A brief look at the history of the nation of Israel spanning the times of Joshua and into the era of Judges will offer some sobering truths concerning how the faith of the fathers can be lost in succeeding generations.
At the end of the leadership of Joshua, we read in Joshua 24:31 that, “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.” This was a time of healthy transference of the faith through word and deed. Joshua and the elders walked the talk and could testify to their children what they have experienced of the Lord. We see this trend recorded in Judges 2:7, “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.” There is great value in personally “seeing” all the great things that Lord does.
But in verse 10 of the very same chapter, we see a sad and tragic development – “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Something was lost. There was a breakdown. What happened? The Scriptures tells us that “they knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” There arose a generation that was devoid of the knowledge of Yahweh and the experience of Him.
The last verse of the Book of Judges is to me one of the saddest verse in the entire bible, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 21:25
It was a generation that abandoned their faith and lost their divinely given moral compass. Their own beliefs and values governed their lives.
What is urgently needed today in our church life? Reaching our next generation and not allowing spiritual decline, not on our watch!
In Malachi 4:5-6 we read, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Elijah bridged the gap between the faithful fathers of Israel and their unfaithful descendants. When Elijah’s generation exchanged the worship of Yahweh for the worship of Baal, the nation suffered an identity crisis. Without the bond between generations, Israel is no longer Israel. (D.L. PETERSON).
On Mt. Carmel, Elijah turned his generation back to the faith of the fathers. Malachi said the spirit and power of Elijah will be back before the return of the Messiah.
Singapore is home to some 600 churches, 43 missions-evangelism organizations, 15 bible schools plus a myriad of ministries ranging from schools to social concerns, of which our Diocese has been playing a major role. Thank God for his sustaining grace and the sterling example of faithful pioneers in the early days of nation-building.
Are we passing on true biblical Christianity and kingdom faith to the young? Current trends suggest that we are not.
One key arena is the home. Pray that we will return to the Deuteronomy 6 model where parents cultivate faith at home, making the most of teachable moments in life. Pray that fathers will take the lead, simply because its commanded by the Lord.
Let’s not be guilty of neglect. “What one generation neglects, the next generation will reject.” That is one main reason why COR is reviewing our catechism curriculum and actively “pushing” our family life/marriage initiatives. We want to ensure we are empowering all to bridge the gap and pass on the faith to every succeeding generation. As we work hard, ask God to protect our descendants from nominalism. Too often the second-generation is a second-hand experience. The parent’s fervor for the Lord becomes the children’s formalism and the grandchildren’s apathy.
Pray for a Jesus Revolution in every generation.
Rev. Timothy Chow