So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. (Judges 2:7-12)
It Only Took One Generation
The book of Judges is a case study of the fickle nature of men who cannot keep the focus on spiritual things being tempted and swayed by the trappings of the world to leave God. Time and again they are delivered to the hands of their enemies and after a while when they cry out to the Lord salvation comes in the form of a judge who delivers them from their oppression. This will last for a short time and they fall again into the clutches of Satan who takes their hearts away from the Lord. The book is a cycle of obedience, rebellion, grief, deliverance and after a short time of faithfulness falling back into rebellion and suffering brought on by the wrath of God repeated throughout the book. One of the keys to the book is found in the early writings. As long as Joshua was alive there was great prosperity in the land and the hearts of the people followed the leadership of Joshua to be faithful. The elders who outlived Joshua exerted a great influence over the land as they told the stories of the early conquest and how God had delivered the land into the hands of Israel. For as much influence and goodness given by the generation that conquered the land, something was missed in the translation of that faith to the succeeding generations. Sadly a generation arose that did not know God. They did not know the works of the Lord in delivering the Hebrews from Egypt and the great works of the wilderness wanderings. Their early history of dwelling in Canaan was not taught in the course of God’s power working among the people. What happened to the next generation was ignorance of the word of God and it nearly destroyed the people. As a result, the people did those things that were evil in the sight of the Lord. Baal worship was accepted as the norm and they took very little time (if any) in a study of God’s word. Forsaking the God of their fathers, this new generation prospered and filled their lives with the enjoyments of a land flowing with milk and honey. Times were good and hearts were merry and no one took time to think about the Lord.
The wrath of God would be brought against them time and again throughout the story of the Judges. Their nature to seek after other gods did not end there. During the times of the united kingdom and especially when the nation of Israel was divided, the worship of Baal and gods of the people became the stumbling block leading to the destruction of the nation of Israel. There were many reasons that led up to the destruction but as the home was built so was the nation and what was not happening in the home was the telling of the story of the Lord God. Generations after generations were raised up that did not know God and did not learn the stories of the power of God. In the case of the book of Judges, it only took one generation and the nation went into a spiral fall of apostasy. This would become their pattern throughout the telling of the Old Testament as a warning to the people of God of what happens when one generation is neglected and not taught about God. The generation before them had the responsibility to teach the word of God. It was incumbent upon the fathers and mothers to instill in the hearts of their children the love of God, His power and grace and the old, old stories of His majesty. Instead, the parents taught their children nothing and a generation arose that did not know God.
There is a great danger in not taking care of every generation. The church of Christ is being filled with generations of young people who are not taught the word of truth. They sit on pews and attend Bible classes but have little knowledge of the word of God because their homes are not filled with God. The material pursuits of the world are a priority and often when conflict with allegiance to God defers to the worldly pleasure rather than stand for the Lord. Joshua and the elders had great influence but they died. It is clearly a need for generational faith be established in the hearts of the children so that when the parents are gone they will continue on throughout the next generation. Each family prepares their family to be the next generation of faithful saints who will continue the work of the Lord. It is tragic when the generational flow of Christians stops within a family. The church will suffer in years to come because children are not obeying the gospel and families are not passing along the faith of God to the next generation. Like Israel, those who do not follow the Lord will bring the teachings and desires of the world into the church and destroy the work of the Lord. The church will never cease to exist but local congregations are dying because the next generation does not know God. If as much effort put forth to help children become successful pioneers in the business world was put into teaching those same children the worth of spiritual heritage, the church would explode in the community. Let it not be said of our families a generation arises that does not know God. The consequences are too grave and the results are too deadly for the future of the church lest we anger the Lord.