There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
After God gave Joshua and the Israelites victory over Jericho and Ai, Joshua gathered the people for a formal reading of God’s law. Moses had written down the law of God for the people to follow. Part of what Moses had commanded before he died was that the people, once they entered the land, should hear the law of God and agree again to follow their Lord. So, Joshua did what he was supposed to do, and he gathered the people and read to them the law.
What grabs my attention here is who listened. As Joshua read all the words of the law of God recorded by Moses, which I assume means Genesis through Deuteronomy, everybody listened. Men listened—no surprise. Women listened—no surprise. All the children listened too. Wait a minute. Are you saying that kids listened to an old dude read through the entire book of Deuteronomy? Yes, I am saying that, and they may well have listened to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers too.
The fact that these children listened to the reading of the law of God tells me that we may well be doing our children a great disservice in many of our churches around the world. In far too many places, kids are removed from formal worship. They are not taught to hear the word of God and to understand that something special is being said. I understand, of course, that kids cannot always understand all that is said in the word. Yes, some of the concepts are very difficult. But God saw fit to tell us that, when his law was formally read by Joshua, the kids listened too. This apparently was a good thing.
Integrating children into the grown-up worship service can be a struggle. Just last night, in a revival service, my son was just plain terrible. But we worked through it. And, all things being equal, I’m happy that he was in the room. I’m happy that he listened to daddy preaching the Scriptures. I’m happy that he knows what I say from the pulpit. And I’m thrilled when he actually hears something that he understands and grasps some point of eternal truth from a sermon. It is good for him, and it is good for my family to have the kids with us together in formal worship.
I don’t’ know what you and your family should do for sure. I would not pretend to tell you how to handle all this stuff for yourself. But I would encourage you to think about the fact that children, in biblical times, listened with their parents to the formal readings of the word of God. Maybe they can do more than we think.