“All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; 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
Younger generations often receive the blame for moral and cultural decline. But no one age group is responsible for our current state of affairs. John Wesley observed, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” In other words, the ripple effects of compromise can last for decades. That’s exactly what we see in Judges 2, and it’s eerily similar to 21st century America.
The generation that grew up after Joshua didn’t acknowledge God or all He had done. How did Israel abandon the Lord in such a short period of time? Well, it was the ripple effects of compromise. Their parents obeyed the Lord by crossing the Jordan into the promised land. Yet, tribe after tribe neglected to remove altars to other gods as they were told to do. As a result, these false gods became a temptation for generations to come (vv1-5).
That’s the problem with partial obedience – we can’t predict its ultimate outcome. While a small compromise may not seem like a big deal today it sets the pattern of life for future generations. What we accept in moderation our children will likely take to excess.
In Israel’s case, one generation’s partial obedience led to another generation abandoning the Lord altogether (vv11-13). It didn’t happen overnight. Many of the children befriended and married Canaanites as they grew up. So over time, they too took part in Baal worship. The younger generation embraced what their parents and grandparents had tolerated.
The comparisons to our current culture are both sobering and disheartening. But remember, no one generation is to blame for our decline. Each of us is accountable to God for the choices we make. So, rather than point fingers at one another, let’s take the warning in Judges 2 seriously.
Ask yourself, “What worldly ideas am I tolerating in my life and home?” Determine right now to correct any area of partial obedience to God’s clear instructions. The choices you make – good or bad – will cause ripple effects for years to come.