A while back, I had a friend message me about something she read in the Bible. Long story short she had read about how in Deuteronomy things had gotten so bad among the Israelites that they had resorted to cannibalism, fast forward to Ezekiel (which is many years later) and you see the same thing happening (Deut 28; Ezek 5:10). Her question was, why didn't the Israelites learn from their past and not allow this to happen again?
I know we've all seen things happening in our current world and thought the same thing? Why have we not learned from our history? Though we may not be in as extreme of a state as cannibalism, we are seeing a lot of things today that are long standing or reoccurring global issues.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
As I thought about her question, I thought about how this is the story of the Bible, but it's also a message for us today. Maybe that seems crazy, but let me explain where my train of thought went.
Pride makes us think, "just cause that caused them disaster doesn't mean it will do the same to me." Every parent of a teenager knows this story. We try to tell our kids to watch out, to not start that one habit, to not get in that relationship, or avoid that one "friend" who is clearly bad news. We want to spare them hardship but often they don't want to listen to us cause we're their parents. Someone else can say the exact thing we've said, but because they said it now all of a sudden your kid listens.
I also thought of spoiled children. In the Bible we see a leader who devotedly follows the ways of the Lord, but then one or 2 generations later their sons completely go the other direction. They begin to follow false idols and turn completely away from the Lord leading to complete destruction.
Now think about CEO's or other wealthy business owners who hand down their businesses to children who literally were handed everything in life. How many times do we hear stories about heirs or heiresses getting strung out on drugs and in and out of rehab; businesses completely gone under by ill equipped leaders.
Similarly, in the Bible, these new generations don't understand the struggle, sacrifice and discipline that went into being a successful leader. That's where all the peaks and valleys in the biblical leadership comes from. After one king runs everything into the ground, a new leader comes into place that knows the worst and says "how can I get better and what worked for the past rulers and how can I implement that". This is the opposite mindset of the bad ones. The bad ones are too prideful to look at what made someone else successful and are so used to having things handed to them they become power hungry and inward focused.
But there are a few outliers of successful transitions in the peak and valley story throughout the Bible for us to observe. Abraham to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, Moses to Joshua to name a couple, but there are two that really stood out to me. One was David to Solomon and the other was Elijah to Elisha. But what made these transitions successful?
With David and Solomon I think it was David's advice to His son. He told Solomon:
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. 1 Chronicles 28:20
A father who tells his son to "Get to work" is a good father.
As the old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime."
Too many of us as both physical parents and spiritual parents aren't doing our parts by teaching those under our authority to do the work.
I'm reminded of the story of Lot and Sodom and Gomora in Genesis 18. Lot lived among the people as a righteous man but when the Angels came to destroy them, not even 10 could be found who were also righteous. This makes me wonder what his life looked like. His sphere of influence was clearly very small, but it's also clear that his actions and words were not big enough to have an affect on those in his life.
It makes me wonder what type of life I'm living and if I could say that I've had an affect on 10 or more people and encouraged them towards salvation.
Am I relying specifically on my daily actions or am I being bold in my testimony of Christ. What will my legacy be? Will my kids serve the Lord and will I go before Him and hear "Well done my good and faithful servant."
Or the opposite, will He ask me why I buried my talents and was silent when I saw what was wrong in the world.
And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them Romans 1:32
Sometimes our silence can be viewed as a reflection of approval. In one of the Rick Joiner books of the Final Quest series, he actually compares the testimony of Lot to that of Jonah. Lot lived a righteous life and reflected God in actions, but as previously mentioned, it wasn't enough to save the people. But when Jonah quit running and went and spoke boldly to the people of Nineveh, the entire city was saved by one sermon. Those of us who are sitting on the sidelines thinking that we can save those around us by them seeing our actions need to realize that may not be enough. We must speak truth!
We must share our stories of God's faithfulness. Our children cannot be expected to have our faith. They can't be reliant on the work that we put in. They must learn to read and seek out the truth in who He is on their own.
They will have questions and doubts and they can only get past that if they are trained. Teach them to fish!
Elisha was trained in the ways of Elijah. Not just because he stayed near but because he walked the walk and talked the talk. Both his actions and speech reflected his service to the Lord and because of that when it was time for him to go, Elisha refused to leave his side. He requested that a double portion be poured out on him (2 Kings 2:9).
This is what I want for my kids. I want my ceiling to be their floor. I want them to go much higher and further than I ever did. I want to leave behind a spiritual legacy that is just a foundation for all that they can do.
But in that I must show them both in action and in speech. In prayer and in service. By speaking truth even when it's not easy or popular. By not ever compromising on what the Lord has commanded of me or conforming to the ways of this world (Rom 12:2).
"Pore over (the Bible) again and again,
for everything is contained in it;
look into it,
grow old and gray over it,
and do not depart from it,
for there is no better pursuit for you than this. "
Rabbi Ben Bag Bag
Pirkei Avot 5:22
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you 2 Timothy 1:5-6 NLT