Paul writes to the Ephesian children in the church,
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
There is much to say about verse 4 and the responsibility that Scripture places upon parents, and maybe we will look at that another time. For now, I would like to show that Paul incorporates children, even Gentile children, into the covenant of God’s grace.
Paul is quoting from Exodus 20:12 here and a sharp reader will notice that Paul changed the language. The Ten Commandments say, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” And Paul changes that (with Apostolic authority) to, “Honour thy father and mother…that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
So, lets look at that. God gave covenant promises to children in Israel in the Fifth Commandment. He redeemed the adults from Egypt just as much, and in the same way, as He redeemed the children and He gives covenant obligations and promises to those children. Then Paul takes this covenant obligation and promise and applies it to these children over here, not in Israel, and not Israelite children. He gives the covenant obligation and promise to a church full of Gentiles and their Gentile children (Gentileites?). God saves our children just as much, and in the same way, as He has saved us.
I should make mention that these children were baptized in the name of the Triune God. They would have had to have been to be incorporated into the covenant, given covenant obligations, and given covenant promises. If a Hittite obeyed his parents, he would not have inherited the Promise Land, after all. In other words, just as all those children who belonged to Israelite parents were Israelites, and brought into the covenant of grace, so too do all those children who belong to Christian parents. These little ones are Christians, because of God’s work on their behalf. God gives children to Christian parents and expects these children to carry His name on their foreheads, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The obligations and promises belong to them (Acts 2:39) just as much as they belong to us who stand a little taller.
Notice also that the land will belong to the children of covenant who remain faithful and persevere. For us, there is no such thing as a holy land. The whole earth belongs to the Lord Christ (Matthew 28:18), and it will be given to us, and our children, as we remain faithful and persevere.