The Old Testament book of Judges tells a sad story. Twice we are told: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
How modern! “Do your own thing! Whatever turns you on! Whatever you think is right for you – that’s what’s right!”
How sad! It all started after the death of faithful Joshua. The Bible says: “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.”
At first, we watch this unfold as though we were mere spectators of a sad drama. The people of Israel served the fertility gods of the Canaanites – the Baals and the female counterparts – the Ashteroth. They worshipped at the shrines where sexual sin was part of the liturgy. They cheated on the God who had betrothed Himself to them. They jilted the Lover of their souls. “They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers.”
So God withdrew His protecting hand. God allowed their sin to become their punishment. The nations of Canaan raided, plundered and slaughtered the people of God.
Yes, we watch this unfold as mere spectators of a sad drama. But then we notice our own face in the mirror. We see
- that we too are vulnerable and mortal,
- that we too can become part of a generation that knows not the Lord,
- that we too may heedlessly drift out to sea from the harbor of home,
- that we too may grow old and silent as it happens under our noses,
- that we too may give God only bit part, not the starring role.
We see from the history of Israel that it only takes one generation to lose our God, our faith, our hope of heaven. We see ourselves in this story. We tremble, as did St. Paul, at the thought of making shipwreck of our faith, that after preaching to others, we ourselves could become castaways. It is a sad thing to forsake the God of our fathers.
But it is a glad thing to be found by the God of our fathers. It dawns on us, as we stare into the mirror of our culture which does as it sees fit, that we have a merciful God. How patient God has been with us in the face of the same old sins! How often God has delivered us! How God loves us, wants to keep company with us, desires to bless us, does what it takes to awaken our hearts to his mercies all over again! Now is the time…now is the hour…to pass the torch of the gospel to the next generation…that this generation may know the Lord!