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::Devotional:: ‘Tradition Without Ownership’

October 21, 2009

Have you ever noticed that when you pull a loose thread on your shirt it always seems to be a lot longer than you originally thought?  Like, you see the piece about an inch long and once you start pulling it you end up pulling out about five or six inches of string before you have to break or cut it off. Sometimes when I’m studying for a devotional that same thing happens to me with a passage of scripture.  I start studying one passage and pulling on the thread and the next thing you know I’m puling out five or six other passages and realize that I have to break it off at some point or nobody will want to read an eight page devotional in the morning!  This happened the other morning with the devotional ‘My Generation’ and I wanted to share a few more things about the Promised Land Generation that I think is very relevant for us today.

Here’s how the scriptures describe the Promised Land Generation of Israelites.

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.  Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.  They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt.  Judges 2:10-12

What is interesting about this to me is all the traditions the Israelites observed in their culture, part of what defined them as God’s people – different from the rest of the world, that were given to them so that they would not forget the Lord and what he had done for them.  

  • Offerings
    • A Burnt Offering – showed a person’s devotion to God
    • A Grain Offering – acknowledged God’s ownership and a person’s stewardship
    • A Fellowship Offering – symbolized peace and fellowship with God
    • A Sin Offering – restored the sinner to fellowship with God; showed the seriousness of sin
    • A Guilt Offering – payment for unrealized sin and repayment to anyone harmed/injured by such
  • Feasts
    • Passover – celebrated God’s deliverance of Israel from the slavery of Egypt
    • Unleavened Bread – reminded people they were leaving an old life behind and entering a new way of living as God’s people
    • Firstfruits – reminded people of how God provided for them
    • Weeks – celebration and thanks for God’s bountiful harvest of crops for Israel
    • Trumpets – celebrated God
    • Day of Atonement – restored fellowship with God
    • Tabernacles – renewed commitment of the nation to God and celebrated the trust in His guidance and protection

These were all written in the book of Leviticus and were part of the traditional makeup of the nation of Israel down through the generations.  However, something happened along the way.  Somehow, even all of these traditions weren’t enough to keep the Promised Land Generation on track.  They still “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” How does that happen?

Tradition for the sake of tradition, not understanding the reason and purpose behind it, is not very useful.  Doing something because we are made to, or because we have to means that when we get to a point in life where we are no longer made to or have to – we won’t.  I call this tradition without ownership.  Somehow, as their parents’ generation participated in these traditions, and I’m sure they were made to participate as children and young adults as well, the meaning and understanding of what was behind them was lost.  Then, when the Promise Land Generation became the prominent generation – when they reached a point where they no longer had someone to tell them what do to – they simply did what they wanted to do or not to do.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.  Judges 21:25

Was this simply a strange occurrence in the history of the nation of Israel? No, it was often repeated throughout their history.  Was this something specific only the nation Israel?  No, we are just as susceptible today to the very same thing.  In fact, there is a growing number of Christian young adults who move away from home, headed to college, and away from their faith and belief and Jesus Christ.  How does that happen?  Tradition without ownership.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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