“There Is A Generation”
A few years ago, a newspaper interviewed a man reported to be nearly 120 years old. He complained that the youth of the day were no good and then in a serious tone he declared, “I’ve been saying that for the past hundred years.”
It is true that various generations have their own unique characteristics. Someone of the Generation X wrote: “My generation has been called various things by our elders, not many of them positive. We have been described as lazy, useless, ill-educated and shallow. We are considered a Peter Pan generation, unwilling to grow up, slow to start careers and launch families. We are defined in contrast to the generation that immediately preceded us – and that likes us least – the Baby Boomers. In their eyes they are the world’s boom and we its bust. Thus, we are called the ‘Baby Busters.’ We have also been called “Generation X’ because it was thought that we stand for nothing and believe in nothing” (A Generation Alone, p. 10).
Generations come and go. Solomon said, “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:4). Solomon also wrote most of the book of Proverbs, but Agur wrote Proverbs chapter thirty which contains the text for this study – verses eleven through fourteen. Each verse begins with the Hebrew word dor. It means “a class or group of people…a segment of society” (Ross 1121). A “people living at a specific time and acting in a specific way” (Philips 553). Or “a substantial group within the land that bears wretched characteristics” (Hubbard).
Verses 11-21 contain six groups of four sentences each. These groups are called a tetrad, that is, wise sayings. The number four is symbolic for universality.
The first saying: “There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother” (Proverbs 30:11), This is in direct contrast with the fifth commandment to honor one’s parents (Exod. 20:12). Failure to do so was punishable by death (Exod. 21:17; Deut. 21:18-21). In the New Testament Paul commands, “children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
Many of the Proverbs encourage a proper attitude of children toward their parents. “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8). “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22). “Whoever curses his father or his mother, His lamp will be put out in deep darkness” (Prov. 20:20). However, this proverb tells us of a defiant generation. Notice the phrases “does not bless” is equivalent to “curses”. Today’s generation of children can be seen not only mistreating and disrespecting their parents, but all those who are in positions of authority. They will assault their teachers at school, speak evil of police officers, etc. An incoming member of one girls’ gang cannot be initiated until she furnishes evidence that she has injured someone.
Sometimes a generation will come along that has the idea that they can do whatever they want and it’s okay. They live like there is not right or wrong and no absolutes. “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12; 16:2).
They are like the self-righteous Pharisee who “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (18:11). However righteous this generation may believe itself to be, they a defiled morally. Hypocrites think they are morally clean, because they cannot see their own sin. This is due to their focus on others and not on themselves. They pay no attention to inner cleansing. Hollywood’s anti-God, pro-sex, and pro-violence helps to set the nation’s behavioral norms. Some denominations have capitulated entirely and have ordained practicing homosexuals to the ministry and perform weddings for gay couples. It is a generation of tolerance toward depravity.
Next, “There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up” (Proverbs 30:13). This refers to an arrogant, disdainful generation. They see themselves at giants and others as pygmies. Their eyes are literally “lifted up” to look down on others. They see others who are not like them as “the deplorables.” John Lennon once boasted that he and his friends were more popular than Jesus Christ.
Among the things that the Lord hates is a proud look (Prov. 6:16), pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13). Our generation needs humility. We should “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly,… in honor giving preference to one another;… Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom. 12:3, 10, 16 ).God resists the proud (Jas. 4:6).
The final saying speaks about the oppression of the poor. “There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, To devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men” (Proverbs 30:14). The first half of the verse captures the voraciousness of their might. The next part explains that they consume, like famished beast. They are compared to cannibals. They will not be satisfied until they have eaten all the poor on the earth. This proverb resembles the prophecy of Amos. “Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail” (Amos 8:4).
Throughout scripture God has required the proper treatment of the poor. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). Paul taught by example. “ I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). He also commanded, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). John tells us that generosity is born out of a heart of love. “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1John 3:17-18).
This is a dangerous generation filled with aggressive greed. One bank offered its new depositors a free can of mace for opening an account. Gone are the days of a free toaster. This generation is like Ahab and Jezebel who went after Naboth’s vineyard or the Pharisees devouring widow’s houses.
Jesus spoke of the generation in which He lived as “an evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39) or “faithless and perverse generation” (Matthew 17:17) or like spoiled brats who could not be content (Matthew 11:16). It would be the generation who would kill the Son of God and His apostles and prophets. They would be dealt a severe judgement (Matthew 12:41;12:42; 23:35).
Today, all should consider being a part of the select generation of God’s people. Peter wrote, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). This spiritual generation is “the people of God” who have obtained mercy (1 Pet. 2:10). As God’s “chosen generation,” we should be showing forth His praises (1 Pet. 2:9) or “excellencies” (NAS). We need to be a generation of believers who stand out in stark contrasted to the current wicked and faithless generation around us. “That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
What kind of generation will we prove to be? Are you a part of this “chosen generation”? Those who have purified their souls in obeying the truth. “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40).
– Daniel R. Vess