By Charles Wages
In Proverbs 30:11-14, it is interesting and enlightening to observe that each verse begins with the expression “There is a generation.” The Hebrew word for generation refers, in one sense, to a “circle.” The old expression that, “history repeats itself,” is true in a large measure. It is especially seen when we note the styles and fashions from generation to generation. It is also seen in human behavior and attitudes. Let’s briefly look at some of these attitudes and patterns as recorded in the above Scriptures, written some 700 years before Christ.
- Ingratitude to parents: “There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.” (verse 11)
- Self righteousness: “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (verse 12)
- Pride: “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.” (verse 13)
- Violence: “There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.” (verse 14)
No doubt, God did not intend for the above vivid verses to fully describe every generation. They do, however, pretty well characterize the natural human inclinations and deeds. Sin and human nature remain the same from generation to generation; men just attempt to devise new methods of madness to express and act upon those desires. A person who is lost has a tendency to “go around in circles.”
It must be kept in mind that God doesn’t intend for people to live “according to the flesh” in every generation. His gracious salvation not only saves from eternal damnation but provides the way and means “to live godly in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Noah and Enoch are good examples of persons who walked with and worked for the Lord in their generations. Genesis 6:9 has two different words used for “generations.” In the first usage it refers to Noah’s family associations. He was found righteous by God’s grace before members of his own family. In the second usage, it has reference to his contemporaries, that is his fellow associates. When this is compared with Genesis 7:1, we find that, “he was seen righteous before Me (God) in this generation.” The word for generation here is the same as the second usage above, that is, his fellow associates or contemporaries. Noah was in the world, but not of the world. A person who is saved also has a tendency to go around in circles, but in God’s circles.
In order for a believer to intelligently and spiritually live for the Lord, he or she must learn to distinguish the generations. Though there is a great deal of sameness in each generation, there are also great differences. God has not always dealt with man’s attitudes and actions in the same manner. How thankful we should be that God has been merciful and gracious, from generation to generation, to show:
- Salvation: “… but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” (Isa. 51:8)
- Truth: “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting: and His truth endureth forever.” (Psa. 100:5)
- Faithfulness: “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations.” (Psa. 119:90)
These wonderful blessings could go on and on because God moves in circles to show His love and mercy to His creation. Believers should study carefully 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. We must note the characteristics of our generation, especially how the natural man is expressing his attitudes and actions in religious circles. What is God’s evaluation of our present generation? The epistles of Paul must be carefully read and studied in order to know God’s plan for this age, also how we, as believers, should live for Him today.
As we “go around in circles” let us learn to distinguish the generations and learn how to live in this generation.
As the human race, in its natural Adamic form, continues from generation to generation, it never seems to learn. Mistakes are repeated, sins are repeated, and a process of deterioration and degradation is evident. It seems to be quickening in our present generation. On the other hand, how wonderful and comforting to know that those who have been saved by His grace are in an upward spiral, learning from their experiences. Each day of our lives brings us closer to the time we shall “see Him as He is.” Believers may be “going in circles,” but like a beautiful spiral staircase each turn takes us higher and higher.