Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Relay of Truth

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, April 24, 2013:  Judges 2:10-3:31

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.  Judges 2:10 (NKJV)

Three and a half weeks ago, on March 30, 2013, Edith Schaeffer died at the age of 98.  Few now know who she even was.  But her passing once again marks the passing of a generation.  It was Tom Brokaw who coined the phrase "The Greatest Generation" referring to those like her who grew up in the Great Depression and then lived and fought through the Second World War.  Of them Brokaw said, "that generation is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."  He went on to say that "these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was 'the right thing to do.'  When they came back (from the war), they built America into a superpower and sent men to the moon."  The Edith Schaeffer's among us are nearly gone.

She was the daughter of missionaries, who, with her husband Francis Schaeffer, founded L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland in the 1950's.  They became two of the greatest voices for biblical Christianity of their generation.   They are true heroes.

In her book What is a Family?, Edith Schaeffer states that family "is a perpetual relay of truth."  She goes on to explain, "I think we can see the whole race as one in which true truth is to be handed over like the flag in a relay race, from generation to generation ... We are responsible for 'handing on the flag' and for being very careful not to drop it -- or to drop out -- because of our responsibility to the next generation."  She concludes, "The primary place for the flag of truth to be handed on is in the family.  The truth was meant to be given from generation to generation.  If those who knew God and who had so very much to tell about Him had always been faithful, and had always stuck to the commands or the rules of the relay, there would have been no gaps.  Each generation would have learned from the one before." 

The Book of Judges is a graphic example of exactly what Edith Schaeffer describes.  It illustrates the FAILURE to pass truth to the next generation.  I fear that America today is also such an example.  Beyond the work ethic and integrity of the Greatest Generation, there is also the spiritual heritage of our great land.  We are "the Land of Lincoln" but we are also "the Land of Jonathan Edwards" and of George Whitefield, the Great Awakening, and "the Faith of our Fathers".  Some of the greatest moves of God in history were spawned in our land.

Like Israel in the days of the Judges, America has failed to pass on the values and truths that have made her strong.  The freedoms that were so foundational to the very forming of our nation are now in retreat.  It is today as it was in the days of Isaiah when he prophecied, "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street" (Is. 59:14). 

The reason for this decline is in the FAMILY.  But, I refer here not just to the nuclear family (father, mother, and children) but also to the Family of God.  Just as the very concept of family has deteriorated in America, so our nation has become weaker. 

Far too many children grow up today without the firm foundation of parental guidance.  They have not been taught the good way.  So too, our entire society has not been filled with the Words of our great God.  As a result, another generation has risen which does not know the Lord nor the great work He has done for us.

The Book of Judges is a story of cycles.  We can read a summary of the seven-steps of this roller coaster in Judges 2:11-19.  Our nation's history parallels the history of Israel in many ways. 

1.  Israel forsook God
2.  God brought judgment
3.  Israel cried out to God in their distress
4.  God raised up a judge
5.  God used the judge to deliver Israel out of her troubles
6.  The judge died
7.  Israel immediately reverted to disobedience

This is not only the story of a nation, it is also the story of people -- you and me -- many of our friends and neighbors.  Individual lives can follow this same pattern of rise and fall.  We need to return to the Lord.  We need to once again love the Truth.

But, more than that, we need to play our part in the relay of truth.  Deuteronomy 4:9-10 summarizes the Word of the Lord to us.  Israel had seen God do awesome things -- at the Red Sea, at Mt. Horeb, many times and many ways.  We have seen the Lord, too.  So hear what the Lord says,

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”  Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (NIV)

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