As the book of Judges opens, we are very hopeful for the future of Israel. Joshua came after Moses and brought them into the Promised Land. The Israelites had become strong and were beginning to drive out the other nations from the land, a punishment from God on their deeds (see Genesis 15:6 and Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Unfortunately, as the generation after Joshua dies off, we find out that the Israelites are in serious trouble: they have not been listening to their God, and are doing things that were evil in His eyes, just like the people they were supposed to drive out.
One of the major reasons why they didn’t obey God is that this new generation did not know God or His ways (v. 10). How would an entire generation of Israelites not know the stories of the exodus from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, or God’s faithfulness through the wilderness? This is probably baffling to us looking back on it; surely these stories from the past would have been enough to convince anyone to believe and obey God, right? But what if this story is the same as our own? What if we have forgotten God’s faithfulness and mercies over the years, or not talked about them with the next generation like we are commanded to do? (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Things around us in the United States and in our churches have changed dramatically over the last few decades. There are many who have been raised without any knowledge of God or Jesus, and one of the major reasons why is the lack of people passing down their stories and beliefs to the next generation (not the only reason, but a big one). In fact, I had a friend who didn’t know that we celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus until he was 21 years old! Former missionary fields, like Africa, are now sending their own missionaries back here because we have fallen so far away from the faith. Maybe the writer of Ecclesiastes had it right: “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Questions to Consider
- Think about your life and story; are there ways that God has moved and worked to bring you to the place where you are now? Don’t forget these stories, like the Israelites before us. I encourage you to take time this week and reflect on how God has been faithful to you.
- To those who have been in the faith for many years: have you been telling your stories and testimonies to those who are younger? What can you pass along to the next generation to help them trust in God more?
- To this current, young generation: Israel was punished for their disobedience, but we don’t have to be. We can make a decision right now to be different from them and choose to worship the one true God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Will you make that decision today? Will you forsake the gods you have set up in your hearts and trust in the only One who can truly save?