Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 20, 2014

Emphasis of Family in Scripture

Today’s devotion comes from Numbers Chapter 26.  Here is a link to this Scripture – 

I quote the following verses. 

“Then it came about after the plague, that the Lord spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying, 2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers’ households, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel.”  3 So Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 4 “Take a census of the people from twenty years old and upward, as the Lord has commanded Moses.” 

Now the sons of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt were:  

5 Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites;  6 of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the Carmites.  7 These are the families of the Reubenites, and those who were numbered of them were 43,730.  … 

51 These are those who were numbered of the sons of Israel, 601,730. 

52 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 53 “Among these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. 54 To the larger group you shall increase their inheritance, and to the smaller group you shall diminish their inheritance;  each shall be given their inheritance according to those who were numbered of them.  55 But the land shall be divided by lot.  They shall receive their inheritance according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.  56 According to the selection by lot, their inheritance shall be divided between the larger and the smaller groups.”  … 

63 These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the sons of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.  64 But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who numbered the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.  65 For the Lord had said of them, “They shall surely die in the wilderness.”  And not a man was left of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”  Numbers Chapter 26:  Verses 1-7 and 51-55 and 63-65. 


At a very quick count (maybe slightly inaccurate), the word family or families appeared 93 times in Numbers Chapter 26.  Such repeated emphasis of the family deserves to be the subject of this devotion even though the format of this devotion only allows me to make a few points.  Hopefully, this devotion will at least whet the appetite of the reader to consider this subject and to search the Scripture and other good sources to study this subject.   

Why is there such the emphasis of family, not only in Numbers Chapter 26, but elsewhere in Scripture?  

Isn’t salvation granted individually?  

What about Romans Chapter 9 which sharply separates the two brothers.  “Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”  Romans 9:13?  

What about this Numbers Chapter 26 which reminded us that “To Aaron were born Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.  But Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord.”  Numbers 26:60-61?   

And in this same chapter, what about the difference in what happened to Korah versus what happened to his sons:  “and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning.  The sons of Korah, however, did not die.”  (Numbers 26:10-11)? 

In ESSENTIALS OF REFORMED DOCTRINE  A Guide in Catechetical Instruction by Rev. H. Hoeksema (revised by Prof. H. Hanko), Rev. Hoeksema shows us in his following “Lesson 18:  The Covenant of Grace” that God does establishes His covenant of grace “only with His elect people in the line of continued generations”.  There is that emphasis of family in Scripture.

Lesson 18: The Covenant of Grace

How does God save His people?
By means of a living faith in the Mediator of the covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the fruit of the work of Christ?
That God maintains, restores, and perfects His covenant through Him. Jeremiah 31:33 .

What is the covenant?
It is the gracious relation of living fellowship and friendship between God and His people in Christ, wherein He is their God and they are His people. Genesis 17:7 ; Psalm 16:5 ; Psalm 33:22 .

How many covenants are there?
There is only one covenant in both the Old and New Testaments established with God’s people throughout all time.

Did not Adam stand in a covenant relationship to God?
Yes, but he violated the covenant through his sin so that the covenant must be restored through Christ.

How does God establish His covenant?
God establishes His covenant by His own work of grace whereby He takes His people into His own covenant fellowship. Ephesians 2:8 .

Does God establish His covenant with all men?
No, He establishes His covenant only with His elect people in the line of continued generations. Galatians 3:16, 29.

What does God do for His people in that covenant?
He forms them to be His people, makes them partakers of all the benefits of Christ, and leads them on to eternal glory. Ephesians 1:23 .

Through Whom does God make us partakers of all Christ’s benefits?
Through the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in Christ as the Head and in His people as members of His body. Ephesians 1:23 .


There are some who teach that the covenant is an agreement between God and man. How does an agreement differ from a bond of friendship and fellowship?

Some teach that, because the covenant is an agreement, it is bilateral (two-sided). Prove from Genesis 15:7-18 that the covenant is unilateral (one-sided).

Prove from Psalm 89:28-34 that God not only establishes His covenant, but that God also preserves it by His own work.

How is the protevangel in Genesis 3:15 a promise of the coming of Christ the Head of the covenant?

Prove from Psalm 25:14 that the covenant is a bond of friendship between God and His people.

Prove from Genesis 17:7 that God establishes His covenant in the line of continued generations.

Read the doctrinal part of the Baptism Form and explain from it what is our “part” of the covenant.   

In conclusion, neither Rev. Hoeksema, nor his Protestant Reformed Churches denomination nor most Reformed denominations maintain that everyone is necessarily saved in a family where most of the family members are Christian.  In other words, not everyone is elect in a family where most (or everyone else) in the family is elect.  But, as someone said (and I paraphrase), God likes to fish using the line of continued generations.  “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Genesis 17:7 (KJV).  “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  Acts 2:39.  There is that emphasis of family in Scripture.  There is that hope that encourages us to raise our children as covenant children in the Christian faith accordingly.    


%d bloggers like this: