Paradise Regained
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Audio Version of This Message
Whatever happened to motherhood? Where are you June Cleaver? Call me old fashioned if you will, or call me sexist if you must, but I miss the days of old fashioned motherhood in our land.
Growing up in the 50's, I was blessed to be in a home where the mother was around all day while the father was out earning a living.

We didn’t have much. The house we lived in was so run down that when we moved, the fire department used it as a practice burn. I have very vague memories about the house and the things that we had, but I have vivid memories about the fact that Mom was always there. Maybe the building could’ve been condemned, but not the presence of my mother.

She was there to referee the fights between my brother and I. She was there to kiss my owie’s. She was there to utter that dreaded sentence, “Wait till your daddy get’s home!” She was there to fill the house with the pleasant smells of supper cooking and cookies baking. She was there to drop everything she was doing to take us sledding or build a snowman, or just throw us into a wagon and take a walk.

In those days, we never heard things like “pre-school, or “half-day kindergarten” You started school in 1st grade at the age of 6. Which is more important than you have been led to think. You had the necessary time needed to be nurtured and strengthened at home before being uprooted and put in the midst of a strange, new and frightening world.

The Psalmist knew the dangers of exposing our children to the world before their time.
 Ps 144:11 Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:  12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:  (King JamesVersion)

Isn’t that an amazing verse? “The hand of strange children.” How many of you have felt like that about some of those “other” cruel children as you sent your little ones off to school?  Parents, give your sons every chance you can to grow up before transplanting them.

Give your daughters time for the concrete to set and be polished before removing them from the support and comfort of their own home.  Don’t put your children in the midst of “strange” children before their time.

Part of the reason the children are strange is because they too have been uprooted before their time. Now I know with divorce that is rampant and fathers abandoning their children as soon as they find out their girlfriend is pregnant, and poor financial stewardship in matters of debt, have caused many a woman to have to go out into the workforce, and use day care..

But let’s try and turn this freight train around, because it is headed in the wrong direction. It’s going away from God’s plan for the home and not toward it. Let’s make stay at home motherhood the biblical value that it once was.

I know with the demographics of our church that it’s too late for some of us, but certainly not all of us, and for the teens in our midst, we ask that you learn from our mistakes, and purpose in your heart to return to the biblical model of raising a family. For our part we should do all we can to help make it possible for you.

We get a glimpse of a blessed home by God’s definition in Ps 128:3. “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. (King James Version)

In this verse, the psalmist describes the man who is blessed by the Lord: If we have the opportunity to seize the blessing and live in the blessing should we not do all we can to position ourselves in the blessing? Wives, do you not want your man to be blessed?

One of the reference books I use is called “The Treasury of David” Let’s listen to some of the comments about this verse.  
Thy wife.-  To reach the full of earthly felicity (greatest happiness) a man must not be alone.  A helpmeet was needed in Paradise, and assuredly she is not less necessary out of it. He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing.  )For whatever reason) It is not every man that feareth the Lord who has a wife; but if he has, she shall share in his blessedness and increase it.

 “Shall be as a fruitful vine.- ” To complete domestic bliss children are sent. (Should the Lord so choose)  They come as the lawful fruit of marriage, (between one man and one woman) even as clusters appear upon the vine.  For the grapes the vine was planted; for children was the wife provided.

It is generally well with any creature when it fulfils its purpose, and it is so far well with married people when the great design of their union is brought about. They must not look upon fruitfulness as a burden, but as a blessing.

Good wives are also fruitful in kindness, thrift, helpfulness, and affection: if they bear no children, they are by no means barren if they yield us the wine of consolation and the clusters of comfort. (Through adoption, foster parenting, mentoring, etc) Truly blessed is the man whose wife is fruitful in those good works which are suitable to her near and dear position.
“ By the sides of thine house”-  She keeps to the house: she is a home bird.  She is a fruitful vine, and a faithful housekeeper; (don’t let that word housekeeper fool you by putting a modern negative connotation to it. She was the Keeper of the house and thereby had tremendous responsibilities!) if you wish to find her, she is within the house:

she is to be found both inside and outside the home, but her chief usefulness is in the inner side of the dwelling, which she adorns.

