Scripture Reading: Judges 2:1-23, Deuteronomy 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:2
In Judges 2, we read about two generations of Israelites: the Joshua generation and the post-Joshua generation. Joshua’s generation was faithful. Scripture says, “The people worshiped the LORD throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the LORD’s great works He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7).
However, the post-Joshua generation was not faithful. After Joshua’s death and after the death of the elders who outlived him, this generation rose up as one who “did not know the LORD or the works He had done for Israel.” Therefore, they “did what was evil in the LORD’s sight” (Judges 2:10-11).
One generation had witnessed the great works the Lord had done for His people on their journey to claiming the promised land—the other had not. Because of this, this new generation turned from God to worship idols instead.
In graduate school, I had a good friend who was an atheist. We often talked about faith and Christianity. He thought it was odd that Christians felt the need to gather together once a week. “If the whole Jesus story is really true,” he said, “why do you all need to gather once a week to remind each other of it?”
It was a good question. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer, but I think Judges 2 speaks to this question. When we don’t remember the works of the Lord, we turn from him, and because we are made for worship, we look for other gods to worship. Like the children of Israel began to worship the gods of the Canaanites, we may begin to worship the gods our friends are worshiping, or the gods the media tells us to worship. We can easily lose sight of the one true God.
This is why Christians gather each Sunday and tell the same story again and again. This is why we drink from the cup and eat the bread. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). He wanted us to remember, because He knew what would happen if we forgot.
I don’t know what happened between Joshua’s generation and the next. Did they stop telling the story of what the Lord had done? Did this generation not hear about the parting of the Red Sea? The manna? The cloud that led the people by day and the pillar of fire that led them by night? Did they not heed this charge in Deuteronomy?
Be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
We don’t really know the answer. What we do know is one generation was faithful to God because they had seen what the Lord had done. The next generation was not, because they did not know what the Lord had done.
How grateful I am for those who’ve gone before me, telling their children of the great works the Lord has done. How thankful I am for those children, who then went on to tell their children about God, until the story trickled down through generations into a Church that is still gathering, still remembering, still passing the cup.
Lord, help us to remember your works and to never stop telling others about Your goodness. In continuing to worship You, the one true God, may we bring you glory, so the next generation might do the same.