When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly … and do evil in the sight of the Lord your God to provoke Him to anger … you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. (Deuteronomy 4:25-26)
The generation that first went into Canaan to possess it were faced with the prospect of battle and conflict, which in my estimation, would be enough to provoke them to continually seek God’s favor. To walk in that favor would require them to walk upright before Him and keep the covenant delivered to them. In short, the generation that understood what it had taken to get to the land would not soon forget the valuable lessons learned through hardship. However, ensuing generations — those that benefited from the perseverance of others — would eventually abandon the truth.
According to Moses, it was not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.” It would not necessarily be those he was speaking to as much as their descendants. For those who witnessed the miracles in the wilderness and the fall of Jericho, learned of God through experience. But for those who did not see these things first hand, it was ancient history — tales of long ago involving people long dead. That scenario made it easier for Israel to succumb to the seductions that surrounded them. Further complicating this situation is the prosperity they would enjoy in the land; prosperity made possible by the goodness of God bestowed upon the obedient from prior generations.
In any generation the blessing of prosperity, if we aren’t diligent to remember the source of that prosperity, can become a curse. It acts like a drug that dulls our spiritual senses. In fact at one point when Moses, speaking of their eventual apostasy, tells the people “You shall have been long in the land,” he literally said, “When you have grown stale.” Blessing and prosperity caused them to grow spiritually stale which then led to serving other gods and general lawlessness. That connects us to the words of Yeshua who warned those living in the last days, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
The point is that we should not think we are exempt from this danger, particularly here in America. Centuries ago, William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation, had this phrase, in Latin, inscribed on his headstone: “What our forefathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.” In other words, don’t do what Israel did. Instead let us be those who continually remind this and the upcoming generation that every blessing we enjoy comes from the Hand of the Almighty, and if we wish to continue in those blessings, we must turn our hearts to Him and to His ways.
Blessings and Shalom,