The Riches OF GRACE
“hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11
Robert W. Reed
“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”
+ A Generation Which Knew Not the Lord +
The generation of Joshua had experienced the presence of God and had seen the fulfillment of entering into the Promised Land. They had witnessed the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River on dry ground and the power of God as their enemies were defeated one by one. But the next generation knew not the Lord for they had not seen His great works. The new generation had lost their faith and had forgotten the mercies of God. They had heard only the stories of God’s great deliverances, but had not experienced the wonderful presence of their Creator. They fell into apostasy and rebelled against God’s covenant and laws. Their apostasy brought God’s chastening upon them. In just a few years, examples died, truth disappeared, religious zeal wore off, and sin became rampant. May we take careful warning in our day. Amen.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
As I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s, the term “generation gap” was used often in reference to the division between parents and their children. This was the Woodstock era and hippie movement generation that brought much rebellion in our land. When everyone does that which is right in his or her own eyes, the result is chaos (Judges 21:25).
The book of Judges records the history of the children of Israel (God’s people) from the death of Joshua to Samuel. The book gets its title from those who served as judges in the Commonwealth of Israel for about three hundred years. God raised up the judges to deliver His people from their enemies and to purge them from their sins. Throughout the book of Judges, Israel continuously failed the Lord and had to be restored. The entire book tragically reveals the deep, moral decline of the people as they turn from their God and His covenant. In Judges 2:17, we see some of the actual sins Israel had committed against God.
The sad state of this generation in Israel that arose and knew not the Lord must be a wake-up call to parents everywhere. The decay of the second generation Christian has been seen throughout the centuries. Good godly parents many times are grieved over their children. Many Christian homes across our land have lost their children to the world. In just one generation, they can become lukewarm or even suffer in hell - a frightening thought. If we learn nothing else from the book of Judges, we see the necessity of godly leadership in every generation. The statement, “everything rises and falls based on leadership,” is more true than we realize (Joshua 24:10, 31). It should have been a time of greatness but it became a time of repeated failures.
In our quest as parents, and especially as fathers, to establish a godly heritage and to pass down our faith to our children, we must follow Holy Scriptures. The only way that children will serve the God of their fathers is that the faith of the fathers must become the faith of the next generation. Some of our examples in Scripture are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When the heart of the parents and children are bound together, a living faith is preserved. This is seen in Luke 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
These first words of the New Testament are taken from the last words of the Old Testament in Malachi 4:4-5, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.” This heart bond of father and child is God’s plan of redemption. When this is accomplished, God can advance His kingdom through the preaching of the gospel to the next generation. This is God’s way; but, when there is a breakdown in one generation, truth does not continue.
The process of passing on a godly heritage from one generation to another is seen in Psalm 78:5-7, “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” The Word of God and the works of God must be communicated to our children. If not, they will forget the Lord and rebel against Him (verses 8-10). A great responsibility is laid upon parents to see that the generations are closely tied together.
In Isaiah 64:8, God is portrayed as a father, that is, one who shapes and molds his people as a potter works the clay with his hands. In like manner, earthly fathers have the responsibility to be potters of their household, shaping their families into vessels of honor that bring glory to God. Fathers can learn a great deal in imitating the fatherhood of God. His nature and character is illustrated to us throughout the Holy writ.
There is a beautiful story of generational ties illustrated by the Rechabites in Jeremiah 35. These people were descendants of a man by the name of Jonadab. He was a man who loved God and understood truths from His Word. The Rechabites (according to verses 6-10) were still obeying the commands of Jonadab six generations (over 240 years) later. This became a great testimony to the nation of Israel as a whole, for they had rebelled many times against God. Because of the Rechabites’ obedience, a wonderful promise was given to them in verses 18-19, “And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” That means that even to this very day, somewhere in the world, Jonadab has descendants still serving the Lord. Praise His Holy Name.
The parent’s responsibility of passing down their faith to the next generation is of utmost importance (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:2). David’s failure to bring moral training to his son nearly cost him his kingdom (I Kings 1:5-6). God’s truth must be instilled in our children that they will tell their children, and so forth (Joel 1:3). Job prayed a hedge around his children even after they were grown (Job 1:1-5), and Abraham was willing to command his children in the Word of God, Genesis 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
In closing, God’s quest for a man to stand in the gap is seen in Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” In verses 23-31, the people as a whole were in apostasy. A man was sought to make up a hedge and to close up the gap. Today, men are in great demand to close the generational gap and be leaders in their families. God is looking for a few good men, will you answer the call?
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”
I Timothy 2:8
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31
Victory Baptist Church
Pastor Robert W. Reed
14473 Bellingrath Road
P.O. Box 257
Coden, Alabama 36523