Archive for August, 2012

The Ten Lost Tribes Myth: David Baron’s Classic Work

August 31, 2012 7 comments

David Baron’s “The History of the Ten Lost Tribes: Anglo-Israelism Examined” (1915) (available online in several formats, including as listed here) is an easy and relatively short yet informative work about an issue still with us today: the idea that the ten northern tribes were lost at the time of the Assyrian exile, and that the Jews of today only include the two tribes (or generally, Judah, Benjamin and Levi).  Baron provided great background on this overall topic, as well as much detail concerning a specific form of this teaching, that the ten lost tribes are the ancestors of the modern British Anglo-Saxon people.  He also describes the specific claims and “superficial philology” that comes up with such reasoning, including the actual quotes from authors promoting the idea.

I had heard mention of the Anglo-Israeli claim before, but the details are indeed disturbing – and the sort of thing that anyone with a sense of history would wonder that it’s still around.  After all, the descriptions of the Anglo-Israel claims come from the time of British Imperialism, the time of Britain’s rise to prominence as a nation.  Indeed, Baron’s observation from nearly 100 years ago seems almost prophetic today, in light of modern-day Britain:

 Its proud boastful tone, its carnal confidence that Britain, in virtue of its supposed identity with the “lost” tribes, is to take possession of all the “gates” of her “enemies” and become practically mistress of the whole globe, is enough to provoke God’s judgment against the nation, and to make the spiritual believer and every true lover of this much-favoured land tremble.

Yet the Anglo-Israeli idea continued with Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God cult in the mid-20th century.  And the general idea of the tribes being lost is still with us today, an error I have specifically answered several times in online discussions.  This error is also taught by the teacher at this church.  I often link to the John MacArthur sermon (from the Luke series, about Anna in Luke 2)  and another helpful online article which point out the truth of that “lost ten tribes” myth.

As others have pointed out, the idea of the ten tribes really being the Anglo-Saxon people (or any other people group, other than the Jewish people today) is really the ultimate in replacement theology.  Ironically, though, the error even has its proponents among those who believe in the future restoration of Israel: only, they have redefined the restoration of Israel to mean all those who know they are Jews (meaning the two tribes) – PLUS a number of other people who are descended from the lost tribes, and who don’t know they are of ethnic Israel.

What these online links (above) mention briefly, David Baron’s work describes in full: the remnant of believing Israelites of the other tribes migrated to the southern kingdom as recorded at several points in 2 Chronicles, and were amongst the southern tribes after the return from the Babylonian exile.  Also, that the Assyrians did not carry off every single person of the northern tribes, only their political power and what made them a separate nation.  Baron also cites many texts that show the terms Israel and Jew used interchangeably in the post-exilic as well as New Testament era, including number counts for the two terms:

 I might add the significant fact that in the Book of Ezra this remnant is only called eight times by the name “Jews,” and no less than forty times by the name “Israel.”  In the Book of Nehemiah they are called “Jews” eleven times, and “Israel” twenty-two times. As to those who remained behind in the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the Persian Empire, which included all the territories of ancient Assyria, Anglo-Israelites would say they were of the kingdom of “Israel”; but in the Book of Esther, where we get a vivid glimpse of them at a period subsequent to the partial restoration under Zerubbabel and Joshua, they are called forty-five times by the name “Jews,” and not once by the name “Israel”!

In the New Testament the same people who are called “Jews” one hundred and seventy-four times are also called “Israel” no fewer than seventy-five times. Anglo-Israelism asserts that a “Jew” is only a descendant of Judah, and is not an “Israelite”; but Paul says more than once: “I am a man which am a Jew.” Yet he says: “For I also am an Israelite.” “Are they Israelites? so am I”

Going beyond the error itself, Baron also explains well the danger of this error, the important thing to remember regarding this issue:

 It diverts man’s attention from the one thing needful, and from the only means by which he can find acceptance with God. This it does by teaching that “a nation composed of millions of practical unbelievers in Christ, and ripe for apostasy, in virtue of a certain fanciful identity between the mixed race composing that nation and a people carried into captivity two thousand five hundred years ago, is in the enjoyment of God’s special blessing and will enjoy it on the same grounds for ever, thus laying another foundation for acceptance with God beside that which He has laid, even Christ Jesus.” After all, in this dispensation it is a question only as to whether men are “in Christ” or not. If they are Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, their destiny is not linked either with Palestine or with England, but with that inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled and which fadeth not away; and if they are not Christians, then, instead of occupying their thoughts with vain speculations as to a supposed identity of the British race with the “lost” Ten Tribes, it is their duty to seek the one and only Saviour whom we must learn to know, not after the flesh, but in the Spirit, and without whom a man, whether an Israelite or not, is undone.


