[Mar 26]--The Failure of Joshua’s Generation

Judges 2:6-19

When I was growing up, the book of Judges was one of my favorites to read. Of course, I loved comic books as a kid and so the characters there were like God’s “superheroes.” At the very least it was a lot more exciting than the letters of Paul! As I got a little more mature, I started to read the Bible more thoroughly and saw just how DEPRESSING this book really was. Sure, the judges (actually, the term “leaders” might be better) performed great miracles and accomplished incredible feats, but they shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.

Read today’s passage, and you basically have a summary of the book of Judges. The book of Joshua is one of the most positive in the whole Old Testament. The Israelites completely overwhelmed the Canaanites, and none of their enemies could stand up against them. The only explicit disobedience in the book is Achan’s sin in chapter seven. Later on in the book, the tribes who decided to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan set up what looked like a forbidden altar in their midst. The other nine and a half tribes immediately prepared for war, and they were perfectly willing to invade and slaughter their own brothers if it was necessary to root out even a hint of idolatry. Fortunately, the eastern tribes quickly defused the situation by explaining that the pseudo-altar was just a memorial, not a real place to worship. This was how seriously Joshua’s generation took obedience. There are also a few hints here and there that they didn’t put 100% effort into rooting out the Canaanites like they should have, but all in all, this was a generation that tried (relatively) hard to serve and obey the Lord.

Their kids, however, turned out not so well. Right after Joshua’s generation passed from the scene, things went downhill fast. They quickly turned away from following the Lord, and efforts to root out the Canaanites fell by the wayside. As the Lord predicted, they turned away from him and started worshiping the gods of their neighbors. And just like God warned, he punished them. He handed them over to their enemies to persecute, rob, and murder them, and eventually they would “groan” about their oppression, and the Lord heard them. He sent a deliverer, and would often perform miracles through him/her. The people returned to the God of Israel (or at least pretended to), but once the leader died, they even dropped the pretense. This pattern went on for hundreds of years, throughout the book of Judges, and it actually was a downward spiral. The people kept on getting worse and worse, and the situation kept on deteriorating.

But where did all this start? Read verses 10-11 again, and ask yourself this: “Why didn’t the next generation know about the Lord? Didn’t God command parents to talk about him and his ways with their children?” For all the virtues of Joshua’s generation, and there were many, this was a horribly glaring failure, and it affected the nation for centuries to come.

Father, every child that I spend time with is an opportunity to share your goodness. Even if just for a moment, let them see your light reflected in me.

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