Experiencing the Work of God
Josh. 24:31 Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel.
This is the end of Joshua’s life and the result is a great turning point in the life of the Israelites. As long as those who had experienced God’s work in freeing the Israelites from the Egyptians and had experienced his protection and leading through the wilderness and into the promised land were alive, the nation publicly worshipped God. There may have been some individual worship of pagan gods but as a people, they were directed toward God.
When Joshua and his contemporaries passed away it seemed that the collective memory of society passed as well. God knew that the people would forget and he had established ways in which to keep the memory alive by annual festivals and events — which slowly they stopped celebrating. The blessedness of the founding generation gave way to the wretchedness of the succeeding.
Under Joshua’s care and influence the religion stayed alive. Sadly, those who had not experienced the work of God (for numerous reasons) did not remain faithful.
Each generation must have their own experience of God! Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live and move among us so that we could experience the work of God in our lives and in our world on a daily basis. The Israelites had the opportunity to be a faithful people and to be obedient to God’s laws. He would be their God and would supply their needs but they didn’t call on him. They chose to be more like the world and the corruption and decay came swiftly.
We need to keep our relationship with God fresh and alive, experiencing him in our lives on a regular basis. God is good and faithful to his people and we are blessed when we live in the movement of his Holy Spirit.
But just like the Israelites we can get caught up by the distractions.
We don’t spend time with God so we don’t experience God.
There are no stories to tell the next generation and far too quickly we, as a people, fall away.
We cannot live on the experiences of those who have gone before us. I’m a historical theologian and believe me, I love the stories of the past, but they are not my stories! I cannot survive spiritually on the things that happened to my parents and grandparents. My religion must be mine — alive and fresh for me and my life.
We cannot expect the younger generation to survive on our stories but we must walk them into the promised land of a fresh and vital relationship with God. Each generation must experience the work of God and this must be our prayer. May God use us to lead others to a place where they truly experience him and his mighty activity in the world.
Lord, thank you for the incredible experiences of your leading and power. Please help me to live a life of faithfulness that points others in the direction of you. Amen.