John 1: “Come and you shall see”

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m enjoying S. Lewis Johnson’s series through the gospel of John, the most in-depth teaching I’ve seen on a familiar gospel.  Already I’ve learned several interesting things in the details of some of these narrative texts.  For this post, a look at Jesus’ first meeting with the disciples in John 1:

Andrew and the other disciple call him Rabbi and ask Jesus where He is staying.  Their response here to his question, “What are you seeking?” is a good response, of those indicating their attachment to this man as their Rabbi/teacher.  Jesus’ next sentence, “Come and you will see,” (John 1:39) is a phrase well-known within Rabbinic literature, a Rabbi’s way of introducing something new.  So the conversation has Jewish meaning not so obvious in a casual English reading.  “Come and see” continues throughout this section, again with the idea of learning something new.

I had learned before, from a John MacArthur lesson, that sitting under a fig tree was something done by Jewish students; under the fig tree was considered a place for meditation upon God’s word.  Here in SLJ’s lesson, it was also fun to listen to SLJ’s comments about the fig tree he had planted in his yard, and his hopes to someday be able to sit under that fig tree:

That’s why I planted a fig tree last spring.  It’s this high right now.  It’s not so big at the moment and I can hardly get under it, but you’re going to be amazed at the spiritual revelation that will come from me when that thing grows high enough for me to sit under it and get some spiritual meditation, spiritual truth.

Yet I hadn’t noticed, in the conversation with Nathanael in John 1, that Nathanael had likely been meditating specifically on the Genesis 28 text, in which Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau, fell asleep and had the vision of the angels ascending and descending on the ladder.  Yet this is the background in Jesus’ greeting to Nathanael, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (or “no deceit” ESV).  That greeting could also be phrased “in whom there is no Jacob,” since the word Jacob had that meaning of guile and deceit.  Thus Jesus,  in His first words to Nathanael, immediately referenced what Nathanael was thinking about – the life of Jacob, one who was full of guile and deceit.

Jesus’ last words in John 1, about the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of Man, is a well-known point with reference to Jacob’s dream, and the change Jesus makes here: that He is the ladder upon which the angels of God ascend and descend; He is the great mediator.  This sentence again confirms the specific text that Nathanael had been reading and thinking about.

The Divine Unity of Scripture: The Bible in History and in Science

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m still reading The Divine Unity of Scripture, about three-fourths of the way through, and here are some important points to share.  Saphir points out the weaknesses of the Reformation, and the consequences of that which later developed, and still with us, to attack the Bible as a whole:

 In the second place, they did not understand clearly the important position of the Jews in the economy of God, nor did they see clearly the second advent of our Lord. … still they did not see clearly the second advent of our Lord, or the difference between the Church dispensation and the position of Israel, both in the past and in the future kingdom. The error which was made subsequently by those who preached the saving truths of the Gospel was this— that they thought that it was sufficient to preach personal salvation, man’s sinfulness, the atonement, the renewal by the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit— everything that referred to the individual.

 That is the centre, but all the circumference they left out,— the whole counsel of God as it is revealed in Scripture, the plan of God, the kingdom of God, the creation of the world, the creation of man, the unity of the human race, the judgment of the Tower of Babel, the elective dispensation under Israel, in its contrast to what came afterwards. The consequence was that — while it was all very good for those who spiritually and experimentally knew about sin and salvation — the world in its philosophy and in its science was constantly undermining the circumference, so that on all the other points, on which the Bible touches, false and anti-Biblical ideas became current, and each of these points afforded a position from which to attack and to assail the whole Scripture.

