If you have been reading my blog any time in the last couple of months then you know that I am passionate about reaching younger generations with religious TV and video content. If you’ve been traveling in Christian circles, you’ve probably heard about the books “UnChristian” and “You Lost Me” by David Kinnaman. We are losing an entire generation from the faith.
Scary thought. I was thinking about how bad this would be, trying to imagine what life would be like in a truly post-Christian era. Then I realized, I don’t have to just guess.
What happens when we lose an entire generation?
Read Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles.
Those books are primarily focused on the leaders of the Israelites and the prophets of God, but you can see some of how their civilization was affected by deviation from God’s path.
Most of the book of Judges reads like a case study in how not to follow God. When David comes on the scene, we see a flawed man, who is ultimately a man after God’s own heart. His children, on the other hand, get into sin, and many end up dead. So Solomon becomes king. And he does great work for God.
Then we get to 1 Kings 11.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. 1 Kings 11:1-6 ESV
Solomon had a problem with women. It’s likely that a good number of his 700 wives and 300 concubines were arrangements for political power and gain. But Solomon “clung” to them. And they influenced him to turn away from God.
So the rest of Solomon’s days were filled with war and adversity. Jeroboam was tapped to lead what would become the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam, Solomon’s heir, made some stupid mistakes and the Kingdom divided. Rehoboam got Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Jeroboam led the other 10 tribes. The first thing Jeroboam does is set up a couple of golden calves for the people to worship, because he was afraid the tribes would go back to Rehoboam the king of Judah.
And he never repented:
After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth. 1 Kings 13:33-34 ESV
And for generation after generation we see words like these: “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin”
And Rehoboam and the people of Judah? They didn’t do much better. 2 Chronicles 12 says that he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. In 1 Kings 14:
And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 1 Kings 14:22-24 ESV
Generation after generation, kings would lead the people into sin, and God would send prophets, and some would repent, and then they would go back to their old ways. Same bad stuff happened for generations.
There was one glimmer of hope. Josiah, grandson of Manasseh, arguably the worst king of Judah ever (Even though he did finally repent in 2 Chronicles 33. maybe that made an impression on his grandson.), did right in the eyes of the Lord. His guys found the Book of Law, and in 2 Kings 23 Josiah makes an honest effort to clean up Judah. He tears down the altars and high laces to other gods. He restores the Passover.
This is a perfect example of what happens when you legislate morality. He made Judah look good, but the people’s hearts were not changed. If you want to change someone’s mind, you must change their heart.
You can see that the people had not changed because even Josiah’s own son, Jehoahaz, didn’t keep to the ways of the Lord. Within a generation after this Judah goes into captivity. Josiah was Judah’s last hope.
You can see a lot of really bad stuff happened to Judah. But there is hope… God did bring the people of Israel through this. Because he promised to. After a couple of generations in exile a remnant comes back, and Israel is restored. He did not promise to do this for America or any other nation. But He can do it.
What will happen when the church loses an entire generation? It won’t be pretty, but the church will still go on. Nations may fall, the world may suffer, but the church will continue.
“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18