In over 21 years of ministry, I have come to understand that what I believe about God will be seen most clearly not in my life or the lives of my kids but in my grandkids. What I believe about faith is like passing the baton on to the next generation who then passes it on to the next generation. We can’t be successful at passing the baton on to our kids and even less to our grandkids but what they remember is what is most precious to us. What we value most they will catch. The failure to do this was seen in the lives of Israel in the book of Judges – The book of Judges is the perpetual cycle of commitment, complacency, and then compromise.
Failing at Passing the Baton
Judges 2:10 – There arose another generation that did not remember the name of the Lord. – They forgot God.
10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
Verses 10-11 describe a rebellion. It had two stages. First, the generation after Joshua’s “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (v 10). The word “knew” probably does not mean that they did not know about the Exodus, the Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan, and the walls of Jericho falling, but rather that the saving acts of God were no longer precious or central to them. They had not learned to revere and rejoice in what God had done. In other words, they had forgotten the “gospel” that they were saved from slavery in Egypt and brought into the promised land by the gracious, mighty acts of God. Put simply, they forgot. Keller, Timothy
God knew his people would forget. He even had Israel place physical memorials to help them to remember. He knows that if we do not build into our lives through intentional means, we will forget the gospel. If we don’t systematically and organically repeat the gospel to our kids, it will never become precious to them. That’s what the book of Judges painfully points out to us over and over again.
This painful pattern is illustrated most plainly at the end of Judges
Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8 And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill-country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9 And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10 And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me fa father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me because I have a Levite as priest.”
A priest of Israel leaves Israel and rents himself out to the highest bidder and becomes a priest in the home of a blaspheming idolator. This priest aids others in the worship of other gods. He gives Micah the false assurance that God is with him and will prosper him. This priest whose life was supposed to revolve around the temple, helping people worship Yahweh. Instead, he is working for an idolator and helping lead people away from Yahweh. He is aiding in the worship of Baal. Who was this priest that was misrepresenting Yahweh? Who was this priest who was aiding in Israel’s worship of false gods? He is named at the end of chapter 18. Jonathan, son of Gersham. Moses grandson.
This was Moses, the guy who talked with God whose face was glowing because he had met with God. The thought that comes to my mind is that if Moses grandson can forget the gospel. How sure am I that my kids find the gospel precious? How sure are we that our churches youth find the gospel central to them? So the question I have been asking is, how do we as parents and as members of a faith community succeed at passing the baton of faith to our kids and our grandkids?
What is interesting is that God knew this was going to happen to Israel, and he knows that we in 21st Century America have the same propensity. So in Deuteronomy 6, Moses farewell sermon, he outlines for us how we hand our faith as parents to our kids and grandkids, how we had our faith as a community of believers to the next generation.
Passing the baton: 5 Ways to pass our faith to our grandchildren.
1. We must fear the Lord. – What you fear you worship. We can not have a proper understanding of the love of God divorced from the justice of God. On the Cross, the holiness and justice of God demanded payment for our sin. And it was at the cross that Christ in his love provided that payment for us. He gave His one and only son because he loved. If you don’t understand the justice of God and fear God, you will always abuse the love of God.
2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.