If you were to ask me to name one image from my childhood, I would immediately tell you about our family dinner table. My dad was a state trooper, and each evening he would get home just in time for us to eat together. He sat at the end of the table and kept us entertained with stories about his childhood, friends, and work. I heard some of those stories dozens of times, and now I tell them to my children at our table. He died before two of my children were born, and I want them to feel like they know him. I don’t want the memories to die, so I keep telling the stories.
Judges narrates the sad tragedy of a people who forgot their story, and highlights the unfaithfulness of Israel in the face of God’s unfailing faithfulness. Their fathers saw God part the Red Sea and drown Pharaoh’s army. Their fathers could tell stories of God providing bread from heaven and leading them through the desert with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. They had also heard of the consequences of not believing God’s promises and walking in obedience. This generation was the first to enter the land of promise because their fathers did not believe God could lead them there.
The victories God gave Joshua should be fresh in their minds. How could they forget the walls of Jericho crashing down? They were there the day the sun stood still, but they broke covenant with God and made agreements with the inhabitants of the land. They believed they were better served and protected by doing what God forbade than by doing what He commanded. More than anything, their actions showed they failed to trust the promises of God, even though they had seen ample evidence that He would always provide and protect them.
When we remember how God has kept His promises in the past, it fuels our current faith and obedience. This is the point Moses made to the Israelites, to not “forget the things your eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Forgetting what God had done to deliver them would lead to present unfaithfulness in heart and life. Telling these stories of God’s faithfulness, providential care, and miraculous deliverance would burn them into the hearts of their children and keep them fresh in their own hearts.
On this side of the cross, we have the benefit of seeing the big picture of God’s redemptive story. We read about the Exodus and know that God’s people will one day be rescued by a better Deliverer than Moses, and from a deeper slavery than physical captivity in Egypt. Our deliverance through Jesus Christ is more miraculous than the Passover, and the great reward of eternity with Him is the best promised land imaginable. May we continue to tell this great story of God’s salvation to our children, our friends, and our neighbors, because we want them to know it well, and because we never want to stop remembering it ourselves.
Written by Scott Slayton