A Generation That Did Not Know The Lord
In Judges 2:8-10 we read of a sad and tragic development in the history of Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. 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. 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.
Evidently, the nation of Israel had neglected the most important task they had in raising their children -- teaching them to know God. God, through Moses, had given very clear instructions. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses gave the nation a very strong exhortation to remember and keep the commandments of the Law of God:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Israel was commanded to love God with every facet of their being and exhorted to keep the commands of God in their hearts. They were to talk of them daily, teaching them diligently to their children. They were to create reminders, so that the words of God were perpetually in their thoughts. These reminders were vital for that generation of Israel, but even more critical for the generation that had not lived through the Exodus.
But the exhortation did not end with teaching God’s statutes and commandments. Inevitably, a child will ask, “What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?” In other words, “Why should we obey the Lord?” Or, “Why do we need to do this?” Moses explained in Deuteronomy 6:20-25:
Then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’
Why should they obey the Lord’s commandments? Moses could have said, “because He is God,” but he didn’t. Instead he spoke of what God had done. Moses said they should obey the Lord because of the mighty power He demonstrated on their behalf in delivering them out of Egyptian bondage. They should obey the Lord because of the care He showed in preserving them alive through the wilderness. They should obey the Lord because of the promise He made to their fathers which He would fulfill in them. They should obey the Lord because it was for their good always.
When we are teaching our children, we need to be diligent to teach them the commandments of the Lord. Speak of them daily, “when we sit in the house, or walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up.” Teach them the love of God. Read to them the stories of His mighty works. Read to them the accounts of His amazing providence, His mercy, and His steadfast love. Read them the stories of Jesus -- His teachings, His compassion, His mercy, and His willing sacrifice. Teach them to love the good -- love, joy, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, self-control. Teach them to abhor the evil -- selfishness, pride, malice, lust, enmity, envy. Pray with them. Beyond your words, show them an example of what godly living looks like.
Teach your children lest we raise a generation that does not know the Lord.
- Patrick Gaughan
9 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40