Later chapters develop this in more detail, as Saphir addresses the skepticism of his day with the power of the Word of God, especially in regard to the Bible as history and the Bible and its miraculous nature.  In the chapter, “Our Faith based on Facts – and the Bible a Book of Facts,” Saphir emphasizes two important points:  that Scripture history supplies us with the facts and principles, upon which all true philosophical and universal history is based, and that the history recorded in the Bible contains actual and real history.

 Ideas without facts make up a philosophy. Facts without ideas may make up a history. But that which we need is something which appeals not merely to our intellect, but also to our conscience and to our heart; and that which so appeals must be the revelation of God.  … It must record the initiative, creative, and redemptive acts of the Most High ; and, in recording these acts, it must contain a revelation of His character, and of His purpose, of His commandments concerning us, and of the promises, by which He sustains us. And only in Scripture have we such a combination. All Scripture facts are full of ideas. So to speak they are full of eyes, and light shines to us in them. And all Scripture ideas, the things which we believe and the things which we hope for, are based upon actual facts—manifestations of the Most High. If a Christian is asked, “What is your belief? what is your faith?” he does not answer by enumerating dogmas, in the sense of abstract philosophical truths ; but he answers by saying that he believes in God who created, in God who became incarnate, and died, and rose again, and in God who sent the Holy Ghost to renew his heart. So what is our creed but facts, but such facts as are full of light,—and in which God manifests Himself to us?

The next chapter, “Objections to Miracle have no Basis in Reason,” follows up with the topic of the Bible and science, and the miraculous.  How refreshing it is especially to read this from a man of God who lived in the late 19th century, at a time when so many preachers compromised with so-called science, not understanding what science is and is not.

… there is no collision whatever between science — if science keeps to its own limits — and that revelation of God and a supernatural kingdom which is given to us in the Scripture. They who do not believe in a personal God, but are atheists or pantheists, cannot logically accept the possibility of miracles; but all who believe that there is a living God, full of wisdom and of power and of love, can find no difficulty in accepting a testimony which shows us that God reveals Himself, and that God acts, here upon earth, and within the history of mankind. Therefore all that the Scripture tells us of God and of the unseen world, instead of interfering with the discoveries of science, only lays the basis and firm foundation for the activity of science. To quote a man who speaks of this subject with authority, Professor Dawson, “Any rational or successful pursuit of science implies the feeling of a community between the Author and Contriver and Ruler of nature, and the mind which can understand it. To science nature must be a cosmos, not a fortuitous chaos, and everything in the history and arrangements of the universe must be a manifestation not only of order but of design. The true man of science must believe in a divine creative will, in a God who manifests Himself and is therefore not the hypothetical God of the agnostic; in a God who must be distinct from and above material things, and therefore not the shadowy God of the pantheist who is everywhere and yet nowhere; in a God who causes the unity and uniformity of nature, and therefore not one of the many gods of polytheism; in a God who acts on His rational creatures daily in a thousand ways by His fatherly regard for their welfare, and who reveals Himself to them; a God, in short, who made the world and all things therein, and who made man in His own image and likeness.”

Spiritual Children: Wanting Their Pets In Heaven

August 10, 2012 3 comments

As a follow-up to this recent post, I recently encountered an example of childish Christian thinking: Christian “defenders of the faith” who are interested in doctrinal topics and what’s true and not (as contrasted with the nominal church-goers interested more in secular life) yet who became quite upset at the suggestion that their pets won’t be in heaven with them.  Instead, they insist that the Bible is silent on the matter and so they hold out the hope of seeing their puppies and other pets again in heaven.

This could be addressed from several angles, a few of which I’ll mention here.  First, this attitude – reviling those who pointed out the truth, that animals do not have the spiritual component that humans do – reflects our overall conception of heaven and eternity, and the similar differences between our own childhood and adulthood, as for instance 1 Corinthians 13:11.  Nathan Busenitz gave a great illustration of this, in the comments at this blog post about heaven:

Several years ago, my wife and I were talking to our young daughter about the fact that one day she would grow up and go to college. (It was just a passing topic of conversation; not a serious discussion, seeing as she was probably only six or seven years old at the time.) Though she was initially excited about growing up, our daughter was very disappointed when she learned that she wouldn’t be able to take her toys with her to college. We tried to reassure her that, when it came time to go, she wouldn’t care about her toys. But she just didn’t understand.

