Generation Degeneration

Pastor Tom Ascol completes his messages on the introductory portions of the Book of Judges in a sermon entitled “Generation Degeneration.” In today’s portion of Scripture, Judges 2:6-3:6, the cyclical nature of Judges is readily apparent: People rebel against God, God is angry, Israel’s enemies oppress the nation, the people of Israel cry out, God saves through a judge (leader), peace reigns, the judge dies leading inevitably to the repetition of the cycle. Both the warning and application calls for an exercise of care in our lives so as not to fall to the same sin based cycle.

As the book prepares to recount the exploits of the coming judges the text always leaves the reader wanting more: the judges point to humankind’s need for God to raise up a Judge who will never die; One who will save His people and keep them saved. Indeed, Judges presents evidence that though our sin is great, God’s grace is greater.

One key truth points out our faith is always in danger. Judges illustrates how close God’s community of people is to losing its faith. Even as they experience salvation, they are careless in recounting their experiences and salvation of the Lord to the next generation; “And there arose after them a generation who did not know the Lord or the work he had done for Israel,” v. 10, and “They abandoned the lord,” v. 12a. God calls this abandonment “evil.” The history of Israel in Judges shows a continued turning from God and a worship of idols. Looking back, people of today must ask, “What are the idols that draw them away from God?” Though today’s idols may not be stone or wood carvings, career, money, self-centeredness can be among the same evils God identified among the Israelites. Both groups, ancients and moderns, forgot the Gospel, forgetting they had been redeemed.

The words of Deuteronomy 6:1-12 provide a remedy. The words of God should be on believer’s hearts and these believers should take pains to convey the truths to the next generation, diligently training their children. The children of believers cannot afford to have their parents assume the gospel!

God, however, is faithful. The wandering hearts were chastened by God. God’s anger is a loving anger, acting in the best interest of those to whom He is faithful; His children. God’s actions result in a chastening of love designed to encourage a return to the one true God. Still, sin has a degenerative effect. Though God continued to rescue His people, the cycles apparent in Judges were ever worsening, spiraling downward until every man, rather than obeying God’s word, did what was right in his own sight. Thus, while the book of Judges stands as a testimony to God’s faithfulness, it also points to the great need for that one Judge who will save and keep saved. Only Jesus Christ is such a Judge. He offers love and provision for life eternal to those who come to Him. Trust Him.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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