God commanded the Israelites to teach their children the commands given to them in the law. They were to do this diligently and often –“when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut 6:7) In this way future generations would know the law and follow it. The result would be that God would continue to bless them and protect them. (Deut 28:1-14) And they would fulfill their God intended purpose of being a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation. (Ex 19:6)
After Joshua and his generation died the next generation of Israelites began to back slide. They “did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” (Judges 2:11) Why would they do this? The previous verse gives some light – After Joshua and the death of his generation, the next generation “did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel.” (v. 10) How could they not know? Did not the generation before tell them as commanded?
There are certainly other issues involved in them not knowing the Lord, such as their own heart conditions and the failure of the previous generation to cast out all the inhabitants of the land. Yet it is also apparent that the older generation failed to communicate the commandments and the faithfulness of the Lord to their sons and daughters.
There are some today that question the effectiveness of the church. Why have so many of the children of the last generation displayed so little interest in the Lord and His church? Could one reason be that we did not share with them the teachings of our Lord? At the dinner table or while riding in the car or after church on Sunday did we talk to them about Him? Where are you today? If you have young children you can start now. Maybe you’re a grand parent – you can have a significant influence on the faith of your grandchildren. Maybe you failed in the past, but you can change that today.
Psalm 78:5-7 For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments…