One generation. That is all it takes to transform a culture. In just one generation faith can be secured and advanced or lost entirely. Judges 2:6-15 tells the tragic tale of the generation after Joshua who lost the faith.
Judges 2:6-15 – 6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. 8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
The Bible talks a lot about making sure that we transmit our faith from one generation to the next, about training our children and the youth of this community in the way they should go. If we aren’t intentional, I can tell you what will happen. The same thing that happened to the generation after Joshua will happen to this generation. We must be intentional. We must be proactive. We must make teaching and training and leading by godly example an everyday effort.
In order to pass our faith on we need to keep our SERVICE to God alive. (Vs 7)
Those who conquered the Promised Land didn’t let that be the end of their story. They laid hold of the promises of God, AND they continued to serve the Lord. They didn’t take the attitude that now that they had arrived in the Promised Land, that they were finished serving the Lord.
Servanthood is counter-cultural. It is transformational. It is life-giving. One of the big “aha’s” I’ve come to believe is that we are never more like Jesus than when we are suffering or serving. He did them both on purpose in order to reveal the love of God to those around them. Our goal as Christ-followers is to be like Jesus. Besides that, serving the Lord is one of the commands of Scripture. Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Serving isn’t optional for believers.
Second, in order to anchor this next generation to the things of faith we need to:
Keep the STORIES of God’s faithfulness alive. (Vs 10)
Verse ten tells us that the generation after Joshua didn’t know the stories. They didn’t know what God had done for His people. They weren’t aware of the Red Sea parting, the bread that miraculously appeared in the wilderness, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire that led their way or the way the Jordan River split apart so their ancestors could step into the Promised Land. The stories of God’s faithfulness had been lost. Somewhere along the line, people had quit telling the stories, and here is what we can learn: When you lose your story, you lose your song. You lose your passion for God when you forget all He has done for you.
Finally, this tragic account in Judges helps us understand that we must:
Keep our SPIRITUAL lives with God alive. (Vs 11-13)
How we as a church impact the now and emerging generation will be in direct proportion to how much responsibility we take for our individual walks with Christ. We must make the commitment that no matter what anyone else does, we are going to stand for Jesus. Verse 13 tells us that they forsook God. They turned their back on God. They made a conscious decision to walk away.
The climax to the story is heartbreaking. When they forsook God, they became slaves to the enemy. (Vs 14) Isn’t that awful? As a nation, they had been led into an amazing land, a spacious place, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where they were to settle, where they were to thrive, where they were to exercise authority, where they were to have been a light to the nations around them. Instead of enjoying any of that, they became slaves. Why trade an identity as the people of God for slaves of the enemy?
Here is the deal, when you forsake God, you forfeit what He promises.
What will be said of the generation that will come after us? What role will we play in making sure their faith is ignited and fueled and grows? Can we serve the Lord with zeal every day? Can we share the stories of faith every day? Can we grow in our own walks with the Lord every day so that we can live free in the Promised Land and pass the faith on to as many as possible in the now and next generations!