“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 all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel…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.” Judges 2:7, 10, 12
This is such a sad picture. For a generation of Israelites to arise and not know the God of Israel.
The Lord gave commands that would guard against this. He knew the importance of growing children up in the strength and joy of the Lord, teaching them to love Him and rejoice in His righteousness.
“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:7-9)
“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” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
The Word of our Lord, the love we have for Him and our faith in who He is should define our lives. We are to keep it as our focus. To intentionally fix our eyes on Him and determine that our household will bring Him honor and glory. It is in living out heartfelt faith and complete devotion to our God that we show the next generation who He is. We impress on them His truth and beauty. We don’t leave them to fend for themselves and run after everything that will leave them without hope and set them on the path of destruction.
We teach the words of God diligently to those coming behind us, so that they will know that “it is no empty word for you, but your very life” (Deuteronomy 32:47a). These words aren’t empty. They aren’t unimportant. They aren’t dry or irrelevant. There is depth here. There is beauty and light. There is hope that stands steadfast even when everything else crashes around you. This Word leads us to Christ, our strength and salvation. The One through whom we know life without fear of condemnation.
These commands aren’t to be burdensome. We don’t need to live in fear of failure…we only need to live with our eyes fixed on our God, determining to love Him with all that we are and to make His Word a fixture throughout our days. It isn’t our job to open the eyes of those who come after us, making them see His glory…only He can accomplish that. We simply follow Him faithfully and teach His Word diligently, trusting in His faithfulness, wisdom, and grace to do what is impossible for us.
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth…Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:6, 9