“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10).
I have often heard that the second or third generation after a revival is destined to fail. The Bible doesn’t mandate that, but, at least in Judges, this was the case. The generation that watched God work by bringing Israel into Canaan died off, a new generation replacing them. This new generation “did not know the LORD or the work that He had done for Israel.” This lack of knowledge seems to have led to their failure.
When we consider this failure in this church era, we often conclude that the next generation must know the LORD. This seems to be the right conclusion — the next generation certainly must know the LORD and the work He has done.
The next conclusion doesn’t seem as sure to me. Often, the next conclusion is that we must tell the next generation over and over again about the work God had done in the past. This is how they will know the LORD and the work He had done. I don’t think this is the conclusion God would have us come to.
“Now these are the nations that the LORD left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.” (Judges 3:1–2).
Why hadn’t God driven out the nations completely? Why were they still there? To test Israel. The current generation hadn’t experienced the wars. He wanted them to know war. They had to learn it. So how would they know the LORD and the work He’d done for Israel? By going out to war for themselves. Stories were nice, but experiences were critical.
I believe this is the case today. When a fresh generation arises, they must learn to serve the LORD themselves. They must go to war. They cannot simply hear story after story — they must do the work. As they war, they learn of God’s great faithfulness in their lives. They get to see a work of grace for themselves, rather than simply hearing all about it. The stones from the Jordan would never be all the future generations needed — they would need their own testimonies of God’s grace and power. And the modern church — each generation of it — needs the same.