What comes to mind when you hear the term “Heaven on Earth?” Do you think about some ideal vacation spot? Does a beautiful tropical beach scene, with palm trees swaying and surf pounding the shore fill your mind?
It may surprise you to know that this term, “Heaven on Earth,” is used in the Bible to describe the results of a beautiful and fulfilling family life. Yes, God wants your family to be like a foretaste of heaven.
I know that many people carry emotional scars, and even physical marks, from painful childhoods. Some lug the emotional baggage of an abused upbringing far into their adult years. And, a few live their whole lives hampered and hurting because of mistreatment during their formative younger lives. Nothing is sadder than this kind of hurt.
The good news is—it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s plans for the family are wholesome, fulfilling, nurturing and altogether lovely. He wants family units to thrive, multiply, grow, and bless the whole world with love and joy. And it is true—the whole community is blessed when parents are godly, children are loved, and people obey God’s laws.
This is no pipe dream, or pie-in-the-sky fantasy. However, a “Heaven on Earth” family requires an investment, and carries cost parents must be willing to pay.
As Israel was poised on the border of the Promise Land, called by Moses, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 11:9), he gave commands God expected them to obey. Many of these commands were about parents teaching their children about God, as they led them into the new land. As they obeyed they would enjoy “the days of heaven upon the earth” (verse 21).
So, how could a family experience these idyllic days?
First, Moses wrote: “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:18). As is true in every sphere—change and success had to begin at the top. Parents were to spend time in God’s Word, and let His words penetrate their hearts and invade every area of their lives. They were to listen, accept, absorb and obey God’s commands first. The truth of Scripture has transforming power. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Second, as parents learned more about God and what He expected, they were then to: “Teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). As mentioned in Deuteronomy chapter 6, teaching opportunities always abound for the alert parent. Every aspect of life, even the most mundane – when sitting, walking, lying down or rising up – could become a classroom for communicating God’s truth.
This world would be a better place if more parents spent time reading and studying God’s Word, then taught their children God’s truth and how it applies to everyday life. It is the solemn duty of parents to instruct their children about God and their duty to Him.
Third, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (verse 20). God desired the children of Israel to let the Word of God be visible and constantly in view. Moses did not mean Bible verses were to be scribbled on the walls of their homes, but he did intend for God’s commands to be always before them, and for His Word to constantly direct them.
Even today, as you enter the home of a Jewish family, you can often see a little brass or metal box attached high up on the right side of the door jam. The little box is called a mezuzah, which is Hebrew for “doorpost.” Within the box is a tiny scroll with the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:18-22, hand-written in small Hebrew letters. It is their way of literally obeying God’s command to write His Word on the doorposts of their homes.
When our children were young, we had a plaque in one of their rooms that read: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). We wanted to instill in our children’s minds, the truth that God always saw what they did, even if their parents did not. Pat and I wanted our children to understand that God’s mighty presence—His all-seeing eyes—were continually beholding and weighing their actions. We did not want to saddle them with guilt but to remind them of accountability. We know this is a good practice because the psalmist wrote, “I have placed your ordinances before me” (Psalm 119:30). God’s values are to be constantly regarded, as they guide our way and rule our work.
Fourth, when parents spend time learning God’s Word, teach it to their children, and keep His commands continually in view, the result will be: “So that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21).
It is amazing that God’s promise of victory, peace and joy in the new land Israel entered, would depend first and last, not on military power, but on religious commitment! As Israel obeyed God’s commands, and walked in fellowship with Him, they would inherit the land of promise. The same principle applies to believers today. Commitment to know and obey the Scriptures, and to teach them to our children, keeps our families safe and results in a taste of heaven on earth in our homes.