Monday, March 16, 2009

One Generation Away

"And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger." -Judges 2:10-12

The book of Judges begins with the death of Joshua. He had led Israel into the Promised Land, being used by God to bring great military victories. Joshua was always urging the Israelites to obey God and to remember the miracles that He had done for them (delivering them from Egyptian captivity, providing mannah in the wilderness, and most recently, giving them victory of much stronger forces in order to take the Promised Land). But when Joshua and his generation died off, there apparently was a new generation who had not experienced these miracles of God first-hand. The stories that their parents and grandparents told them about God and the great things He had done might have seemed like a distant fairy tale to this new generation. Their lives, as young people, had been one of comfort and peace in the land. Perhaps they saw little need for this miracle-working God.

The result? Judges 2 tells us that they had no knowledge of God and that this led to doing "evil" in His sight. They even went so far as to worship other idols and gods of the surrounding nations. How quickly God's people had moved from an awareness of His greatness to an all-out rejection of His worthiness. One generation.

God's people are always one generation away from abandoning trust in Him. As Christians we can not take it for granted that our children will somehow just absorb the faith that we have in Christ. Repentance and faith are not traits we pass down like eye color or height. With every child of every generation, it takes a work of God to change their hardened hearts and give them faith in Jesus for their salvation. Parents--and grandparents--it is our duty to see to it that they hear the gospel over and over and over....It's our responsibility to remind them of what God has done--in the cross of Christ, but also in our lives. This is no guarantee that they will believe, but that is not our responsibility. Ours is to put that truth before them time and time again.

There is a generation today (of which I am part) that is just like the Israelites after the death of Joshua...We live comfortable lives of relative prosperity. We see little need for the miracle-working God that previous generations worshiped. The only thing that will snap my generation--or any generation--out of this apathy and rejection of God is to hear the truth of the Gospel. I'm a sinner who desperately needs a Savior, and Christ has miraculously provided a means of forgiveness. If we will be faithful to teach our children and the young people of our church this truth, it will be far less likely that a generation will arise that forgets and outright abandons the God of their parents.

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