“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance…”

Judges 2:7-8:  And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. 

In the time of Joshua’s leadership, the people served the Lord.  They had seen and heard of all the great work the Lord had done in Israel’s past.  The miracles, protection, faithfulness, and leading of the Lord.  But then if you skip to the second half of verse 10, you read this very unsettling statement…And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

So in the days of Joshua, the people served the Lord.  But then in this new generation, the people not only didn’t serve the Lord, but they didn’t know the Lord.  They didn’t know of the greatness and love of God, and the work of God in the past.  They didn’t fear the Lord and live in awe of Him.

In the course of one generation, it goes from, ‘they all served the Lord’, to ‘they didn’t even know the Lord.’  So for a generation that doesn’t know the Lord, what is the result?

Judges 2:11-13:  11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. 

This new generation doesn’t know the Lord, and as a result, they completely reject the God of the previous generation.  They abandon Him, and they turn and worship the gods of the Canaanites.

As people who have been made in the image and likeness of God, we are designed to be worshippers.  We will worship from birth to death.  The question is not if we will worship, but who or what will we worship in our lives?

There is no neutral ground here.  There is no, ‘well they didn’t worship the one true God, but they didn’t worship other gods.’  It is one or the other.  This generation didn’t know God.  And so they turned and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.  They turned to idols which was exactly the opposite of what the Lord had called this nation to do as they entered the Promised Land.

The previous generation knew and served the Lord.  This new generation didn’t know the Lord.  How could that happen?  It is because the former generation, the one who served the Lord, didn’t make disciples of this new generation.  They didn’t pass on their faith.  They didn’t share the stories of God which would reveal His incredible character and lead the new generation to live in awe of Him.

The call to Christians to make disciples doesn’t just show up in Matthew 28, but it is all through Scripture.  Including right here.  And here we see the negative effects of parents and one generation who neglected their God given responsibility to pass on their faith and make disciples.

God had called this nation to do just that in Deuteronomy 6.  Words that we are to live by as well in our day.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9:  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We share those verses anytime parents dedicate children, because it is so clear here that the Lord says to parents, ‘listen, if you’re going to teach your children, you first have to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  You can’t expect your children to have the commands of God written upon their heart, if your heart remains cold and hard to the Lord.’

For those of you who are parents or will be some day, it is God’s design and plan that you would not only worship and serve Jesus, but that you’d help your children do the same.  Parents, don’t just hope your children will understand the Good News of Jesus.  Be prayerful.  Be intentional.  Be purposeful.  Engage them in relationship and conversation.  The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3, that the Good News of Jesus is of first importance to be passed on. 

There are many things that compete for first importance in our children’s lives.  Academics, arts, or athletics to name a few.  And none of those are inherently bad.  But if we begin to place our child’s academic, artistic, or athletic development over their understanding of who Jesus is, His Good News, and their growth in their faith, then those things have become an idol.

Parents, your children are watching your walk and your talk.  They are watching to see if the God you are wanting them to love with everything is also the same God that you actually love and worship as a way of life.  Parents, do you know the Lord personally?  Are you living in reverence of and worship of Him?  Because that is your first step.

If we could fast forward to the end of our lives, the thing our future self would be saying to us now is, spend your time and money on things that are eternal.  Disciple the next generation.  Tell them of our great God, so that they might know the Lord, be saved, and not fall into what we see here in Judges of an entire generation that didn’t know the Lord.

Our future selves would agree with John’s words…3 John 4:  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

So may we parent and disciple with that joy in mind.  May we make the most of the time the Lord has given to us as we sit in our homes, walk along the road, lie down in the evenings and rise again in the mornings.  May we be found faithful as disciplemakers in our homes.