The Cost, When First Things Become Last

Deut. 8:11. “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.

We always talk about how great the generation of our parents or fore parents were. They were hard-working, respectful, sacrificing, and moral. Their no-nonsense parenting skills are unmatched. However, we are also immensely critical of this current generation of children. And sometimes, we are lost in making sense of their behavior. I mean, I heard a 16-year-old student curse a principal inside the school building and tell him to go do something vulgar to himself. Another student tells a teacher to sit on his you-know-which finger. Fifteen and sixteen-year-olds challenge teachers into fighting every day; and at home, children today have no fear of parents. Some will curse the parents in front of the teacher. On the streets, the average age of murderers around Atlanta are in the teens, and emotionally, today’s youngsters seem to crack under the mildest pressure. I cannot remember seeing this in my generation and that certainly did not hold true in my parents’ time.

When no one stands in the gap

Have we ever paused to recognize that the link between the past great generation and this currently morally bankrupted generation are those of us who raised them?

The question is what went wrong in the linking stage that obstructed the attributes of our grandparents from transferring to our current children. Where did we go wrong? If our parents taught morals that were good enough for us, why is it not passed down to our kids?

I believe I know some suspects. There is something they used to call a looking glass. It is an implement that shows interesting and surprising things. If you look into it, you might discover the culprits – the reasons that children today are so volatile and rambunctious. If you look long enough in that looking glass it might reveal some things to you that no one else can discover about you. That looking glass in today’s high-tech, high-science world is called a mirror. If you looked long and hard enough, it might show you the culprit for today’s juvenile behavior.

Danger of Forgetting the first things – the things of old

Bible: Do not forget the things of old. Teach them to your children and grand and great grands. The consequences of omitting the tenets of old is telling in this biblical story:

2 Kings 22:1, says “Josiah was 8 years old when he became king…” Verse 3, continues, “in the 18th year of his reign, King Josiah sent his secretary: Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5, Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord.

8, Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9, Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10, Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. 11, When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

13, “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book.

This last statement is critical to the plight that Israel suffered historically. They forgot the very charter that God had given to guide them nationally, but more importantly, morally. Is that a statement that our children and grandchildren will say of us: those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book or have forgotten the book.

After Solomon built the Temple, he made special arrangements for the Ark and Book of the Covenant and moved it from a temporary and mobile location in the tabernacle to a permanent resting place in the Most holy place of the temple. However, from Rehoboam Solomon succeeding son, and 14 kings later, in a period that spanned 317 years, the book of the covenant varnished. There was church, but no bible, there were families, but no moral guidance – children, but no conduct charter.

There are consequences to losing the book of the covenant: When first things become last, bad things happen.

Some questions to ponder when we lose the principles and guides that came before:

1. Are we the ones who lost the book?

2. When things go wrong with our children, from whom do we inquire?

3. Which condition is more critical for your child, academic success, or moral conduct?

While the king’s officials were sent to solve a material problem, they found a spiritual one and paid more attention to the latter. That is in line with an experience that was shared with me recently:

I have a friend who just took over a church where the building is worth millions. As he ascended the pulpit for his first sermon, it began to rain. And as the showers came down, it seemed like more water was pouring inside of the building than outside. Upon investigation, he found out that the building had deuterated so badly, that it would cost a couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair the damage.

When the board got together to discuss the repair process, all kinds of hell broke loose in that meeting. There were factions vying for power. There was misuse of funds. Some people treated the church like their personal property and used it as office space. Tens of thousands of dollars were given to a contractor for repairs, and no one could account for it.  But most noteworthy, was that there had not been bible study or prayer meetings for years. The pastor instantly recognized that the problem was not a broken building or leaky roof, it was starving souls. When the spiritual is broken, everything else is in danger. When the most important thing is ignored…

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