The book of Joshua has many popular verses. We quote them all the time. In fact, I recently read that Joshua 1:9 has been one of the most highlighted and shared verses in the popular Bible App. But what about Judges, the book right after Joshua? Why isn’t it quoted as much? Maybe it is because the book starts off like this:
“…and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord , nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord…”
– Judges 2:10-11
I don’t think those verses are making it on a bumper sticker any time soon.
This is a heartbreaking Scripture to read, but an important one to remember. It has been said, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” I agree. What we see in these verses is Joshua’s generation growing old and dying, and the next generation stepping in. The problem is the new generation knows nothing of God. But weren’t they being raised by Joshua’s generation? How could the generation that witnessed the fall of Jericho and took part in the conquest of the promised land produce a generation that does not know God? I think it’s simple. They did not pass their faith down to their children. The reason I think it is important for us to pay attention to this passage is this. If the generation that took the promised land can produce a generation of godless people then we most certainly can. Let’s take a look through these verses to see what we can learn.
The Next Generation Is Coming
“…and there arose another generation…” Oh, how many times we have heard the older generation carry on about the younger generation! It goes something like this, “These ‘youngins’ are just so irreverent! They don’t have any respect! I knew better in my day. This young generation is going to bring on the apocalypse and burn the world to the ground!” The problem is that older generation was the young generation at one time, and in that time their older generation thought the same about them.
It’s a simple truth. Generations come and go, and new generations rise up in their place. The next generation is coming whether you want it to or not. The next generation will carry the torch whether or not you care to let go of it. Are they disrespectful? Most of them are. Are most of them irreverent? You better believe it! Is it scary to think that within a few decades the world will be run by them? It’s the thing nightmares are made of. But they are what’s next, and we had better start investing in them instead of raging about them. Otherwise, we will guarantee the disastrous future we so fear.
It’s Not About You
“…after them…” Every generation has an expiration date. I remember when Myspace came on the scene. I remember when getting a flip phone made you cool. I remember blowing the dust out of Nintendo game cartridges. I remember my family’s first computer and that horrible dial up sound when I was waiting for it to connect to AOL. If you mention any of those things to today’s teenage generation you will get looked at like an alien. They have no idea what that stuff is. My generation is already expiring and I am only in my thirties.
The big picture application here is that it is not about you. Your life is fleeting. Generations are fleeting. James 4:14 says your life is a vapor. All of us are tempted to look at our time as the “best time”…our generation as the greatest. Every generation naturally looks back and reminisces about the “good ole’ days.” This leads us to fold our arms and wish that the younger generations would be just like us. We’re missing the point. There is one timeless, absolute, perfect standard to which all generations should be facing: The Kingdom of God. Knowing our earthly lives are like vapors should give us a sense of urgency, not to reclaim the glories of past generations, but to pass down the glories of the Kingdom.
They Need To Know
“…who did not know the Lord , nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” Why didn’t they know? It is not that they knew of the Lord, but rejected Him. They simply didn’t know. The generation that claimed the promised land did not lack for stories to share of the wonderful things God had done. They had plenty to say about the Lord, their God. But they did not say it. Maybe they were too busy. Maybe they thought their children would automatically follow the Lord. Surely it is not that they just didn’t care! Whatever the reason, the obvious implication here is that the older generation did not pass down the truth about the Lord to the younger.
This is where it should begin to hit home for all of us. My experience in the ministry and growing up in church has shown me something very alarming about modern day, American Christianity. The breakdown is in the family. The Christian family that prioritizes spiritual success over worldly success is more a rarity in this country than the norm. The things that tend to keep us up at night are our children’s grades, financial futures, commitment to sports and extracurricular activities, what kind of college they will get into, etc. These, of course, are not bad things. But what does it say if we show intense concern about these things yet we are haphazard about our children’s spiritual lives? What do they learn to emphasize if we are talking alot about these things, but not much about the Lord. They need to know the Lord and His Word and the church is no substitute for the family in this arena. The children will almost always base their worldview on the worldview they saw lived out at home.
So let me ask you, “Are you passing down the knowledge of God’s Word and a passion for Jesus in your home?”
“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord…” I’ll get right to the point. Every one of us ought to grasp the reality that we will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ. That should change the way we live drastically. Shouldn’t we also grasp the reality that our children will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ? And shouldn’t that change the way we raise them? When we stand before the Lord on that day He will not consider our college scholarships, high grades, solid careers, or even our religious performance. We will be judged by what we did with Jesus.
So talk about it at home. Make every effort to give your children maximum exposure to the Word of God. Prioritize God’s kingdom and spiritual formation above all else in your children’s lives. Neglect all else if you must! Their eternity is at stake!