Troubled Hearts: One generation away from extinction
One generation away from extinction (Judges 2:6-13)
A Lifetime of Faith (2:6) Here we are in the book of Judges. The twelve tribes are taking possession of their inheritance, conquering, fighting, and subduing foreign nations, and amid this chaos, we see them worshipping. This statement is a summary of history. Don’t think of Israel having a worship experience; instead, think of worshippers. The people were worshippers of Yahweh (covenant name) throughout Joshua's lifetime, Caleb, and the other elders.
Let me speak to the elders for a moment. Never discount the impact that Yahweh can have in your life and through your life. What if, by your example of faithfulness, others continue in the faith. What if, by your perseverance, many who are hanging on to faith by a thread continue to fight the good fight? This is the Gospel power of a lifetime of dedication—long obedience in the same direction. Let’s honor our elders (40 + years)- we don’t celebrate your long life; we honor your long faith.
A lifetime of faith is not easy, but it is worth it. This faith only happens when you see the Lord’s great works and personally experience his saving and sustaining grace. It’s one thing to hear about the great works of God, but it is another thing to see them firsthand. The testimony of lifetime faith is so profound that the entire nation of Israel worshipped the Lord throughout the life of Joshua. Be a Joshua today! Be an elder of lifetime faith!
A Generational Faith (2:8) We know that Joshua did not live forever, although it might have felt that way. Joshua lived to the ripe old age of 110—the number of fulfillment in the model of Joseph. After his burial, something unique happens. Now the book of Judges is in the canonical order that God ordained, but not necessarily chronologically. Verse 1:1 follows 2:9. After his death, the Israelites inquire (a good start) of the Lord, “who will be the first to fight for us?” They petition because they witnessed Joshua inquiring of the Lord.
“Who?” is a natural question. Joshua is dead, and you are watching the passing of the baton of faith from one generation to another. However, they ask the wrong question. The new generation is looking for a personalitywhen they need a Person—the One true God. So, dear brother, your help is in the name of the Lord, not in the name of your favorite spiritual hero.
Not surprisingly, Judah is given the task. Judah, the first to receive the blessing of Jacob, was the largest of the clans—described as a lion. It was from Judah that one day King David would arise and ultimately the more excellent David, Jesus the Messiah.
Now back to Joshua 2:10. Linking 1:1 with 2:10, the phrase after them expresses the passing of generational faith. After them, another generation arose who did not know the Lord or his works for Israel. Keep in mind that only sixty-seven years have passed since their coming out of Egypt. So, of course, they knew about the works He had done!
Here is the grave danger of generational faith. The people knew Joshua but did not know His Savior. Personality-driven faith is a dangerous and shallow hope. If your faith is dependent upon a person, it’s not authentic faith. How often do we hear, “my grandfather was a pastor, my mom played piano for ages, my uncle led worship.” God does not have spiritual grandchildren, and mamaw’s faith will not save you! Faith in the One true God must be yours.
Did Joshua do something wrong? Of course not, but Judges is a reminder that Christianity is always one generation away from extinction. We must pass our faith to the next generation, but we cannot force them to take hold of the promises of eternal life. So pass on what is most important: prayer, not preferences, truth, not ritualistic traditions, love for the Messiah, not love for the good old days. What are you passing on? What are you known for? Every person who has ever lived is passing down something to the next generations. Give them Jesus.
A Cultural Faith (2:11) If lifetime faith is strong and generational faith shaky, cultural faith is doomed from the start. Israel’s moral decay manifests itself only two verses after Joshua’s graveside. The people did what was evil. Most don’t set out to do evil; it’s just who we are. There is no one righteous, not even one!
Evil is the concluding summation of their lives, but the root of evil begins with worship. We all worship something or someone. Worship, at its core, is giving attention and adoration to what you love.
For Israel, they worshipped the gods of Baal. I have experienced the statues of Baal up close and personally in museums throughout Israel, and never once was I tempted to bow down and pay homage to these primitive stone carvings.
Why? Because they are not part of my culture. Baal was the Canaanite thunderstorm and fertility god. The Old Testament gives evidence that Baal had a strong attraction for the Israelite farmers. Why? Because the Canaanites were successful farmers. Essentially, Israel believed that if they reoriented their lives like their culture, they would also experience success.
For the westerner, the God of Baal is void of many temptations. But the gods of our culture remain.
Money—one day, I will have enough not to rely on anyone else. Whether rich or poor, we rely upon God alone day and night. You can’t be rich enough not to depend on your Creator.
Identity—the god of being true to yourself as the highest good. “Your truth is your truth.” When in reality, we are created in His image. Your identity is broken until you embrace your image.
Sex – We live in a culture that is obsessed with sex and sexuality. A world that teaches if you are in love, it's ok to have sexual relations. Or you are defined by your sexual preferences. The Biblical sexual ethic guards intimacy within the boundaries of marriage, one man and one woman. This is where intimacy flourishes.
Do not bow down to the gods of your culture.
And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt…
Following the gods of culture and bowing down to the climate of your day only leads away from the glory of Christ and abandonment to Yahweh.
It’s the age old story of Adam desiring to “be like God,” rejected the Lord’s way, the days of Noah were filled where every heart was desperately evil, in the days of Jesus, the crowd crucified the world’s only perfect person, and in the last days, all nations will gather against the Lord in the final battle of Armageddon. From the Garden the world is daily walking away not toward the ways of Life.
You will always follow what you love. But there is another cultural idol far more deceitful than the gods of Baal. That is the god of cultural Christianity.
A mindset that places one’s eternal security in heritage (baptism or 1st communion) and a generic deity (big man in the sky) rather than the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (from the Unsaved Christian, 18).
Cultural faith makes it easy to abandon the Lord because you never really know Him. You hear about what God has done for others, but Jesus never changed your life. It’s the fatal poison of knowing the language of Christianity without loving the Savior.
It’s the thought that you are moral person, go to church on Easter, help your neighbors, and one day God will understand. A cultural faith will never save; it only leaves you empty and damned for an eternal hell away from a Holy God.
Israel knew Joshua, but they did not know the Lord or what He had done.
In a race, if you want to win, you have to pass the baton: giving or receiving.
Lifetime- Can it be said of you that others worshipped the Lord throughout your lifetime? Never underestimate the power of a lifetime of devotion to Jesus.
After the death- Have you personally experienced the saving grace of Jesus, or are you living on someone else’s faith? Maybe you feel like the new generation who knew not the Lord or His works. Yet, you can experience his love today through faith in Jesus Christ. Is today the first day you grab the baton of faith?
Baal or Yahweh-- Are you a cultural worshipper? Are you seeking success as it looks in the eyes of others? Are you a cultural Christian, content to know about the Father but not get close enough for Him to change your life? Do you know the language of Christianity, but have never personally experience His redemptive love?
As much as it depends on you, will others know Jesus?