Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Judges 1-6
It has been my observation that churches, ministries, and Christian institutions (Bible Colleges, Universities, and Missions Boards) inevitably face a crisis of spiritual direction when experiencing a third generation transition in leadership. I know of few exceptions to that fact; indeed, I can name several instances of once great fundamental churches and Bible colleges that are faltering and some that have failed. Today’s scripture reading is illustrative of the same challenge.
In Judges 1, the nation of Israel and her Twelve Tribes are facing a crisis of “Third Generation Leadership”.
Joshua and the high priest Eleazar, each representing the second generation in Israel’s leadership, are dead (Joshua 24:29-33). Joshua, the successor to Moses, was one of only two men that had been with Israel from her exodus out of Egypt, her 40-year sojourn in the wilderness, and her victory and possession of the Promise Land (Caleb is the other – Joshua 14:6-12). Eleazar, the son of Aaron, embodied the second generation of spiritual leadership in Israel.
With Joshua and Eleazar dead, the children of Israel asked the LORD, “Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?” (Judges 1:1). Though Israel possessed the land, they still faced the presence of enemies in the midst. Receiving the LORD’s command to rise and go to war, the tribes of Judah and Simeon fought against the Canaanites and the Perizzites, and God blessed them with victories over their enemies (Judges 1:2-20).
Sadly, that same act of faith and obedience was not true of some of the other tribes whose failure to drive the heathen nations out of the land is recorded in Judges 1. The tribe of Benjamin failed to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem (1:21); the tribe of Manasseh failed to drive the heathen out of her cities (1:27-28), as did the tribes of Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali (1:29-36).
God sends an angel to rebuke the disobedient tribes in Judges 2, warning them their treaties with the heathen would eventually become a snare to the people (Judges 2:2-3).
Judges 2:6-9 rehearses how Israel had faithfully served the LORD as long as Joshua was alive; however, when his generation past away another generation, the third generation out of Egypt, rose up who “knew not the LORD” (Judges 2:10). We read of that generation, they “did evil…served Baalim…forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth” (Judges 2:11-13).
Rather than blessings, God set His face against His people and delivered them to their enemies (Judges 2:14-15). God graciously sent judges to remind the people of His Laws and covenant with Israel and the people would for a season heed the warnings, only to turn back to their sinful ways when a judge had died (Judges 2:16-19).
Having failed to obey the LORD and drive the heathen out of their lands, God turned those pagan nations against Israel and they became a great sorrow to His people (Judges 2:20-4:24).
Time and space do not allow me to develop my observations regarding third generation institutional leaders; however, I challenge you to ponder my assertion that the problem is, “Familiarity breeds contempt”.
Without spiritual revival, churches and Christian institutions become progressively ambivalent to the LORD and spiritual truth. It is my observation that third generation Christian leaders become desensitized to the convicting power of God’s Word inevitably leading to the morass of spiritual apathy, dead orthodoxy, and a rejection of the convictions of the previous generations.
The crisis facing Bible fundamental churches, Bible colleges, and Christian Universities is this: Third generation leaders, lacking the spiritual backbone and convictions of their forebears are wilting under the demands and criticisms of a narcissistic, self-consumed generation whose parents and churches have catered to them their whole lives.
I am afraid we have forgotten that, though times have changed, the admonitions of God’s Word have not!
1 John 2:15-16 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith