by: Dr. Allen Domelle
The destruction of any society has been when one generation won’t listen or learn from the previous generation. Many good churches have been destroyed because the younger pastor would not follow the advice and example of the previous generations. Many children have been destroyed because they won’t listen to the example of their parents and grandparents because they think they are smarter and know so much more. The destruction of a nation has been when the younger generation wouldn’t follow, listen, or heed the examples and wisdom of the previous generations who fought the battles and laid the foundation to make that nation great.
I am getting fed up with this young generation of Rehoboam’s who think they know more than the older generation. The requirements they hold for the previous generation are simply ridiculous and absurd. One of the great excuses these Rehoboam’s use is that if the older generation would practice what they preach, then the younger generation would listen to them. With this mentality, we shouldn’t follow any of David‘s advice, because he killed a man and committed adultery. With this absurd mentality, we should not listen to Abraham because he had an affair that produced an illegitimate son. With the mentality of holding the previous generation to perfection, we couldn’t follow a drunken Noah, a cursing Peter, a disobedient Paul, a quitting John Mark, or a self-focused Elijah who felt sorry for himself after the great battle with the prophets of Baal.
This generational battle has got to stop if we want the old paths to continue. There is a movement that has been perpetuated by selfish, progressive religious leaders who tend to promote themselves and tear down previous generations so they can build their following. They promote themselves by pointing out the flaws of the previous generation to keep a younger generation from walking in the old paths. These progressive, spiritual leaders have done a great job in packaging their arguments to throw out the examples from previous generations only to point the younger generation to liberal religious leaders. The liberal religious leaders who are being championed as examples could care less about the King James Bible, personal and ecclesiastical separation, and Christ-honoring standards of holiness, that if followed, gives the believer the best chance to keep from falling. These progressive spiritual leaders have downplayed personal soul winning for entertainment based activities to attract the lost through worldly entertainment styles “worship services.”
The Scriptures are still very clear that we are to look to the previous generation to get examples on how to live, and what methods to follow to build churches. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is clear in this passage that the older generation is to teach the younger generation.
Psalm 78:5-6 says, “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:” Again, notice that the fathers were to make known to the children the “law in Israel.” The principle is clear that the younger generation is to listen and follow the older generation.
In Psalm 71:18 the psalmist asked God, “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” He realized his responsibility to teach the next generation, and he wanted life to be extended so that he had the opportunity to show them the great works of the past.
The believer is commanded in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” The traditions were the methods they were taught from previous generations on how to serve the LORD. The Scriptures make it clear that the older generation is always to pass to the younger generation the truths, methods and principles of serving the LORD, building a church, and living a holy life.
Sadly, Satan has done a great job of driving a wedge between generations to keep the old paths from being taught to the younger generation. He has used people who would rather embrace worldly progressive leaders than the old paths to influence the young generation. Now, you have a younger generation who has justified their worldly lifestyles and watered-down Christianity by saying that the older generation has forfeited the right to influence because they are not “practicing what they preach.” If that be the case, every person has no right to lead, and with this mentality, we will become a generation like the people in the Book of Judges where every man will do right in their own eyes.
Let me give you several observations about these generational battles.
1. God never said the previous generation had to be perfect.
When God told the older generation to teach the younger generation, He knew that the older generation was at best sinners. If perfection is the measurement by which we hold those who teach us how to live and do right, then we would never be able to listen to anyone who teaches us. Let me simply remind you that all people are sinners, including the self-righteous people who throw the older generation out for their “flaws.”
2. Truth is truth no matter who teaches it.
Has it ever occurred to you that every person who has ever taught the Scriptures except Jesus Christ was a sinner? Truth is truth whether no matter who teaches it. Certainly, the teacher of truth should do everything in their power to practice what they teach to others, but even if they don’t practice it, the truth taught is still truth.
3. God did command the older generation to teach the younger generation.
God knew very well that the older generation would at times not practice what they preach, but they were to still teach the younger generation the right way to live. We live in times when it seems many are looking to the younger generation for spiritual direction instead of the older generation who has seen what has worked. You may not like those men from the past who walked the old paths, but that doesn’t absolve you from listening to the examples and truths they taught and lived.
4. The older generation’s teachings are worthless if the younger generation won’t listen.
No matter how much the older generation teaches, if the younger generation won’t listen, those truths will fall to the ground. The younger generation would be wise to stop trying to judge the older generation and listen to what they have learned through God’s Word and experience.
5. The hope for future generations is how well the present-day younger generation listens to the previous generation.
The old paths are only one generation away from being extinct in our country. Yes, the old paths will always be present because God’s Word will always exist, but this nation will cease to know the old paths if one generation doesn’t listen. Just look at the Middle East and Europe as an example who have had the old paths taught and preached to them through the Apostles and great men of God from the past. These parts of the world today are godless because one generation thought they knew better than the previous generation.
Let me simply caution you not to hold a magnifying glass up to the previous generation to find an excuse not to follow what they have taught. Yes, the book of their lives are written, and we have the honor of learning from their lives, but you better be careful about being critical of them and throwing them out because the book of your life is not finished. One day a generation will look at your life by the same judgment you look at the previous generation. Instead of criticizing the flaws of the previous generation, realize that an omnipotent God only has flawed tools to use. The flaws you discover are simply the testament of God’s ability to use sinners. However, let me simply point out that there is probably more good in the lives of the previous generation than a couple of flaws we discovered about them. Let me encourage you not to get involved in the generational battles; rather, learn from the wisdom and examples of the previous generation and you will be light years ahead of where they were when they were in your shoes.