Uh-oh, not so good. I mean, things were looking so good as the people promised – they promised! – to follow faithfully after the Lord. Now: “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. . . . . And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals” (2:7,10,11)
The message of Deuteronomy was addressed to a new generation of Israelites, those who would enter the Promised Land. Here is yet another new generation, the one tasked with finishing the job of taking the land. The different generations of Israelites seemed always able look to a glorious past – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua – but it is not enough to have a proud heritage of faith. They cannot blame their failures on previous generations, nor can they be satisfied with the accomplishments of previous generations. They must commit themselves to God in their own generation.
The same is true for us. We cannot use our past as an excuse not to obey God and serve Him. Nor can we be satisfied with the accomplishments of our parents or grandparents. A great heritage is insufficient (e.g., family, church, nation). We must personally commit our lives to God and serve Him in our generation.
A cloud of witnesses around
holds you in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
and onward urge your way
and onward urge your way. -- Philip Doddridge (1755)