John Dawson writes, “It is a dangerous thing to lose the knowledge of the past. One of the greatest needs of the church is a sense of her history and destiny.” After the people of God entered the Promised Land, established their land, properties and families, a very tragic thing occurred. It is the same thing that occurs when every spiritual movement establishes itself. Many times the next generation does not experience “the spirit” of the movement. They do not grow up in tents, they grow up in buildings. They do not see mom and dad praying to survive, they see mom and dad enjoying the fruit, benefits, labor and sacrifice of the previous generation.
The solution to this organizational and spiritual phenomenon is for the church to maintain its focus on the characteristics of a spiritual movement and to continually “rekindle” its spirit. The Israelites did not do that and as a result, after the first generation died, “another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
In the New Testament, God makes clear that Israel’s experience is to be a warning to the Church, the new Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). All these things in Israelite history “occurred as examples, to keep us from setting our hearts” on the wrong things as the church continues its development in salvation history (1 Corinthians 10:6). As church leaders, we must never forget what we are doing is a vital part of maintaining the characteristics of a spiritual movement within the church. Nothing is more vital to the expansion of God’s kingdom through a church movement than for that movement to maintain its original spirit! The lesson is this: never forget the early days, and what happened during the days of the tents! Thank you for being Christ in Action. Look forward to seeing you this weekend at Assembly!