After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. ~ Judges 2:10-13
Picture your congregation on Christmas Day, a hundred years in the future. Imagine your church on that day standing empty. Nobody attends to hear that a Savior has been born. Not a soul lifts up his voice to sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Why? Nobody knows the Lord Jesus anymore. Another god has replaced him.
The Bible tells us that “Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua” (Joshua 24:31), but we read that the next generation forsook and forgot the Lord.
While Baal and Ashtoreth might not be the gods of choice today, rest assured the devil continues to bring before us other appealing gods. These gods might be digitally mastered, visually enhanced, in surround-sound, loaded with megahertz, fuel-injected, paying high dividends, or in a picturesque neighborhood. Such gods demand our time and attention. They promise to bring fulfillment to our lives. They guarantee perfect contentment. But they never fully deliver.
When these gods enamor and ensnare us, we know our true God’s reaction. He feels righteous anger. Our holy God can’t tolerate sin in his presence. In his justice he must condemn it.
He did! He condemned all sin in his Son. He poured out his righteous anger on Jesus on whom the sins of the whole world were laid. God forsook his beloved Son on Calvary’s cross for the innumerable times we have forsaken him. Because of Jesus’ death, God does not count our sins against us. The Bible says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
This message of God’s great love prompts us to discard worthless, worldly idols and cling to him alone who saves. It also motivates us to do the work God has placed us here to do—share his full and free salvation with the next generation. Then by grace on Christmas Day in all future years, the houses of the Lord will resound with singing, “Glory to God in the highest.”
Prayer: Fill me, Lord, with the joy of your salvation. And lead me to live for you in grateful response to your love. Put your word on my lips and help me share with others the good news that you are the Savior of all. Amen.