Saturday, July 19, 2008

Apostasy in a Generation

In the transfer of the nation of Israel from Egypt to the promise land, we count only 3 generations. The first generation that came out of Egypt died out during the wilderness wandering because of their unbelief in taking the land the first time. The second generation died out after taking the land. Then we have the third generation which came to be after the people had taken the land and now controlled it. Of this third generation, we read in Judges 2:10, the following:

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 (NASB).

It really is amazing what this verse says. The previous two generations were exposed to the awesome works of God in delivering them from Egypt, providing for their every need, and going before them to defeat peoples who were more powerful than them in taking the land. Without a doubt, these first two generations had many failures, yet God continued to work in and through them to keep His promises to them. Yet, just one generation after entering the land, we read that these did not know the Lord. And further, they did not know the works that the Lord had done for Israel. I must ask, how did that happen?

Did the previous generation fail to tell them of the wonders and works of God in redeeming them? God had commanded the earlier generations over and over again to make sure that coming generations were to be instructed in who God was and what He had done for this people. This is clear in the words of the Shema:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9, NASB)

This second generation appears to have failed in this task as evident in verse 10. We also see this by the cyclic turning from God throughout the book of Judges. Should we be shocked at this? How long do we think it takes for a new generation to turn away from the truth of God and His ways? I often think of the state of England where only 200 years ago they may have been called the leading fortress of Christianity in terms of faith, practice and missions. Yet today some are saying that Christianity is dead in Britain. We must take this to heart. If we do not teach the truths of God's word to this generation, then it may not be long before they forget the Lord and the work He has done for His people. It will not happen by osmosis. It will only happen when we obey God and teach them. Concerning this, D. A. Carson writes:
Here is a sober lesson. Even after times of spectacular revival, reformation, or covenantal renewal, the people of God are never more than a generation or two from infidelity, unbelief, massive idolatry, disobedience, and wrath. God help us.

I too agree. May God help us in this task.

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