The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel… After that whole generations had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Judges 2:7,10 (NIV 1984)
Israel walked in obedience to God and His law throughout the lifetime of Moses, Joshua, and the elders who led after Joshua. For three generations they remembered the great deeds that the Lord had done and how He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and preserved them for forty years in the desert. They remembered how He had helped them cross the Jordan River and conquer the land promised to them when Moses sent Joshua, Caleb, and the other spies into the ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’
But, now a new generation grew who did not know the Lord or His deeds. Something had been lost in transmission through the generations. The author of Judges reminds us that this fourth generation did not know the Lord or His deeds done for Israel. Something happened after the generation of elders – they failed to raise their children in the ways of the Lord and also failed to connect them to their spiritual history.
To see spiritual generations continue for the fourth, fifth, and more generations, we will need both a dynamic walk with God personally and some intentionality. Our ‘children’ – those we lead and influence (whether spiritual or biological) will need to see our own pursuit of Christ and embrace it as their own faith when they grow to maturity. While we cannot force or make others grow, our example can be so compelling that others will desire it for themselves. It has been said, “Set yourself on fire and others will come and watch you burn!”
Secondly, generations who do not experience the great God doing great things will drift into spiritual doldrums and their faith will be more intellectual rather than personal. They will have many opinions, but few convictions. The previous generations will have to be intentionally helping the new ones to know their spiritual heritage and live a life that takes new steps of faith based on God’s promises to them and their spiritual forefathers.
Isaiah 50:1-2 says, “”Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord : Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.”
Are you planning and leading for a legacy of many spiritual generations?