The book of Judges is known for the utter depravity displayed by the nation of Israel. The beginning of the book explains that there was a change in Israel following Joshua's death:
And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know Yahweh, or the work that he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).
Joshua’s generation was faithful in conquering the Promised Land, but they failed in raising their children. In his Judges commentary, theologian James Jordan discusses the failure of Israelite parents to teach their children the ways of God commanded in Deuteronomy 6 and the rebellion that followed in Judges. Jordan draws a parallel among parents today:
The first generation failed to teach their children about God. The children grew up ignorant of the two things specified in Deuteronomy 6. They did not know the Lord, and they did not know His works on behalf of Israel. What does this mean?
In the first place, it means that the older generation was too busy doing what they supposed to be God’s will, with the result that their children were not taught. How often is this the case! Scripture makes it plain that there is no more important task any man or woman has than teaching his or her children about the Lord. The very last verses of the Old Testament tell us that the whole purpose of the Messiah’s work can be summed up as restoring family life under God.
Satan loves to see Christians who think that the Kingdom cannot wait, and they they must be busy. Satan has time (he thinks); and he is willing to wait, in the confidence that the next generation will be his. The older generation worked hard to occupy that part of the land they had conquered, but all their labors came to naught because they did not train their children, and the land was conquered by enemies.
This sad story happens over and over in the book of Judges. Israel’s national disasters were a direct result of family disasters, parents who did not understand God’s priorities. Busy-busy Christians and their rebellious children: a story common to all ages of the Church. And is this now why so many preacher’s kids and missionary’s kids turn out bad? And how often is this simply the result of parental egotism? “I’m important and my work is important, and I don’t have time for my children.” Parents with such attitudes will pay dearly in old age, and so will society (Jordan, Judges, p. 30).
What piercing words. In thinking they are doing God’s will at work and at church, many Christian parents neglect their own children. Such a failure will render all other labors naught. “Busy Christians and their rebellious children"—may this never be said of us.