One of the great servants of God that came out of Egypt, was in the wilderness for forty years, and lead the children of Israel to the promised land of Canaan was Joshua. He was a godly leader that understood the needs of the various generations that he lived among. Joshua’s words of wisdom and challenge to the generations have endured for about 3,500 years. He said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). As the children of Israel saw their godly leader before them providing this counsel they must have been positively influenced because in the Word of God it is recorded, “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua…” (Judges 2:7). What a wonderful commentary on the life and influence of this great spiritual leader of God’s people. That is the same desire that the leadership, the local Eldership, has regarding the Lord’s church even some 3,500 years later and that is that the Lord’s children serve Him diligently.
After the death of Joshua there was a time when the children of Israel continued to walk in the way of the Lord, but then something happened. The Bible says, “And there arose another generation after them, that knew not the Lord, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Something happened that brought about a drastic change in the faith of the people. They were a nation of people that once had believed, trusted and walked in the Lord’s way, but was no longer doing that. “And there arose another generation after them…” Somewhere along the line from one generation to the next some things had been lost.
First, the Scripture says that they “knew not the Lord” which means that they as a people no longer had a relationship with God. Oh yes, they by lineage were the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but in faith and in heart they did not know God. They lived their lives on a daily basis giving no thought to God, but they went about in their daily lives doing what they wanted and needed to do without God being a part of their lives in thought or action. More specifically the Bible says, “And they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers…” (Judges 2:12). The Lord did not forsake them, in fact God had kept all of his promises, but the children had forsaken the Lord. They forsook God and no longer had a relationship with him.
Second, the Scripture says that did not know “the work which he had wrought for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Not only did they no longer have a relationship with God, but over time little by little the truth and message of the Lord was forgotten. The Lord’s Word was no longer a part of their minds. It was at that point that “the children of Israel did which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baal” (Judges 2:11). Once the will of the Lord was no longer in the mind and heart, they did anything that they desired and with no spiritual compass to guide them.
That is the same danger that existed in the lives of the children of Israel even up until the coming of Jesus and in the church from the first century until now. The challenge ever facing Christian parents and the Lord’s church in general is to help the next generation continue to know the Lord and what he has done for them. The faith can be real in the lives of the next generation if the present generation does certain things. “Walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), “foolish and ignorant questionings refuse” (2 Timothy 2:23), keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7) and being able to wisely distinguish between doctrine and opinion (Romans 14). The next generation can be living and active in the true faith and have an unwavering desire to serve the Lord even to a greater degree than the present generation.
by Wayne Brewer