Her response illustrates the way that we sometimes think about heaven. The reality is that, once we arrive in the new earth, we won’t long for anything else. We will be perfectly satisfied with all that God provides for us there (starting with intimate fellowship with Him).

As good Bible teachers exhort us, we are to grow up spiritually; we are not to remain children or remain the “weaker brother.” It is disappointing to see such an attitude, and such opposition to the truth, from those who have been professing Christians for many years and who ought to have matured at least this far, to understand and accept the situation regarding humans and their pets.

This ought to be something understood even from natural revelation.  If animals had the spiritual component and were made in the image of God (reference Genesis 1:26-27), they would have a sense of spiritual things. Why is it that everywhere in the world man is so very religious, that even pagan men who have never heard the gospel message are bowing down and worshiping something greater than themselves? Yet has anyone ever seen a dog look up in worshipful attitude? Or seen a dog kneeling down in worship to some object it sees as god, or seen a dog praying? Has anyone seen a cow looking up and gazing at the sky and contemplating its purpose and meaning in life — instead of looking down at the grass and its next meal?

Yet scripture is not silent on the matter.  Genesis 1 does explain that man is different than the animals, that while animals have a soul (a “ruach,” the Hebrew word for “breath” or “life” in the sense of the physical life force in all living creatures), yet man alone was created in the image of God.  Genesis 9 further reveals that mankind can kill and eat of any of the animals, something repeated in Acts 10:9-14.  Yet God puts a special rule in place for mankind, that ““Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6).  If animals had the same spiritual component as man, why this distinction made, that it’s okay to kill and eat all other animals, but not to kill man?  Only in the works of fiction, such as C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, do we see talking animals.  And indeed we also see there the difference, as in the “talking stag” incident in The Silver Chair where the characters, in the company of man-eating giants, realize that they have been eating a talking animal, and realize the seriousness of such an offense.

An excerpt from S. Lewis Johnson concerning how man is made in the image of God:

Looked at from the outward side, how is man in the image of God?  He stands upright, not like the animals.  They crawl around or they move on their four legs, on all fours, but man stands upright.  Furthermore, he gazes off and because of the sphericity of the globe, he always looks at the heavens and so his appearance is of a person who stands upright and he always looks toward heaven.

Furthermore, man is able to display emotions on his face.  Now, I know you think your own pet animal laughs and cries, but it is man who particularly has the expressions that reflect the inmost being.  It is man who blushes, an animal does not blush.  And most of all, it is man who talks.  Now if we were looking only at the outward side of things, we would say in these respects man has been created in the image of God.

A final note:  a common argument brought forth, supposedly in support of pets being with us and in eternity, is what the Bible says regarding the Kingdom era about the presence of animals.  Yes, the Bible speaks of the regeneration of the earth (reference Romans 8:19-21), and other passages such as Isaiah 65 mention animals.  But that does not mean that those animals are the resurrected / regenerated pets from this age.  Scripture nowhere says that the animals which are part of the creation are the same animals from this age, and the normal grammatical reading of the Bible would never even suggest that idea.

Lordship Versus Free Grace: Was King Saul Saved?

August 6, 2012 7 comments

From a recent online discussion that started with a list of the seven suicide accounts in the Bible, the question came up as to whether certain Old Testament individuals, King Saul and Solomon, were saved.  (I briefly considered this very matter a few years ago, concluding that Solomon was saved but not King Saul.)  A few people insisted that — regardless of all the scriptural evidence to the contrary — because of Samuel’s words to Saul, “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” that meant Saul was saved and went to heaven.  As I realized during this discussion, even one’s interpretation of the biblical data on a particular person or event comes from that person’s presuppositions about something even more basic:  the understanding of salvation and sanctification, and the type of life (and fruits) manifested in saved and non-saved individuals.

