“And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah…”
“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)
Teaching our children is such an important task. In every generation Christian parents seek to pass on to their children the importance of following Christ. Some parents to an onlooker appear to be better and more successful in their job than others. Indeed, we often hear advice as to how to be effective, and how to insure that our children will remain faithful.
When Old Fuzzy and I were young and our children small it was our prayer that God would guide us in raising our family. We knew we weren’t perfect and would probably make mistakes, but prayerfully not big gaping mistakes that would give cause to our offspring to fall from the faith. We didn’t want to be like the generation in Judges that hadn’t taught their children…
For some reason many from my generation had the idea that the older generation in the Old Testament from Judges on—Those people had failed to teach their children, otherwise this generation that knew not Jehovah wouldn’t have arisen. At least that’s what we assumed.
Yet, if you read carefully through the stories in Judges, for example, you come across instances such as the one at the beginning here where Gideon is threshing the wheat in his family’s winepress when the angel of the Lord greets him.
“And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:11-13)
If the accusation that the older generation had not passed down the Israelite heritage as the reason for “the generation that knew not God,” how did Gideon know the stories so well?
There were other instances where throughout the book of Judges the people (the children that knew not God) recited the history of their fathers and coming from Egypt and so forth. Jephthah is another prime example found in Judges 11:15 and following.
Life does have a way of giving us a wake-up call but sometimes either we don’t hear it or we hear it late. The call is that just giving children the information isn’t all there is to another person’s faith.
I would like to remember that we did everything as perfectly as we could have, but that isn’t true. We had our struggles, our ups and downs, and no matter what it may have looked like from the outside we were doing the best we knew how.
I’m not saying we didn’t show our children the way as well as impart wisdom. I’m not saying we didn’t try to love, to give, and to live what the Bible teaches. What I’m saying is the age-old saying, and perhaps a wise saying, “I don’t know what happened,” comes to mind as I sit at my tent door.
I have had people tell me, “But you did everything right!” Not my words, not God’s words, just observer’s words. Those people who watched as we raised our children.
I knew we didn’t do everything right, but we hoped everything would come out right. I find the judgment ironic from people who have seen some of the tumultuous afteryears without seeing the early before years. It reminds me of our assumptions that the people of the Old Testament didn’t teach their children and that was why the generation that knew not God arose.
Yes, it was ironic, yet that doesn’t make anyone feel better, as the younger generation who was going to do things so much better than we did arose. They loved and taught and did all the right things, but…
If you could change the sentence “a generation that knew not God,” and insert into it “a generation that chose not to know God.” Of course, we should not add to scriptures, yet I wonder if there isn’t truth in those words. I have watched those who judged us for the falling away of some of our children, thinking they would be better parents and therefore have better results—sadly they had similar results as we did.
Some of the failures would fall under distracted parenting. Raising children comes at a time when we are trying to pay bills and live our lives. We are growing up, our children are growing up and even the best parent with the best intentions can be pulled in more than one direction at a time.
Sometimes we are sabotaged. My older generation didn’t know that the school that was teaching us had an agenda. The school’s agenda had begun years before, creating the generation gap—The generation gap grew from being taught one thing at school that conflicted with what was taught at home. Even knowing what was causing the generation gap didn’t tell us how to overcome the agenda as my children entered school.
Raising children has never been easy. The last generation didn’t have adults sneaking around behind the parents’ back grooming children in an ungodly manner as they do now. But each generation carries its own challenges. Since the early 1900s, the progressive agenda has had adult authorities placed into positions of influence in the development of the progressive agenda and its accomplishment throughout the culture—they applied precept upon precept.
The cycle of the children of Israel falling away to the gods of the land, being abandoned by Jehovah, becoming enslaved to other countries, and repenting and coming back to the Lord happened many times under the Old Testament.
And, those people knew what the problem was and they knew what the solution was. Under the New Testament, we have had such times of falling away and renewal, usually beginning when the church is in prosperity. It ends with persecution and decline.
Oddly enough, Jesus says “Seek and ye shall find.” Some people are born into families that have been Christians for generations. With some of us, we became believers because we were seeking.
What if as parents we stop beating ourselves up when children we love turn from the faith? We do know the blessings those children are walking away from. We do understand what they are doing, but the acceptance of salvation and its blessings are an individual decision.
It doesn’t mean we are happy to watch them walk away. We may feel as if they have stomped on our hearts. Two scriptures come to mind. The first one describes the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem by Herod:
“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:17-18)
The second is when Joseph disguised as the second ruler of Egypt has his brothers in his power and is threatening to keep his brother from returning home. Joseph’s brother Judah has grown up. He isn’t the same brother who helped sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites. He pleads with Joseph, saying:
“For how shall I go up to my father, if the lad be not with me? lest I see the evil that shall come on my father.” (Genesis 44:34)
We know this isn’t the end. We sadly walk along, praying for our loved ones, praying they will return.
“One day all that is left is what you have given from your heart.” Copied from Joseph R. Lange