“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Joshua 24 v 23
Just about the greatest danger in our Christian faith is having all the outward appearances of being a follower of Jesus, but having none of the reality in the heart. Joining in with worship, giving time and money, singing the right songs and praying the right prayers have not always been accompanied by an inner change of heart. That kind of life does not impress the children; they see through the shallowness or unreality of their parents’ faith. Exactly the same possibility for the people of Israel exercised Joshua’s spirit. He urged the people to have a change of heart, to reject the gods of the land they had conquered, and yield their hearts to the Lord.
If you were to read on into the next part of the history of Israel you will find in Judges 2 that ‘The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.’ (v 7), After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshipped various gods of the peoples around them. (vv 10-12)
The people stayed faithful for just a few years, but there was no lasting change of heart on the part of many. Nothing had impressed itself on the next generation. The children had been untouched by the so-called ‘faith of their fathers’, and the nation slipped into disobedience and decline.
For reflection: What a responsibility we have as Church and families to live out our faith so that the next generation catch a glimpse of the love and power of God in us and yield their hearts to following him!
The journey of life in our present bodies cannot go on for ever!