Eastern houses usually have an open square in the centre, and the various rooms are ranged around the sides, -- there shall the wife be found, busy in one room or another, (spreading out like a vine) as the hour of the day demands.

She keeps at home, and so keeps the home. It is her husband's house, and she is her husband's; as the text puts it -- "thy wife", and "thy house"; but by her loving care her husband is made so happy that he is glad to own her as an equal proprietor with himself, for he is hers, and the house is hers too.
 “Thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” -  The Psalmist suggests the idea of young people springing up around their parents, even as olive plants surround the fine, well rooted tree.  Moreover, note that it is not olive branches, but plants,  --  a very different thing. Our children gather around our table to be fed. (Not just with physical food, also nourished with the love and acceptance of both parents, and the Word of God.

Joy from the fruitful wife, and solid comfort from the growing family; these are the choicest products earth can yield: our families are gardens of the Lord. It may help us to value the privileges of our home if we consider where we should be if they were withdrawn.

I  think we need to get our head out of the sand and take a look around. Realize that the privileges of happy homes aren’t so much being taken away as we are voluntarily giving them away. And the results have been disastrous, and I don’t think we have fully realized how disastrous they really are.

I often find myself wondering, is there a connection between ADD and our reluctance  to give our children the proper attention they need in their formative years? Is sending them off to day care, or plopping them in front of a TV really a very good idea? Would such a lack of parental attention and an ensuing plague of ADD  be a poetic judgement against our land?  Is anyone asking that question?

And again, let me say, I know that for some of you, there simply is or was no choice! But far too many times we have simply given in to the culture.

I just don’t recall so many cases of children with Attention Deficit Disorder when I was growing up. Maybe because our parents were with us and attention was available 24/7, and there was no TV. Of course they knew how to get our attention as well with the “board of education!”  Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
 (NKJV)

Back to the treasury of David

Euripides said, “The "vine" (the wife) is an emblem chiefly of fruitfulness, but perhaps also of dependence, as needing support;

I believe it is not only the responsibility of the husband to lend that kind of support, but also our responsibility as a church to lend that kind of support to the mothers of our congregation. Helping them in any way we can to be a stay at home mom.
Solomon Gesner had this to say about Ps 128:3

“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house.”  The wife is likened not to thorns or briers, nor even to oaks or to other fruits and trees, but to the vine; and also to a vine neither in a vineyard nor in a garden, but set by the walls of the house; also not barren, but fertile and fruit bearing.  

This admonishes husbands as well as wives of their duties. For as the walls support the vine, and defend it against the force of winds and tempests, so ought husbands, as far as is in their power, to defend their wives by their godly conversation and wholesome teachings and institutions against the pestilential wind of the old serpent; also against the injuries of evil disposed men.

 Eph 5:28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
Further, the vine is exceedingly fragile wood,...... Husbands, therefore, should remember that they ought to behave towards their wives patiently and prudently, as with the weaker vessel; not keeping in mind the fragility of the wood, but the abundance and sweetness of the fruit.
(She is capable of producing).

If husbands observe this, that will happen to them which Scripture says concerning the peaceful time of Solomon, "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree": (It’s good for the nation!)  
Thomas Adams had this to say:
 “By the sides of thine house.”  Not on the roof, nor on the floor; the one is too high, she is no ruler; the other too low, she is no slave: but in the sides, an equal place between both.  
 Richard Steele writing in “The Morning Exercises said this:

“By the sides of thine house.”  The house is her proper place, for she is "the beauty of the house"; there her business lies, there she is safe. (Why did the angel ask Abraham where Sara was. He knew where she was! “ that it might be observed, (by all who read Scripture) she was "in the tent"...... by the law of nature, and by the rules of religion, the wife ought to keep at home, unless urgent necessity (there are exceptions) do call her abroad.  

