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“. . . there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

THE LAND OF CANAAN FINALLY HAVING BEEN GIVEN TO ISRAEL, THEY ENTERED UPON A TIME OF PEACE. “The people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel” (Judges 2:6,7). But then the text says, “All that generation . . . were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (v.10). Once the struggles were over, it did not take many generations before God was forgotten.

Despite the numerous negative aspects of “warfare,” spiritual as well as physical, it is a fact that strength, not to mention gratitude, is generally built up through struggle and testing. (If you think danger is never one of the “good and perfect gifts” that might come from God, meditate on Judges 3:1–4 for a while.)

As far as our dealings with God are concerned, there are many kinds of ease that tend to weaken us spiritually. If there was no more contending for the faith that needed to be done (Jude 3), no more hard work for others’ benefit (2 Corinthians 12:15), no more cost to our discipleship (Luke 14:28), and no more cross to be borne (Mark 8:34), we would be foolish to think that a generation would not arise that “did not know the Lord.” No age, including our own, has ever been exempt from the law of spiritual entropy.

I fear that the very fact of social acceptability has hurt the Lord’s people in countries where “Christianity” is the predominant religion. Couple that with the affluence, ease, and comfort that many of us have gotten used to, and the mixture is a lethal cocktail. This essay is not a recommendation for seeing how hard we can make our lives. It is intended to be a warning: we are never in greater peril than when the war is over and peace has broken out.

“Events and circumstances awaken our religion, as though there were no need to pray to God except in illness and sorrow. As soon as affairs take a turn for the better and the danger is past, our devotion vanishes; the most we think of doing is to thank God for the successful end of our troubles; after a short act of gratitude we forget him and think of nothing but our pleasures” (Jean Nicolas Grou).

Gary Henry — +

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