Today’s reading: Psalms 78-79.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. John Maxwell
The Psalmist would add to Maxwell’s maxim, “A leader is one who tells his children the way.” From the days of the wilderness wandering God had commanded his people to teach their children the law of the LORD and the history of his mighty deeds (Deuteronomy 6). This wasn’t ego-stroking on God’s part; it was necessary for the survival of the Jewish people as a nation. It was the most important step in passing the baton of faith to the next generation.
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their forefathers– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle… Psalm 78:5-9
The men of Ephraim failed in their leadership. They were the preeminent tribe coming out of Egypt, a son of Joseph like Manasseh, but chosen and blessed over Manasseh by Jacob. The great General, Joshua, who led Israel as it conquered Canaan, was an Ephraimite. For 400 years the tabernacle stood in the territory of Ephraim at Shiloh. But the men of Ephraim failed to maintain their position. They failed to pass the baton. How? The Psalmist says they failed to instruct their children. As a result the chief position passed to Judah, and Jerusalem, its chief city, became the site of the temple.
The Psalmist begins Psalm 78 by saying it is a parable or proverb. The story of Ephraim’s failure is meant to teach us a lesson. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson modern-day Christians have forgotten or never learned. We are the leaders who must pass the baton of faith to the next generation. We do that by teaching our children God’s word and his mighty works. We can’t leave that to others, even the church. We must do it, and many in the last century have failed to do it. If we will do it, God declares that:
- Each generation will continue to pass their faith along to the next
- Each generation will put their trust in God and be obedient to him
image by Nguyen Vu Hung on Flickr, CC by 2.0