Summary: Why is it that many generations can be seeking the Lord, than a generation arises that does not know the Lord? This lesson examines what happened to the generation after Joshua, showing how the parents failed in many areas.
At the end of the book of Joshua, the future for 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 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 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 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, was strong in taking the land, then a generation later, have a people that do not know the Lord. Have you ever wandered how this can be?
I would like to look at three interconnected reasons why this may have happened to the Israelites. And as we examine this text and the circumstances that led to them being in this state, we need to make sure we make some applications in our own lives so this does not happen to the next generation of the Lord's people here. This can happen amongst congregations of the Lord's people also. Six in 10 young people will leave the church permanently or for an extended period starting at age 15, according to new 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, with either us or the generation that follows not knowing the Lord.
The first reason this generation in Judges may have arisen not knowing the Lord is not mentioned directly in the text, but I believe it can easily be inferred:
1. 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 we read in Judges 2:10? The generation that didn't know the Lord did not know about the work the Lord had done for Israel.
In our scripture reading in Psalm 78, We see God's take on what must be done so that children do not arise not knowing the Lord or His works He did for Israel:
Psalm 78:5-8 "For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, 8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God."
God's people are destroyed because of a lack of the teaching of His word. This is what God says through Hosea in Hosea 4:6 to the priests who were neglecting their duties. But we see in what we just read in Psalm 78 that it is not just the "teachers" that are to blame for children coming up not knowing the Lord or His works. The text refers to the law and it's commandments to parents to teach their children about God and His works. The text that Asaph is more than likely referencing is Deuteronomy 6:6-9: