The Saddest Verse in the Bible

“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”

Judges 2:10

This was the second generation after the Israelites who were led by Moses and Aaron out of slavery in Egypt.  All of that generation except for two – Joshua and Caleb – perished in the wilderness.  The next generation, led by Joshua, crossed over the Jordan and proceeded to conquer the cities and kingdoms of Canaan, to possess the land God gave to them.  Then Joshua dies, and the next verse delivers the sad news.

The parents of this generation, the one that “did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel”, had witnessed some of the most amazing works of God recorded in Scripture.  They were there when the Jordan was dried up so they could cross over on dry land.  They saw the walls of Jericho fall down when the people shouted.  They saw firsthand the amazing things that God did for his people in bringing them to the promised land, yet their children grew up without knowing God or all he had done.  This led to Israel’s cycle of idol worship, repentance, restoration, and back to idol worship.  The neglect of one generation to pass on the legacy and truth of God’s love and faithfulness contributed to, if not caused, the next generation to experience God’s discipline, including defeat at the hands of their enemies.  It resulted in Israel being overthrown and taken back into captivity and slavery.

Maybe it’s not the saddest verse in the Bible, but it’s got to be in the top five.  It shows how, in the relatively short span of one generation, so much can be lost.  It serves not just as a sad commentary on failure in Israel’s history, but also as a warning to us of what can happen if we are not faithful and diligent to pass on to the next generation what is truly important and eternal.