Furthering the Joshua Generation
Pr. Dennis Gallaher
It came about after these things that Joshua died... and Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua (Joshua 24:29-31)...
But the Canaanites persisted in that land. Manasseh...lsrael... Ephraim...Zebulun... Asher... Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants. All the “Joshua generation” were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 1:27- 2:10)
Is it possible that an entire generation could be born that did not know the Lord? The prospect is sobering. Here was a generation that had steeped the brief history of the new Jewish nation. Only decades before, their families had been slaves and idol worshippers but because of the miracles of God's great deliverance and the leadership of Moses and Joshua, they were now revered among the nations and known for their fierceness in battle.
They knew all about God
The stories of deliverance, the heritage of the patriarchs and the lifestyle of battle spoke of the faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet knowing about God does not mean knowing God.
They knew all of the religious traditions
The culture in which they grew up was steeped in beautiful traditions that told the story of a faithful God. The feast days were celebrated, the Law was faithfully kept and even the clothes they wore told of the deep religious values that the culture kept close. Yet being religious does not mean knowing God.
They knew the language that God spoke
The Hebrew language was unique to the Promised Land. It was the language of worship. It was the language of Yahweh's children. Yet knowing how to talk "God talk” does not mean knowing God.
The peculiar Hebrew word that is translated "know" is the word ‘yada'. It is one of the richest and most beautiful words in any language. Though it is simply translated "to know" it is as multifaceted as a diamond and layered with texture like a fine Indian rug. Yada means to discern, to be intimate friends, to be very well known. In other words, the generation at first that arose after the Joshua generation were unaware and in-different to the God of their deliverance - He was unknown to them!
Is it possible that despite all of the Christian stories, tradition and pulpiteering that a generation could arise "that didn't know the Lord”? According to scripture, the answer is yes. How then does the “next generation" further the legacy of the Joshua generation?
The foremost responsibility belongs to the generation that first conquered the land. In India today that generation includes the India Gopel Outreach (IGO) and the India Bible College and Seminary (IBC) and lndia Pentecostal Church (IPC). Used by God to declare the powerful message of spirit-led conquest, the IGO /IBC /IPC have been a major force of church planting, deliverance and courage throughout the 20th century. Those spiritual giants that still walk among us are in the words of a dear friend "cut from a different piece of cloth" than today’s generation. Truly, the spirit of Joshua rests on them!
But now is the time to release a new generation to their destiny. If a generation is to arise that truly knows the Lord and His ways then a release must be given from the older to the new.
It is a release of both responsibility and authority. The older generation must release the authority to move beyond the old and into the new. Jesus warned that "new wine cannot be put into old wineskins" and the danger occurs when responsibility is released without the authority to engage a new generation with new methods.
The release of one generation to another will then determine a new holiness. Every generation must determine how the holiness of God will be experienced in the church. It is not the holiness of God that changes, mind you. The holiness of God remains the same because God never changes, but how that holiness is expressed to a new generation desperate for the salvation of Jesus is always fresh. Remember the story of David trying on Saul's armor? One generation cannot "fit" into the mold of another generation any more than David could fit into the armor of Saul.
How can you tell when a new generation is ready to go to battle? Look at the average age of the leadership of a church or organization. If the church is not raising and releasing young saints to battle for their generation it will be evident in the age of leadership. The major responsibility of the older leadership is to release the next generation to take the Promised Land of a new age. If the older generation is content to rule and lead until they die, the next generation will not have the benefit of their wisdom. It is the new generation that must wrestle for the hearts of their peers.
Every generation has an awesome responsibility to the next generation. If we obey God and do not waste the moment we have to complete our mission, the seed of obedience grows into the fruit of a godly endowment, one of the greatest legacies a person can receive. If we disobey God and waste the time given, then the seeds of those choices will hinder the work of God in the next generation. Instead of moving ahead into the Kingdom mission, the next generation will first have to overcome the fleshly thorns and thistles of the past.
And what of the responsibility of the new generation of leaders? The new generation will determine the definition of holy living by choosing the level of personal sacrifice. God's commandment to the generation that followed Joshua was clear.
Make no covenant with the Canaanites... but they make peace instead of war.
Show no favor to them... but they looked away from sin instead of dealing with it.
Do not intermarry with them... but they gave their children to the heathen culture.
Tear down their altars... but they allowed altars and idols to remain.
They did not allow the fire of holiness near to their hearts and what could have been a watershed of revival instead became a shell of former glory.
‘Another generation arose that did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel."
Half-hearted commitments result in Half-baked lives, useless to feed the gospel to a new generation hungry for the true God.
Every generation has a timeline it is living out until the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed. What legacy will this generation leave for the next? What report will be given before the throne of God on that Day? Mind you, it will take battle and not appeasement, victories and not truces, single focused choices and not convenient concessions to win the new day that is breaking over India.
The tragedy of the next generation beyond Joshua was that they knew the religion but did not desire a heart relation- ship with God. It is frighteningly similar to a generation that claims today that they believe in God yet are compromised in lifestyle, focus and commitment. Translation? They live to serve themselves. Like the generation that arose that "knew not the Lord" a generation has arisen that only desires to know the god of self.
Appeasement never conquers evil, so don't look the other way. It is time to hand the new India a living example of holiness, and today's church is the only one that can do it. After all, this next generation could certainly be the last. That alone is reason enough to give them our best.