Scripture teaches us to think generationally, from one generation to the next. The following truths surface regarding generational thinking:
HISTORY AND DESTINY MERGE. We look back to those before and ahead to those who will follow. We worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hey, three generations right there.
The feasts helped Israel celebrate the God who worked in the past and promised faithfulness to a thousand generations. The festivals tied generations together: “Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come” (Ex. 12:14). Names at one time marked the generations. I am an Anderson—a son of Anders; Ben-Adam—son of Adam. It was so much a part of the way they viewed life that if you wanted to curse someone, you didn’t go after his dad; you went after his descendants. “May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation” (Ps. 109:13).
I have told my children that I am praying for their grandchildren—who do not yet exist. I want to take seriously the responsibility of raising up giants in the land.
IT IS ALL ABOUT FAMILY. Everyone lands on the planet one way—through a father and a mother. God Himself is a Father, and He has a Son. It started with a walk and ends with a wedding. People we call brothers and sisters are joined with us for eternity with Jesus the Bridegroom.
Because family is central, the end-time revival, the big one, will feature a revival of family (Mal. 4:5,6). The prophets knew that a strong family built strong individuals and a strong nation. If we ever needed healthy families, we need them now.
OBEDIENCE IS NOT OPTIONAL. DISOBEDIENCE HURTS. The Lord told Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation” (2 Kings 10:30). His obedience brought blessings for a century. Way to go, Jehu.
Hezekiah, on the other hand, while a good king in many ways, came under judgment for foolishly showing envoys from Babylon his whole storehouse. And God said through Isaiah that his descendants would be punished. His response showed strange short-sidedness: “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” (2 Kings 20:19). What a sad and selfish statement, thinking only of his generation and not reflecting on how his folly would impact future generations.
HONOR CONNECTS THE GENERATIONS. Children honor their parents and grandparents. Our culture has worshiped youth and not properly regarded old age. The Greek words “presbys” and “senatus,” (from which we get “senator”), and the Arab word “sheikh” all mean “old man.” Ancient cultures rightly honored age.
Youth don’t get a merit badge for being young. We pay tribute to beauty, brains and brawn. They chose gray hair; we color it. It was a sad day in Israel when “elders are shown no respect” (Lam. 5:12) and “the elders are gone from the city gate” (14). One of the curses for disobedience Moses reviewed with the nation about to enter the Promised Land was that God would send them “a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young” (Deut. 28:50).
Grandparents: tell the stories and pray like crazy. Don’t simply retreat to your rocker. Parents: walk in righteousness and pass the baton. Children: honor your parents and elders. And if you are single, don’t self-eliminate. So were Jesus and Paul, and their parenting changed the face of their culture. You can help do the same with yours.