If 1 Samuel 28:19 is the only text in the Bible to show that King Saul was a saved, regenerate man, I first note that Saul did not take any comfort in that message from Samuel.  The rest of that scene makes very clear, how very frightened Saul was: he “fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear” and no strength in him, not even wanting to eat.  This is a far cry from the scene where the thief on the cross was told that he would soon (that day) be with Jesus in paradise. Saul’s behavior is also nothing like David’s declaration in 2 Samuel 12, a peaceful assurance that “I shall go to him,” where his deceased infant son was.  Samson, another suicide case mentioned, met his death very differently from Saul: calling upon the Lord in that moment.  Samson knew he was going to die very shortly, and though his circumstances were quite different at that point, he did not cower in fear in light of his present physical pain and suffering and his certain physical doom, his impending death.  Job too showed that same understanding of death as a place of rest and peace.

The “answer” to Saul’s fearful reaction: that Saul was just upset and troubled by his circumstances, that he was reacting (as any ordinary person would) who wants to win the battle and continue his rule.  Also, that people in the OT didn’t have the same understanding about the afterlife as in the NT (citing the above example of the thief on the cross, while ignoring the OT examples given), and that the thief on the cross didn’t have anything in this life to lose (such as Saul who still had rule over a kingdom).

Really?  Saul’s behavior in that scene shows what had already been demonstrated previously in his life: his desperate attempt to cling to this life and to cling to the throne, even though he knew, as he had acknowledged to David when David spared his life, that David was to have the kingship.  At the point of death, no one who has a right relationship to the Lord is going to act all scared and panicked about the announcement of his death merely because he wants to win the battle, continue his rule and keep his earthly possessions.

The best explanation of Samuel’s message, that “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” is to recognize that the word used there is Sheol:  it does not refer to paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom, or even to hell (the place of the damned), but to the intermediate place of the dead, a place that has two compartments. Thus, saying that Saul and his sons would be where Samuel was, is not a case for salvation, but to the fact that they would be in that temporary holding place before the resurrection, a holding place that we know has two compartments within it.

Going beyond the incident in 1 Samuel 28, though, the abundance of other scriptural evidence portrays Saul as an unsaved man with sins that are categorically different from the fleshly sins that the great OT saints, such as David and Moses, fell into at times in their lives.  Saul directly disobeyed a direct order from God, to slay the Amelekites, and even presumed to offer the sacrifices himself.  Saul persecuted David (the type of Christ), failing to recognize the Davidic covenant promises; he also slew God’s priests (not a light thing to dismiss).  Then he swore an oath of safety to a medium, the very thing not allowed in the word of God, which plainly says to not allow a medium/sorceress to live; and he sought guidance from that medium.

What came about next in the discussion:  that person’s concept of “Free Grace” salvation, apparently of the extreme Zane Hodges variety, that no matter what kind of life a person may lead he or she is still a regenerate, saved individual.  The above analysis was wrong, they said, because that is just focused on the idea of keeping a list of merits and demerits, a type of laundry list, and by that type of legalistic reasoning no one could be saved.  And after all, Moses and David fell into great sin.  So the “Free Grace” reasoning concluded no difference at all between the lives of Moses, David, and King Saul.

But pointing out the many scriptures regarding King Saul is not building a laundry-list or “merits and demerits” type case of “how many sins” any given person committed. Rather, it is a look at the overall character of that individual. Was that person’s life characterized by certain types of sin, or were those sins the momentary lapses of a life that had an overall tenor of godliness? It can also be related to 1 John, what John describes about those who are saved, that they do not continue sinning, that their life is not characterized by sin.  The real issue, behind the discussion of King Saul’s eternal fate, is what God’s word itself says: that people are known by their fruits, and that believers do produce fruit.

Yes, Moses had momentary lapses, as did David in his sin with Bathsheba; they were weaknesses of the flesh, expressed in emotions such as impatience and physical lust. Those sins did not characterize the lives of those men, but were the exception rather than the rule. King Saul’s sins, beginning with the reasons the kingdom was taken away from him, were especially theological in nature, as noted above.

I close with excerpts from S. Lewis Johnson’s message concerning Saul and the 1 Samuel 28 passage, from his “Lessons from the Life of David” series.

 (reading the text) And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams.”  He doesn’t say by priests because, after all, he’s the one that slew the High Priest, so he seems to want to avoid that.  “Therefore I have called you that you may reveal to me what I should do.”

