Joshua 24:31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that over lived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.
We are told that one of the reasons for studying history is to avoid the mistakes that have been made in the past. Israel needed a lesson in history after those who had experienced Jehovahâ€™s miraculous love in delivering them from Egypt and bringing them into the promised land were gone. A new generation arose who had not personally experienced â€œwhat the Lord had done for Israel.â€ They began worshipping like the people around them worshipped. God hated this worship because it was not the worship of Him but of idols (imaginary Gods). Israel was to stamp out this kind of worship and was to be an example of faithfulness. Instead they were being evangelized instead of being the evangelists.
We are told that it takes three generations before a spiritual revival loses its impact on the descendents of those involved in the revival. These verses seem to indicate that Israelâ€™s departure occurred in the third generation.
Revivals usually start with people getting back to the â€œWord of Godâ€. Josiahâ€™s revival started with the people finding the â€œBibleâ€ that had been lost in the temple (2 Chronicles 34). The protestant revivals that occurred 500 years ago were largely associated with the printing press and translating the Bible into a language that people could read. Revivals in the 1800â€™s occurred when those who were good church-going people started having â€œBible Studiesâ€ and realized that the doctrine of the church differed from the doctrine of the Bible. Faith still comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Revivals are usually associated with people who have a concern for proper Bible interpretation and who then go to the Bible for their guidance and instruction.
Revivals cause us to love the Lord, to love His Word, to love one another and to love the unsaved. Revivals are characterized by loyalty and obedience to the Lord. Revivals bring joy and strength into our Spiritual lives. Revivals cause us to be selfless rather than selfish. Revivals sometimes create martyrs and sometimes martyrs create revivals. That is not the easy path nor is it the popular path, but it is the right path.
I do not believe that we should practice things in the church just because our forefathers practiced them. That is the error of Pharisees who were more concerned with their traditions than they were with doing what the Lord really wanted. But neither do I believe that we should cease practicing Spiritual principles that were practiced in the past in order to make things work today. I think it takes wisdom to keep what is right and to change what is often just traditional. Things that cannot be changed include the Gospel. The way it is presented can be changed but the message is eternal and unchangeable. In addition, the church is the Lordâ€™s and not ours. When we change it to meet our needs, we have an organization that we are building rather than a living organism that the Lord is building (Matthew 16:18).
I believe that the people of every generation have to develop their own God-given convictions. To do this, we need the perspective of those who have been faithful before us. We need confidence in the Word of God to make sure our convictions are not just traditions. I am convinced that many of us have lost the perspective of history today as we argue about the things that are essential and the things that are nonessential. My conviction is that if it is in the Bible, and if it is clearly presented as truth for the day of grace that we live in, then it is essential. I want the perspective of history and the help of friends to make sure that I do not sell out to a religious system from which we are to be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). I donâ€™t want to be part of the third generation.