Dropping the Torch
Robert Wurtz II
And 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. (Judges 2:10)
Our passage is a sobering look at a generation that came along after the generation of Joshua and they knew not God nor the things He had done for Israel. Something had gone terribly wrong. One generation walks with God in righteousness and holiness, and the next one comes along and is as indifferent and unconcerned as anything. It’s almost as if the two generations were from different planets. The one generation longs to serve the Lord and pass that heritage down to continue on in what God had started, but the next generation seems to care less. They wanted to do their own thing and make a clean break with the past. We read the chilling words in Judges 2:11, 12; And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
You will notice that the new generation was “exposed” to be Godless once the elder generation that loved God had passed on. Joshua died in verse 8 and the rest were dead by verse 10. It is a sad thing to consider, but this left no one to keep the rebellious people in check. Undoubtedly these young people were a thorn in the side of the elders until they all grew old and the elders finally died. It was not as if they woke up one day and were backslid, these people were kicking against the goads all their life. What were they doing? Verse 12 is instructive, and [they] followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them. This is a sure sign of backsliding: wanting to be like “the people that were round about them.” There was no desire to be wholly sanctified unto the Lord. No desire to maintain continuity with the God of their fathers. They wanted a novel change. This is important to consider because God has called His people out of this present evil, Satan-inspired world. Soon the lust for worldliness led to the people worshipping Baal and God at the same time. As the people got used to this “compromise” it became no big deal to keep doing it. Over time it was almost impossible to reverse the trend. This is why the resistance has to be strongest when the compromise begins. The compromisers needed to be rebuked and stopped. Not as the failure Eli that “rebuked” his sons and then passively allowed their madness to continue until God’s presence left.
Israel broke ranks with their fathers and followed the patterns of the people around them until they wanted a king like the rest of the nations. This would have horrified previous generations, but this new generation cares-less. It is their day now. What was happening? They were abandoning their uniqueness one step at a time. This is key. There is something terribly wrong when folk that are called by the name of Christ want to be like the world rather than being what God calls us to be, separate and holy. If we allow this in the churches of God it is only a matter of time until we have totally lost Christianity.
Some people in Israel probably got discouraged when they were challenged or they found out that folks didn’t quite agree with how things were going. Any resistance was seen as a personal attack. Likewise today, leaders are often clueless to the fact that we are not talking about personal convictions and preferences here; we are talking about the very soul of the Church and what it means to be a Christian. Further, what these folks don’t realize is that had the resistance to the change been what it needed to be it would probably have caused a revolt. But because the ones resisting were depicted as “trouble-makers” or “influenced of the Devil”, the compromise is allowed to come in and leaven the whole lump. This is where we are today. Resistance has been all stomped out and the people that resisted are hated and despised.
Out of Church Christians?
Others simply discouraged and simply quit church all together. In retail sales we have a saying, “Most people don’t complain. They just don’t come back.” They don’t have a voice or their voice is not heard. They have tried everything and still we seem to be snow-balling towards hell. If they do dare speak they get blackballed. Talk about discouragement?
But none to fear, God is watching. I’m reminded of a passage in Ezekiel:
And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:4-6)
What we need in this adulterous generation is a people that will get discouraged when the glory of God is being challenged and His churches are trying to take up the ways of the people of the land. Where are the people that have a zeal for God? Where are the people that will get discouraged when they look on Facebook New Years Eve and can’t tell the church houses from the party houses because of the similar black tones and colored lights? Who will weep for a generation that would decorate the temple of God like the Temple of Dagon as if it were a light thing? Where are the people that will sigh and cry because they see a generation establishing precedence for what Christianity is supposed to be and yet it looks like the corner bar dealing death in the name of freedom. Who will weep for a generation that loves darkness and the feel and ambiance of a worldly sin den as a place of worship? The elders are all almost dead now and there are none to restrain them. The philosophy of the youth-group in the former generation has become the philosophy of church in our generation. What some of us resisted and fought against is now here and there is nothing left to do but weep and pray for God to mark our foreheads.
It’s all legalism?
There is a generation that wants to know freedom but inquires not of the holiness of God. There was a time when Christian men and women would go out of their way to keep from offending God or identifying with this present evil world. Not today. It’s been said that the difference between many Christians and the world is only about 6 months. That sounds like a harsh thing to say, but look around. I remember a time when people came to church and poured their heart out to God in songs and prayers of great substance. Prayer was with unction. They truly meant what they sang. If they didn’t- you could tell it. They didn’t care how they looked doing it. No need to impress the judges. Nobody was watching them anyhow because they were caught up in the moving of the Spirit in such a way that they were utterly worshipping God themselves. The reason they didn’t go to places other people went, or dress like other people dressed, was because they didn’t want to offend God or identify with the world. They did not want to compromise the fact that they were temples of the Holy Spirit. It’s all legalism now. People do what they want and there is no difference.
Perhaps by now you are good and upset wondering who this guy thinks he is. I would provoke you to love God and hate this evil world if I could. Maybe you already do. But anymore it’s as if we are just fading away. Folk don’t even care anymore. Those that are left are growing tired of fighting the system. The old-timers are dying off and there are few now left that even remember what Christianity ought to look like.
Lukewarm is room temperature. Its what everything else is. When the Spiritual vitality of a church or a Christian is such that they are just like the world, they are lukewarm. But God is calling us out of that lethargy. He is calling us out of pretense and fakery. He is calling us to a depth of walk that is deeper than skin deep. No more going through the motions. No more working at being like the world. We are supposed to hate the world and abhor evil. Two things that are missing in this crisis hour.