The Third Generation Problem

March 14, 2016

Judges 10:6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

      Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD,
      and served Baals and Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon,
      the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of
      the Philistines.  And they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.

This Scripture, from Judges 10:6, is talking about the third generation if Israelites since God had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt.

The first generation were those who saw the mighty works of God:

•      The ten plagues the LORD sent against the Egyptians and their gods (see Exodus 7:14-12:30).

•      The parting of the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army drowning in it (see Exodus 14:13-31).

•      The LORD’s protection and leading by the pillar of fire or cloud (see Exodus 13:21, 22).

•      God’s provision of their needs, especially manna (see Exodus 16:4, 31; Nehemiah 9:21).

                                             …and a lot more!

But the first generation – although they knew God – rebelled at Kadesh Barnea.  God told them they would wander 40 years in the wilderness and not enter the Promised Land until all that generation died – except Joshua and Caleb (see Numbers 14:22-30, 38).

The second generation also experienced some of the LORD’s mighty works.

•      The miraculous crossing of the Jordan River (see Joshua 3:1-17).

•      The walls of Jericho falling down (see Joshua 6:1-20).

•      The defeat of Canaan’s kings and strong armies (see Joshua chapters 10-12).

But it seems that the second generation was not as devoted to God as they should have been.  In a way, they knew God through His works.  But they knew about God – the miracles and wonders God did concerning the Exodus, told them by the first generation – more than they knew God!

It tells us about this second generation in Judges 2:7:

      So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of
      the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the
      LORD which He had done for Israel.

The third generation is spoken about in Judges 2:10, just three verses later:  “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

•      They “…did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

•      They “…did evil in the sight of the LORD…and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them; and they bowed down to them…” (Judges 2:11, 12).

                      …and it was generally downhill for the nation after that!

What lesson can we learn from all this?  Early in my Christian life, I had a pastor who would say, “The Church is only one generation away from apostasy!”  What did he mean?  In 50 years of being a Christian, and 44 years as a pastor, I have found that generally first generation Christians are stronger and more dedicated in the faith than second or third generation Christians!  I am a first generation Christian.  I was the first Christian in my family for generations, as far as I know.  Before I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and life, you might say, I lived like hell – rebelling, drinking, running around and getting into trouble!  When I got saved, I knew I had been saved from a lot of sin!  And the quality of life I found with the Lord was so much better as I walked closely with Him and in His Word.

But the second and third generations of first generation Christians, growing up in a Christian home and in a church, can too often take the Christian faith and life for granted.  In too many cases, they see themselves as ‘good’ because they have always been bounded and restrained by God’s standards.  Christianity, then, can become just a thing that you do.  And these ones may never come to a saving knowledge of Christ themselves!  If that happens, the next generation will be lost also!

Dear people, we need to be sure we are not relying on the faith and dedication of our parents or grandparents to be right before God ourselves!  As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren!”  And we need to faithfully live out our Christian commitment before our loved ones!  We also need to intercede with the Father for our children and grandchildren – that they will come to truly understand they are sinners and desperately need the Savior themselves!  And then keep praying for them, that they will walk in the faith as they follow Lord Jesus!

Only in this way can we avoid what the Israelites experienced – the Third Generation Problem!

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