One Generation Away, Pt 1
At the end of the book of Joshua, the future of the people of God looks bright. God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham to deliver His people from bondage and to bring them into the land which He promised. Joshua says that "not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass" (Joshua 21:45). The people made a covenant with the Lord, Joshua recorded all of these things in the Book of the Law, and then he sent all of the tribes to their inheritances to finish clearing the land of its inhabitants. All looks good, then we come to the book of Judges where we are told this in Judges 2:7-11:
"And 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 work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. 9 And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. 11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals."
Unfortunately, commitments are too easily forgotten. A generation later, things are completely different. One generation serves the Lord, but the next does not know Him. What happened? How can this be? How can you have a generation that remembered God's promises and was strong in taking the land, and then a generation later, have a people that do not know the Lord? This is an important question that we need to answer because this is a danger for God’s people today also! Statistics show that six in ten young people leave the church permanently or for an extended period starting at age 15, according to research by the Barna Group.
You may know people in which something like this happened. A parent was, by all looks of things, faithful in serving Christ, but unfortunately their children go in the wrong direction; not knowing the Lord. We need to learn from scripture how these kind of things happen so we don't fall into this trap. We need to make sure that we do what we can so that the generation that follows us knows the Lord. I believe there are at least three interconnected reasons why this happened to Israel that we need to learn from. We will look at the first in this article.
THEY DIDN’T KNOW THE WORD OF THE LORD.
Usually when people don't know the Lord, it can be traced back to a lack of knowledge of His word. Remember what Judges 2:10 says? The generation that didn't know the Lord did not know about “the work that He had done for Israel.” God's people are destroyed because of not being taught His word enough. This is what God says through Hosea in Hosea 4:6 to the priests who were neglecting their duties. But the priests in Israel’s history were not the only ones to blame for the generations who didn’t know the Lord. The parents were also at fault. They were the ones who were primarily given the duty of teaching the children (Deut 6:6-9, 20; Exo 13:14; Josh 4:6). If we want the next generation of the Lord's people here to not be like this generation in Judges 2 who did not know the Lord, parents (primarily the fathers) need to teach their children the word of God and talk about God often in their homes. The teaching that children receive in Bible classes and the assemblies is important. I don't want to discount that at all. Take them to Bible classes as often as you can so they can hear the word of God, but do not do it to the neglect of teaching your children at home. The teaching in our Bible classes should be a supplement to what is done at home, not the majority (or all) of the spiritual food that your children receive.
Ephesians 6:4 does not say, "Bible class teachers, bring up your congregation's children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:4 really says "Fathers... bring them [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
This is primarily the father’s responsibility. Men, we are too often guilty of neglecting our responsibility and pushing it off onto others. I say this from experience. I have already been guilty of this as a father. We need to understand that we are the ones commanded to be the spiritual leaders and teachers of our children, and if we are not doing so, we need to repent and pray that the Lord: 1) forgive us; and 2) help us to be consistent in helping our children to know the Lord. Knowing the Lord begins with knowing His word. If we don't want our children to end up like the Judges 2 generation that arose not knowing the Lord, we, men of God, need to fulfill the duties that God gives us in our homes to teach our children. We need to take this responsibility seriously and make sure we are reading and studying our Bibles so we can be equipped to do the job God has given us.
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