What do we share with our second generation?
Let me give you the first of two. We are to communicate spiritual events in our lives. You want them to understand that God is real, He is personal, that He cares, He can be approached. I can imagine the tribes, especially the two and a half, and even earlier on in Joshua, how they would build the authors, and they would be symbols that God is alive, that God is powerful, that God can be trusted. That was the message of Joshua.
Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we begin a series from our Vintage Wisdom Archives. It's lessons from the book of Judges called Cycles of Sin, Stories of Grace. The Old Testament book of Judges is the story of a nation gone mad with sin and rebellion. One generation would serve God, but then the ones that immediately followed turned far from Him. That kept happening over and over.
What went wrong? Why didn't the children follow the religion of their parents? And what lessons can we learn from Israel's example that can help us today? Find out now as Stephen begins this study of Israel's Judges. The book of Judges is a story of a nation gone mad in sin and rebellion. It will sound at times like a tale of our Western civilization. No one could deny that our country is facing, even now, an enormous moral and spiritual crisis, an amoral crisis where everyone is seeming to say, if it is right for you, it is right.
If it is right for me, it is right. That is not a new philosophy of living, by the way. It goes all the way back to the children of Israel, a time of great immorality in the land. Basically, Judges picks up after the death of Joshua. Remember a cartoon of a guy, a college student, a sophisticated college student talking to a missionary.
In the cartoon, the missionary is unmistakably identified with the pith helmet and the shorts and the walking staff. And the college student is saying to him, man alive, I don't know how you do it, how you can take what you take. What do you do when you finally get so tired of the superstition and the immorality and the violence? And the missionary replied, well, simple, I get on a plane and I go back to the mission field.
We can't get on a plane and leave. God has called you and I to this generation in this country. The question is, how do we live in this kind of society that has gone mad without becoming like it?
How do we impact it? I invite your attention to a forgotten book of the Old Testament that gives us the answers of how to live. The book of Judges, if you're not there already, and I want to begin by taking you to the last chapter, the last verse of the Bible, of that book of the Bible, because it's where God gives the diagnosis of the problem. Usually God gives the diagnosis and then he deals with the symptoms. Here he will give us the symptoms first and ultimately conclude with his spiritual diagnosis. It says the last phrase of verse 25 of chapter 21, everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.
How American can the word be? There is one other key verse that I want you to note because it will not only serve as an explanation of the entire book, but it will be the focus of our study to turn back to chapter 2 and verse 10. It reads, and all that generation also were gathered to their fathers and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel. We could paraphrase this, they knew about the Lord, obviously, but they did not know the Lord personally. There are a lot of things that we could discuss in the first two chapters of Judges, and as I read and reread, trying to discern what the Spirit of God wanted us to study, the thing that troubled me more than anything was that phrase, and that bothers me. Why is it that one generation can be so faithful to God? Why does the second generation so often fail to follow in the footsteps of faith of the first generation?
You go back and you look at great men of old, you look at the Spurgeons, the Moody's, the Tozers, the Sundays, whose children abandoned their father's faith. You look at institutions like Princeton and Harvard and Yale that began as Bible colleges. The major study was the Word of God. Every student had to take Greek. Every student had to account for an hour of personal devotions.
What happened? Why is it that the average church doesn't remain effective more than two or three generations? I recently read a survey that even changed that statistic in Leadership Magazine. It talked about the average church in America, evangelical or whatever, but the average church reaches its peak of effectiveness, of influence, of energy, of enthusiasm when they're 12 years old. Why is it that denominations and associations and mission boards begin with a fire of faith and passion, of mission and evangelism, and two or three generations later, they muddle through the debates of doubt? Well, judges will give us the answers, and I want to start by giving you the negative things from these chapters. Some of the negative things we can learn as to why this generation did not follow the God of the first generation, and when they arose, they knew not Yahweh nor of his words.
Let me suggest to you some things, and these are sort of like putting clues together. There are some fundamental problems with being part of a second generation. Let's face it. Many of you represent a second generation of godly heritage. There are just some fundamental problems built into being in that kind of position, and number one, let me give you the first. The second generation is influenced by the partial obedience of the first generation, so let's just clear the air right now by saying that this generation that followed Joshua in was not perfect, and if you are trying to start the godly heritage in your home, if you want to be a first generation believer, you need to understand right away you're going to fail.
