Judges 2.7-11 Generational {Un}Faithfulness

March 25, 2012 Series: Judges | {Un}Faithful (Part 1 of 2)

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Judges 2:7–2:11

Read Judges 2.7-11 (Deuteronomy 6)

Intro: A Faithful Generation 7-9
Joshua chapter 1 is the expanded version of what happens in verse 6 of chapter 2—which is the prologue of Joshua 24. In summary, the people who listen to Joshua’s final speech were a generation of warriors, and army of eyewitnesses to God’s power. Having been reminded of God’s grace, and charged by Joshua to respond faithfully, they confess their allegiance, Joshua writes down their words sets up a stone as a monument to their commitment. Then each tribe returns to their allotted land impassioned and excited to keep fighting as they had throughout the initial conquest.

This generation had watched God work the impossible right before their eyes. They had seen the waters of the Jordan part. They had watched the walls of Jericho fall to the ground. They had seen fiery hailstones fly from the sky in battle. They had experienced hornets driving out their enemies. They had observed city after city, village after village, king after king fall before their God. For approximately 40 years, Joshua led Israel as their general. He was strong and courageous—careful to do all that God had commanded—and the men who served him were equally faithful. Though their parents had proven unfaithful and had died in the wilderness, these children proved to be a faithful generation of tribes, clans, and families. When Joshua died, recorded here for the third time, he is buried in the city allotted to him because of his faithfulness.

Amnesia & an Unfaithful Generation v. 10-11
Eventually, all of Joshua’s lieutenants, all the elders, all of the fathers and mothers, an entire generation of people who KNEW God died. And then another generation arose who DID NOT KNOW THE LORD or REMEMBER THE WORK HE HAD DONE. Instead of remembering to do what God had said was right, they determined their own right and wrong, good and evil, and acted according to their own desire and definitions. They denied the one true God and followed the most appealing false one—the one that met their own felt needs and desires. Their amnesia led to idolatry.

How could they not KNOW what happened? How could a faithful generation who experiences the great victories and mighty works of God give rise to generation does not know Him. [SCRIPTURES DON'T EXPLICITLY SAY – PARENTS FAULT] But something went wrong. The problem was not the fact that the stories were not passed down…they had been written. The problem lies in the fact that they became JUST STORIES. The failure of the generation was not that they did not pass on the memory, but that they did not pass on the covenant statutes. More than that, the faithful generation, though committed to God’s mission in God’s land, did not view the mission as beginning in their own homes. They had fought to get God in the land, but they had had not fought to get God in their families. This new generation HEARD about God, even KNEW A LOT ABOUT GOD, but they did not KNOW HIM personally because they were not taught his ways, his commands, or his laws. They were not loyal to them because they had not learned to fear him—which comes from a LOVE FOR THE WORD OF GOD.

WHAT & HOW were they supposed to REMEMBER?
God has always placed the primary responsibility for teaching HIS WORD on the parents. It was God’s commandment…ironically, the one the came before his command to FIGHT in the LAND. It seems the Israelites became so committed to “ministry” they forgot what really was ministry. Deut. 6. 1-9 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Parents were responsible to ensure God’s Law was kept for at least three generations—their own, their children, and their grandchildren. And the Law was designed to do more than just protect God’s people from the evils of idolatry; it was also designed for them to grow, to have big families, and to enjoy the land as they worshipped God His way. This was not the responsibility of the children’s worker or the youth pastor, but the parents. The lack of godly parents, not the lack of a godly pastor/leader, is what led to the idolatry of Israel.

But what exactly had they failed to do? 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. They were to teach that there was one God—not many gods. They were to teach their children to love God with everything they had—not that were some things that were not spiritual. They were to teach God’s ways diligently—not just on Sunday morning. MORE THAN THAT…they were supposed to talk about him andhis ways all the time. Remembering, learning, and discussing, the things of God were supposed to saturate the home. THINK ABOUT YOUR PASSION…what dominates most of your time, mental energy, money? What would others say is “your families passion?” What would your family say? And what started into the family home (DOOR POSTS) was supposed extend into the city and surrounding community (THE GATE). In other words, Children were to be taught that whatever is done by the hand and whatever is thought by the mind, is to be governed by the Word of God.

The families of Israel failed to remember God and, therefore, their children forgot him. They obeyed God in his commands to fight for God inthe land, but they disobeyed in their fight for the WORD of God in their homes. HOW DOES AN INDIVIDUAL or a FAMILY GO ASTRAY…the same way the first family does. They begin to listen to the lies of our flesh—in this case—that God’s Word is helpful but essential to our lives. . These are the same lies that our first parents listened to::

1. GOD’S WORD IS NOT AUTHORITATIVE. . “Did God actually say…?” This is the lie that God is not authoritative What begins as small doubts about God’s Word leads to full on judgment of God’s Word. Emotion, Intellect, and experience fight to usurp the Word of God for governing authority.

2. GOD’S WORD IS NOT RIGHT. “You will not surely die.” This is the lie that God is not all knowing. Doubts lead to denial that God’s’ Word really means what it says. Things become open to interpretation, including commands to love God and teach your children to do the same.

