When I look back at the changes that have taken place in the world in my lifetime, I can hardly believe what has happened. Some of the changes have been wonderful. The message of the gospel can whiz across the globe in seconds because of the Internet. Some of the changes have been terrible. Pornography and a host of other horrible things can whiz in seconds, too.
While all this is true, what Solomon so wisely said in Ecclesiastes is also true. There really isn’t “anything new under the sun.”
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done
is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
Good things, like the gospel, spread amazingly quickly into the Mediterranean world after the Day of Pentecost, but, alas, sin has always spread quickly, too.
When negative change happens quickly, the reasons often — maybe always — begin in families. That isn’t new either. As we learn in Judges:
All that generation also were gathered to their fathers;
and there arose another generation after them
who did not know the Lord,
nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Why didn’t they know? The blame is rightly placed at the feet of the parents.
This awful truth described in Judges is well-known. I told you recently about our spending time with a friend who has written for decades about Christian responses to tough worldly issues. We began our Sunday with him and his wife by hearing him speak at a nearby church. One of his themes was how much negative can happen in just one generation. He pointed us to Nehemiah to illustrate this reality.
Nehemiah and Ezra were leaders of God’s people who were able to return to the Promised Land after spending time in exile. In Nehemiah 8, Ezra read God’s Word to men, women, and “all who could listen with understanding” (Nehemiah 8:2). The people were greatly upset when they heard His Word because they had been so disobedient. In chapters 9 and 10, they confessed their sins and agreed to follow God in certain specific areas. Among their promises were these from Nehemiah 10:30-31: “. . . we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day . . . “
Nehemiah later left the Promised Land and returned to Babylon where he was employed in the service of the king. After some time, Nehemiah was able to return to Jerusalem. What he found there upset him very much. A Gentile was living in the courts of the temple. The Jews were not giving to the temple as they were supposed to do. People were treading winepresses on the Sabbath day. They were also buying and selling on the Sabbath. Jews had intermarried with Gentiles and their children couldn’t even speak their native language.
What had happened in the meantime? Parents had quit following their own commitment to God and had not trained their children to do so either.
I hope never to lose sight of the multi-generational life I am living and the multi-generational training I am responsible for doing. As I am putting my home back in order, every room shouts to me that I am both a descendant and an ancestor.
Day in and day out, you are training your children to be a faithful generation. Never, never let anyone sidetrack you from your first priority. The stakes are too high when a generation gets missed. We have an amazing opportunity with our children and our grandchildren. Advertisers shout to us daily about the opportunity of a lifetime. Let’s not miss the one that truly is the opportunity of a lifetime.
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
will worship before You.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s
And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship,
All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.
They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.