The Next Generation

The Next Generation

We learned last week about God’s purpose behind signs, wonders, and miracles.  He does these things to turn lives back to Him; to lead people to repentance.  This morning, we’re taking a step back.  First of all in time from the life of Jesus to Moses.  Secondly, stepping back in the scope of life to see a bit of the bigger picture.

God is unchanging.  The miracles that Jesus performed, God was performing by His Spirit from the beginning.  His call to repentance isn’t just for the sake of our own lives both mortal and eternal, but also for the sake of the generations that follow us.

Deuteronomy 34:7-12

7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.

9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.

10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Although some of the greatest signs and wonders were experienced through Moses, his entire generation still refused to repent.  They grumbled and complained and they all lived their lives and died on the threshold of the promises of God.  They were unable to enter in because of their attitudes.

The following generation, the Joshua generation, was not like this one.  They were eager to enter into the promises of God.  They had faith that nothing was too hard for their God.  They were convinced that God was greater than any enemy that they could face and that He would honor His word.  Joshua and Caleb bridged these two generations and they alone received the promise.

When entering into it, Caleb said to Joshua:

Joshua 14:6b-11

6 … “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

There are so many awesome things to admire about the Joshua generation.  However, there was one point where they failed horribly and tragically.

One of the most significant things that we can do in our lifetime is to help to build a legacy for the generations to follow us.  After all, the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

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.

We often think of finances and property and material resources when we think of an inheritance.  However, the principles and values and attitudes and behaviors that we pass along as an inheritance is just as important, if not more important, than these material things.  All of the material possessions of the world will become a curse and a person’s downfall if they are not left with the right values.

The Joshua generation crossed the Jordan river and spent their lives taking back from the enemy all of God’s promised land to them.  They saw miracle after miracle as they cooperated with God to win victory after victory.  Then, they settled into the land a very abundantly blessed people.

It is in that place of blessing and abundance, in the place where the enemy has been driven out, where the largest danger lied waiting.  It’s a land named complacency.  It’s a place where seeking ceases.  It’s a place where the Holy Spirit is ignored and grieved and the flesh is indulged.

Judges 2:7-19

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.

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.

It’s such a simple verse stated with simple words.  However, it is the hinging point where God’s people swung from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of their own promised land and back into slavery. 

They did not know the Lord.  Please, please, please, don’t misunderstand this statement!  They heard all of the stories straight from the people who lived them.  They were raised by the Joshua and Caleb generation directly.  They had knowledge of God and His signs, wonders, and miracles. 

However, they didn’t know God personally.  They didn’t have their own personal experiences and encounters with Him.  They knew about God, but they didn’t know God.  That changes everything!

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. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

God again was their salvation and made a way for them to be safe and protected; a place where they could prosper.

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them.

Love that is forced is not love at all.  God tried and tried to save His people, but they refused to listen to Him and to follow His ways.  His love compelled Him to pursue them, but His love also knew when it was time to stop and to simply leave the invitation to return to Him open.

He uses pretty strong language here comparing their choice to go their own way as prostitution.  He made a life-long covenant with them, likened to marriage.  However, they rejected Him and chose to serve man-made gods instead to appealed to their fleshly desires and they devoted themselves to those false gods.

They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

It is so critically important not only that we passionately seek God and devote ourselves to serving Him alone, but that we also bring along with us the next generation.  It’s not enough to just sit them down and tell them about God, we have to invite into firsthand encounters and experiences with Him.

More important than inviting them to join us in our life journey is to intentionally join them.  We must also offer to come alongside of them in their life journey and help them to gain their own victories with the Lord. 

We need to be there to celebrate their successes and to mourn with them in their losses.  We need to be there to encourage them to rise up and equip them to fight another day.  We need to be there to help lift their eyes to Jesus, the pioneer, author, and finisher of their own faith.  After all, we are co-heirs of His inheritance.

This is to be our legacy.  Not just to win battles and hand over the spoils of war to the generations to come, but to pass along the training and equipping so that they may also gain victory in their own battles and how to be good stewards of God’s blessings in its many various forms.  It is to pass the baton to the next generation so that they can take the ground that we have gained and also continue to grow and enlarge it.

So pray about it.  Ask God who He is calling you to invest in.  It’s not something that we can force, but we can offer to come alongside of the next generation as co-laborers and co-warriors.  We can offer to live life alongside of them; to encourage and equip and teach from our past successes and failures.

The next generation doesn’t have to be like the one following Joshua and Caleb.  They can go further than we have and accomplish even greater things than we have.  They can dive deeper into God’s Kingdom and reach more people than we have.  They can receive even greater revelation and continue to pass it along to their next generation as well.