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This teaching series started because something had been weighing heavily on my heart for a long time. There is a teaching or thinking floating around the church that God is going to use the youth mightily, and pretty much to the exclusion of all others. There is no Biblical basis to this thinking, but it is becoming prevalent in the Western Church (Canada, Europe, United States, etc.).
One of the times we see it is when guest speakers come to our churches. (Not all guest speakers do this, but there is an alarming number of respected Christian speakers who do it.) They preach a stirring message of how God wants to use and empower us. But at the end of the service they imply that their sermon was primarily for the youth. Or they call the youth forward for impartation and prayer and exclude the other age groups. One popular version of this is to call the youth up and impart into them, then have the youth pray for everyone else who wants prayer. That means the only ones who can receive prayer directly from the guest speaker are the youth. Other speakers pray for the youth first because they are God's "primary target," then will pray for others after they are done with the youth.
The implied message is that those of us who are not youth are somehow left out or passed by. It subtly implies that it is too late and those older than "youth" have already missed their chance. The adults are made to feel the way left for them to serve God is for them to get into some sort of support role to enable the youth to do their job, because the youth get to do the real kingdom work.
This is wrong thinking. It seems to have arisen from two things.
First, a popular nomenclature has arisen: the term the "Joshua Generation." Pastors and prophets and Christian leaders have been using that term a lot lately. This is because one of the messages springing forward from the prophetic community is "This is the age of the Joshua Generation." The term "Joshua Generation" is not a Biblical term. It is not even a Biblical concept. It is a convenient shorthand for the prophetic message that this is the time and season where God expects His people to once again rise up and "take their land," just like they did in the time of Joshua. The Lord is moving His church into a season where we are no longer to wait passively in faith for God's promises, we are to go forth in obedience and in His power and anointing to fight for them, that we may possess them.
The second thing is a misunderstanding of what that nomenclature means. A thinking has arisen that the term "Joshua Generation" means the youth. That term is often misused in the context of the youth and has become a synonym for "youth" in many people's thinking.
I have seen this wrong message proclaimed in our churches over and over. Each time I see it, an internal alarm goes off inside of me, saying, "Something is wrong here!" It came up again recently when we had a "big name" guest speaker at our church. He did what I have seen so many other ministers do. He preached an inspiring sermon about God empowering and using us and then told us that this message was for "the youth." He used the term "Joshua Generation" over and over again in a context that excluded all age groups except the youth. This strongly implied that God's empowering and anointing for kingdom work was not for those of us who are no longer youth, that we are too old for God to use powerfully for real kingdom work.
Part of that message is true. God can and will use the youth if they submit to Him and make themselves available to Him.
But the youth are just one of the players on God's team. God is not excluding the other age groups in favor of using the youth. Nor is He focusing primarily on the youth. God wants to use people of ALL ages to do His will -- for His will and His plans are to penetrate all levels of society with the Gospel. Yes, God wants to use the young people -- but not just young people. He wants to use us all.
What The "Joshua Generation" Is Not
The term "Joshua Generation" is derived from Old Testament history. It came from the Israelites who did not die of old age in the desert, but who crossed over the River Jordan to possess their promised land.
Many people think that the generation who took the promised land were the youth. But if you take a closer look at your Bible, you will discover that neither Joshua nor the majority of those who he led into the promised land were youth.
Numbers 13 and 14 tell the story of how God led His people out of Egypt to the River Jordan, expecting them to cross over and possess their promised land. But the people sent out twelve men, one from each tribe, to explore the land. Ten of the twelve came back with a bad report that the people who lived in the land were too mighty to take in battle. So the people refused to obey God and go fight to possess the land God had promised to them. They murmured and complained and accused God of trying to kill them, as they had done many times since God led them out of Egypt. This made God angry to the point where God gave up on them and decided to let them die off of old age in the wilderness and then to have their children go and fight for the land.
Numbers 14:29 tells us that God declared no one over age twenty would enter the promised land, except for Joshua and Caleb, who had been faithful spies. This means that those who were 19 and under at the time when the Israelites refused to enter the promised land would be allowed in. Then God sentenced them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Do the math. The oldest "warriors" in Joshua's army (excluding Joshua and Caleb) were fifty-nine. Forty plus nineteen is fifty-nine.
Many Bible historians believe that well over half of those who were led out of Egypt were children who still lived with their parents. Let's round that figure down to fifty per cent to have a nice even number. That means that at least half of the people who were led out of Egypt were between the ages of one and nineteen. That also means that forty years later there was a mass of people between the ages of 41 and 59 who God used in Joshua's army to take their promised land.
Also, don't forget those who were born in the desert during the first ten years of Israel's wilderness wanderings. They would have been between the ages of thirty and forty when Joshua lead them into the promised land.
The Joshua Generation is not about youth -- it never has been. It is about those who are willing and obedient. It is about those who will obey whatever God commands them to do. It is about those who are committed to the Lord and passionate for Him. It is about those who believe God's promises and act accordingly. It includes the youth, but it is by no means limited to them.
In fact, if you look closely at the Bible, you will see that God called old people as well as young ones. Yes, it is true that Samuel and David and Jeremiah were called at a very young age, and they were incredible for the Lord. But God called many of His servants in their later years. Noah was over 500 years old when God told him to build the ark. Abraham was in his seventies when God called him. Isaac was also in his seventies when God gave him the same covenant that He had given Abraham. Moses was eighty when he encountered the burning bush that launched his ministry career.
Our western society glorifies youth. People pay all sorts of money for cosmetics and hair dyes and creams and even surgeries to look young. That thinking is a form of "worship of youth" and it is trained into us from the time we are little. But it is not a kingdom value. It is wrong thinking that has penetrated the church, and it needs to be purged from the church!
What Is The "Joshua Generation?"
God's criteria for those who He will empower and use to His glory is not age and it has never been age. It is, and always has been, a matter of a person's heart before God.
Look at what God says about Caleb in Numbers 14:24: "But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it." Who is God looking for? It is not the youth, though many of the youth can be included in those who God is looking for. It is those with a heart after God, those who "follow God wholeheartedly."
I don't care what your physical age is -- young, middle-aged or old -- God wants you as His servant. What matters is the condition of your heart, your commitment and obedience to God. God is looking for those who follow Him wholeheartedly. He wants to empower them as His mighty warriors to go and take their promised land.
So let me ask you, what is the condition of your heart and obedience before God. Are you one of God's "Joshua Generation?"