Monday, October 27, 2008

The Generations

The book of 2 Chronicles, was meant to "chronicle" the journey of God's chosen people from the establishment of Israel, it's separation, the turmoil in Israel & Judah, their ultimate destruction and exile, and how God brought them back to their land. It is a book written for the generations that came after to remind them of both their spiritual and physical heritage.

I have found this a fascinating story. Of course, some can look at it simply as a re-telling of the books of the bible that came before it. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed re-examining these facts knowing that this was speaking to those later generations. It makes me wonder, "What is my story to my children?" If someone wrote a book chronicling the generations that I fall into, what sort of things would be written? It makes me more interested in the story about the generations before me, and also inspires me to "leave a legacy" for my children that encourages them to follow Christ. The interesting thing, is that no matter what legacy we hand down, we can never be sure how this "torch" will be taken, and the race that will be run using it.

I turn to numerous examples of this from the book of 2 Chronicles. Beginning in chapter 28, we learn about a string of Kings in Judah, through a brief summary of their reign. The first King introduced in this chapter is King Ahaz, of Judah who "unlike David his father, he did not do right in the eyes of the Lord." His son Hezekiah succeeded him at age 25, and "he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just like his father David had done." He took back the sanctuary, making it holy again, he called his people out of their idolatry, and called them back into sacrificial offerings. Hezekiah honored God, and so God blessed him. In fact, at the end of chapter 29, it states that "Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly." What a substantial change that was for the nation of Judah between Hezekiah and his father Ahaz. This reminds me that no matter what things we bear from our past decisions, hurts, or environment, we can become different when we truly serve God!

Through chapters 30 & 32, 2 Chronicles goes on to tell the story about all Hezekiah did to restore the land and people to the Lord. However, after a long life of serving God, at the end of chapter 32, Hezekiah become proud of all "He" had accomplished, and the Lord's wrath was on him. He repented of his pride, and God took away his wrath. Even after serving the Lord faithfully for so many years, Hezekiah fell in the eyes of the Lord. However, it is not the fact that he fell, but that Hezekiah recognized his failure and repented of it to the Lord. It is refreshing to know that if we fall, we can acknowledge our sin and repent to the Lord, who forgives us.

After Hezekiah, his son Menasseh becomes King. Talk about stark contrast, Menasseh does evil in the eyes of the Lord following all sorts of detestable practices. How can a child reared with a father figure like Hezekiah immediately change the entire course of the kingdom to evil? He had a great role model, who seemed to "talk the talk and walk the walk", and yet still, Menasseh was unfaithful to the Lord. This question haunts me. If I train my children faithfully to know God, there is no assurance that they won't behave like Menasseh. How frustrating this must be as a parent! I can't imagine what Hezekiah would have thought. Everything he had worked hard to change from his predeccessor Ahaz, was being reverted right back to evil by his son! When the Lord called to him at first, neither him or his people would listen. So the Lord brought destruction upon him, and in his distress, Menasseh sought the favor of the Lord, and humbled himself before him. Isn't that just the case? We go about doing what we want to do thinking that we are in control, in authority. Then calamity strikes and we seek to find power in something bigger than ourselves. We realize we don't have it all under our control. It is refreshing that Menasseh, having fallen away from his Christian upbringing, eventually turns to God. Perhaps those parents who have children who have wandered can find comfort in the story of Menasseh. Perhaps it is their example along that teaches that child where to turn once the calamity strikes that brings them close to the Lord.

Amon, Menasseh's son succeeded him for 2 years and did evil, refusing to humble himself to the Lord. His own people conspired against him and killed him, and Josiah, Amon's son succeeded him. Josiah became king at eight years old. "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left." I really like the story of Josiah, and how he faithfully served the Lord. You can find his story in 2 Chronicles chapters 34 & 35.

2 Chronicles interests me because it shows repeatedly how generation after generation serves and turns away from God. We have much to learn from this book of the Bible. What kind of leader in God's kingdom will you be? Who will you offer service to? In whom will you palce your trust? If you were given power and authority, would you yeild it to your creator? Or would the power and prestige end up going to your head and overthrow you? Do we pridefully call our successes our own? When we do, do we repent immediately like Hezekiah?

Lord I pray that my life on earth bring glory to you. I pray that all I accomplish be done in your name alone, and that any and all sin that I may have be revealed and repented of. I ask for your help in opening my eyes to see what is not favorable to you Lord. Some of the kings above served you, but left the hgih places in tact, or didn't remove idols from the people. Help me to live out your precious will in all areas of my life, and to expect others to be accountable to you alone, regardless of the personal persecution that may befall me from such a stance.

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