After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 NLT) God has blessed me with a godly heritage. i was raised by parents that loved the LORD and reflected Him not only in what they said, but also in the way they lived. i came to faith in Christ at the age of six in the basement of my paternal grandparents’ home. They hosted a Bible Club in their home for many years so that their grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood could hear the stories of the Bible and learn God’s Word. My paternal great grandfather was a homebuilder and developer in our family’s homestead city, and some of his most significant projects were the building of a large church in the center-city, a Bible conference center outside of town, a site for the annual Easter Sunrise service, etc. As a child growing up, i benefited in my spiritual nurture from the work he had done, even though he had gone to be with the LORD before i was born. Over twenty years ago, while attending a family reunion, i saw evidence of how my great-great-great grandparents and their siblings prayed for the generations of their family that would come after them. And i saw how these folks not only had a personal relationship with Christ that they lived out, but also that they were burdened to see that their children, their children’s children and the children that would follow, would also have that same personal relationship. They knew that a relationship with Christ was not passed from one generation to the next – it was the choice and decision of each individual. But each generation must do all that it can to cultivate and nurture that relationship. i do not take lightly the great gift i have received from the LORD of a godly heritage, nor do i take lightly the responsibility i have to “pay it forward”.
With all of that heritage, i still drifted from the LORD. And it was twenty-five years ago yesterday -- May 26, 1991, that i settled my relationship with Christ and surrendered my life afresh to Him. i knew that my relationship could not be based upon that of my parents, my grandparents or any of the generations before them. It was a choice and a commitment that i needed to make. And it is a choice that my children have needed to make. And one day, as God so leads, my grandchildren will need to make. Each generation is responsible for their own choice, but each of us is also responsible to nurture the future generations.
The LORD repeatedly, through Moses and Joshua, told the people to teach “these things” to their children and grandchildren that they would know the way in which they must walk. But at this point in the history of the Israelites (basically the grand and great grandchildren of Joshua and his generation), a generation has grown up that does not acknowledge God. God’s people no longer know or follow God! And it is chilling to see how quickly that has occurred. A people that have seen His mighty works and walked intimately in His presence unlike those before or since, are now divorce of a knowledge of Him or relationship with Him.
As i ponder that huge separation that occurred, it prompts me to ask these questions of Joshua’s generation and his children’s generation. And at the same time to ask myself, and my children – and you, if you are a follower of Christ.
Did they walk with God in a relationship that was personal, vibrant, God-honoring, Spirit-filled, transparent, and authentic?
Did they speak openly and regularly of the things of God, the works of God and the Word of God?
Did they model the truths of God and the ways of God in all that they said and did?
Did they walk in righteousness or did they do evil in the sight of the LORD?
Did they remove the images of false gods and the flesh or did they serve them?
Did they daily maintain a vibrant relationship with God or did they drift further each day away from Him?
Did they passionately pursue God or did they seek out and pursue the gods of this world?
Did they personally and passionately worship God or did they merely go through the motions, and worship more the things of this world?
We read that this next generation “… did evil in the LORD’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the LORD. They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth” (Judges 2:11-13). They either modeled what they saw in their parents or grandparents, or they “filled in the blanks” of what they did not see modeled. And yes, they themselves had responsibility for the choices they made.
The writer of Proverbs writes, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJ). We are responsible for the first half of that statement, and we must trust God and commit our children to Him for the second half. Their lives for all eternity – both here and now, and after they take their last breath – hang in the balance.
The next generation of Israelites – instead of walking in the blessings of God walked in the wrath of God. “This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress” (Judges 2:14-15).
The question before us is, what are we modeling for the generation that we are raising up? Is our relationship with our LORD one that we desire for our children and grandchildren to mirror? Are we passionately pursuing our LORD with all of our heart, soul and mind, and actively walking with Him in His mission? Or are we merely going through the motions?
Eternity and the next generation hang in the balance of the answer to that question.