After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. -Judges 2:10 (NLT)
In a warning that should transcend the partisan divide, President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Today’s verse comes from early in the Book of Judges. Moses had led the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and that generation had experienced first-hand the God-given deliverance that came from the plagues, the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, and the heavenly provision of manna and quail to eat. After Moses died, Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, so that generation too saw God’s powerful Hand at work.
But after Joshua and his cohorts had gone the way of all flesh, the Bible tells us chillingly that a new generation arose that did not know God, and the results were idol worship, moral confusion, and oppression by their enemies.
In fact, we see this working out in our own culture. Those born 1901-1927 called “The Greatest Generation” and the “Silent Generation” (1928-1945) were largely forged by the Great Depression and WWII. Of course not all were believers, but through the hardships they endured, there was a “Christian consensus” about the central importance of God, the Bible, and moral order.
But beginning with the Baby Boomers and those after, the peace and prosperity after WWII gradually led to a shift from a “God-focus” to a “Me-focus.”
Scottish philosopher Alexander Tyler described the Eight Stages of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.
- From bondage to spiritual growth
- From spiritual growth to great courage
- From courage to liberty
- From liberty to abundance
- From abundance to complacency
- From complacency to apathy
- From apathy to dependence
- From dependence back to bondage
The Book of Judges has two tragic bookends, and is largely a story of disaster after disaster in-between. Chapter 2 tells us a generation grew up that did not know God, and the book ends with 21:25. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (NIV)”
In other words, there was no clear, agreed-upon authority, moral code, or system of right and wrong. The nation had essentially devolved into a mass of self-centered, spiritually-blind people, and the result was chaos.
Is that what you want to leave for your children and grandchildren? Is that the kind of world you want to grow old in? Or, is there a better way?
Take the next step: Resolve to get as close to God as you can, and determine to teach your children and grandchildren too.