Telling the Next Generation
I am currently in the process of reading through the Bible chronologically. This is my absolute favorite way to read the scriptures because you get such a sense of the progression of the people of God as they learn to love God and be loved by Him.
A few weeks ago my reading took me through the end of Joshua and into the book of Judges where one verse stopped me abruptly:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know The Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
The generation being referred to in the first part of that verse is the generation which had seen all the exploits The Lord had done through the leadership of Joshua. This generation has heard of all The Lord did to rescue His people from Egypt, bring them through the wilderness, set up the tabernacle, meet with His people, give them His law, bring them into the land of promise, and conquer the land which He has promised. This generation has seen an impressive display of the raw power and love of God for his people. So how could it be that the generation immediately following them would not know The Lord or the work which He had done for Israel?
The answer is profoundly simple and yet incredibly disturbing. They simply neglected to tell the story. Telling the story of God’s faithfulness is what the Bible refers to as testimony. In several places in the Tanach (first five books of the Bible) God instructs His people to make sure they observe all He has commanded them to do and to teach their children to do the same. One of the places we can find this instruction is in Deuteronomy 6.
In this chapter God warns His people to not become so consumed with what He has given them but to remain steadfast and faithful to “diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes, which He has commanded.” (Deu 6:17)
Later on in the chapter he says,
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaing of the testimonies and the statues and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in and give us the land that He swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’” (Deu 6:20 -25)
Notice he doesn’t say “if your son asks”, but he says “when your son asks”. God has set up testimony to pass from generation to generation. When one generation looks to another and observes them diligently being obedient to God, they WILL ask about it.
It doesn’t take a deep investigation to realize the culture we live in is doing everything it can to drive the younger generations away from serving the Lord our God. I believe there should be a tremendous urgency in the Church to tell the story of God’s faithfulness. In order to do so we must repent of our love for only His blessing and again begin to follow Him. As we turn, we must tell the story of His redeeming love. We must tell how we have been set free from sin in order to serve the Living God.
I pray it would not be on our watch that there would be a generation who “did not know the Lord or the work which He had done.” We have a tremendous responsibility to steward well the testimony of His work. There is an entire generation waiting to hear of His faithfulness in our lives that they might continue to serve Him.
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