Winter 2017: God's Educational Plan for the Last Days Part 1
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Summary: “The home and the school were one. In the place of stranger lips, the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children.”
 
 

The Garden of Eden was a school as well as a garden home. It was the demonstration school for a system of education God designed so well, it would never become outdated. Succeeding generations would pattern homes and schools after that model, while they increased and settled the earth.

The system of education instituted at the beginning of the world was to be a model for man throughout all after time. As an illustration of its principles a model school was established in Eden, the home of our first parents.1

We are blessed with an intriguing description of the model school: “The Garden of Eden was the schoolroom, nature was the lesson book, the Creator Himself was the instructor, and the parents of the human family were the students.”2 "Often they were visited by His messengers, the holy angels, and from them received counsel and instruction." 3

Prominent elements were:

• The garden schoolroom

• Nature the lesson book

• God the teacher, holy angel assistants

• Adam and Eve the students

The Eden School was perfect, and it remained in operation until a rival teacher lured the students into a counterfeit system that mixed good and evil. Man lost his home in paradise, but God did not abandon His plan to educate His children. The model system survived the fall. “Under changed conditions, true education is still conformed to the Creator’s plan, the plan of the Eden school.” 4

Since sin cast its shadow over the earth, "even the child, as he comes in contact with nature, will see cause for perplexity. He cannot but recognize the working of antagonistic forces. It is here that nature needs an interpreter.” 5

Interpreted in the light of God's Word, Nature is still the foundational lesson book for children, and even the very young are benefited by contact with it. “So far as possible, let the child from his earliest years be placed where this wonderful lesson book shall be open before him.… In no other way can the foundation of a true education be so firmly and surely laid.” 6

If we ask God to show us the lessons He has written on rocks, leaves, snowflakes and feathers, we can learn to read Nature as a book and interpret it for our children. Walks in the woods, picnics, bird watching, camping trips, and the family garden will provide abundant learning opportunities.

If this is a new way of thinking for us, we can claim the promise, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” 7 Prayer and the principle “as in the natural, so in the spiritual world” 8 can open our eyes to a wealth of lessons we never saw before in God’s great book of Nature.

Children tell us what interests them by the questions they ask. We do not have all the answers, but if we join children in their quest for knowledge, we can help them develop their learning skills and share in their joy of discovery. This is a rewarding way for parents to exercise the natural teaching gifts God has given them.

Providence places imperfect people together in families, and our interactions often reveal faults we did not know we had. God permits this so we can overcome by His power, and parents and children can help each other develop characters for heaven.

Bible history traces man’s successes and failures to carry out God’s educational plan. After giving the Ten Commandments the second time, God told the Hebrews, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” 9

God’s law in the hearts of Hebrew parents qualified them to teach their children. Instruction was not confined to school time; it took place at all times, in the house or outdoors. “The home and the school were one. In the place of stranger lips, the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children.” 10

Parents tried to focus young minds on “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.” 11

Following God's plan under less than ideal conditions, Jochebed laid the foundation for Moses' lifework, Hannah prepared Samuel to serve God under Eli the priest, David developed leadership skills while herding his father's sheep, and Daniel learned faith and faithfulness at home before his removal to Babylon.

Wherever in Israel God’s plan of education was carried into effect, its results testified of its Author.” 12

Sadly, Israel did not always follow the Eden plan. Parents became indifferent to their responsibility and neglected to teach their children.

God lamented, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” 13

In mercy, God had Samuel establish Schools of the Prophets, training centers for consecrated individuals who would go out and teach the people. Teachers in these schools were knowledgeable men who enjoyed close communion with God and a special endowment of His Spirit. Students supported themselves by tilling the soil or other practical skills they had learned at home. “Many among the religious teachers supported themselves by manual labor.” 14

In these schools, Scripture was the essential study. The object was to learn God’s will, and the teaching was practical. “A spirit of devotion was cherished. Not only were students taught the duty of prayer, but they were taught how to pray, how to approach their Creator, how to exercise faith in Him, and how to understand and obey the teachings of His Spirit.” 15

In the fullness of prophetic time, God sent forth His Son, and "Jesus followed the divine plan of education." 16 The Jews had religious schools, but “Christ … sought neither the schools of the prophets nor the learning received from the rabbinical teachers; He needed not the education gained in these schools; for God was His instructor.” 17 "Jesus secured His education in the home." 18

The same learning resources Jesus used are within our reach today. “His education was gained directly from the Heaven-appointed sources; from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures and of nature, and from the experiences of life—God’s lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart” 19.

All four lesson books were used in Eden's model school. Useful work consisted of tending the garden, Scripture was the spoken Word of God, nature was present everywhere, and the experiences of life were not forgotten.

Three of God's lesson books are free of cost, so anyone can use them. Each of us can find useful work to do and some aspect of nature to observe, and we all have experiences in life. In North America, Bibles are plentiful, and they are available in many languages, though there is still a work for Christians to do in distributing them worldwide. As we take the opportunities God gives us, we will find that His four lesson books are most instructive.

Not only did Jesus follow God's plan in His own education, He became the Master Teacher. “It was by personal contact and association that Jesus trained His disciples. Sometimes He taught them, sitting among them on the mountainside; sometimes beside the sea, or walking with them by the way, He revealed the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” 20

Jesus' lessons from nature, useful work, and the experiences of life fill whole Bible chapters and are the subject of Christ's Object Lessons by Ellen White. We can use these resources to acquaint ourselves with the way Jesus taught, and copy His methods.

Part 2 of this study will focus on education in the time of the end.


Judy Kjaer, is the wife of Kim Kjaer.


1. White, Education p. 20

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid, p. 21

4. Ibid, p. 30

5. Ibid, p. 101

6. Ibid, p. 100-101

7. James 1:5

8. White, Acts of the Apostles, p.284

9. Deuteronomy 6:6,7

10. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, p.95

11. Philippians 4:8

12. Education, p.45

13. Deuteronomy 5:29

14. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p.593

15. Fundamentals, p.97

16. Education, p.77

17. Fundamentals, p.400

18. White, Child Guidance, p.19

19. Fundamentals, p.400

20. White, Desire of Ages, p. 152

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