The Book of Judges is a book that tells us about the tragedies that came upon Israel after the death of Joshua. During Joshua’s life and leadership, there was victory and triumph as God’s blessing was poured out in their obedience. When the next generation came along, however, all of that evaporated! How did this happen?
First, the parent’s generation went soft on sin. They had been commanded to drive out all the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, but notice what Judges 1:28, 32 says: “And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out…. (32) But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.”
Notice that it says, “when Israel was strong.” We have to watch ourselves when we feel strong. Many great tragedies occur directly after a time of great victory. Sometimes, this is because we get prideful when God brings victory, and we connive better, more efficient ways to “serve God” instead of doing it His way. In the case of the Israelites here, they thought that having the Canaanites as slaves was a ‘way better idea’ than following God’s plan.
The second mistake that the parent’s generation made was that they didn’t pass on to their children the goodness of God. Judges 2:10 says, “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.”
Here’s the thing about telling about the miracles of God in your life: it makes you vulnerable, and God is always the hero. It takes humility to admit that you messed up, and God delivered you. It is perhaps natural to try and appear strong and heroic to your children, and act as if you have always ‘had it all together,’ but this puts your children in a vulnerable position. If you instead talk about the bad habits and family curses of the past, and glorify God by recounting His deliverance, you put your children in a position to realize that no matter how they fail, turning to God is always the answer!
The final mistake that the parent’s generation made is to emphasize religious acts instead of a walk with God. We see this come out in the lives of the next generation in Judges 2:11, where it says, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:”
Notice here, that the children’s generation was religious. They *SERVED* Baalim. What was missing in their religion was a genuine walk with God. Since they didn’t know God and didn’t know of God’s deliverance, their religious acts pulled them away from God, and into heathen idolatry.
It is tempting to train our children in mindless obedience – to obey their parents no matter what without question. This produces beautiful replicas of ourselves that are all dressed up in cute church clothes and hair-sprayed curls, but are empty inside, void of any true walk with God. Some day that veneer cracks, and the children are left to figure out life without the presence of the Author of life. Though obedience and honor should certainly be trained into our children, it cannot be done with lasting effects unless there is the foundation of a personal walk with God. We cannot eliminate our children’s free will in hopes of making them super Christians; all we will do is make them super religious and empty of the Spirit of God.
It has been said that we are always only one generation away from extinction. This is certainly true if we make these mistakes that Israel did after the death of Joshua. Instead, we should walk step by step in obedience and fellowship with the Lord, and bring our kids up along side us so that they know first-hand the goodness, deliverance, and miracles of God!