W.M. Thompson carries the picture of the children and olive plants even further into the care of the aging parent. “Thy children like olive plants,”  Follow me into the grove, and I will show you what may have suggested the comparison. Here we have hit upon a beautiful illustration. This aged and decayed tree is surrounded, as you see, by several young and thrifty shoots, which spring from the root of the venerable parent.

They seem to uphold, protect, and embrace it, we may even fancy that they now bear that load of fruit which would otherwise be demanded of the feeble parent. Thus do good and affectionate children gather round the table of the righteous. Each contributes something to the common wealth and welfare of the whole -- a beautiful sight, with which may God refresh the eyes of every friend of mine.  
Children are you upholding, protecting, and embracing your parents? Are you contributing to the welfare of the whole family? This applies to caring for mom and dad in their later years of course, but it starts a lot sooner than that.

The contribution to the welfare of the family from the children’s perspective starts with  Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:  3 "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."

I’m amazed at the number of children who apparently don’t believe this. They rebel openly in the home! They say disrespectful things to their parents. They curse them, they mock them, they refuse to obey them, they refuse to lift a finger for the welfare of the home, yet they expect all the benefits of being under the shelter of the vine.

If this describes you, may I suggest that you confess it for the sin that it is and receive God’s forgiveness and ask Him to help you become the cheerful contributing child He desires!

The greatest gift you could give your mother is to believe this passage and live it 365 days of the year. Honor your father and mother at all times, not just on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day!

Believe this gospel promise from God if for no other reason that your teen age years are tough! Why do you want to make them tougher? What part of “that it may be well with you don’t you understand?  Do you want to be well? Honor your parents.

John Calvin commenting on this Psalm wrote: Although the world is carried away by irregular desires after various objects, between which it is perpetually fluctuating in its choice, ( In other words, don’t get carried away by the manner and the things of this world. Stick to God’s plan for family living!”  

He says, “God gives us in this Psalm a description of what life considers to be a blessing beyond all riches, and therefore we ought to hold it in high estimation. If a man has a wife of amiable manners as the companion of his life, let him set no less value upon this blessing than Solomon did, who, in Pr 19:14, affirms that it is God alone who gives a good wife. In like manner, if a man be a father of a numerous offspring, let him receive that goodly boon with a thankful heart.
 Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare wrote in “Guesses at Truth” “Before the fall Paradise was man's home; since the fall home has been his Paradise.”  Let us, as children of God, seek to restore this Paradise again in our land.

We aren’t talking about “keeping them barefoot and pregnant.” And if that’s what you are hearing this morning, then you are not listening. We are talking about enabling wives and mothers to enjoy the blessings of God. offered as we seek to restore the family to God’s model.

God built both man and woman. He knows what makes us tick. And when we get this right, the blessings spill over into our cities and into our nation. Again we turn to Psalm 128:

 Ps 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.  4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.  5 The LORD bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life.  6 Yes, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!

Do you see the progression of blessing? The woman is blessed because her man is blessed, And when man and woman are blessed, the city is blessed, and when the city is blessed the nation is blessed, and peace or wholeness is on the land.

Do you think our land is experiencing wholeness? I don’t. But we have a choice! We can either curse the darkness or light a candle. The candle is lit when we purpose in our heart to make our families different, one family at a time!

And we do that by intentionally planning for stay at home motherhood, with full support and love from the father and the church. We do that as children, by intentionally deciding to honor our father and mother. And we do all these things by intentionally making Jesus Christ and the Word of God the cornerstone of our home.

Does Jesus rule your heart? Does He rule your home? If He doesn’t, then we can continue to expect more of the same in our land. More sexual promiscuity, more abortions, more divorce, more domestic violence, more alcoholism, more addictions, more of anything that is sin, and its associated effects.

We have a great forgiving God, let’s confess our shortcomings in this area and receive His forgiveness and pray that He will help us to turn it around. Let’s close this message this morning by singing the Family Song. Let’s make it our prayer not just for our sake, or the sake of our home, or the sake of our country. let’s make it our prayer for the glory of God!

As His children, we are not of this world. Our way is to be different, and it is the blessings of that difference that will point others to Jesus! All for the glory of His precious name!