Generational Blame Game

Scripture Focus: Judges 2.10-11, 18
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 

18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 

Reflection: Generational Blame Game
By Erin Newton

In Judges, timelines are divided by generations and individual judges. Each generation is characterized by their failures and fleeting restoration under a judge’s leadership.

Judges describes this generation as forgetting God and serving the Baals. The description is vague. Forgetfulness has a generic sense that includes a myriad of sinful practices. They could have been entrenched in greed, injustice, sexual abuse, pride, oppression, idolatry, deceitfulness, or malice. The plural use of “Baals” is the author’s catchall phrase to demean any foreign deity. This generation is simply unfaithful.

The repetitive assertion that the next generation begins with failure reads like popular headlines today: “Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z” or “Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong.” Faith is measured by church attendance, participation in religious practices, or involvement in parachurch organizations. When one generation breaks from the norm, it is labeled as a failure.

Today, some pastors dreamily speak of the “greatest generation” and pine for things to be like “they were in the 1950s.” Is this retrospective vision true to reality? Is each generation truly worse than the generation before? Such statements disregard the prevalence of injustices.

Although the failing generations and redemptive judges represent a cyclical storyline in Judges, God remains unchanging. It is not the sins of the people that should attract the spotlight here. The immutability of God shines through the shadows of evil.

God is forever faithful while people are reliably faithless. We will never arrive at a place of pure obedience to God without the snares and traps of our sinful conduct. The tendency to either look back with fondness at prior generations fails to realize the injustices that existed openly among Christians. The tendency to look forward in disgust at the new generation as “more wayward” disregards the unchanging nature of God to save, sanctify, and revitalize the people.

Despite all the failures of the ancient generations, God saved them.

The cycles of Judges, however, reveal that revivals are not permanent. Children cannot rely on the faith of their parents to establish their own faith for tomorrow. We must realize the power of this world will continue to negatively affect each generation.

But God remains as unchanged and faithful as he was five thousand years ago. Despite all our failures, God will save.

Cling to the hope of revival. Trust in God-appointed leaders. Pray and persevere for the restoration of the people.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire—with whatever is good and praiseworthy. Keep doing everything you learned from me and were told by me and have heard or seen me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. — Philippians 4.8-9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Judges 2  (Listen 3:19)
1 Timothy 3 (Listen 2:10)

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Read more about A Generational Lament
“Every generation blames the one before…” Old and young scoff at each other’s sufferings, separating into camps of division and bias.

The Necessity of The Spirit

Acts 7.55
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Reflection: The Necessity of The Spirit 
By John Tillman

We look ahead today reflecting on our readings for tomorrow and two extraordinarily different outcomes for two men led by the same Spirit…

Many times in Judges, the Israelites rebelled over the course of one generation and from the next generation a Judge would rise up to save them. But not the first Judge, Othniel. He had been there the whole time.

Othniel was already a great hero of Israel. He had every advantage and privilege available to him at that time. He was wealthy from his military conquests. He was part of an influential family. He was a seasoned military leader. He had a strong spiritual heritage, being from the family of Caleb, a mighty hero of faith. But despite this, Israel suffered and Othniel could not save them. Until God’s Spirit came on him.

Othniel was a great leader and a great warrior. But it was the Spirit of God, not Othniel or his skills that saved Israel. In Othniel’s day, the Spirit of The Lord coming on a leader was a rare, miraculous event. But in our case the miracle has already occurred. The main thing keeping us from accessing the Holy Spirit is…us.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and told the disciples that it is to our benefit that he leave and the Spirit come. But the benefit may not be something that looks like victory to the world. In Acts, we read of Stephen, who was filled with the Spirit and spoke with power. We like that part. Then he was stoned to death.

Othniel and Stephen are two men touched and led by the Spirit of God to very different outcomes. From the world’s point of view, one was a victor and one a victim. In many ways, the Kingdom perspective of their situations is the reverse.

Othniel seems to have won a great victory and Stephen seem to have lost everything, until you keep reading. 40 years later, Israel is back in the same predicament, tragically repeating the same mistakes over and over. But 40 years after Stephen’s death, the church he died for was spread across the known world by one of the very men who helped put him to death.

We need the Spirit in our lives not because our skills, our wealth, and our influence cannot accomplish things of significance, but because what is truly significant is often hidden, like a treasure buried in a field, and we must follow the Spirit, forsaking all else to find it.

Prayer: The Greeting
O Lord, I cry to you for help; in the morning my prayer comes before you. — Psalm 88.14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Judges 2 (Listen – 3:19)
Acts 6 (Listen – 2:35)

Today’s Readings
Judges 3 (Listen – 4:30), Acts 7 (Listen – 8:49)
Judges 4 (Listen – 3:57), Acts 8 (Listen – 5:10)

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Why Do We Need the Leading of the Spirit?
The leading of the Spirit—O, how highly necessary is it! Who can be without it?

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The daily practices of prayer, reading the scriptures, meditation are tools that can connect us powerfully to the Holy Spirit, help us define who and whose we are, and allow us to walk with the confidence of our secure identity in Christ.