Each generation must experience God for themselves. It’s been said that every generation must find out that the stove is hot. God has no grandchildren. I am thankful for the things we have inherited from our fathers such as organization, church buildings, and heritage; however, we cannot inherit their relationship with God. We must develop our own experience with God and see things in scripture for ourselves. In our great generation we are seeing many churches that are full of third and fourth generation believers.
This is a fulfillment of scripture.
Psalms 100:5 - for the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Anytime you arrive at a fourth generation there is a possibility that actions are done from a traditional standpoint, that’s how we have always done things standpoint, and not from a personal conviction of the generation at hand.
Moses warned of the possibility of a falling a way in the fourth generation.
Deuteronomy 4:25 - when thou shalt beget children and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves
Moffett’s translation reads if you are not careful, after you have been in the land four generations you are going to lose your freshness.
The powerful message in Joshua 24 was preached to the third generation. A poignant command is given by the great general Joshua.
Joshua 24:15 - and if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve.
Their fathers had already made their minds up on this subject but Joshua was directing individuals to make the decision for themselves. Serving God is not a decision that can be made for you. It is one that must be made by you.
Now turning to the book of Judges we are introduced to the fourth generation since the deliverance from Egyptian captivity. An alarming thing is stated:
Judges 2:10 - and also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord.
That does not mean that they didn’t know who God was, it meant that they did not have a personal relationship with Him. I imagine they could quote plenty of the law and the Ten Commandments. They knew all about the proper order of sacrifice, they just had no personal encounter with God. Today we would say they knew everything about Pentecost but didn’t know the God of Pentecost.
Everything in our Christian walk must flow from our fellowship with God. Not ritual but rather relationship with Him. You need to hunger to know God for yourself.
Jesus was with His disciples one day and He asked them a question.
Matthew 16:13-14 - when Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or of one the prophets.
Immediately they had an answer for the first question. Some say or they say, was equivalent to saying, “well my aunt says, or my father says, or my pastor says.” We all know what some say. Then Jesus asked them a second question, the one that He was really concerned with.
Matthew 16:15 – He saith unto them. But whom say ye that I am?
Jesus was not interested in what others said He wanted to know their opinion. What kind of first hand knowledge do you have? In other words, Jesus desires every one of us to have a personal relationship with Him, to know Him for ourselves.
There is a danger in depending on someone else to determine doctrine. II Chronicles 24 and II Kings 12 contain the story of Joash. This young man received some instruction in the ways of God by a priest named Jehoiada. As referenced in II Kings 12:2 and II Chronicles 24:2. It would be like instruction from your pastor today. This young king was obedient to the words that were spoken by the priest. This priest was a pillar in the life of Joash. People need instructors like this priest. At the close of II Chronicles 24:2 it says that Joash did right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.
As long as the priest was alive to tell him the right way Joash was fine. Therein lies the danger of dependence; for Jehoiada wasn’t going to be around forever. There would come a day when Joash wouldn’t have his priest to turn to. The story turns for the worse when Jehoiada dies.
II Chronicles 24:17-18 – Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.
Joash’s experience with God had always been because of what the priest said. Once the priest was gone, Joash didn’t have anything to stand on. He had always done what he was instructed without making the convictions personal. If Joash had personalized the truths that were being taught him, he would have been able to stand on his own. Its time to change our reason or purpose for living for God to a personal conviction.
The danger of dependence is that some day you are going to be isolated like Paul being shipwrecked on the Isle of Melita in Acts 28. While gathering wood to build a fire, he was bitten by a viper. Someday we will find ourselves in isolated situations, and it is then we are going to need to know how to build our own fires, and fight our own devils.
Samson could be considered one of the greater tragedies in the word of God. A man that had great victories, but is remembered for his failures. He was chosen of God from his mother’s womb. God revealed to his mother the call that was going to be placed on his life in Judges 13:5. Numbers 6 tells of the separated lifestyle of the Nazarite. They weren’t allowed to cut their hair, or touch dead bodies. They were to be holy unto the Lord. Samson’s mother received these convictions of what and how Samson was supposed to live. But you don’t find in Samson’s life story where He ever received these convictions for himself. Therefore the result is played out in Samson’s roller coaster walk with God. He never believed it for himself, therefore he never lived it for God.
Philippians 2:12 - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
God is described throughout scripture as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is a common phrase used in scripture, yet it wasn’t true for most of Jacobs’s life. He wasn’t the God of Jacob for quite some time. Jacob is a third generation believer, who has inherited religion. A great spiritual heritage has been passed down to this younger twin. Throughout Jacob’s life he is talented and blessed in many ways, but lacking in a relationship with God. Jacob would speak of God as my fathers God, but it wasn’t personal.
Genesis 27:20 - And he said, Because the Lord Thy God brought it to me.
Throughout Genesis Jacob talks about the God of his father. Now you would be wrong to say that Jacob had no encounter with God. Jacob met God at Bethel, ‘the house of God’. So He had a house of God relationship with the Lord; which is a lot like many people that come to church but really don’t know God.
Jacob’s walk is one of inconsistency until the night Jacob has a wrestling match with God, and limps away with the testimony of seeing God face to face. Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘the face of God’. We need a personal Peniel today that would give meaning to our relationship with God who gives you the Why of life.
The book of Ruth has an interesting account of two women, Orpah and Ruth. These women of Moab were married to Naomi’s two sons. Israelites were one God people, Moabites were idol worshippers. Since Orpah and Ruth had married Israelites, for a season they served the God of their husbands. Her husband connected each woman to the ways and things of God.
When their husbands died, we read about two different reactions. Naomi started back home to Bethlehem with her two daughters in-law. She tells them to go back home to their mother’s house. One of them does go back. Without a husband leading her in the things of God, Orpah had nothing to keep her serving God, and subsequently goes back to idol worship.
Ruth is different.
Ruth 1:16 – And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
With this commitment, Ruth made serving God personal. Ruth said it used to be just your God, my husbands God, but now I’ve personalized it and He is my God. I’m separating myself from my past, because I love Him. I am living for God because I love Him.
What about you?
Are you an emerging disciple of Jesus Christ?
Is the Jesus of the Bible, your Jesus?