Deuteronomy 31:12-13 “Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so that they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Moses talked repeatedly about generational transmission of the knowledge and fear of the Lord. This was particularly an issue at that point because most of the people were illiterate, and Moses was literally writing the start of the Bible. It’s very hard for us to grasp emotionally what that would have been like. Moses poured all he had into Joshua and he went to the enormous effort of writing the Pentateuch, but ultimately he had to trust God. After all, God had certainly shown Himself powerful, to Moses perhaps more than to anyone else. Moses had to believe that God would manifest His power to the succeeding generations, but he had no idea what form that would take, and he wanted the people to know what God had already done. Today we have the weight of thousands of years of God’s working with His people. That record starts with the five books Moses wrote and continues through the closing of the Canon a few hundred years after Pentecost, but He is still working with and talking to His people today. That said, the Church is indeed only one generation away from extinction, because each generation must know, fear, and love God for themselves. Failures in that area have dogged the Church down through the centuries, but God has been faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness. The point is, parents must teach the truth of God to their children and others, not only with words but by living it out. If they will do that one thing, nothing will be able to stop the growth of the Church – not even the gates of hell. (Matthew 16:18)
I am the product of generations of believers who took this issue seriously, but I work with people who for the most part are the first people in their families to believe in Christ. That presents some seemingly unique challenges, but really, they are not so different anywhere in the world. If I fail to speak the truth in love, and even more importantly, if I fail to validate what I say by living it out, then who is going to learn to know and love God? As a pastor, perhaps my biggest challenge is in helping the believers understand that exactly the same thing may be said of them, even though they aren’t “professional Christians.” The clergy/laity dichotomy is sadly alive and well here. Japanese society has long depended on specialists, with few people grasping the vision of doing things outside of their own specialty. That can be crippling to a church! I need to help people grasp the reality that they are as called as I am, and that God is just as capable of using them as He is me. The details will change, but He’s the same God. I’ve demonstrated that trying to do that in my own strength and wisdom doesn’t work, so I’ve got to depend on the Holy Spirit. That’s good, because He’s the same Spirit who is given to every believer and is available to them in unlimited measure. (John 3:34)
Father, we’re back to the subject You have me writing a book on. Help me keep at that to complete it as You intend, for exactly the issue Moses was dealing with. May I be fully useful to You in transmitting Your truth to succeeding generations, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!