After Joshua died Israel became a train wreck.
They knew about God but they didn’t know God. Here is what Judges 2:10 says about the time after Joshua’s death:
“And all that generation also 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.
As you read through the book of Judges it becomes apparent that the people knew about God. You hear him talked about all the time. But they weren’t talking about the God they knew, they were talking about a god they wanted to use to make their lives better. They quickly forgot all that God had done for them personally and as a nation. God’s name was often invoked in a scheme to enrich their lives. This is what made them susceptible to fall into the traps offered by the false gods of people surrounding them.
One of these false god’s was Baal, the god of fertility. Through his storms he made the crops grow. Sex was part of the way he was worshipped. Imagine, a god who would fill your stomach with food and whom you could worship by having sex. Without the knowing the person of God, it was too much for the Israelites to withstand. Baal worship plagued Israel for centuries to come. Respected commentator Dale Ralph Davis put it this way:
“The Bible is clear: amnesia produces apostasy. That is why Scripture is so frantic about the church not forgetting what Yahweh has done for us…When we allow either his quiet keeping or his dramatic rescue to slip into oblivion we are on our way toward Baal.”
Israel had forgotten the wonder and blessing of knowing God from the heart. They were only interested in what he could do for them. With this kind of perspective, it was no wonder Baal was attractive.
The focus of Deuteronomy 6:4-7 was to know God deeply from the heart. Don’t tell your children about God. Tell them about the God who rescued you from yourself and from hell. Them about how deeply his words have impacted your heart.
Our culture is not much different than the one that lured Israel into sensual pleasure and false worship. Mere data about God will not lead your children towards Christ. Learn from the failure of Israel. Love God from your heart. Love God so much that your eyes light up from his truth. It takes more than data, it takes a relationship with a person, the awesome person of Jesus Christ!