Bible Reading for: April 21
We are given a choice in this world. We can walk in the ways of a fallen world, or we can walk in the ways of God. The choice of our walk will affect our children. So, how will you walk?
Boy, it just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn’t it? At least in Israel. In Judah, Asa, the grandson of Jeroboam, actually turned Judah back to God by destroying the foreign gods and idols. He went so far as to remove his grandmother, Maacah, from her position as “queen mother” because “she had made an abominable image for Asherah”. While he failed to take down the high places, his heart was “wholly true to the Lord all his days.”
While he reigns in Judah, Israel is going to go through a series of kings all worse than the first, and it seems as if each new king who comes to power through treachery kills off all the descendants of his predecessor. These guys show humanity at its most selfish and worst.
Since we are supposed to be looking at what God would have us understand about Godly manhood through our Bible reading together, I’d like to discuss the consequences of our behavior as men and as fathers. While I list these as two separate items, if we have children, then we are both men and fathers, the two cannot be viewed as two different entities; they are the same man.
We have heard God say that He will visit punishment on the children for the bad behavior of the father.
Numbers 14:18 ESV
“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
I did a quick search and found four different Old Testament passages that said, “to the third and the fourth generation” when discussing the punishment of those that walk away from Him. God has told these kings of Israel what comes of walking away from Him but why does God punish the children to the third and fourth generation? How can they be held accountable for the acts of their father?
If you will notice, each subsequent generation of Israel seems to be worse than the previous. Having learned bad behavior and self-centeredness from the previous generation, the subsequent generations build on their parent’s debauchery and perversion. It isn’t that God punishes the innocent. It is that bad parenting leads to bad behavior in the children. What is the natural outcome for children of parents who do not walk in the ways of the Lord?
Today’s reading, and many before it, point to the fact that as men and fathers we have an incredible responsibility to practice, model, and teach a godly lifestyle. The errors of our ways will very likely be mimicked by our children, bringing on them the same awful consequences we bring on our own heads.
Now lest anyone try to blame their bad behavior on their father, God provides us the example of Asa who, without the modeling of a godly father, turned his heart toward God. A father’s behavior influences a child, but a man has the power to choose a right relationship with God. There is no way out of personal accountability. We are responsible for the example we set, but we are also responsible for the decisions we make. You cannot blame your father for your bad choices, but you should blame yourself for the example you set for your children.
Ah, the blame game. What’s the point? Why do we always attempt to assign blame? There is a point to blame when used appropriately; when it is used to hold ourselves accountable. We should accept blame for our own behavior so as to motivate a godly change. By the same token, we should offer forgiveness to others so we can point them to ultimate forgiveness.
I want to touch on another aspect of this. God does not order each successive king to destroy the offspring of his predecessor. These evil dudes were doing this in their own wickedness; in a futile attempt to maintain power. The child of a previous king would be a challenge to their throne. These ruthless fellows were not about to allow a perceived threat to remain alive.
In my view, God does not order evil to be done. Having given His creation free will, He allows us to experience the natural consequences of evil acts. Even the “innocent” suffer in a fallen world. Jesus sure did. The suffering is from man not from God. Again, in my view, when God says He will visit punishment on people, He is saying that He is allowing it to happen, not commanding it to happen. He knows it will take place because He knows what is to come. I do not mean to say that God can’t or won’t use the evil acts of others to accomplish His purpose. In fact, that is exactly what I am saying. God does use the evil acts of others to accomplish His purpose. Of course, He uses the good acts of others to accomplish His purpose as well. What is that purpose? To reconcile His creation with Himself.
Guys, your witness to the world begins in your own home, and just like in the real world, it starts with your walk. Walk with God. Practice daily discipleship. Let the light of Christ shine from within. Leave a legacy of joy and peace!
Have a blessed day!
Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!