HERITAGE VS RELATIONSHIP! Your parents or grandparents knowing God will not get you into heaven. “And the people served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Jehovah that he had wrought for Israel. (Judges 2:7 ASV) If people in your family know God that is a great thing. In fact your family history may be replete with great Christian people. But their relationship with God cannot accrue to you or be given to you as an inheritance noted on a piece of paper or by word of mouth. You must develop that relationship yourself. The danger is that a new generation of people in a family with a Christian history may miss knowing the reasons why their family has a Christian history. It happened to the generations in Israel following the death of Joshua. “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel. And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and served the Baalim” (Judges 2:10-11 ASV).
In America we have a Christian heritage though many would argue to the contrary. And as a Pastor I have had many people tell me the histories of the great Christians in their families and I am always glad to hear about the lives of people who have loved God and served God. But more often than I like to recall many of those people sharing with me evidently were from a new generation and did not share the faith of their forefathers. How sad for a person to come from a family of people who loved God and yet never develop a relationship with God for themselves. I am afraid that in America today we have an epidemic of people in “a new generation” that do not know God and His great work on their behalf on the cross of Calvary. They, like the generation following Joshua’s death, have turned from the true God to follow the gods of this world.
Israel experienced God’s judgment so that God could get their attention. “And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that despoiled them; and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of Jehovah was against them for evil, as Jehovah had spoken, and as Jehovah had sworn unto them: and they were sore distressed” (Judges 2:14-15 ASV).
When I see how God dealt with these people and their sins; people who were so favored by God, I have to wonder if God is not also dealing with our generation in like manner. God has blessed us in America with a rich spiritual heritage and yet the majority of Americans have turned their back on God if not vocally they have certainly done so by their actions. As the nation of Israel cried out to God for forgiveness and redemption I believe it is time for our nation to do the same. And that cry should deal with our own spiritual condition as individuals first and then we should raise our voices for our nation next. Our spiritual heritage does not exempt us from God’s intervention in a sinful society. Nor does our spiritual heritage automatically give us a relationship with God. Heritage is great but relationship is better. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 NIV).