A generation is usually defined as a group of people born in the same time frame. For the purpose of this article, I am looking at ‘generation’ as a group with shared beliefs, interests, and attitudes. People of all the ages belong to one of the two generations.
One generation belongs to a group that shares the belief that God Almighty is the creator of all things and the One who deserves worship. Through Him the individual believer can inherit eternal life.
The other generation shares its rejection of the God of the Bible. They have many creeds, but the core belief of all of them is rejection of God. Some may pay Him lip service, but their hearts do not really worship Him.
Thousands of years ago, there was an unknown man who belonged to the generation who follows God. The Bible hadn’t been written, and Moses hadn’t even been born when this man lived. His name was Abraham. He received a promise from God Himself that He would make of that man a great nation. Through Abraham’s grandson Jacob the people we now know as the Jews began. Through many years and a number of generations, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob eventually were led to and lived in what became known as the Kingdom of Israel. It began with a generation of people who believed God’s promises, crossed over Jordan, and possessed the land. The nation of Israel began with the Jews who crossed over Jordan with Joshua.
The book of Joshua tells us what happened then. Here is a quote from Joshua 2:7-10 that pretty much sums up a cycle of worship that has been played out over and over in the history of mankind.
7And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
There was a generation, specifically a generation of leaders, that served God. That generation gradually passed away.
There were probably many people left at this time who loved the Lord, taught their children to love the Lord, and faithfully served God. But, the LEADERS became corrupt. They ignored God and did not give Him credit for the blessings of freedom and prosperity in their own land. Like today, there were probably many people who wanted to change what was happening to their country. They wanted to turn people to God. But, they were helpless to do it.
All the people suffered. All the people suffered for the leaders lack of faithfulness to God. Even those who were doing right had their lives turned upside down by the wickedness of others.
Israel was governed by a theocracy, with priests who were supposed to be fine examples of how the people were supposed to live. Instead, the priests grew increasingly corrupt. In 1 Samuel we are given the history of the fall of the priesthood.
One day Eli, the high priest, heard a woman praying. Because her prayer was so intense, Eli supposed she was drunk. How sad that Eli didn’t know the difference between sincere prayer and drunkenness. God heard Hannah’s prayer, and gave her a child who was the prophet Samuel. What a blessing to Israel this man was! The leadership of Israel had rejected God’s authority to tell them how to live. So, God raised up a new leader who was willing to teach the people the truths of God and encourage them to live within the boundaries set by God.
During Samuel’s life time, the people rebelled farther, demanding a king to rule over them instead of a priest. First Saul was made king. He overstepped his boundary as king, and attempted to place himself in both the role of king and priest. Then David was appointed king by God. And, David loved the Lord, but the people did not turn to God with their whole hearts.
After David, God spared the nation of Israel through the lifetime of David’s son Solomon, but then the kingdom crumbled. From all those thousands of years ago until still today, the children of Israel have lived on. The world of safety and prosperity that was given to them when the people crossed over Jordan was flitted away. Their world perished. It will not be resurrected in its full glory until God Himself raises it up. We can see the beginning of God’s handiwork today, as the nation of Israel does exist.
So, the world which God gave the Israelites when they first went over Jordan perished, first in actions of the people, and eventually physically. I don’t know exactly how idols replaced the living God, but it was through rebellion against the rules God had given them. Idols do not require anything from the people who worship them. God almighty requires that people turn from sin and follow Him. By whatever means, idol worship crept in. The priests liked a god who couldn’t convict them of sin, or tell them what to do. The people followed the leadership of the priests as well.
Within the nation of Israel, there resided two separate generations. You could say there were people of two mindsets. One follows the God of the Bible, and the other generation or mindset rejects Him.
There were those who followed the Lord. Like David they were imperfect in keeping all the commandments all of the time. Never-the-less, God Almighty was the one they worshipped.
There were also those who rejected Christ. They might pay God lip service, but like most of the leaders today, they either don’t know what God requires of them, or they flatly don’t care.
Eventually, the world that was Israel perished. While the Jews remained as a distinct people, their way of life in the promised land perished.
The two generations of that age lived on, and are still with us today. No, those generations are not here in the flesh. But, they are here in the spirit. There are those who love God and work to do the things that please Him. There are those that are in rebellion against God, and do not care whether they please Him or not. Basically, they want God to step back and hand the world over to them. They are sure they can do a better job of ruling than God does.
From the time of Joshua to now, there have been other worlds that came and went. There have been times of peace and prosperity that people enjoyed. Sometimes it has been an entire nation, sometimes just communities within a nation, and sometimes families within a community and nation. There have been worlds that stable and good. The blessings of God Almighty to the United States are immeasurable. Communities and families have been blessed. My family is from generations of the sweet world of the Southern United States. For the most part, the family was not wealthy. ‘Dirt poor’ would be a more accurate description. But what the family and the community had was a conviction that the Bible was true, a spirit of kindness, a duty to be polite as much as possible, and to treat others the way they wanted to be treated. Even in material hardship, that world was a good place. As the older generations have died out, it has drifted more toward the things of the world instead of the things of God.
The backbone of the stable nation, one that is living within the boundaries set by God, is the individual who is following the instructions of God with his or her whole heart. The backbone is strengthened when individuals join together to build families. Families make up nations. As the family is weakened and even redefined entirely, the nation is weakened and eventually redefined entirely. This is true no matter what the time frame in which a person or family lives. It was true in ancient Israel. It is true today.
Eventually, God Himself will set up a kingdom that will not perish. The generation of those who reject God will not be in that kingdom.
In the meantime, Christians live in a world that is perishing. Society is ‘changing’ according the news media. Actually, society is rotting. There are still two generations that remain.
The first is the generation of vipers, those who follow after the things that are not from God. Christ spoke of this generation.
Matthew 3:7 says, ‘But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’
Matthew 12:34 says, ‘O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’
Matthew 23:33 says, ‘Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’
Then there is the generation of the righteous. This generation is not righteous by its own righteousness, but rather through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Here are a few verses to encourage those who follow Jesus Christ.
Psalm 14:5 says, ‘There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.’
Psalm 24:6 says, ‘This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.’
Psalm 112:2 says, ‘His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.’
The children of God and the children of this world live in the same space. The evil that is done affects each of us. The stupidity that passes for wisdom by most of the current world leaders affects us all. I always think of the prophet Daniel and the three Hebrew brothers and how they were affected by the leadership of Israel. It got them carried away from their own lands and made into slaves in a pagan nation.
None of us can know what disasters the mistakes of the current world leaders will bring to the world and to the individual. Turbulent times are ahead, and Christians must go through them along with the rest of the world.
Being a Christian does not guarantee peace and safety.
It guarantees us help in time of trouble.
It guarantees us that God will never leave us nor forsake us.
Christians undoubtedly have God Himself to help them face the future and go through whatever happens.
The best way to impact the future for the better is to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no other way that will get results both now and in the future.
There is a world that is coming that will never perish.
Only the generation of the righteous will live.
Look forward to that perfect world that is coming. Follow the instructions in the Bible for living in this world. Occupy until our Master comes.
By Barbara Henderson