You will make mistakes. The problem is the second generation seems so sensitive to that partial obedience or disobedience. Let me show you where it occurs in Scripture. Look at chapter 1 verse 4.
It's troubling what happens here. And Judah went up, and the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they defeated ten thousand men at Bezak, and they found Adonai Bezak. Adonai, remember, that's the name of God, or the Lord of Bezak, in Bezak, and they fought against this king, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites, but Adonai Bezak fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes.
Gruesome. This, by the way, was the ancient method of ending the military career of the king, because without a thumb, he couldn't grasp a sword. Without a big toe, he couldn't stand steady for hand-to-hand combat, and this was a figurative thing but also very literal in that they would cut these, they would dismember these conquered kings as a sign that these men could no longer fight.
They're no longer a threat. The problem is this was the pagan way. Besides that, God did not want torture. He had ordered them to execute, put to death, the idolaters in the land, and you can see how Judah is obeying and yet flirting with the ways of the pagan warrior. Another troubling verse is verse 19. Look there. Now, the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots.
Now, that seems logical. Judah's outgunned. They don't have the weaponry that the Canaanites have here. It's interesting in chapter 4 that a lady judge by the name of Deborah will lead the Israelites against an army of 900 iron chariots, and they will defeat them. The problem is not a lack of power on Judah's part.
The problem is a lack of faith in a powerful God. So these are little things that surface in the text. There are actually seven references in all of partial obedience, which is in effect disobedience. Look at verse 27.
Get on your horse and follow here. But Manasseh did not take possession of Bethshene and its villages. Last phrase of the verse. So the Canaanites persisted in living in that land. Verse 28. And it came about when Israel became strong that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. Verse 29. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer. So the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them. Verse 30. Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Ketron or the inhabitants of Nahalod. So the Canaanites lived among them and became subject to forced labor, which was not God's idea.
Don't make slaves of them. Verse 31. Asher did not drive out the inhabitants. Skip to verse 32. So the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.
You get the picture. The picture Judges 1 gives us is that there is control, but not total conquest. There is victory and there is a visible sign of obedience to God, but there is still a nagging disobedience. The next generation picked up on it. There's something that's sensitive in the life of the second generation who follow people who are known for their faith.
Another fundamental problem is this. Chapter 2. The second generation can become isolated from past experiences of faith. Look back at chapter 2, verse 8. Then Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of honor and 10, and they buried him in the territory of his inheritance.
Skip to verse 10. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers, and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, now note this, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel. That's the all-time religion. They're over here kind of looking at mom and dad like, well, that's great for them. The problem is it hasn't been incorporated into their life. They have been told to come to church.
They have been given their belief system, but they have not been shared with in the matter of conviction. Look at what God did through us. And you remember you go back into the scriptures and the two and a half tribes were so concerned that their children understand the work of God that they built that memorial.
It was going to be a teaching tool whereby they could share with them everything that God had done in their lives so that it wouldn't be just something that God did to them, but it would impact them as well. The second generation so often kind of watches mom and dad. Well, you know, your father is a great man of faith. Yeah, he is. I see him every once in a while. And I think you're right.
Number three, let me suggest one more. They can become ignorant, the second generation that is, of the practical preeminence of God. Let me explain that first by reading verse 11. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they served the Baals, verse 12. And they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Astartes, plural form of Ashtoreth, who was a goddess. It was bad enough that they would turn away from the living God. And by the way, God did them with something way over there.
So the next step is now that they turn their back on him, but it's even worse. They put in God's place foreign deities, like Baal. Now let me insert an understanding of who Baal was. He was the God in charge of storms and fertility. Now, Baal obviously is the God of fertility would have a consort, a mistress, and she was Ashtart. What do you think God's response is going to be when he sees the second generation doing that? Well, you win some, you lose some.
That's the way the cookie crumbles. Look at verse 14, chapter two, and the anger of the Lord burned against Israel. This is not the petty anger of hurt feelings, a little myth. This is a sovereign holy God recognizing that his people are prostituting themselves with foreign gods. Now the amazing thing as I reread these chapters several times is chapter two, the next verse down or verse 16, the grace of God is incredible.
