When I was a kid in the 70’s, tearing your clothes was a horrible event. A mother’s admonition was, “Don’t tear a hole in your jeans, or I’ll have to patch them!” It was an accidental, tragic thing, usually occurring due to a child’s negligence.
In Bible times, though, tearing one’s clothes was an intentional act, signifying anguish or mourning. One example of this is found in 2 Kings 22:11-13. After Hilkiah the high priest found the lost Book of the Law, it was given to Josiah the King. When he heard the words of the book, he said, “our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13). Josiah tore his clothes because of the negligence of his fathers that went before him.
Will our own children metaphorically tear their clothes some day? They will if we don’t teach them some of the things Josiah knew on that day:
The true nature of God. Josiah realized the people were in danger because of their negligence with God’s word. God is love (1 John 4:8), but He is also a God of justice and judgment (Romans 2:1-11). If we don’t teach our children the truth about the nature of God, someday our children will rend their clothes in agony, wondering why we didn’t remain faithful and tell them the truth!
The true nature of idolatry. Among the forms of idolatry Josiah stamped out was the sacrificing of children on the altar of Molech (2 Kings 23:10). We have modern-day Molech worship going on today, except the babies are being sacrificed in the womb, on the altar of “self.” Will our children one day grow up and tear their clothes, wondering why we didn’t do more to stop this?
The true nature of salvation. Josiah recognized that the nation was in great danger because they did not “do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13). Some worldly people today say there is no need for obedience to the Lord in order to be saved, but the scriptures teach the opposite (Hebrews 5:8-9). Will our children tear their clothes someday, wondering why we didn’t help them know this?
Let’s make sure our children don’t experience the pain and anguish of knowing their ancestors dropped the ball spiritually. Stay faithful, and leave a good legacy for generations to come.