Christianity 201

March 20, 2023

How to Lose an Entire Generation

This article flows naturally from the devotional for yesterday. If you missed it, click here. I didn’t realize we would be repeating an article which contains an excerpt from another writer. We don’t normally rerun those, but this one is so powerful…

A spiritual community that does not transmit its sacred writings to its children is one generation away from extinction.

I don’t know the origin of the above quotation, but over and over I keep hearing statistics citing the alarming attrition rate in both mainline Protestant and Evangelical churches. Though the Evangelicals are not losing people at the same rate, the end result in 2-3 generations looks the same unless there is a major spiritual intervention.

Joshua 2 9-10

Judges 2 in The Message Bible reads,

8-9  Then Joshua son of Nun, the servant of God, died. He was 110 years old. They buried him in his allotted inheritance at Timnath Heres in the hills of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.

10 Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel.

When you look at the current preponderance of Christian books, music, radio stations, TV ministries, easy-to-understand scriptures, etc.; it’s hard to imagine a day when an entire generation could arise having lost the thread of the story of The Church, the story of God’s dealings with humankind as understood by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and by Luke, Peter and Paul.

Matthew Henry notes:

All that generation in a few years wore off, their good instructions and examples died and were buried with them, and there arose another generation of Israelites who had so little sense of religion, and were in so little care about it, that, notwithstanding all the advantages of their education, one might truly say that they knew not the Lord, knew him not aright, knew him not as he had revealed himself, else they would not have forsaken him. They were so entirely devoted to the world, so intent upon the business of it or so indulgent of the flesh in ease and luxury, that they never minded the true God and his holy religion, and so were easily drawn aside to false gods and their abominable superstitions.

Blogger Suzette at The Joy of Homemaking sums up what many think as they read these verses.[ click here to read the article in full; the following is an excerpt ]

Judges 2:10b “…and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.”I find this to be one of the saddest passages of Scripture.

How is it possible that a whole generation grew up in Israel who didn’t know the Lord?

Weren’t they the children and grandchildren of the people who had seen the ten plagues come upon Egypt, who had walked across the Red Sea on dry land, who had eaten manna in the desert, saw water come out of rocks, marched around the city of Jericho and saw the walls collapse, participated in the military campaigns of Moses and Joshua, and who themselves had gone into the land promised to them by God and conquered the remaining cities?

So how is it then that they did not know the Lord or the work which He had done for Israel?

Unfortunately, the answer is even sadder than the passage itself.

The parents failed to share.

The parents did not tell their children about the works God had done in their lives and for their people.

The parents had not reminded them constantly about God’s mighty acts and awesome power.

The parents did not mention on a day-to-day basis the Hand of God being present in their lives…

… It is important for us to read God’s Word to our children on a daily basis. Have you ever noticed that the things that we immerse ourselves in (sports, crafts, fishing, etc.) become the things that our children take interest in? If we show our love for God and His Word to our children, they will develop a love for Him and His Word as well. What they see as priorities in our lives will become priorities in their lives too.

And, yes, I know that eventually our children will make their own personal choice about serving the Lord, but we have to make sure that as parents we do our part in teaching them about Him and His love for them. God does not expect us to leave that up to the church. He specifically tells parents to take on this responsibility in Deut. 6:6-9.

The generation mentioned in this passage of Scripture had not been taught, because they didn’t know God or what He had done.

Someone failed to share.

Maybe it was because the parents found themselves to be too busy (I’m sure conquering land takes up a lot of time and energy), too tired, or they just wanted to do other things. Whatever the case, the result was a generation who did not serve the Lord because they did not know the Lord.

The sad results of a generation that grows up not knowing the Lord or the work that He has done is found in Judges 2:11-12.

“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to the; thus they provoked the Lord to anger.”

May it never be said that we did not teach our children about the Lord.

May it never be said that the next generation did not know the Lord or the work which He had done.

Related post: What Happened to the Memory Verse?

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