After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.
One generation died, and the next did not follow God. Judges 2:10–3:7 previews the cycle of sin, judgment, and repentance that Israel repeated again and again. Passing on the faith was at the very center of God’s law (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), yet each generation failed to teach the next generation to love and follow God. As a result many Israelites turned to worshiping idols.
God often expressed his harshest criticism and punishment against those who worshiped idols. The Canaanites had gods for almost every season, activity, or place. Baal was the god of the storm and rains; therefore, he was thought to control vegetation and agriculture. Ashtoreth was the mother goddess of love, war, and fertility. To them, Yahweh was just another god to add to their collection.
Why were idols so bad in God’s sight? To worship an idol violated the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-6). Israel, by contrast, was to worship only the Lord. To believe that God was the one true God and then bow to an idol was a flat contradiction. Adding the worship of idols to the worship of God could not be tolerated.
We can be tempted to leave the job of teaching the Christian faith to youth pastors and the church. Yet God says that the responsibility for this task belongs primarily to the parents. Because children learn so much by their parents’ example, faith must be a family matter.
Did you see your parents exhibiting faith in God? Are you doing it for your own kids? Taking steps of faith now can prepare you for a life of faith that others will see later. Don’t wait until later to practice living by faith. By then the stakes will be higher and the risks will seem bigger. Faith only gets easier with practice.