When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
(Judges 2:6 — 10 NASB)
While this an exaggeration, the following statement makes a frightening point: All it takes for the people of God to find someone else to worship is one failed generation. This is an exaggeration because God always provides for a remnant. There has always been someone who seems to know God, ready to lead the people back to Him. In Judges, the people didn’t listen until it hurt too much to continue to ignore God. But a remnant is a minority. There is still a majority of the generation walking away from God because they don’t know. That’s what’s scary.
I suspect the problem wasn’t the prior generation not passing on the information. I suspect it was the type of knowledge. I suspect the Next Gen didn’t know God in the same way the prior generation knew Him, experientially. It’s one thing to pass on knowledge, it’s another thing to train someone else to follow the successful patterns, but it’s an impossible thing to cause someone to experience God.
Some will just get it. They’ll see God working in dad or grandpa, someone they admire, and for them it’s real. They pursue the experience of Yahweh’s presence they’ve seen in others. But, for others, the family isn’t as strong, and the message is correspondingly weak. Or perhaps the power and influence shifts ever so slightly towards those “compromisers”, seemingly successful people, who are more like the culture. Then the influence of the the devoted ones becomes diluted.
Hopefully this sounds familiar enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s them, those faithless people in Judges, and it’s us. The more things change, the more information we have at our finger tips, the more money we have, the more we’re so much like them. “It’s so different now, you don’t know.” But it was different in our day too, and here we are again. In so many ways, we are those annoying know-it-all teenagers, telling the previous generation, “We got this, no worries,” oblivious to the train wreck ahead.
I’m guessing it wasn’t that the next generation didn’t know, but it was that they thought they knew better. Like us, they’d figure out that ignoring God, or rather culturing Him, didn’t provide the results desired. At that point we either change our desires, as so many have done, or look for that deliverer God raises up. Somewhere, some weirdo who knows the stories, believes the old tales from the previous generation, and has remained true to the God of whom they speak will start to make some sense.
Until that happens, it’s probably best to be reading Scripture, you know, so we’ll be able to tell the deliverer from the deceiver. That’s important too. It would be pretty embarrassing to call out to God for a deliverer, and then follow the wrong one…of course, I’m pretty sure that’s how we got here in the first place.
What’s your view through the knothole this morning?