Judges 3:1-6 (Part 1) – From Greatest Generation to Generation Z: Similarities of the USA to Ancient Israel

Posted: August 2, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 3:1-6 (Part 1 of 3)
The Nations Left in Canaan

One of my guilty pleasure movies that, along with my grown daughters when we are together to watch it, can mouth the words of the movie pretty much from start to finish. It is not the same as it was back in 2006 when that movie was hot off the DVD presses. Back then when Taylor was 16 and Meghan was 21, we would make ourselves laugh hysterically when we would watch “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and would begin saying the lines a split second before the actors. Further, some the quotes from the movie we would weave into our conversations which again would make us laugh hysterically when we did it successfully. After I started dating Elena and the girls had met her, she would refuse to watch the movie with us because you just can’t watch the movie with me, Taylor and Meghan together. Ah, those were good times. Good times escape us like a genie in the bottle. Those family moments that are special that will always be remembered. Mine with my girls as young adults coming of age is this movie. Says something about how cultured we are I guess! LOL!

One of the scenes from the movie that is just chock full of memorable, quotable lines is what is known as the “dinner scene” where Ricky and his family are sitting around the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon with foods from KFC, Dominos, and “the ever-delicious Taco Bell”. So when I read this passage which is on one level is about the passage of generations one to the next, I thought of a line from Talladega Nights (TN). I can recall lines from TN or see similarities of real-life situations to a particular episode of the television series, Friends, upon demand. Movie quotes and Friends episodes are weaved into conversations almost daily, much to the amusement and sometimes, chagrin, of my wife. I do it so much that it she has started comparing life situations to Friends episodes or lines from TN as well. But I digress. That just happened! One of the quotes from the dinner table seen that I quote when I know those who hear it will not be offended is “Greatest generation, my ass! That Tom Brokaw’s a punk!”

Why do I think of that quote from TN while reading this passage this morning? There is a comparison I think between my that “greatest generation” of Americans, my grandfather Bowling’s and my dad’s generation (my grandfather was born at the beginning of the greatest generation and my dad was born at the end of it) and the passing generations in our nation compared to the post-conquest generations of Israel. That line from Talladega Nights points out the jealousy that future generations after the Greatest Generation have for that generation. They were indeed the greatest generation that our nation has known. They changed the world in so many ways that we take for granted nowadays. We became a world power under the power of that generation. They sacrificed so many things so that the world would be free from tyranny and changed from that old elitist world that existed before World War II. They developed the middle-class and the suburbs. They developed affordable cars and housing. They developed the space age. They questioned institutional racism and ended it. They put a man on the moon. They laid the groundwork for all the things that subsequent generations built upon.

I was born at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation (anyone born from 1945-1964). We are the kids of parents who were part of the Greatest Generation. Although we did not have to make the sacrifices that our parents’ generation, we did not have all the creature comforts of our parents generation. Some of us who were born early in the generation fought in Vietnam but most of us were not old enough. When you watch movies like Stand by Me (a boys coming of age movie) and Now & Then (a girls coming of age movie) or watch the TV show, Wonder Years. That was what it was like growing up as a Baby Boomer. Life was not as sophisticated and technically oriented as it is now. We actually had bikes and rode all over town in the evenings after school and all day on Saturdays and after church on Sundays. When we think of the Baby Boomer generation we so often think of our childhoods and not our adulthoods as the Greatest Generation does. I think it because the Baby Boomers were the last generation to actually come of age – to go from innocence of youth to knowledge of adulthood. As well, our generation did not have to overcome Hitler to the east and Japan to the west. We did not radically change the world, we just made it new and improved. Our youth was what we idealize about our generation. That last generation that really got to enjoy being a child. The world we knew was safer, we could be outside all the time, and we used our imaginations to create entertainment. We were the first privileged generation of Americans.

With each passing generation though and it is our fault beginning when we Baby Boomers became parents, our nation has become more and more spoiled. When pass from the Baby Boomers to Generation X (born 1965-1984) to the Millenials, those who came of age at the turn of the century (born 1984-1999) to Generation Z (the generation being born since the turn of the century and will probably cutoff around 2020), we have become a more and more privileged society that knows nothing of the sacrifices, the hard work, the moral values, and the fear of the Lord that the Greatest Generation knew. In ancient Israel, one would have to call Joshua’s generation up the point of Judges, the greatest generation. After that, they began to fall away and follow their own lusts. Much the same can be said of us post-Greatest Generation generations in America. We have become spoiled, and entitled, and just expect rather than sacrifice or do without. We honor God less and less with each generation – beginning with my generation.

It is this thought of taking the easy road because of privilege that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage, Judges 3:1-6, this morning for the first of three times we will visit it. Let’s read it now.

3 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

In this passage, we see that in Judges 1 that these enemy nations were still in the land because the Israelites had failed to obey God and drive them out. Now, God would allow the enemies to remain in order to “test” the Israelites. That is, to give them an opportunity to exercise faith and obedience. By now, the younger generation that had not grown up in the desert wanderings and in the battles of Canaan was coming of age. They lost their will to separate themselves from the things that are not of God. What is because they had never been tested in battle? Was it the settled life that they had now? Why is it that with peace and prosperity we often fall away from God and it is only when we have crisis that we find Him?

What will be said about the Baby Boomers when we all have passed from existence? Will we be the generation that wakes up and takes hold of the promise of our Greatest Generation? Will we be the generation that leads a revival and a return to God?

I know that I want my Millenial daughters and my Generation Z granddaughter to look back at me and my generation and say, Hey, they were the generation that stopped the slide of our country away from God. Let us stand up and be the generation that does that! Let us be the generation that leads the generations after us to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray for revival for our country and a return to God. I pray that my generation as the old and wise generation now (that just happened!) to lead the way back to the Lord!

Amen and Amen.

 

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