One Generation Away

If you’ve attended these services for any consistent period of time, you’ve heard me speak of the Joshua generation and how God is looking for us to be that type of generation.  Moses and his generation lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage so that they might worship God.  They, however, were also the generation that died while wandering in the desert place between their bondage and God’s promised land to them.  Joshua succeeded Moses and his was the generation who lead Israel into the promised land and overthrew their enemies in order to obtain it.
Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with God face-to-face, then left quickly to get things done.  Joshua, then quite young, would enter along with Moses, but would remain long after Moses left simply to enjoy being in the Presence of God.  Moses’ generation was one of a whole lot of talk and even more action.  Unfortunately, their talk was whining and their action was grumbling.  The worship that they chose was to a golden calf because of their impatience in waiting on the Lord instead of worship to God.
There were spies sent from both generations to go in and observe the promised land of God and came back with a good report of how awesome the land truly was.  They also spoke of how strong and large the people and cities were that God allowed to dwell there in order to maintain that land.  Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith required in the Lord to drive out their enemies.
There were many awesome attributes that the Joshua generation possessed that enabled God to move powerfully through them and those are the things I refer to when I say that God wants us to rise up and be a Joshua generation.  They were a generation abandoned to themselves and fully surrendered to God.  They loved the Presence of God and sought after Him in all things.  They stepped out in faith in even the most impossible of situations and saw the mighty hand of God move over and over again.
In fact, in Joshua 10, we read of an instance where Joshua commanded the sun and moon to be still and they did so for nearly an entire day.  There were simply too many signs and wonders performed in His generation that left entire nations in fear of God and of His people.  God’s fame spread far and wide and testimonies of His power and protection over those who served Him.
Despite the many things that Joshua’s generation did right, God laid a huge burden on my heart this morning to share about the one critical areas where they missed it.  In fact, in this matter, God wants us to be anything but a Joshua generation.  Listen to these few short verses that summarize where they went wrong.  In remembering their generation’s downfall, we can learn from it and choose not to repeat our failed history in this matter!
Judges 2:6-14
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the Lordthroughout 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.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 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. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
In one single generation, decades of passion and zeal for God, decades of sacrifice, decades of signs, wonders, and miracles, decades of extremely successful leadership were all reversed.  A nation went from bondage, to freedom, then right back to bondage.  They went from poverty, to tremendous blessing, then right back to nothing.
All can be gained or lost in one generation.  We are always just one generation away from either the most powerful moves of revival that this world has ever seen, or from a generation running far from the Lord toward evil.
One generation lives by faith and sees the mighty works of God firsthand.  The next generation hears stories about God and is left wishing for, “the good old days.”  When God becomes a story to be remembered and not a person to know, when testimonies become the legends of old and not the experiences of today, that is when we simply cannot resist the tempting draw toward the tangible things of this world.  God is then abandoned instead of embraced.  Instead of moving in power, God simply steps aside and removes His now unwanted protection and blessing.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however!  In fact, God proclaims about Himself:
Exodus 34:6-7
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Yes, there are consequences for our sins that we and our children are affected by.  However, He is quick to forgive, heal, and restore when we turn to Him!  Time and time again, the Lord is recorded crying out:
Psalm 81:6-16 (NIV Personalized)
6 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
  their hands were set free.
7 In your distress you called and I rescued you,
  I answered you out of a thundercloud;
  I tested you.
8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you –
  if you would only listen to me!
9 You shall have no foreign god among you;
  you shall not worship any god other than me.
10 I am the Lord your God.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
  They would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
  to follow their own devices.
13 “If my people would only listen to me,
  if they would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
  and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
  and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
  with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
The cry of the Lord is consistently, if we would turn to Him and follow His ways, He will rescue us.  He will save us.  He will bless us.  He is never-changing, always the same.  The variable in this promise, the conditional part of this promise, is us.  Will we turn to Him with all we are?  Will we follow His ways and renounce our selfish ones?  Will we rise up in total faith and trust?  Will we chase after God and passionately pursue His Presence?
