up and washed their hands of me. I know I didn’t give them nearly as much trouble as I could have, or even that some of my siblings did, but I tried their patience MANY times. I’m sorry for those times and want to apologize to them for all I put them through.
I also want to thank You for the “stubbornness” You allowed in me. Turned to the right tasks it has driven me to succeed and to persevere in the face of adversity. It is the building blocks of my “determination” without which I have no idea where I would be. Thank You for harnessing and channeling that spirit within me. Thank You for teaching me how to tone it down too. Thanks mom and dad too for all the lessons along the way. No “rock concert” for me please!