After the death of Moses, Joshua lead the children of Israel across the Jordan river and into the promised land. It was here, under his leadership that they experienced the sweet taste of victory with very few defeats. The book of Joshua relates to us the victory at Jericho and the defeat at Ai. The sin of Achan and the deception of the Gibeonites. As we enter the last chapter of the book we find that Joshua is issuing a challenge to Israel. We see the ever-famed verse Joshua 24:15 “ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” and then we see the response of the people. “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:16-18) a little further on we find that Joshua issues a command to accompany his challenge. “Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23) Again we see the response of the people. “ And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” (Joshua 24:24) Joshua then makes a covenant with Israel and sets up a memorial by which they can remember their commitment.
The book of Joshua comes to a close and we begin the book of Judges. We find that Joshua dies in Judges 2:8 as do the whole generation that crossed over Jordan with him. We now find that another generation of Israelites rises up to take the place of their deceased forefathers. In accordance to the zeal that we find their fathers had at the end of the book of Joshua, one would imagine that these young Israelites would be full of zeal and passion to serve the Lord. However, sadly, this is what the Scriptures have to say about this generation. “ And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10) How did this happen? How did the next generation fail to know the LORD? If you notice the verse says that they did not know the LORD, and they did not know his works. This would lead one to believe that they hadn't heard of the way the LORD had delivered their people from bondage and brought them to this promised land. They knew not the LORD nor his mighty works!
One must question what happened between Joshua 24:25 and Judges 2:10 that caused the next generation to not even know the LORD. The Scriptures lay out a clear description for us with the answer to this question. The answer is found among the verses of the first chapter of the book of Judges. Three steps that Israel took that lead their children to not even know who God was.
They Built a Kingdom (Judges 1:1-26)
It was necessary for the children to go in and to conquer the remaining cities of Canaan in order for them to inhabit the land. Yet it consumed them so that they never took the time to tell their children of the mighty works of their God. We too must build the kingdom God has given us. If God has given us a family, this is our kingdom, and we must work to build our kingdom. I have a family, I have to go to work to earn money to pay the bills for my family. I may be busy working, but I must be sure that I do not become so consumed with the outside work that I neglect to teach my family about God. It is imperative that you spend time with God with your family. It is time for Christian families in America to bring back the old fashioned family altar. A time when the father and the mother and the children sit down and read the Word of God and spend time in prayer. Gentlemen, has your children ever seen you read your Bible? Mother, have your children ever seen you kneel in prayer? We become so consumed with the physical needs of our families that we sadly neglect the spiritual needs of our family so often. We best be careful Christian, or our children will not even know the Lord our God!
They Failed to Separate (Judges 1:27-36)
“Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.” (Judges 1:29) The Israelites had become so consumed with building their kingdom and establishing their cities that they didn't even quite complete the job as they were supposed to. They left some things undone, mostly, they let the Canaanites stay where they were and simply integrated themselves into the cities instead of conquering the cities. They failed to separate. This was a result of the lack of vigilance given while they were working to build their kingdom. We must work hard to provide for our family, but we must not lack the vigilance in watching for things that will be harmful for our family. When we allow our kids to run around with the neighbors kids and to run down to the local pool, and join the little league sports, and to go to sleepovers with their neighborhood friends who have no fear of God it will have an affect on them. We live in a day and age where there is a huge emphasis put on “community” and community projects, or community gardens. Christians often feel like they need to integrate into these “community efforts” thinking they will have an impact while in fact they are impacted themselves. Be careful, Proverbs teaches us that there will be those who will say, “Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse.” The best way for you to have an impact on your community is to give out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invite your neighbors to church. Are you afraid that they will think you are weird? Fear not, that is the point! Jesus said that he was looking for a peculiar people. People that live by the Book, and are not ashamed of it. It is good to be kind and generous with your neighbors, but before you're rubbing elbows with them over their grill they ought to know that you're a blood-bought, God-loving, sin-hating, Bible-living Christian who is concerned for their soul! Never become comfortable dwelling among the worldliness of the lost. Come out from among them and be ye separate before your family is affected!
They Failed to Obey (Judges 2:1-4)
“And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their alters: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?” (Judges 2:2) The LORD was not happy that his voice was not obeyed. This is the last step of the progression that one takes in losing the next generation. First we are too busy to teach our children right, second we are too loose around worldly folks, and lastly we just become worldly ourselves. We get to the point where we don’t obey the voice of the LORD either. The Bible just doesn't have the influence it once did in our life. Standards don’t hold the priority that it once did in our living. Soul Winning and church attendance just are not the focal points of our week anymore. We become satisfied living this liberal do-what-feels-good Christian life-style that has permeated into our churches. Today, living a Christian life is simply living a life that is morally “acceptable”. Don’t get drunk, but you can drink a little. Don’t listen to hard metal rock, but uplifting “Christian” rock is fine. These are sample of Christian living by the world’s standard. Living the Christian life is far more than just doing what the world deems to be appropriate behaviour for a “Christian” rather it goes beyond that to living a commitment to the Word of God and His standard of what is appropriate behaviour for a Christian.
If we want to save the next generation and have children that grow up loving and serving God then it starts in the home. It starts with getting back to teaching our children who God is and how mighty his works are. It starts with drawing a distinct line between the way we live as Christians and the way the worldviews moral living. It starts with leading our families to obey the voice of the LORD our God, as we find it in His Word!
“Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God; such alone will shake the gates of hell.” -John Wesley