Summary: Parents’ responsibility in passing the teaching about God on to their children.
When God moves in a powerful and mighty way in your midst, that moment can feel like it will never go away. Perhaps you witness a loved one healed or watch the Lord miraculously take care of a financial need.
But the Scriptures warn us that even the greatest miracles and the most marvelous answers to prayer can be forgotten all-too-quickly.
For miracles and powerful moves of God, you can’t do much better than the time of Israel leaving Egypt and entering into the Promised Land [review some of the miracles]. Yet it was only a generation or two later that those stories of God’s miracles and Israel’s deliverance had been forgotten.
We see in our passage in the book of Joshua that within a few years (probably less than 30) after
Joshua dies that the Lord is no longer being followed by Israel.
Let’s look together at another important passage to gain some perspective: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-23. [Read it to the congregation.]
God told them here in Deuteronomy, “Look, you can’t just presume that these instructions I’ve given you and all the stories of the amazing miracles I did for you are going to make it from one generation to another. You as parents must be very deliberate. Tell your children the stories of how I moved among you. Talk with them about the instructions and commands I gave you and why I gave them to you. This is not a one-time event or a ‘whenever-you-get-around-to-it’ thing. No - this is to be a regular daily part of your job as a parent.”
These were not idle instructions. God knew the great danger and how quickly they could go astray.
Israel did go astray. How did it happen? Our passage outlines basically two steps:
Step 1 is in Judges 2:10.
Key question: Whose fault was it that this generation didn’t know about the works of the Lord?
The answer: It was the parents’ fault.
Notice that last phrase in v. 10: that generation didn’t know the stories of what God had done for
Israel. It doesn’t say the kids’ knew the stories and chose to reject them; it says they didn’t know
Whose fault is that? Remember Deut. 6? The responsibility fell on the parents.
Today, the responsibility still falls on the parents. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our
children the stories of what God did in Jesus, the instructions Jesus left of how we are to live our
lives, the truth of the Bible that has transformed our lives.
That’s going to require at least three things of us as parents:
a. We are going to have to spend some time with our kids.
A 1985 Harvard University study reported that fathers in the U.S. spend less time with their children than fathers in any other nation in the world, except England.
b. We need to work on our communication with our kids.
Josh McDowell has a principle: “Rules without relationships lead to rebellion.”
c. We need to use our influence.
A 1998 Barna survey of teens who were asked who has “a lot” of influence on their thinking and behavior brought these results: 27% said their pastor; 48% said their Christian faith; 51% said their friends; but 78% said their parents. The potential is there to make a difference.
Step 2 is in v. 12.
Step 1 was that the parents didn’t tell their kids the stories of what the Lord had done.
Step 2 is that that generation was swallowed up by the larger culture.
V. 12 says they “forsook” the Lord, “followed” other gods, and very quickly blended in to the people surrounding them.
We as parents can get surprisingly comfortable with the excessive cussing, gratuitous sex, horrific violence, and complete lack of a sense of right and wrong in the mainstream media. But our comfort comes at the price of our children.
I read a quote some time back from the president of MTV. He said, “We don’t target the 14-16 year-olds. We own the 14-16 year-olds.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my kids to belong to MTV. I want them to belong to the Lord.
If our city announced they were introducing chemicals into our drinking water that would stunt our children’s physical growth, we’d go crazy! Yet we will allow the popular culture to introduce ideas and behaviors into our child’s mind that stunts their moral development.
The V-chip and other similar tools are great, but the ultimate filter must be the parent.
God has no grandchildren. Each generation must hear and decide for themselves what they will believe. But how will they hear if we don’t do our job?