This seems to be the easy part.  Many times, God’s people did exactly these things and God upheld His promises.  He brought them back together, healed their land, restored their blessings, set them free.  However, that generation that experiences such powerful revival absolutely must leave the way to obtain and maintain such revival to the generation following them!
Proverbs 13:22
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
The revived generation must leave behind an inheritance; their legacy.  Money is simply not enough.  After all, we’re all aware of how quickly even a large sum of money can be wasted away and forgotten about.  Joshua’s generation left to the following generation an enormous inheritance financially speaking.  However, they lost it all because there were more important things that Joshua’s generation failed to also pass along as part of that inheritance.
That which they failed to pass along was the Presence of God.  It is simply said of the generation following Joshua’s that, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done.”
It is easy to look at that generation with scorn and criticism.  It is easy to look back and say that they should known better.  However, is it truly their fault that they didn’t know the Lord?  Is it truly their fault that they didn’t know what He had done?  Since Joshua’s generation were too busy doing the work of God to bring their children along with them to do the work, how is it the fault of the children?
There is a way in which we can leave behind such an inheritance.  The solution is simply to spend time together.  Spend time seeking after God together, learning together, worshiping together, praying together, studying together, living life together.  In fact, Jesus commanded us to do exactly this.  He called it: discipleship.
For example, Moses chose Joshua.  He taught him and shared his life with him.  He invited Joshua to come along with him into God’s presence to meet together with Him.  Since Moses made the sacrifices necessary to invest in Joshua’s life, Joshua was able to go further and accomplish great things as he succeeded Moses’ leadership.  As Moses passed on, the mission of God continued on unhindered.
Joshua, however, did not train up a leader in his place.  It is clear that the others of his generation followed his example and also failed to continue on the great move of God that started through Moses.  Although they did great and mighty things for the Lord themselves, their children were apparently not a part of it.  If they were included, they certainly would have known the Lord and His great deeds.
They would have surely, then, had a desire to pursue God and His plans for them.  They would have stewarded well God’s promised land and it would have been an incredible blessing to them and their children.  Leaders would have rose up among them to take the place of Joshua and the elders of their generation.  Instead of revival dying as the people who carried it died, it would have been passed along as an inheritance and grew even greater even as it did from Moses to Joshua.
Instead, as it is recorded in Judges 2, their generation turned away from the Lord and served false gods.  From generation to generation, they became more and more corrupt.  God raised up judges to lead them and they were spared from the affliction and oppression of the enemy while that judge lived.  As soon as a judge passed away, however, they would become even more evil of a people.  Again, those leaders were apparently like Joshua, failing to train up leaders under themselves.  Eventually, God permitted the nations that Joshua left undefeated to come in and overtake the land promised to Israel as well as God’s own people because of the stubbornness of their ways.
This morning, I believe that God is calling us to be a Joshua generation that continues the awesome work began by our ancestors of the faith.  However, where Joshua’s generation failed, we are being challenged to excel in.  We’re being called not to divide and separate ourselves by age or interests or anything else, but to rather come together as one in unity.
To the mature in faith, God is challenging you to find someone new in the faith.  Live life with them, learn who they are and where they came from, pray with them, encourage them, train them up, stir up their faith and zeal for Jesus.  Where you may have failed, help them to succeed!  Where you have succeeded, help them to go even further than you were able to go!
To those new in their faith, find a mature believer who is strong in areas where you are weak.  Ask them questions and learn from them.  Allow them to speak into your life and to challenge you in your faith.  Ask them to pray with you and to teach you.  Spend time with them and invite them into your life.  Don’t wait for someone to hunt you down, but rather, chase down that person.
Not one of us should leave here this morning without intentionally connecting with one other person either who is active here in the church, or one who has slipped away from here.  Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you who that person is.  Even as God revealed Elisha to Elijah, Timothy to Paul, the twelve disciples to Jesus, Joshua to Moses, God will reveal that person to you.
Let us be ones who are just one generation from the greatest revival that this world has seen since the church began a few thousand years ago!  Let us be ones who fan into flame the giftings and zeal of God in the lives of those around us!  Let us be ones who intentionally invest in other people and prophetically call out who God has created them to be!
On our own, we can only accomplish so much.  We’re better together!
Memorial Day