I’ve always seen glaring similarities between the Israelites during their desert wanderings and my own walk with the Lord. They’re praising and worshipping one day, then grumbling and complaining the next. One moment they’re walking with God and obeying his commandments and the next they’ve forgotten all about him and have turned to other gods. Whenever I read these stories in the Old Testament, I shake my head at how foolish they were and then I quickly remember that my track record is not much better.
As I was reading the book of Judges recently, I noticed something else about the Israelites’ hot and cold relationship with the Lord. It was generational! After both Moses and Joshua had died, along with everyone that had been alive to experience all of God’s mighty deeds from Egypt to the Promised Land, another generation grew up. This generation “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10) That means that their parents never told them about the Lord or about all the things he had done to save them. Even though they had been commanded to impress God’s laws on their children, and even though there had been many monuments built as reminders of all that God had done, this new generation had no idea! And what was the result? They abandoned the Lord and went after other Gods. Other things became more important to them than the God that saved them. And when they were not walking with God, things did not go well for them! Surrounded by defeat of their own making, they would cry out to God and he would rescue them. This generation began the same cycle as their parents: forget the Lord and serve other Gods, end up in trouble, cry out to God for help and be saved by his mighty hand only to end up back around at forgetting the Lord.
I see two important lessons here. First of all, the valuable reminder that even when we wander off on our own and turn our back on God, he doesn’t turn his back on us. He will still be there to pick us up when we cry out to him even though he knows we’ll wander again. Praise God that he sent his Son to pay the price for our sins and his Holy Spirit to help us along the way, because the whole Bible from beginning to end testifies that we can’t manage on our own.
Secondly, impressing upon future generations who God is and what he’s done for us is vitally important. Just look at what’s happening in our own country these days! Each generation will find their own “god” to worship if they don’t know the One True God. Whether it’s success or fun or religion or mysticism, there are countless gods out there ready to take God’s place and the devil uses all of them to steal the worship due to God alone.
Most parents hope that their children will do better than they did. That they will find their purpose in life. That they’ll avoid the pain of bad choices. And if you’re a Christian parent, you hope that they’ll choose to walk with the Lord earlier in life than you did. Basically, we hope they will learn the difficult life lessons through osmosis rather than having to go through the struggles we went through. But unless we constantly remind the next generation of who God is, what his Word says and what he did to save them, they will end up recycling the same old painful lessons.
But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. – Deuteronomy 4:9
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. – Psalm 78:4