Look at it. Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Thus the book of judges is the story, ladies and gentlemen, of the cycle of Israel falling into sin and slavery and despair and repentance and then sin and slavery and despair and repentance.
And God would use men and women called judges to bring them back to himself. Now that's kind of an overview. And that's also the negative things that I picked up from reading these chapters.
What are the positives? What can we learn to keep this generation right next to the first generation experiencing the faith of their fathers as their own personal faith? How do we do it? Let me suggest two major ways with some points underneath each one. The first major way to do this, I believe, is to number one, develop cooperation with the second generation. Do it two ways.
Number one, physically. Look at chapter one, verse 12. I love this passage.
It's easy to overlook it. We could spend an hour on it just alone. And Caleb said, remember Caleb now, the guy who took on the giant Savannach, the one who attacks Kiriath-Safir and captures it, I will give my daughter aksa for a wife. I love this. This is my kind of dad. Daughter's about to get married. He wants to make sure that the guy who gets her is worthy, you know, and he's probably wondering if there is anybody worthy of his daughter.
I know the feeling. Well, he wants to make sure that this guy is a first generation man. So he says, here's the test.
You go take this city. And if you can trust God and God does the fighting for you, if you have that kind of relationship with God and you conquer this city, you're good enough for my little aksa. Now, the lines hadn't been drawn evidently at this point in time in who could marry who, because it's interesting that the one who steps up is Caleb's younger brother.
And he evidently does it. Look at verse 14 now. Then it came about when she came to him, that is Caleb now, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. Then she alighted from her donkey and Caleb said to her, what do you want? And she said to him, give me a blessing since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.
I love this. She's just like her father. Her father years ago had come up to Joshua and said, Hey, give me Ibrin. Now her daughter, boy, that little aksa, you know, I could just see her now. She gets off her donkey and she says, dad, we've got enough property, but I want some spring water too. What is she really saying? She isn't asking for something that she's just going to inherit or walk down and enjoy.
She's asking for more land to conquer and to maintain. Evidently, way back there, when Caleb was involved, he somehow communicated to her his faith and you find her now physically involved in the action of faith, which makes her a first generation kid. You ever wonder why missionary kids grow up, go right back to the field where their parents served for decades. It's because they had a high involvement in the life and ministry of their parents. They weren't way over there.
They were right here. The second way to develop cooperation is not just physically, but prayerfully. You have a problem? Involve the entire family in praying about it, especially the younger children. And I think they'll amaze you as you have shared with me already on occasion, their passion for transparent prayer. It also, it's a little frightening because they expect to get an answer. A relationship with the Lord is wonderful to see.
There is a transparency there with kids that is amazing to watch. Involve them, someone you're discipling, another teenager, college student. You have a problem? Have you ever pulled that second generation aside and said, hey, I need you to pray for me?
A little intimidating, isn't it? If I had a first class example of that, I came home when it was 1230 from that council and I woke my wife up and I proceeded to tell her the whole story. It was close to one o'clock and she very patiently listened to me and sympathize with me and paced back and forth in that bedroom. And then she reminded me of the sovereignty of God and I didn't want to hear that, but she also did something else. The next morning, took the children to school and she told them the story and she said, you need to pray for your daddy. Oh, wait a second.
I don't mind praying with them, but it's rather odd to have your children praying for you, that God will strengthen you. And very frankly, daddy's a little upset. So I come home from work, not knowing this is going on. Walk into the house and I get the hugs, you know, which is fortunately standard. But I noticed that they're kind of looking at me, just staring at me.
And I said, you know, what's going on? Well, my wife told me later that she had told them to pray and they were seeing me in an entirely different light. Daddy needs help. But maybe they're picking up the fact that daddy is human.
We have the misconception that the first generation is to be a perfect model. And so as a result, we do not share our struggles. Teenagers so often say, oh, I just wish my parents would talk to me. Just talk to me.
Read a survey recently that the average father spends less than five minutes a week talking to his children. You involve them prayerfully not just to ask, but to thank. See, we don't thank God because it makes God feel good.
We thank God because it does us good. It teaches our children, the second generation, the disciple, that the source of power and grace is God. Now, let me give you one other main idea. Not only should we develop cooperation with them physically and prayerfully, but let me suggest that we develop communication with the second generation following on the heels of what I just suggested. And I want to tell you two important things to talk about.
