“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7, KJV).
I had a fun week in homeschooling, a monumental week really. My children and I got a school room of our own! For 9 years of school, we’ve been using the dining room as our “school room,” which is fine — but my husband is so neat and tidy (and I’m not naturally so at all), so it’s always a struggle to return the dining room back to its original purpose at the end of each day. In addition, I have always wished for a place to hang a white board, maps, charts, and other “schoolish” things. Maybe not all mothers feel this way, but it’s always been a secret desire of mine. (Again, I love our decor, but it is sometimes hard to teach in an environment of pretty things in… well… a dining room!)
But I digress…
Now we have a room dedicated just to school time. One of my favorite things is indeed hanging teaching aids on the walls. We were listening to an audio by Andrew Pudewa, of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where he describes many of the values of having visual aids on the walls to help with memorization.
One of the devices we’ve been using is to make charts of various mnemonic devices. The word mnemonic is Greek and means “to continually remember.” For instance, my son in algebra learned the mnemonic device “FOIL” for multiplying binomials. FOIL stands for First, Outer, Inner, Last — a way to remember which factors to multiply when.
In case you think I’ve completely forgotten our text for today, don’t worry. Mnemonic comes from the same Greek word as the one in our verse. Mnemoneuo or remember.
“Remember them which have the rule over you…”
I’ve always thought that this verse was talking about honoring my pastor or deacons. Later in Hebrews 13, we’ll read some verses that talk about ways to honor our leaders, but most commentators make the argument that the rulers mentioned in this verse are past rulers.
“Remember those who led you…” (NASB)
“Remember your former leaders…” (GNB)
One of the things we’ve been memorizing in our homeschool is the information on the front of the Veritas Press history cards, learning eight cards each week, as a framework of sorts to “hang” all our other history learning on. As mnemonic devices, or memory aids, they bring to our mind those Christian leaders who have gone before us. We remember the faith of John Knox of Scotland, for instance, and we learn about the people to whom he spoke the Word of God. We remember the faith of Calvin, Martin Luther — and even Abraham — and we remember that we are to follow their faith.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:23-38, NIV).
One of our wall charts talks about kinds of verbs, and I can see two verbs in today’s verse: “Remember” and “follow.”
- Remember — (“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God…”) The words “have spoken” here aren’t referring to a sermon that is systematically and carefully arranged and delivered. They also aren’t referring to a single word, a hint of the gospel too casually mentioned on very rare occasions. Rather, “have spoken” is talking about an extended conversation that is characterized by strong emotions. Who is the leader who passionately argued in favor of the gospel with you, leading you to faith in God. Was it your mother and father? What about all the leaders who, down through the centuries, were so passionate for “Word of God” that they even gave their lives? How does their influence live on? Do we know? Do we even care?! And what mnemonic devices have we used to help us carefully remember them?
- Follow — (“…whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation”) Why are we to so carefully remember our leaders, those who spoke to us the word of God? Because we are to follow in their footsteps. The word “conversation” in the King James Version means “behavior.” The “end” of their behavior is probably referring to the end of their lives, sometimes even in martyrdom. They were faithful to the literal end, when their physical lives were extinguished because of their consistent behavior. More sobering to me, though, is that the word “follow” doesn’t mean I should follow distantly in the shadows, hoping no one will see me (as Peter did at the trial of Jesus), but that I should “mimic” them, as Peter did at the end of his life, when tradition tells us he was crucified as Jesus was.
Who are your spiritual heroes? While we are to worship only God, we are told to “consider” (to stare intently at) the “behavior” and faith of those who have gone before us. They weren’t perfect people, but they were characterized by faith, by seeing the unseen and trusting the unseen God.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).
As mothers, we need to remember those who have gone before us, following their faith and godly behavior. We need concrete memory devices to help us do that, whether it be the study of the lives of great men and women in the Bible, in the pages of history, or in biographies and autobiographies.
Finally we need to follow their faith because little eyes are watching OUR faith! They are checking to see if our behavior will endure to the ends of our lives. Do we believe what we believe — enough to keep believing it until the end?
“…he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:6-8, NIV).
So I really did have a fun week in homeschooling. All my memory devices are neatly stored in wicker baskets on a shelf or hung up on the walls. As we study geography, our Latin verbs and Greek roots, our history cards, our Bible stories, and and our key-word outlines, I’m hoping that we’ll all remember why we’re studying so hard. May the seeds we plant during our school days bloom into strong plants that have the faith to endure until death, walking by faith.