Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the LORD which He had done for Israel.
Joshua’s final address to the Israelites is in chapters 23-24. In his final address, he reminds the Israelites of the things they have seen God do in their midst and calls them to make a choice: serve God or serve someone else. Joshua asserts that he and his house will serve the LORD and the leaders of the Israelites echo that intent. Then verse 31 happens.
The sad implication of saying that Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua is that the Israelites who came after did not serve the LORD. Knowing that the book of Judges is next and knowing what that book contains, I know full well that the Israelites did not continue to serve God. There is a rather famous saying that “The price of peace is eternal vigilance.” And the Israelites failed to pay this price. They grew complacent and wandered away from the LORD by slow degrees, eventually finding themselves in the place where every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25).
The same, I think, is true in the life of believers. We come to the LORD and He gives us victory over things and our lives settle into peaceful patterns. And we grow complacent. Another famous saying has it that to secure the peace is to prepare for war. We do not consistently do this. We do not secure the peace in our lives by preparing for the next attack from our enemies — the worldly outlook, the devil and his minions, and our own carnal desires — and that is why we fail.
The other issue is that those who had known all the deeds of the LORD which He had done for Israel followed God. There is a tendency to forget. Whether it is one generation dismissing the testimony of their forebears or individual believers forgetting the goodness of the LORD in our own lives, we lose sight of the mighty things that God has done and may be tempted to think that God cannot handle the problem we are facing. We fail to “Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry!” We fail to trust that God can handle anything that comes at us and to be prepared for the things we know are coming — temptation and trial and difficulty.
Father, please forgive my forgetfulness. I would not forget if I would regularly call to mind the great things that You have done in my life and in the lives of those I know. Please work in me to develop a character that wears ruts in my mind where Your great deeds are concerned. May I rehearse them in my mind and continually call them to remembrance so that I might always be ready to trust You. Please also work a spiritual vigilance in me, that I might be always prepared for the inevitable attacks of my enemies — the world’s way of thinking, the devil and his minions, and my own lusts. Thank You for being my help and my safety and for being faithful to me despite my faithlessness.