It only Takes One Generation

You have probably heard the saying that “all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Today, look around and see that evil is marching. Good does seem to be falling back. Why? What has happened to us to allow these things to come in? Why don’t we fight back?

There are several reasons, but the most important to cover is that we have forgotten the Lord and what He has done for us. This isn’t the first time it has happened in history. If you read the Old Testament, you will find the prophets often called for a renewal among the people. The people would forget their covenant with God and break it. However, God never forgot the covenant with them. Sadly, it didn’t take long to forget either. Every generation needed that renewal. And I do mean generation. In the time of the judges, every generation of Israelites would fall away once the godly judge died.

Why? Because the fathers did not teach the children. It only takes one generation to fall away. Good fell silent. So Evil spoke.

Scripture Introduction

As you turn to Judges 2, think about what came before. The generation of the Exodus passed away in the wilderness. The generation that came after them entered the Land, performed the conquest and are themselves almost gone. Read with me Judges 2:7-19.

Judges 2:7-19 7 The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 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. 11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, 12 and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed. 16 Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers. 18 When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.

What Happened Before?

7 The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers;

80 years before, the Lord had brought the Israelites out of Egypt with a mighty hand. That generation saw the Ten Plagues as God showed that the gods of Egypt were no match for Him. They didn’t just see the Red Sea part; they walked between the walls of water. Those same people stood at Sinai as God appeared to Moses in lightning and smoke. They saw the mighty hand of God in all things. They escaped from the most powerful army of the day. God worked in their camp to preserve their lives. They saw water come from rocks!

They grumbled and griped along the way, but God kept forgiving them. Then, they failed one last time. Instead of going into the Promised Land and winning, as God promised they would, they backed down. God said that generation, save Joshua and Caleb, would not enter the Land.

Think of the things they saw with their own eyes less than two years before. God saving them in the Exodus. God preserving them thus far in the Wilderness. Miracles! But the generation failed to trust God at this point. The generation that came out of Egypt died in the desert.

The next generation saw what had happened and straightened up when they came to be the leading generation. They won their battles while the prior generation lost most of them. They had seen how when Korah and company tried to rebel against Moses and Aaron, God made something new and caused the earth to open and swallow the rebels. They ate the manna and quail daily. They knew God by experience.

The short time they stayed in the wilderness before entering the Land didn’t have as many miracles, but when invading Canaan, it did. They saw God bring down the walls of Jericho and the sun stand still. They saw what happened when Achan kept treasure for himself. They won their battles. Their shoes and clothes didn’t wear out. They conquered the Land, including King Og the Giant. But the next generation didn’t know the Lord.

What Happened Then?

and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. 11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, 12 and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.

As long as they had Joshua, they followed God. Joshua taught them what he could. Being Moses’ successor, he continued teaching the Law of God to all who would hear. But that isn’t enough.

God will only bless those who follow after Him. At best, He will withhold from those who turn away. That withholding is a warning. After enough time with no repentance, the curses come.

Most of this new generation had not seen the miracles of the Conquest and those who saw the later Wilderness miracles were very young when they happened. When Joshua dies, everyone who was over 20 when the Conquest began has died. And we see from the actions of their children that they made a horrible mistake. They didn’t pass on the knowledge of God.

You see, the word used for “know” here doesn’t just mean head knowledge. It doesn’t just mean knowing about something. It means knowing that something by experiencing it.

In Egypt, the Israelites had been honored guests until there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. Between Joseph’s death and this new Pharaoh, at least one entire dynasty had come to be. That means there had been political machinations to replace the ruling family of Joseph’s day with another. Whenever a dynasty is replaced like that, the new family attempts to remove all positive references to the prior dynasty. They will speak only of mistakes and errors the prior dynasty made. In Egypt, they would often remove or deface monuments to the old rulers. This is why it can be so difficult to reconstruct the history of the ancient world.

It wasn’t that this new Pharaoh didn’t know his own history. It was that his own history had been prevented from being passed on. The monuments to Joseph and his brothers were covered up and forgotten. They just stopped talking about the Pharaoh who saved them from catastrophe. All it takes is one generation not speaking of the good things of God for the next generation to forget.

