There’s a scary reality we need to bring up.
Though we are studying Deuteronomy, jump ahead to Judges 2:10, which takes place maybe 40-50 years after Deuteronomy. By this time Joshua has taken over for Moses as leader of Israel, guiding Israel as they take possession of the Promised Land and settle down. Then Joshua dies. What happened to Israel, then, one generation removed? We read in Judges 2:10 that they totally forgot the Lord.
That freaks me out a bit. Can this happen to us? Can we totally forget the Lord? Let us never think, “No way, that will never happen.” It sure can happen. But how? Just like it did for Israel in Judges 2. One generation that knows the Lord does not pass on the faith to the next generation.
Look at Deuteronomy 4, verses 10-14. Moses is reminding the people of Israel of a famous story in their history, a time the previous generation heard the voice of the Lord, and God gave them the Ten Commandments. Moses is about to review those Ten Commandments next in chapter 5. For now, he has a different purpose. He wants the people to remember their odd God. Their God wasn’t like the Canaanite gods which were mute idol statues made of stone or wood. No, Israel’s God, Yahweh, could speak! Moses then tells the story of when God dramatically spoke in an audible voice to the people many years before, a story you can read in Exodus chapters 19 and 20.
What is the significance of this? Why does Moses bring this up? He knows how quickly we forget. He knows that one generation can have an amazing connection to God, but sadly that generation is unable to pass on that connection to their kids and grandkids. So Moses describes what the parents and grandparents are to do. He says, “Teach your children and their children who God is, how he works, and what is Word is all about.”
How many of us are teaching our kids and grandkids what God is like? Are you teaching your kids the story of God? It is crucial that we parents and grandparents take an active role in passing on the faith to our kids and grandkids.
Tell them God is so different from other gods. Definitely this practice of teaching the next generation should include teaching them Bible stories. But what about also telling them stories of how God has shown himself to be alive and well to you personally, to your family? Do you remember? How has God been faithful, how he has answered prayer?
You know what the Psalmist says in Psalm 71:18? This is a great reminder for older people who have kids and grandkids:“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.
So parents and grandparents, invest in the spiritual welfare of your kids. Disciple them to be true followers of Jesus. Don’t depend on the church to do this for you. Have dinner together, and talk about the Lord. Have family devotions. Memorize Scripture together. Then tell the stories of God at work in your lives. Go on mission trips together, serve together.
Keep faith alive in the next generation. Help the next generation learn what discipleship is all about. Teach them how to advance in the unending cycle of being disciples who make disciples.