Isn’t that interesting?  We won’t go directly to the Lord God, who has spoken.  But we’ll go to a witch.  And we’ll go to the witch with the idea that we can put over to people that we are really interested in knowing what God is going to do.  So Saul’s distress is the distress of disobedience.  It’s not that he has a poor self-esteem.  It’s simply he’s disobedient.  And because he’s disobedient, that’s what happens when individuals are disobedient to the word of God.  He’s already been given his answer, over and over.  He wants to know his fate, but he wants to know it without repentance.  If only the dead Samuel would favor the one God has frowned upon.  Can you imagine that?  God has spoken and said, the kingdom has been torn from you, Saul.  You’ve lost your kingdom.  So Saul will say, I think that I would like to talk to Samuel in order that he may do me some favor, delivering me from the judgment of God, when God has already spoken that this is what’s going to happen.  Amazing, amazing, truly amazing.

. . .

Divine mercy is free.  But it’s righteous in its flow.  The notion that God must help everyone in trouble is not scientific and is wrong.  Because there are individuals who do not seek the will of God and therefore, when they seek out of disobedience and clinging to their sin, God just as in the case of Saul, is silent.  It’s too late.  Too late often individuals appeal to the Lord God.  In the case of Saul, it was too late.  He had, it seemed, clearly by his actions, brought on the judgment of divine retribution.  And that is ultimately what comes to him.  Those who have the opportunity, hearing the gospel message, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as the jailer did, and do not respond and persist down through the years in not responding, the time may come when, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, may be written over their lives.

The Tables of the Ten Commandments: Observations from Ephesians 6

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Continuing in S. Lewis Johnson’s series through Ephesians, a look at Ephesians 6:1-4 and some interesting observations concerning the fifth commandment.

The fifth commandment is mentioned here by Paul:  Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.  So we consider the set of ten commandments, which are in two categories or “tables.”  The first set concerns the vertical relationship, man toward God, and the second set the horizontal relationship of man to man. Some teachers see the division as four toward God, and six – starting with this 5th commandment – toward man.  Here Dr. Johnson points out more background, that the Jews thought differently: that the fifth commandment is in the first table of commandments focused toward God:

But the Jews had a different idea.  They felt that that fifth commandment, “honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land the Lord thy God giveth thee” was a commandment that had relationship to the Lord first, and to men, second.  And so they divided the first two tables of the law into the first five commandments which were commandments with the Godward stress, and then the last five, the tables with the manward stress.

Now evidently, the Apostle, being a Jewish man would have taken it that way, and if that is so, then this “honor thy father and thy mother” is something that is to be looked at as something that is directed not toward our neighbors but to God himself.  In other words, this is a commandment whose major emphasis is Godward:  honor thy father and they mother that thy days be long upon the earth which the Lord thy God giveth thee; so that the children’s obedience to the parents is to be to their parents as if it were an obedience to the Lord, which tells us a whole lot about what parents ought to be, because parents represent God to the children.  No child will ever learn to obey God who does not first learn to obey his parents.  He must learn what obedience is.

The first commandment with a promise:  some point to the second of the ten commandments as also containing a promise, but that one includes rather a statement of the character of God.  If it’s the first, what are the second and other commandments with a promise?  Perhaps Paul was thinking beyond just the Decalogue, to the full Mosaic law.  Or, Paul may have meant first in rank (greatest), rather than first in order-sequence.

S. Lewis Johnson also makes an observation of some difference, which, it turns out, is an English translation issue in the KJV, NIV, and NASB versions, but not in the ESV (which of course was not available in SLJ’s day).  As he notes, in the King James Version Paul’s wording is slightly different in retelling the fifth commandment:  from that you may live long in the land to live long on the earth.  Dr. Johnson mentions this difference, uncertain as to exactly what Paul may have meant, yet wisely concluding:

 But at any rate, we do know this:  that obedience of children to parents, the proper relationship between the members of a family, in a certain society, is the mark of a stable community.  It’s the mark of a stable family.  It’s the mark of a stable nation.  And it may be that the Apostle, by broadening it out, is simply saying that when obedience of children characterizes a society, then you can expect that society to have the blessing of the Lord.