2 Chronicles 12 … Consider His Differentiated Instruction

“But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries,” (12:8).

As a former educator, whenever I read Scripture specifically portraying God as our Teacher, I can’t help but go back to my years in the classroom.

This morning as I read of our Master Teacher providing opportunities for His children to learn through personal experience, the concept of Differentiated Instruction came to mind.

Differentiated Instruction is a term any educator in the United States knows well. But I can attest that while the term and concept may be easily recognizable, the strategies can be elusive. Simply put, Differentiated Instruction is intentional in shaping Instruction to meet the individual needs of students, incorporating four key elements:

  1. Content: Teacher knows what student needs to learn and the means designed to give students access to the knowledge.
  2. Process: Teacher understands how students come to understand content.
  3. Product: Teacher provides ways students can demonstrate what they have come to know.
  4. Learning Environment: Teacher manages and varies the environment for optimal learning.

It is most definitely easier understood than accomplished, and it is not meant to be a packaged program. It requires teachers to know their students in order to provide experiences and assignments that will foster each child’s unique ability to learn. Carol Tomlinson, Virginia’s Teacher of the Year, who coined the term in the 1970’s, during her research for teaching solutions, acknowledges that while the definition is simple, it is not easy, “It is teaching with the children in mind,” UVAToday.

Most parents, in training up their children, utilize the concepts of Differentiated Instruction on a regular basis. Every parent quickly figures out, the same methods of discipline don’t always achieve the same results with every child. My husband and I raised two children. While one of ours frequently needed that rod of correction applied to the little seat of instruction, the other was equally dissuaded with just a word of warning accompanied by a stern look of disapproval. Same mom, same dad, same home… different children.

And now as I watch my daughter raise her three, I see it unfolding again as each one of hers responds and learns in different ways.

A wise parent or teacher pays attention and provides the discipline that will be most beneficial, always leading, teaching and disciplining with the children in mind.

And while this kind of unrelenting attention to detail and consistency can seem like an impossible feat for a parent or teacher, we can all agree the Lord is an Expert in Differentiating His Instruction. As the Perfect, Omniscient Teacher, the Lord always teaches with His children in mind. He knows every hair on our head and every thought in our minds before we do.

After identifying the key elements of Differentiated Instruction designed to reach every student, it is not a stretch to move from the classroom teacher to our Heavenly Teacher.

Consider the ways He Differentiates His Instruction, with His children in mind, to grow us in our knowledge of His Truth.

Consider His Differentiated Instruction

  • His Instruction through His Creation
    • The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
      And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
      Day to day pours forth speech,
      And night to night reveals knowledge,
      (Psalm 19:1-2).
  • His Instruction through His Deliverance
    • And David spoke the words of this song to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said,
      “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
      My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
      My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge;
      My savior, You save me from violence.
      “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
      And I am saved from my enemies,
      (2 Samuel 22:1-4).
  • His Instruction through His Provision
    • O taste and see that the Lord is good;
      How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
      O fear the Lord, you His saints;
      For to those who fear Him there is no want.
      10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
      But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing,
      (Psalm 34:8-10).
  • His Instruction through His Prophets
    • Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 13 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Go and say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction by listening to My words?” declares the Lord… But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me. 15 Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again…” (Jeremiah 35: 12-15).
  • His Instruction through His Son
    • But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him,” (John 7:14-18).
  • His Instruction through His Holy Spirit
    • “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” (John 14:25-26).
  • His Instruction through His Word
    • All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Timothy 3:16).

In today’s reading, the Lord created the unforgettable Learning Environment for His children. His Differentiated Instruction had thoroughly provided the Content (what they needed to know and the means to access His truth); His thorough understanding of the Process (the way every one of His children would grow in their understanding), and His faithful provision through countless opportunities for His Product (His ways to demonstrate what they had come to know).

But in the hardness of their hearts, they forsook Him to chase after the world and its gods. And when things got bad, really bad, and His discipline entered in, they woke up. Discipline can do that. His Discipline created a Learning Environment that could not be overlooked.

When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord. And it came about in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people who came with him from Egypt were without number… (12:1-3).

And as a result of His discipline, His children humbled themselves, acknowledging His righteous right to administer His judgment.

So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous,” (12:6).

And when the Lord saw it, He was moved to extend His Mercy.

When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak, (12:7).

But sin has consequences. And as the ultimate loving Parent and responsible Teacher, He never lets a valuable teaching moment escape; an opportunity, as it were, to establish the ultimate Learning Environment.

But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries,” (12:7-8).

And in His Differentiated Instruction, in this Learning Environment designed to solidify the knowledge that it is God Alone Who Is Worthy to be Served, His children were schooled in learning to Differentiate for themselves.

Nevertheless, they will become his slaves so they may learn to differentiate between what it means to serve me and to serve the kingdoms of these nations.” (12:8 ISV).

How do we respond to His Differentiated Instruction?

The sad truth is, as the old saying goes, “sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” And while the Israelites had absolutely no excuse, for God had explicitly revealed exactly Who they had in Him, still they didn’t seem to know. And at this point, He Differentiated His Instruction through an altered Learning Environment, for they had repeatedly rejected His grace-filled means of teaching them the amazing knowledge He so graciously offered.

Let’s learn from King Rehoboam and the people. And rather than slip into the trappings of the world, let us set our hearts to learn.

  • Let us set our hearts to learn His Content: He knows what student needs to learn and the means designed to give students access to the knowledge.
    • It is not beyond our ability to learn the Content He wants us to know. He wants us to know eternal life through knowing Him, the One true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
      • This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent, (John 17:3).
  • Let us set our hearts to learn His Process: He understands how students come to understand content.
    • It is not beyond our capacity to grow in our understanding. We have only to cooperate with His Process in our desires for purity: purity in our lives and the purity of His Word.
      • Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, (1 Peter 2:1-2).
  • Let us set our hearts to learn His Product: He provides ways students can demonstrate what they have come to know.
    • It is not beyond our skill set to demonstrate what we know; we only have to love Him with all that we are.
      • “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).
  • Let us set our hearts to learn in His optimal Learning Environment: He manages and varies the environment for optimal learning.
    • The environment that is optimal for our learning, His very heart’s desire for us, is that we live in His Presence continually. It is there He will make known to us all we need to know; and it is there we will grow in the joy and pleasure of His Presence.
      • You will make known to me the path of life;
        In Your presence is fullness of joy;
        In Your right hand there are pleasures forever,
        (Psalm 16:11).

Let’s Grow Together!

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