“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
When my children were young, they would occasionally say to me, “How do you know that?” Typically, I answered glibly, “I’m your father; I know everything.” Of course, they came to realize the fallacy of this boast as they grew older and as far as I know, they never held it against me. I like to think that despite not knowing everything, I have grown knowledge over the years and, hopefully, in wisdom…and I think I’m as observant as I’ve ever been.
One of those observations, or should I say range of observations, is in the intersection of Scripture and everyday life and its patterns and trends. In the millennia that have passed since the settling of the canon of Scripture, innumerable societal changes have occurred in every phase of life. Kingdoms and nations have risen and fallen and risen and fallen again; hierarchies and class structures have morphed; structures of philosophies and religious beliefs have heavily influenced thought and behavior; wars and brutality have consumed populations; growth in science and technology has steadily marched forward (but still is not the panacea so often promised); the desire for monetary wealth and consumption is a guiding hunger for many; and the poor remain with us. Perhaps the Teacher of Ecclesiastes (Solomon?) was right: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
There is a proverb (22:6, NIV) that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” I’ve never believed that this is a formulaic promise as much as it is a principle. Still, children pointed toward a healthy direction in life and given continual support in that direction are more likely to independently buy-in to parental instruction when they are of an age to make adult-level assessments about what is good, better, and best than if they are never taught and left to their own devices. This proverbial idea is the same as what Moses instructed in the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9), i.e., the importance of teaching children the way and will of GOD so that when they are older, their knowledge of GOD will be their internal motivator.
Over time, as the Israelites who first received the covenant of God, died-off and syncretism (a mixture of components from different belief systems) became prominent in subsequent generations, a time came when it could be said of Israel a“generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” Those who had been called to be a nation of priests had become as common as every other people. Is this not where we are now…again? Perhaps my eyes and ears deceive me, but I don’t think so.
It seems to me that many have attached enough other things to their Christian faith that their lives don’t look a lot like the mind of Christ Paul speaks about in his letter to the Philippians, but some self-created syncretistic thing. Here are some indicative red-flags:
- Selecting those portions of Scripture we like and mentally discarding those we don’t, preferring some alternative thinking that aligns with our personal preferences and comfort.
- Conflating (bringing together; fusing) the spiritual and the political into a pseudo-unified whole in a confusing attempt to make Christ’s kingdom be of this world (when Jesus was explicit in saying His kingdom is not of this world).
- Continually employing carnal weapons to combat spiritual problems, repeatedly proving Einstein’s maxim about insanity.
- Using human arguments to justify biases and other unholy attitudes (and actions) even while singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World” (I originally drafted this just before Christmas).
These symptoms are indicative of contemporary golden calves attempting to stand as equals alongside the Most High GOD whom we may also claim. Wherever this is prevalent, it’s no wonder children are growing up not knowing the GOD of the Bible nor the Christ who bore their sins and who offers the way, the truth, and the life: they are neither tasting the salt nor are they seeing the light.
Perhaps an old calling that is still timely: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
© Byron L. Hannon, 2022. All rights reserved unless otherwise noted.