Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

The Second Generation


I saw a survey the other day which noted that as many as 80 percent of college students shed their beliefs and faith practices during their undergraduate years. I saw another discouraging survey which indicated that only three percent of young people who claim to be Christians actually hold to a biblical world-view and the same is true for only nine-percent of older people who make the same claim. Jesus, of course, was right, the way is truly narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). The question often arises concerning the faith of “second-generation” Christians, that is children raised by Christian parents. We could look at a lot of surveys and human wisdom, but today let’s consider an actual case study in Scripture:

“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10)

Taking the Land: Judges 1

The book of Joshua had described the big battles and the initial conquest in which Israel weeps through Canaan in a blitzkrieg style. Judges then describes the various battles that took place as the individual tribes nailed down their assigned territories and dealt with remaining pockets of resistance. Some do not like the conquest and one writer noted, “If only the Canaanites could know how much emotional support they receive from modern western readers”(Judges, Such a Great Salvation, Dale Ralph Davis, p. 16). Yet the Canaanites were not innocent (Deuteronomy 9:4-6). For a description of all their perversions, see Leviticus 18:6-30; Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Hence the conquest was an act of justice – following centuries of patience and mercy (Genesis 15:16). “The Bible, of course, does not claim that the conquest will be palatable; but it does insist it was just”(Davis, p. 16). And at least one Canaanite in this chapter will agree with that assessment (Judges 1:7).

Divine Help

Israel is given instruction (1:2) and assurance. They experience success (1:4), for God is with them (1:19). So the people, like us, have everything they needed to serve God faithfully (2 Peter 1:3). We too have clear instruction (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and the promise of God’s help (Hebrews 13:5; Ephesians 3:20); praise be to God!

Working Together

Observe how Israel is often successful when the tribes are working together against a common enemy (1:3;17). “The Lord’s people thrive on mutual assistance; God has given us one another as channels of His help and strength. The unity and fellowship of God’s people is not a wimpy idea weaker Christians dote on. It is an essential condition for experiencing the strength of our God” (Davis, p. 21). See Hebrews 10:24 and Ephesians 3:17-18. One study noted that students still see the value of their faith after college life, but American individualism has lead them to under appreciate the importance of practicing their faith with others. We need to remind our children that Christianity does not work in isolation – being an active member of a local congregation is essential. “The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love... only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience... being connected and dependent on each other... God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has already forgiven you. Whenever you are hurt by someone, you have a choice to make: Will I use my energy and emotions for retaliation or for resolution? You can’t do both” (Rick Warren,The Purpose Driven Life, pp. 133, 142-143).


  • “But Manasseh did not take possession” (1:27)
  • “So the Canaanites persisted living in that land” (1:27)
  • “They put the Canaanites to forced labor” (1:28,30)
  • “So the Asherites lived among the Canaanites” (1:32)

“The motivation for driving out the Canaanites was not pragmatic but spiritual. Yahweh had warned through Moses: ‘Do not let those people live in your country; if you do, they will make you sin against me’ (Exodus 23:33). Remaining Canaanites would not be so much a military threat as a spiritual cancer (Exodus 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-5). How stupid would a surgeon be who would remove only part of the cancer because “even cancer has a right to grow and find fulfillment”? The picture Judges gives us is an Israel in substantial control of Canaan, a people clearly successful though certainly disobedient. Pragmatic success and spiritual failure – a strange but possible combination. So Israel is dominant if not obedient; she enjoys superiority even if she does not maintain fidelity. It tells us that it is possible for the believer’s life to display some marks of success and yet be a failure. The text also underscores the importance of ‘small’ faithfulness. In chapter 1 Israel permitted conditions which brought no instant disaster. The impact of her failure became visible later (2:11-13,19). What began as toleration became apostasy. What seemed so reasonable proved lethal. Living with Canaanites led to worshiping Canaanites. Tolerate Baal’s people and sooner or later you bow at Baal’s altar. But it seemed like a rather small matter at the time. ‘Faithful in little’ (Luke 16:10) hardly describes our idea of a glamorous career, but nothing else much matters in the kingdom of God” (Davis, p. 26). In like manner, the following mis-steps may not lead to instant disaster, yet the seeds of disaster are being sown:

  • Failure to practice church discipline: 1 Corinthians 5
  • Toleration of false teachers: 2 John 11
  • Going beyond the word of God here and there: 2 John 9
  • Toning down the preaching or teaching: 2 Timothy 4:2
  • Uncritical tolerance: Matthew 7:15ff
  • Undermining confidence in the authority of Scripture: Matthew 7:21-23
  • Downplaying the importance of obedience in all things: John 14:15

Keep The Canaanites Away

“A few weeks ago the Barna Group released a survey of Christian parents that should give pause... Twenty-six percent of Christians who bought a DVD for their children in the past year were uncomfortable with its content. A third of parents who bought CD’s for their children were troubled by what they were buying, but made the purchase anyway. Similar percentages held for video games and magazines” (Buying Millstones, Tony Wooflief,, 12-10-2009). One lesson every generation needs to digest is that their children have no idea of the real danger that is lurking in the world. The forced laboring Canaanites may have looked friendly, worked hard, seemed to have a good sense of humor and be fun to be around – yet they were deadly! Yes, monitor what comes into your home, and also cultivate a discerning spiritual taste in the mouths of your children.


God reminds them of the clear instruction that had been given a number of places in the Law. “So far so good. It is usually a good sign when God’s people can still weep, when we can be moved to tears. Would that it would happen more often. We are either too sophisticated, too refined, too hard-hearted, or what’s worse, all of these, to cry over our sins. Does anything go beyond Israel’s tear ducts? Is anything, more lasting than water produced here?” (Davis, pp. 26,27).

“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10)

  • Like the sons of Eli (who did not “know the Lord”). This does not mean that they did not know about the Lord – obviously they knew who God was. “Rather it means that they had no regard for or that they cared nothing for Yahweh” (Davis, p. 36). Therefore, they did not acknowledge God; His past works did not matter to them; His words did not influence them.
  • “That is a perennial peril. One generation can rejoice in a living faith, enjoy intimate communion with God, revel in the kingship of Jesus over daily life, even delight to teach their faith to those closest them; yet the next generation may come along and care nothing for all that” (Davis, p. 36).
  • We cannot just assume that our children will follow God just because we do. Each generation must not only be informed, but be converted. Each must love truth.

“And served the Baals”: 2:11-12

Tolerance of Baal led to the worship of Baal. “One word more. If the church is going to do this it must cease thinking that God calls only missionaries and pastors. That is, if we are going to produce an effective counterculture we must begin by holding that all of life belongs of Yahweh. God rules over all of life: nothing is outside His dominion – whether business and politics, economics and education, science and sex, history and harvests, art and affliction, music and marriage. All of life is holy and must be submitted to His reign” (Davis, p. 35).