“And there arose another generation . . . which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”
How is it that an entire generation could serve the Lord faithfully during their lifetimes, yet see the next generation turn away so completely from the Lord? While we can’t really tell exactly what “went wrong” from this passage, we can speculate on some possibilities from other passages in Scripture.
First, perhaps they became too busy serving that they forgot to truly teach their children. Remember that these people had just seen Jehovah bring Israel great victories over the peoples of the Promised Land. Moses had warned the people to make sure to teach God’s words to their children, and even to post His commandments around their houses in Deuteronomy 11. If these people had neglected this important principle, their children may have been lost to worldly philosophies. We must be sure to guard our times of influence on our own children!
Second, perhaps they began to rely too heavily on the works of their own hands. Jeremiah 2:11-13 give us a lesson on a broken cistern made by hand. A cistern is generally not known for holding the cleanest or purest water, and in this passage this cistern represents trying to achieve spiritual life in our own power. It would be easy for the children at the time of Joshua to assume that their fathers had won these victories in their own strength, and then logically, they could assume that they themselves could win the same way. We must be sure to communicate our own dependence on the Lord to our children!
Third, perhaps they forgot to insist to their children that they were a special people. Moses had taught the Israelite people that they were a holy and peculiar people in Deuteronomy 14:2, but these special people went on to worship the false gods of Baal and Ashtoreth. While their fathers were off fighting, the children were at home learning from the conquered lands. Too often our own children do not learn that they are to be a special and distinct people themselves, as 1 Peter 2:9 teaches. Do we allow our children to act like the world, dress like the world, listen to the world’s music, enjoy the world’s entertainment, and have the world’s attitude? We must insist that our children be different simply because they are Christians!