“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” — Judges 2:10
Have you listened to any children playing lately? They are likely repeating the same games, songs, and expressions you and I grew up with as children. They get that from us…our memories…our past.
Now imagine an entire generation growing up without singing the alphabet song or playing hide-and-seek. Worse yet, imagine a generation of young people who don’t believe in God, betray their parents to a big-brother government, and have no scruples about lying and cheating.
Given the not-too-distant history of certain political social orders, reality is not far from imagination. What is the scariest part? In each instance the radical transformation happened within a single generation.
We all know what it is like to have a breakup in the transmission of a phone call. First there is that intermittent screeching sound, then the line goes dead. Yet losing a phone connection is miniscule compared with losing a connection in values between succeeding generations.
Cultural values are transmitted through custom, tradition, and ritual. When a civilization (or church) quits telling its story to the next generation, it isn’t long before culture screeching begins.
Criticize as we might the evils of the younger generation, the story of cultural and moral values is theirs to hear, and not to tell. Where there is a runaway generation, an older generation has opened the gate.
The only explanation for a generation growing up without knowing what God had done in Israel is that–at an identifiable point in time–an entire generation of Israel’s parents had failed to tell their children about God.
Asaph gave us a pointed charge concerning our responsibility to tell and teach our children:
“We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For He issued his law to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them–even the children not yet born–and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation shout set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors–stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.” — Psalms 78:4-8
Whether it be a whole society, the church, or an individual family, there is always only one generation difference between faith and disbelief. The crucial question that we must answer is this: Do my children know about the three little pigs, but precious little about the Trinity?