When we arrived in Israel as
brand new immigrants, our children were 22, 19, and 4 years old. Connie
was pregnant with our "sabra" (native born) Israeli, who was born 23
years ago, in February 1993. The truth is we never expected to "found"
any ministry. Our hope was to get the family sufficiently established to
enable our children to join Israeli society and take part in the
renewal/rebirth of Yeshua's movement in the land.
To our surprise, 20 years ago we were given the privilege of launching
Tents of Mercy as an indigenous, Hebrew-speaking, Messianic Jewish
congregation emphasizing humanitarian aid. Then, the Lord expanded the
work further by birthing another four congregations to create a modest
network in northern Israel.
What about our children? All full adults now, their ages this spring will
be 46, 42, 28, and 23. The younger ones are working and studying,
integrating into Israeli society. The two eldest are involved (along with
their spouses) in teaching, discipleship, pastoral, and humanitarian
work. I could not have anticipated what satisfaction and joy it is to see
the next generation embrace the call of God to be pioneers
in this historic move of the Spirit. And not only have I watched my own
children grow into this mature faith, but an entire generation has come
of age while we spent two decades laying a foundation.
L'dor va'dor is a time honored phrase in Hebrew. Roughly
translated it means "from generation to generation". This is a concept
woven through the whole fabric of the Hebrew Scriptures. Some 197 times
the words "generation, generations, all your generations, etc." appear
in the Bible. God's kingdom, His throne, name, salvation, crown,
faithfulness, covenant, righteousness, and praise - are all said to
endure from generation to generation.
A Man of Like Passions
This is seen vividly in Elisha inheriting the ministry of Elijah
into the next generation. Elijah rose during a backsliding era in
Israel's history. He defied idolatrous politicians in a clarion
call to repent. He was the "breakthrough prophetic generation". His
ministry was raw, but effective in changing the "playing field". He
exhibited boldness, faith, and confrontation with the powers of darkness.
(I can relate to that in some measure. In the early days we faced a fire
bombing, lying posters distributed against our leaders, and an evening
when the tires on every car in our lot were punctured while we
After great victory, Elijah ran in fear. He got locked inside depression.
While licking his wounds in a cave of self-focus, God called him out. I
can relate to this part too. More than I care to admit, there have been
times of discouragement and introversion. Battlefields - including
spiritual ones - can be traumatic.
God "pulled him out" of the cave, getting Elijah back on track with the
assignment of anointing - commissioning - two kings and his
own successor. Investing in the next generation is a
superb recipe for personal and kingdom "re-generation." The senior
prophet anointed Elisha as prophet in his place (I Kings 19:16). The
unwritten questions here are relevant for us.
Are we secure enough to give away our place to the next
At same time, is the next generation humble enough to honor and learn
from their forebears?
Both generations in this story had their challenges. Elijah needed to
know that Elisha was seriously dedicated and willing to be trained. I
hear him saying "Hey, kid, if you can't take the heat, get out of
the kitchen." Elisha had to become a true servant, who "poured water
on the hands of Elijah" (2 Kings 3:11).
Then, nearing the climax of the whole transition process, Elijah seemed
to rebuff the younger man three times, telling him "You don't need
to come with me." Elisha persevered, determined to receive a
"double portion" of his mentor's spirit (2 Kings 2:9). The dramatic
result was that Elisha literally received the mantle of his spiritual
father, going on to record almost precisely twice the miracles of Elijah.
He extended and consolidated the breakthroughs of Elijah.
Fathers' and Children's Hearts
This generational shift came at a time of great spiritual need in
Israel. Today, the need is no less intense; and we are also seeing a
profound generational shift. Noticeably, many congregations both in
Israel and abroad are going through this very transition, including ours.
As with Elijah and Elisha, this is not an automatic or slick process.
What pointers can we glean from these prophets?
First, the transition was authored by God. He sent Elijah to
anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15-16).
Second, it involved a choice by both the father/mentor and the
son/protégé (1 Kings 19:19-21). They had to walk together
in radical mutual commitment with the younger man faithfully serving the
older prophet. (1 Kings 19:21).
Third, Elisha refused to quit, remaining steadfast in following
Elijah until the shift occurred (2 Kings 2:2,4,6). A simple, yet riveting
statement in 2 Kings 2:15 sums up this change. "The spirit of Elijah
rests on Elisha."
In the final verse of the entire Hebrew Scriptures, God keys the coming
of "the great and awesome day of the Lord", to the generations
turning to one another in heart.
"And He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the
hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth
with a curse" (Malachi 4:6).
On the one hand this is sobering. On the other hand it is deep and
tender. Our priority could not be clearer. As those who quite possibly
will see the "day of the Lord", we are to give our very hearts to each
other as generations. What encouragement and inspiration to know that
this is just what's happening!