7 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 .... 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
Sorry for the extra-long passage today, but it was necessary to get the full picture of what I want us to look at today. The history of verse 7 of this Scripture is that through three major military campaigns involving more than thirty enemy armies, the people of Israel learn a crucial lesson under Joshua's capable leadership. That lesson is this: Victory comes through faith in God and obedience to His Word, rather than through military might or superior numbers. Although Joshua is the leader of the Israelite nation during these conquests, he always acknowledges that the Lord is the Conqueror.
We jump to verse 10, after verses 8 and 9 record Joshua's death and place of burial. In verse 10, we learn that after the generation of elders who served and governed with Joshua have died, there rose up a generation who knew nothing of the Lord or what He had accomplished for Israel. They didn't know their own history!
Verses 11- 13 record that the Israelites committed evil by worshipping (serving) Baal and the Ashtoreths. Just who are these guys? Baal is a generic name the Hebrews used for Canaanite cult idols or false gods. Apparently, the Israelites had no foundation in their own faith and were easily swayed to worship idols of surrounding nations, even of those they had conquered. "Ashteroth" was a Canaanite fertility goddess, suggesting immoral sexual practices among the Israelites.
And why do you think this aroused the Lord's anger? Just take a look at the first two Commandments: 1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and 2) Thou shalt not make graven (cast) idols. That will do for a start! When God handed down these Commandments to Moses, He made himself clear .... He would do wonders among the nations Israel came into contact with, to show His majesty and sovereignty. If the Israelites would follow these commandments, God would drive out the foreign nations before them. But in return they were to break down and destroy all the altars and idols to the false gods. God tells Moses that He is a Jealous God, and there will consequences if they break these commandments.
All it takes is one generation away from the Lord's principles and Israel falls captive to the temptation of worshipping other gods. And God is faithful to His Word. In verse 14 we see the repercussions of Israel's unfaithfulness. God turns them over to their enemies who plundered them. They were unable to resist the assaults of their enemies until they repented and returned to their covenantal relationship with the Lord.
The sad thing is Israel fell into this apostasy over and over again. Each time, they suffered the ramifications of their rebellion. You would think they would pay attention to their history and see the pattern!
But I chose this passage because I strongly feel that it holds great significance for us today. That's the wonderful thing about the Bible. It's message has meaning across time and history. The study of Scripture will yield lessons for all people and for all time, if we will just discern God's voice.
I see a striking parallel with what is happening in this nation. After removing God from our schools, we now have a generation (or two) who no longer recognize God's principles in our land. These generations have let "tolerance" for other gods and deities creep into our culture and become equal with the Sovereign God of the Universe. They have even adopted the worship of "Mother Earth" and Nature as acceptable substitutes. And for those with an even lower standard of worship, there is always the latest Hollywood star or political figure.
But God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. If He was angry with Israel for turning away from Him and embracing false idols, then being consistent, (as He always is) He will be angry with us. We are seeing the aftermath of His anger: reduced influence in the world; declining prosperity; and moral decadence.
It should be readily apparent. Forsake God, and He will forsake you. We are reaping the destruction brought on by our rebellion. The only way to solve our downward slide is to repent and turn back to the Lord.