I was putting my daughter into her carseat when she looked up at the moon, pointed and said, “Look, Mommy! The cow jumped over the moon!” I had to laugh a little because my two year old has no idea where that expression comes from or what it means. She heard it from her four year old brother, and he heard from their seven year old brother. The expression was passed down from sibling to sibling, but the meaning was lost. The heart of any action, ideology and culture disappears when we don’t take measures to explain it to the next generation.
The Old Testament Chosen People, the nation of Israel, were securely planted in the promise land because God loved them. They were not perfect, but God said that as long as they loved and obeyed Him and taught that devotion to their children, He would always be able to take care of them (Deuteronomy 6.3-9). The Chosen People could use their free-will to stay under the protection of their Creator or to wander away from it. The choice of blessings or curses was ultimately theirs (Deuteronomy 30.19).
Flash forward several generations later and the people of Israel had forgotten about their One True God. God sent them prophet after prophet to remind His Chosen People about their covenant, but they wouldn’t listen. As I was reading in Jeremiah about all the horrible effects of Israel’s disobedience, I was struck by where God placed the guilt — He blamed the ancestors:
“When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the LORD decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the LORD our God?’ then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me'” (Jeremiah 16.10-12 NIV) (emphasis added).
The ancestors forsook God and forgot to tell the next generation about how amazing our God is! Before the Chosen People knew it, their teachers had twisted the “word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 8.8), and they found themselves behaving even worse than their parents. There must have been a slow process of compromise in each generation for an entire nation to forget about their God; and if we are not careful, the New Testament Chosen People, Christians, will also find themselves outside of God’s blessings!
Knowing God more is the purpose of life. Yes, we have responsibilities that keep us grounded in the world, but we can speak about God’s love in our day-to-day activities. We have to make teaching those around us about God and having a relationship with Him through Jesus our first priority. God blesses us every day, and we can share His goodness with others. We can’t allow the things of this world to choke out His presence in our lives. We can change the fate of generations to come if we would only choose today not to compromise God’s agenda for an easy, comfortable and self-centered life. When we find our purpose in God, we won’t be able to keep quiet about all He is doing!
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20.24 NLT).