We're not just talking for talk's sake. What you want is this generation to pick up your passion, your vision, your mission. You want them to understand that God is real. He is personal, that he cares. He can be approached. And there are important things that we need to talk about with them.
And let me give you the first of two. We are to communicate spiritual events in our lives. I can imagine the tribes, especially the two and a half, and even earlier on in Joshua, how they would build the altars and they would be symbols that God is alive, that God is powerful, that God can be trusted. That was the message of Joshua.
What do we share with our second generation? You share Jesus Christ with a co-worker or a neighbor. Tell them about it. Tell them what you said. Tell them how they responded. Tell them what you wish you had said.
Share spiritual events. And I realized in my own life that I was failing in this and maybe I thought they were too young, but I recognized the problem because I'd have a kid hanging onto my leg saying, don't go to another meeting or something like that. I realized I was not communicating the mission. Every Wednesday night I go out on evangelism explosion or EE and I would tell my kids I'm going to a meeting and it bothered them. So I recognized that I needed to share with them what I was doing and where I was going. And so I began telling them that he's going to tell people about Jesus Christ. Oh, you are? Yeah, that's important, isn't it?
The people don't know the Lord. And so I want to share it with them. Is that where you're going?
Yes. Made all the difference in the world. So often the second generation doesn't hear what's happening in our lives because we just don't share it. And so over a period of time they become more and more and more isolated with what happens in our lives. So we need to communicate spiritual events.
And I want to, I want to suggest that this is a wonderful way of sharing your convictions with your children too. Listen, sir, you go to that party your clients put on and you go out of politeness and you get there and you have to politely refuse to drink what the boys are drinking or laugh at the stories the boys are telling and refuse the offer to dance with the pretty office secretaries. You know how you felt? Do you remember? He felt like a stick in the mud.
He felt like a holy Joe, a fuddy-duddy. Have you ever thought how powerful that would be if you communicated that to your teenager, your college-age student, the one who's already in a career, who look at you like you don't understand peer pressure? You're not involved in that. Your world is, you know, protected from that kind of thing. How powerful it would be to share that with them. Tell them how you feel. And what God is doing in helping you remain distinctive in the arena God has placed you. Let me suggest one more.
We got to quit. Secondly, communicate your spiritual dreams for their lives. It's a tragic misconception of parents and older Christians alike that somehow the second generation is just going to pick it up by osmosis, that we think God has a special plan for their lives. They cannot read our minds.
Smalley and Trent put out a book that was rather interesting called The Blessing. It talks about the need for parents and children to bless family members. That is, with meaningful touch, with words, tell them that God has something unique for them.
We can't predict. And by the way, godly parents have ungodly children who will refuse to follow. We cannot guarantee that they will obey. We cannot guarantee that they will adopt the values and the faith.
But whether they do or not, the responsibility is still ours to share it. One of the ways we can is to pull a little Johnny aside or that one you're discipling, that new believer and say, you know, I want you to know I appreciate you. And these things that I observe in your life that God can use in a wonderful way. I mean, God can use me. Oh, yeah. Why God has put you together.
Why aren't you? I noticed this and this and this. And what God can do with that. Tremendous. Really? Me? Yeah.
You. Let me close with a question. Are you first generation? Are you second generation drifting further and further apart? I trust that we are all in the first chair, even though we may be second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth generation. I trust that we are sharing the passion and the vision and that this will challenge us because a generation will follow us who need to know that God is alive, that God is powerful. God can be trusted.
That was a lesson called Winning the Second Generation. It's from our Vintage Wisdom series from the Book of Judges. Stephen Davey is our Bible teacher, and he's the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. If you have a comment, a question, or would like more information, you can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdom online dot org. We have a special place on our website where Stephen answers questions that have come in from listeners like you. If you come across a passage that's confusing or encounter a teaching that you need to have clarified, send that question to info at wisdom online dot org.
Once Stephen has answered it, we'll add it to the collection. And of course, you can also use that email address if you have a question or comments about our ministry as well. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible messages, we also have a magazine that we publish monthly.
We send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our wisdom partners, but we'd be happy to send you the next three issues if you'd like to see it for yourself. You can sign up for it on our website, or you can call us today. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-482-4253. Call today. We look forward to having you back with us next time here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 18:33:00 / 2023-03-16 18:43:19 / 10