The Good Lost Generation of Exodus - Part 1
The generation of Israelites that exited Egypt is deservedly seen in a negative light. After all, they repeatedly disobeyed God, they doubted Him, they angered Him, and, as a direct consequence, they failed to enter the Promised Land. They were the lost generation of Israel. Lost to the wilderness and lost to their sinfulness. However, they were not all bad. In fact, there are several reasons to praise them, and coming articles will focus on those moments. But first, consider the implications of a lost generation who wasn’t all bad.
First, God will judge large percentages of people. There is no safety in numbers. Of the accountable people who left Egypt and began their journey to the Promised Land, only two would arrive safely. The rest were “laid low in the wilderness” (I Cor. 10:5). On another occasion, God unleashed His wrath on all of humanity with the exception of 8 souls who were spared (I Pet. 3:20).
Even in the New Testament, despite a message of hope, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and salvation, despite a God who loves the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to offer salvation to anyone (John 3:16), despite the fact that God does not want any to perish (II Pet. 3:9), despite all of that, Jesus warned us that “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mt. 5:13-17). Catching on to the implication of this, someone once asked Him if only a few were going to be saved. But there had been no misunderstanding. Jesus told them, “Strive o enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Lk. 13:23-24)
Therefore, don’t think for a moment that if most everyone in a church goes along with an error, that God will overlook the sin simply because everyone has agreed. Don’t think that if every church in the country or around the world embraces immorality or false teaching, that God will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who have fallen into the error and will therefore overlook the transgression.
Ours is a God who will go out of His way to save anyone but is not afraid to judge everyone.
Second, moments of goodness are no guarantee of eternal reward. Even those who fail in the biggest way might have moments in their life that they can point to as being positive. Judas failed spectacularly. It would have been better if he’d never been born (Mt. 26:24). But, for years he followed Jesus. He had authority over demons and even healed diseases (Mt. 10:1). He proclaimed the coming of the kingdom (Mt. 10:5-7). He was personally chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve (Lk. 6:13-16). None of that changed the fact that at the pivotal moment in his life, forsaking any good that he had done before, he chose to betray Jesus. None of the previous good would change the fact that now, it was better if he’d never been born.
In the same way, the people of Israel are rightly praised for moments when they did things right, but that won’t change the fact that they ultimately failed God and failed to receive the prize.
Do not look back on past moments of glorious righteousness (that one time you really helped a stranger, or that time you taught a great Bible class, etc.). Instead, be diligent to continue in the path of righteousness so that you can have a different fate than the lost generation of Israel.
Next week, let’s consider some of the things that generation was praised for.