Editor's note: The following commentary is adapted from Hans Zeiger's forthcoming new book, "Reagan's Children: Taking Back the City on the Hill" (Broadman and Holman, June 2006). Used by permission.
A generation is part of a story. The story is life, and the author is God. In all of time, our own time is the very best time that we could be alive. This is not because the era itself is superior to all others, but because the Author of history has chosen us to be alive together in this unique place and moment.
The generation that Jesus ministered to was specifically chosen by God "for the administration of the days of fulfillment – to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him" (Ephesians 1:10). That generation produced Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist, the 12 disciples, Pilate, and the specific Sanhedrin rulers. Moses led his generation with God's promise that they would be His "memorial to all generations" (Exodus 3:15, KJV).
Advertisement - story continues below
Paul was fit for ministry to the early church, not to the church of the Middle Ages, and not to today's church. Would the genius of Augustine have been anything if not set in his dying Roman generation? Could we possibly replicate the generations that waged the Crusades, drew up the Renaissance, staged the Reformation, and fought the American Civil War and the two world wars? Who can doubt that the Founding Fathers were appointed by the divine providence on whose protection they so firmly relied to plot and prepare a nation? When else have men the likes of Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Henry and Washington come together in such a pursuit? More recently, commentators have suggested that only a supernatural plan could have brought forth such leaders as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev to induce the fall of Soviet Communism.
Some people, events and changes that mold our world cannot be explained by mathematical patterns or chemical reactions. These mysteries of nature and geniuses and madmen and conflicts and dramas are far from mechanical and instead project a design.
Esther changed history because she was in the right place at the right time. Mordecai asked her, "Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14).
We are in our generation for such a time as this. We are not puppets in the story – we are sinners and saints, warriors and teachers, builders and farmers, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. Our relationships, our passions, and our identity – all of them are planned out by God, and in that we find our freedom. Because God is in control, it is possible to make choices that impact our moment in time. Without the design of destiny, we would be helpless and choiceless atoms borne about in the meaningless winds of an empty universe. Resist as we may the plans of God, and argue as we may the theological nature of His providence, there are certain things that stand well enough beyond our control. Our generation is one such thing.
Advertisement - story continues below
We are born and we join the course of universal history. We are a tiny part of the universe and of history, but we are important enough to be thought of by God. Rationalists have thought the notion insulting that a being higher than man should plan and direct certain affairs of creation. The psalmist knew it to be an awesome thing. "What is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet" (Psalms 8:4–6).
The story of life is divinely inspired. And our generation, the group of people who are in this story with us, has been called into existence on this planet at this moment in history for a purpose. Only God knows the purpose entirely, but we can know enough about our generation to form one inescapable conclusion: History is going somewhere.
"Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning?" asks Isaiah 41:4. The answer is final: "I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last – I am He." The Alpha and Omega, the Creator and King of time and eternity – He has established this generation, its ancestors, and its descendants. "His kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:3).