Israel lost the grandchildren of the Exodus generation. Today, Christian churches are losing kids. Why? Two reasons. First, We aren’t passing on our knowledge of God. They don’t hear from us the great things God has done in our lives. We have passed on the sacred responsibility of raising our children to the state. Do you really think the state is going to raise children with any higher loyalty than to itself? The second reason is related to the first. Everyone is busy, but what is important? Your children will spend five days a week, from eight to three, in small rooms where they are given an education about anything but God and godliness and in fact will be taught God is a fairy tale and godliness a detriment. They might get 4 hours of church in a week for those few parents who come to Sunday school, both services, and Wednesday night. Is it worth your child

Throughout Israel’s history they showed they needed a fresh knowledge of God every generation. Let’s look first at what happened to the Israelites immediately after forgetting God. They first turned away from God, but since man is a spiritual creature, they could not turn from Him without turning to another. Even today, atheists are like this. They turn from God (and they are quite angry at something they don’t believe in) and to themselves and their own intellect.

When the Israelites turned from God, they turned to the Ba’als and Ashera. God called for a life of honesty with one another, fidelity, and service to one another. Ba’al and Ashera included sex rites in their worship. Oh, they had already been warned. In Numbers 25, Isrealites brought foreign women into the camp for sex rites. 24,000 were killed by the Lord before the last one who participated was executed. This is the last time we hear anything of the first generation. Adults of the second generation were there and involved in the executions, but they didn’t impress upon their children the dire consequences of idol worship. Neither then, nor the sin of Achan in looting the city instead of burning all of it.

Because of the failure of the parents, the children, when they became adults, were punished for their own sins. God was against them. He let their enemies have sway over them. They would be distressed for it all.

Now, we know that God always brought up a judge to deliver them, but wouldn’t it have been better to not need the deliverer?

What Happened Next?

16 Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers. 18 When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.

God gives us here a summary of the book of Judges. Over and over the people turned away from God and into sin. Over and over, He gave them mercy with a judge to deliver them. After the judge died, the people returned to sin. In fact, they would often be worse than their fathers.

When we hear the word judge, we simply think of the judicial branch of government. That does not define the Biblical judge. The shophtim is one who brings justice and rights wrongs. The judge was charged to “justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.” In their world, they did not divide civil officers into legal, judicial, and executive roles. Instead, the judge held all such roles. Hence, the word may also be vindicator, punisher, or deliverer. “Justice bringer” would be accurate.

Imagine being the fifth judge or so to see this pattern, knowing that the people are going to fall away after you die. You would have a choice. You could accept that and refuse to be the justice bringer, or you could do what is called of you and let the people’s sin be their own.

We live in a time without Biblical justice. Look around. Everywhere you can see one way or another that God’s commands for fair and balanced weights in all matters are not seen. People are canceled for tweets they made 10 years ago. Or rather, some people are canceled for minor tweets. Others are able to laugh off a thousand terrible tweets and still be rewarded with cushy jobs.

This is all part of the Enemy’s plan. You see what is being done to those around you, and it weighs on you. Knowing that the system of the world rewards those who work evil while punishing those who do good is all part of their plan. They bring you down because cynicism will not win the day. You cannot grab hold of God’s purpose in your life if you do not see the good in this world.

Despair is a tool of the Devil to grind you down. You cannot succeed while in despair. The Devil doesn’t want to remove you from the game. He wants to break you in the game.

Like the judges, you must refuse to back down. You must insist on fighting the war. Gideon could have turned away from the Midianites. He certainly wanted to, but he obeyed God’s call to arms. If you do not fight for yourself and your children, you will lose.

Conclusion

Everyone right now stands at the point of decision. Like Esther, you are put in this time because it is when you can best serve the Lord. Like Joshua, the fight will continue long after you leave this earth. Your choice right now is to live for God in all that you have and do.

One of the oldest traditions of Judaism is for the father to teach the children the ways of the Lord. It is said that he who learns the Law from his father is counted as if he stood at Mt. Sinai when Moses presented the covenant. Will you do that? Will you refuse to embrace despair? Will you help turn this generation back?

The altars are open for those who wish to pray.

The sermon has also been posted at Postcards From the Age of Reason

About frankluke

Professionally: pastor, programmer, writer. Personally: husband, father.
This entry was posted in Christianity, sermon, The Last Crusade and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It only Takes One Generation

  1. Pingback: It only Takes One Generation - SuperversiveSF

  2. Pingback: It Only Takes One Generation – Postcards from the Age of Reason

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