3. GOD’S WORD IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY. . “God knows…you will be like God.” This is the lie that God is not truthful. Essentially, this makes God about to be a liar or a cosmic kill joy who is somehow holding us back from true life. This lie, as all the others, leads to death .

And when one has rejected God as authoritative, wise, and truthful, then you have stopped FEARING the LORD. And when you have stopped fearing the LORD, there no sense of urgency to remain faithful to what He says. Joshua’s generation had feared the LORD and experienced prosperity as a result; the kids experienced the prosperity but never learned how it came about: Joshua 1.8-9 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We are left to wonder if they were so committed to completing God’s mission, that they failed to realize that the mission’s success began with seeing the family as the key to that mission. For some reason, this new generation grew up with comfort and easy, and without a sense of an enemy prowling about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to kill. And because of that, they let their guard down and even tried to pet the lion that wanted to eat them.

We read Judges and ask how this became so broken, so perverted, so out of alignment with God’s design? It doesn’t start with an unfaithful tribe, or clan, but individual families. When the truth of God is forgotten, when man becomes the center of the universe, when worship of our Creator becomes optional, we look for something else to worship.

What happens when they forget? LISTEN TO LIES OF THE WORLD
When we forget the promises of God or reject His Word through a lack of intentionality—that void is naturally filled with something in the world—that is our default mode. Romans 12.1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

When we reject God and His Word, we don’t become an atheist, we go after false gods. Everyone who has rejected the one true God worships a false God—there are many to choose from. But they all have af few things in common. 1) They are not gods. 2) They are created things we have made into ultimate things. 3) They are things we think we can control. We don’t want a God who says do this and TRUST I’M IN CONTROL no matter what happens. We want a god to whom we can control by what we do.

This is what happened with the generation following Joshua—they want after the gods of the Canaanites. The Canaanites theology was all about fertility—of crops, flocks, of life. They had Baal, god of nature (storms), and his female friend with benefits Ashtoreth god of fertility. Fertility of their harvest, which meant health in their economy, depended upon the sexual relationship between Baal and Ashtoreth. And, in order to encourage that relationship, the Canaanites developed a celebrated system of sex and sacred prostitution as a way of religious life. In attempt to get better rain, sun, and soil they would has sex with temple prostitutes as part of their worship. Not too difficult to see why the Israelites became idolatrous; they were not only attracted to money and sex; but also to promise of every idol—worshipping a god you could control to get what you wanted:

Consider how the evangelistic Canaanite (the one who should be dead) might try to talk some religious sense into his Israelite neighbor. As they are talking, the Canaanite might ask ‘What has God done for you?’ to which the Israelite might recount how God saved his people from Egypt, He gave us a law to worship Him, he divided the Jordan, brought down Jericho, etc. The Canaanite would probably respond with, “Well that is great and everything, but that was so long time ago—but what is he doing now? I mean, I am not so worried about the big moments and miracles, but more about the daily grind. I need help to get through my day, to make money, to manage the stresses of my life. I need to feel like I am in control. “What is he doing for you right now?’ That is why I go down to the temple. How would you like to join us for our midweek service? (Adapted from Ralph Davis, Judge, Focus on the Bible Series)

Because the Israelites failed to teach God’s promises to the next generation, they looked and found other gods with attractive false promises. They found them in the lies of the world. Lies about what was right and wrong, good and evil. Lies about definitions and decisions, lies about roles and responsibilities, literally lies about what God said must be driven out from the land, how God said to have relationships with the world, what God called a marriage, what God defined as true worship. And for a while they could control them…until their sin began to enslave them.

CONCLUSION: What is REALLY being remembered.
Now that I feel like a crappy parent, where is the hope? Before the hope, here is my charge to you. We have been given a generation as a person, a family, and a church, to make a difference for the LORD—to know Him and make him known. God’s Word has the power to transform your life, your family, and this city. Believe it. And this does not begin with a social program or a church event, it begins in your family. And what we do in those 40 years will effect three generations, one before us and two after us.

BUT…remembering the wrong things is just as dangerous as remembering nothing at all. If we’re not careful, with the best intentions, we’ll pass onto to our children the wrong things. When we think of “rules and statutes” we think of law. How do we avoid making a family of Pharisees who don’t really fear the LORD but are the best rule followers; who love God with their mouths but not their hearts? There is always the risk that parents, after hearing this sermon, will miss the point about is the most important place to begin teaching. And all you have to do is read the rest of Deuteronomy 6.20-25:

20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’

We must remember that faith came before following. We must remember deliverance came before law. Freedom from Egypt comes before Faithfulness in the Land. Transformation of the heart comes before Reformation of behavior. This is the GOSPEL Keeping the law was important, but not without a foundation built on the gracious redemption. The Israelites must know two thigns, WHO GOD IS and WHAT HE HAS DONE. We must know two things, WHO JESUS, and WHAT HE HAS DONE.

More in Judges | {Un}Faithful (Part 1 of 2)

July 1, 2012

Judges 9:1-57 {Un}Faithful Rule

June 24, 2012

Judges 8.1-35 {Un}Faithful Zeal

June 17, 2012

Judges 7.1-24 Faithful Odds