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God warned the Israelites, “when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, … you shall surely perish,” (Deuteronomy 8:14,19)! That was a rather ominous warning. Notice that God did not say “if” you forget Him, but rather He said “when” you forget. God knew very well what was going to happen to Israel, even if they were His chosen people. He had already explained, in the previous chapters, that they would receive cities that they hadn’t built, houses full of things that they hadn’t filled, and vineyards that they hadn’t planted, so they must not forget the Lord their God (6:10-12). Thus, He commands them to always remember and teach His statutes. Now, why would they forget the One who gave them all of those things?
Consider what we read in Judges chapter two, “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel,” (2:10). Then, notice the following words, “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,” (2:11) and later, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” (17:6). How terribly sad! Just as God had predicted, it wasn’t a matter of if they forgot, but rather, it was a matter of when. In this case, just as He had said, Israel had forgotten God and His commandments. They had become accustomed to the wealth and prosperity they had received. Their comfort turned into apathy and apathy had turned into forgetfulness. This was the danger that God had warned them about before they entered into the promised land. That disobedient generation was the offspring of those who had previously proclaimed Him as their God and obedience to Him, (Deuteronomy 26:17)! Apparently, they hadn’t remembered the warning. The previous generation hadn’t obeyed the commands of Deuteronomy 6:6-9 to put God’s word into their hearts and teach the next generation. They developed a serious heart problem!Modern man is not much different than those of ancient Israel.
We have a serious problem in our country today. Perhaps, you are thinking, “We have many problems in our country.” You are correct, when you consider we have severe problems with drugs and addiction, divorce and failed marriages, sexual promiscuity, lack of respect for authority, and the list continues. However, you should also consider that all of these really have to do with just one central problem; America has a heart problem. Like the disobedient offspring of those who prospered under the leadership of Joshua, much of our fellow countrymen have become similar to that generation that’s described in Judges. In our prosperity, we have forgotten God. Doesn’t the phrase, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” accurately describe our society today?
The answer to all our problems is not more law enforcement. It is not more therapy and peer counseling, nor special programs and bureaucracies. The answer is teaching; teaching them to observe all things that Christ has commanded us (Matthew 28:19,20). Israel needed to fix their heart problem. We need to fix the heart problem we have in this country. We can do that through teaching and obeying God’s word.