Tom Brokaw says of the WWII generation, “I think this is the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” (p.xxx)
He goes on to say, “These men and women came of age in the Great Depression, when economic despair hovered over the land like a plague. They had watched their parents lose their businesses, their farms, their jobs, their hopes. They had learned to accept a future that played out one day at a time. Then, just as there was a glimmer of economic recovery, war exploded across Europe and Asia. When Pearl Harbor made it irrefutably clear that America was not a fortress, this generation was summoned to the parade ground and told to train for war. They left their ranches… their jobs on main street… they gave up their place on the assembly lines… and in the ranks of Wall Street, they quit school or went from cap and gown directly into uniform. They answered the call to help save the world…” (p.xix)
“When the war was over, the men and women who had been involved in uniform and in civilian capacities, joined in joyous and short-lived celebrations, then immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted. They were mature beyond their years, tempered by what they had been through, disciplined by their military training and sacrifices. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers. They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor and faith.” (p.xix – xx)
This generation is indeed to be honored for its sacrifices and service to our nation. If it were not for them much would be different in the world. With out a doubt America was on the right side fighting for justice. Many in that era said that it was certain that they were on “God’s side” of the war. In all, history has shown that such freedom and justice comes at an unfortunate high price.
We can learn many lessons from previous generations. Lessons like:
The World War II generation “…was proud of what they accomplished but they rarely discussed their experiences, even with each other. [When they returned] They became once again ordinary people, the kind of men and women who always have been the foundation of the American way of life.” (p.15)
“The nation turned to its young to carry the heaviest burden, to fight in enemy territory and to keep the home front secure and productive. These young men and women were eager for the assignment. They understood what was required of them, and they willingly volunteered for their duty.” (p.3)
Brokaw wrote, “It was the last generation in which, broadly speaking, marriage was a commitment and divorce was not an option. I can’t remember one of my parents’ friends who was divorced. In the communities where we lived it was treated as a minor scandal.” The numbers bear Brokaw’s anecdotal evidence out: of all the new marriages in 1940, 1 in 6 ended in divorce. By the late 1990’s, that number was 1 in 2.
One soldier quipped “There are no atheists in foxholes” (105, Generation Speaks).
Chaplains often said, “The most effective antidote for shell shock is the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
And there were many other traits to appreciate and embrace.
This message will explore lessons we can learn of great generations in the past. It will glean insights from one of the great generations in the history of Israel, found in 2 Samuel 5-7.
In Israel’s history, one of the greatest generations was under King David. David is renowned for leading Israel in military advancement, national pride and spiritual heritage. He is considered Israel’s greatest king and is the only man in the Bible whom it is said “was a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). By examining one of the high & low points during his reign we can gain insight into God’s blessing of the nation of Israel.
God blesses generations that are devoted to Him (2 Samuel 5:1-5)
Israel’s first king, Saul, was not entirely devoted to God. The very request for a king was a slap in God’s face showing that they were not satisfied with God as their king but wanted to accommodate to their culture with selecting a human king (1 Samuel 8:4-22). Nonetheless, God was gracious in choosing a king after Saul who would be lead them in the ways of God in David. Even though David was not perfect, he loved and sought to honor God throughout his forty year reign and throughout his life.
God calls all people to be devoted to Him. Yet, too often we are satisfied with lesser things. We have bought the American Dream that life is for fortune, fame and fantasy. God does not want us to trust the promises of the world but of Him. As Israel remembered the Lord’s words to David that he would be their king (2 Sam 5:2b; 1 Sam 16:12), so we too must look to God’s Word as our guide.
Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”
Exodus 20:6 God will “show love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
ð Have you trusted Jesus as Lord & Savior?
ð What are you doing to ensure your family is in process of being devoted to God?
God blesses generations that are depended on Him (2 Samuel 5:6-12)
In time, David and Israel became a strong powerful nation. He had repeated military and strategic success to increase his recognition and power (v.10). However, it was all due because the Lord was with David. Whenever they were to fight against other nations David would inquire of the Lord if they were to enter in battle. This showed that Israel was not dependent on the strength of their armed forces but their awakened faith. Only God could deliver them from their enemies.
Psalm 33:16, 18-19 “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength…But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love., to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
ð Are you depending on a spiritual or national heritage for God’s acceptance and blessing? If so, it is misplaced.
God judges generations that disregard Him (2 Samuel 6:1-7)
David sought God’s blessing on his reign and on the nation by bringing the ark of God to its capital of Jerusalem (the city of David, v.10). The ark was a symbol of God’s presence and blessing with His people. David had the best of intentions and spared no expense in choosing 30,000 men to move the ark. The worshiped and celebrated [“with all their might” – unrestrained celebration] God with all sorts of musical instruments (v.5). Then they set the ark on a new cart and began its transport.
David’s problem came when he gave minimal attention to God’s instructions for transporting the ark. See what God told Moses regarding the ark (Exodus 25:8-15) 8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. 10 “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. 13 And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. 15 The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
In their enthusiasm, they minimized God’s holiness believing they could casually move the ark of God on a cart. The ark was strictly to be carried with poles through the rings on the side. When Uzzah touched the ark he paid their punishment with his life. The reason for God’s actions is to remind us all that we must take God seriously.
Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Exodus 20:5 God will “punish the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate him”
We can learn a lot from previous generations. There is an old saying that says if you do not learn from history you are doomed to repeat it. I believe that is very true. Today’s generations are too often prideful and arrogant to think and act with an independent spirit; that we can do things on our own. Even more tragic is to exclude God from our lives or perhaps even worse is to give Him superficial authority in our life. When we think casually of God we put ourselves and others at risk. This is a call for today’s generation of Christians to remove casual Christianity and become serious about their walk with God and their God-given mission as witnesses to the world.
 The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw.