June 29, 2010 David Balzer

2 Chronicles 12-28: Father and Son

Caron’s parents both came from broken homes. And so when they got married, they were determined not to make the same mistakes as their parents. They deliberately chose NOT to follow the example of their parents.

And they’ve been married for around 40 years. And they’ve got a great marriage.

And when it came to becoming Christians, it was the same. None of THEIR parents were Christian. But when they were confronted with the gospel (and that’s a great story in itself), they chose to follow Christ, rather than the ways of their parents.

What about you? What lessons did you learn from your parents? How have they influenced who you are today?

Are there times when you’ve said, “Yes, I respect the way mum and dad did that. I want to do it just like them!”

Or perhaps it’s the opposite. Certain things they did that you promise yourself you’ll NEVER do. But then you’ll say something to your kids, and you’ll think, “Oh my goodness, I sound just like my mother!”

I used to get really embarrassed by mum starting up conversations with complete strangers – like the supermarket checkout assistants. And yet now, I’m finding myself doing exactly the same thing. And probably embarrassing MY children.

But of course, there are much more IMPORTANT things to learn from your parents. Like their love for Jesus.

And although I was a bit embarrassed as a ager by Dad being a minister, I’m so grateful that I was born into a Christian family.

People ask me what it was like to have Dad lecturing me at Theological College. I think they thought it would be difficult. But it was all pretty normal. Because our discussions about theology in LECTURES were pretty much the same discussions I’d been having with dad around the dinner table for 20 years. Even the stories he told were the same!

I know some of the Home groups have spent time talking about this question. And there are some great experiences there. About people who’ve had a GREAT Christian example to follow growing up, and they’ve chosen to follow it.

And there are others who’ve had NONE. And they’ve chosen to follow another path. And it’s a real heartache for these people. Knowing that if their parents were to die tonight, they probably wouldn’t be with the Lord. And so the home groups keep praying with them.

And it’s the same choice that the FIRST hearers of Chronicles had. Remember them? They’re returned Jews. Rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple. God’s brought them back from Babylon, and they’ve got the chance to start again. To LEARN THE LESSONS FROM HISTORY. And to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes again.

And so they’re sitting there, listening to the stories about their ancestors. Some of them are GOOD examples to follow. And others they’ll want to steer WELL clear of. Will they FOLLOW the examples of their parents? Or ignore it? That’s the choice!

We’re going to do a whistle-stop tour of chapters 12 to 28. And as we do, we’ll see every possible combination. GOOD sons who follow the GOOD example of their fathers. BAD sons who IGNORE them.

And we’ll also see BAD sons who follow right after BAD fathers. But we’ll also see GOOD sons, who despite the bad example of dad, choose to follow God’s ways instead.

And as we look at some of these examples, there are two main questions for us. 1. What example are you FOLLOWING? Are you looking for GOOD examples? Are you a GOOD FOLLOWER?

But a second question/ is What example are you SETTING? Are you a good LEADER? Because even if you’re NOT a parent, SOMEONE/ is still looking at you. Looking UP to you, and deciding whether your example is one that’s worth FOLLOWING, or not.

1. What example do you FOLLOW?

Firstly, what example do you FOLLOW? And when it comes to the kings of Judah, many of them chose to follow the example of King David. A good choice. He was a man who OBEYED God. Who had a HEART set on following God.

There are lots of examples of GOOD FATHERS AND GOOD SONS.

Look for example at King Jehoshaphat. Ch 17 v3. He might have been four generations removed from David. (He was his great great great grandson) But David’s shadow still loomed large. Ch 17 v3.

(2 Chr 17:3-4 NIV)  The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years HE WALKED IN THE WAYS HIS FATHER DAVID HAD FOLLOWED. He did not consult the Baals {4} but sought the God of his father…

And his father Asa didn’t miss out either. There were good things about HIS reign that Jehosphaphat took on board too. Flip over to the end of Ch 20. V32.

(2 Chr 20:31-32 NIV)  So Jehoshaphat … WALKED IN THE WAYS OF HIS FATHER ASA and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

And a bit further on in Ch 26, Uzziah copies HIS dad, Amaziah. Ch 26 v4.

(2 Chr 26:3-5 NIV)  Uzziah … did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. {5} He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God.

And so it goes on. With Uzziah’s son, Jotham. Ch 27 v2.

(2 Chr 27:1-2 NIV)  Jotham … did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done.

But sometimes the sons WEREN’T so lucky. Sometimes their Dad WASN’T someone worth copying. Bad fathers and good sons. And these sons had to go looking for ANOTHER EXAMPLE to follow.

Like Joash. Joash’s dad was Ahaziah. And he was wicked. You can see his story in Ch 22. And Ahaziah ends up being killed. But that wasn’t the end of the problem. Because his MUM did even WORSE things. Look down to v10.

(2 Chr 22:10 NIV)  When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was , she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah.

In other words, she went through the palace. her OWN GRAND-CHILDREN. Getting rid of all the competition. And she became queen. Completely ruthless.

But there’s a ray of hope. Look at v11.

(2 Chr 22:11-12 NIV)  But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram (that’s Athaliah’s own grand-daughter), took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be ed and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah’s sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. {12} He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

What a dreadful start to life! The baby Joash saved by the skin of his teeth… or gums. Everyone else brutally ed by grandma. But at least he’s still alive. And things go well for those six years. Little Joash is raised by his sister Jehosheba and brother-in-law Jehoiada. Who just happened to be a PRIEST. And so he grows up in the TEMPLE. What a great place to learn from good role s!

And then in Ch 23. When Joash is 7, Jehoiada brings him out of hiding, and crowns him king. It’s a military coup. And when Grandma Athaliah comes out in a rage, she’s killed by the temple guards. And the kingdom belongs to Joash.

And even though his immediate family was so wicked, Joash was able to find a good example to follow. Flip over to Ch 24 v2.

(2 Chr 24:2 NIV)  Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.

It was Uncle Jehoiada who was able to keep him on track. He could guide him. Give him advice. Correct him when he went off the rails. In v3 he even chooses his wives!

Perhaps your family isn’t the best. But perhaps now you’re a Christian, there are people around YOU can look up to. Who can give you advice, and set an example. Look for them. They’re God’s provision for you.

And while these are the SUCCESS stories. There are plenty of FAILURES as well. Kings who chose to turn their backs on good examples. Good fathers, bad sons.

Like Jehoram. His dad was Jehosphaphat. A godly king. And as far as we can tell Jehosphaphat was a good dad. Look at Ch 21. He gives all his sons everything they could want. V3. Many gifts of silver and gold. Even whole cities!

And yet there’s something twisted inside Jehoram,. Because v4 tells us that when he becomes king, as soon as his power base is established, he kills all his brothers. All the threats to his throne.

And after that, things go from bad to worse. Look down to v12. God’s verdict.

(2 Chr 21:12-13 NIV)  Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said: “This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. {13} But you have walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to themselves, just as the house of Ahab did.

Notice the choice Jehoram made? He CHOSE the example he was going to follow. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, rather than his father or grandfather.

And we’ve already seen what happens to HIS son. His son was Ahaziah. A case of a bad son following a bad father. And mum did her bit as well. Look at Ch 22 v2.

(2 Chr 22:2-4 NIV)  Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri. {3} HE TOO WALKED IN THE WAYS OF THE HOUSE OF AHAB, for HIS MOTHER ENCOURAGED HIM IN DOING WRONG. {4} He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s THEY BECAME HIS ADVISERS, to his undoing.

All sorts of bad examples to follow. And bad advice to listen to. And it only ended up ruining him.

Well, that’s all four combinations. And the choice was before those first hearers, too. Whose example will you follow? Who will you listen to? The wicked, godless kings, or the just and true and godly kings.

The example they chose was crucial for the future of Israel. They were back in the land. They’d been given a fresh start by God. But if they were going to avoid the mistakes of the past, they needed to choose wisely. Follow King David. Set their hearts on following God, obeying his law, showing mercy and justice.

And we have the SAME choice. To follow bad examples, or good. And there are lessons for us to learn.

If you have a bad example to follow: Lesson One: You don’t have to repeat the mistakes of your parents. Don’t follow blindly. You have the choice.

And the positive of that lesson. Is to look for GOOD examples. Look for a Christian. Ask them to mentor you. Pray for you. Be on your side.

Perhaps you have a good example to follow? These chapters have a lesson for YOU TOO. Make sure you FOLLOW IT. Lesson Two: Don’t ASSUME you’re alright because of your parents. God has no grand-children.

Each generation must decide for THEMSELVES/ to follow God, and to submit to his Son Jesus. God has no second-hand friends. No “friend of a friend”. There are no bonus points for being a preacher’s kid. Or a missionary child.

And don’t assume because you’ve been coming to CHURCH for a long time that you’re alright. Have YOU made that decision to bow the knee to Jesus. To recognise your sin, and rebellion. And to ask for God’s forgiveness?

Lesson Two: Don’t assume you’re alright because of your parents. God has no grand-children.

2. What example do you SET?

For the last few minutes, I want to turn the question around. Put the shoe on the other foot.

Rather than what example you FOLLOW, What example do you SET? What legacy are you leaving behind? Particularly with regard to your children?

It’s a cause of incredible heartache for Christian parents. Seeing their children choose to turn away from Christian things.

And unfortunately, there is no magic solution. No plan that will GUARANTEE kids who follow Jesus. Despite what you’ll read in some books. Ultimately it’s GOD ALONE who works in the hearts of our kids to turn them towards him.

And, tragically, sometimes it seems that he DOESN’T do that, despite the best intentions and actions and prayers of Christian parents.

But most often, God DOES use the godly example of Christian parents. And we need to TAKE UP that responsibility. Let’s not be slack about it. Let’s learn the lesson from these chapters of Chronicles.

Lesson Three: The church is only ever one generation away from extinction. Don’t presume your children will automatically follow you.

Set a godly example. By the way you live your life. Is your life one you’d WANT your children to copy, or one you wish they DIDN’T see.

Think about these areas.

Who do YOU turn to when things go wrong? Is God your FIRST stop, or your LAST? Kids notice! What message do you send your kids by your devotional life? Your prayer life?

How important is God in YOUR life? How is that reflected in the decisions you make about family devotions? Or whether kids HAVE to come to church or not?

Dean’s told me that, growing up, Paul and Jenny had family devotions every day. Without fail. And that Dean used to IT! But Paul and Jenny sent a message about the importance of God in their life. Even though Dean doesn’t remember a single WORD that Paul said. And eventually, through God’s grace, that message got through.

And now I can see that Dean and Di are people who depend on God in prayer. It’s a real priority for them.

What message are you sending about the importance of MARRIAGE? How do you treat your husband or wife? Is it last on the list. Or high up?

What’s your temper like? Your patience? Your self-control? How important is godly behaviour?

What message do you send your kids about your PRIORITIES? What things occupy your attention? Take up your time? How do you spend your money?

Mum and Dad never had heaps of money, but whenever I wanted to go on a Christian camp. They ALWAYS said yes. And it must have been a sacrifice.

I didn’t really think about it until I grew up. But for them it was such a priority, they’d do without, so we could hear the gospel again and again.

Your children are watching. And learning from you. And they’re putting these lessons into practice NOW.

These chapters teach us a third lesson. Lesson Three: The church is only ever one generation away from extinction. Don’t presume your children will automatically follow you.

Perhaps you’re not a parent. It doesn’t matter. The lesson’s still the same. People still watch you. And look to you for an example. It might be at school, or work. Or your neighbours might watch you through the fence.

Even people here at church. One of the things that happens at infant baptisms is that the rest of the church promises to HELP the parents to raise the children. To set them an example that’s worth following. IN WORD AND DEED. You can be a great help to parents in this way.

Someone is looking to YOU. What are they learning from YOUR example?

And God is looking to. And he’s got his own reward in store. Have a listen to this wonderful verse tucked into Ch 16. V9.

(2 Chr 16:9 NIV)  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

God is looking for those of his people who are fully committed to him. Who are setting a good example for others to follow. And he will strengthen their hand. What a wonderful promise that is!

God’s eyes are looking for you. What does he see when he looks? Is your heart fully committed to him, and to living for him? He will strengthen your hand to do it! What a great promise that is!

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