If the course of our country, wherever that may be, is to progress in a God-fearing and righteous manner, that must start in the Christian home. We cannot expect the world around us to pursue a path we secretly balk against ourselves. Casting down idols in the public square will not last if we are storing them in our closets.
What had originally been planned as a brief call home to wish my grandfather a happy birthday turned into a two-hour conversation with the family as they viewed their grandson and everyone provided updates from their portion of the world. As is customary when we meet or chat, the conversation turned to how we had recently been challenged or encouraged by Scripture or the preached word.
Recent events in the world have certainly provided much food for scriptural meditation.
Earlier in the day I had read Psalm 78 where Asaph recounts all that the Lord had done for Israel and how they had pursued idolatry regardless. The beginning of the Psalm struck me with what Israel had been commanded to do in Deuteronomy 6 as the background for their antecedent behavior throughout history. Despite the clear commands that would place their hope in God and ensure they were not stubborn and rebellious like their fathers, Asaph states several times that Israel tested God, broke His covenant, or sinned still more against Him.
Multiple generations of Israel failed to follow a clear command thereby opening the door to breaking a host of others.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
God’s people did not teach His commandments to their children. The result of such faithlessness, as you can read in 1&2 Kings, was rampant idolatry, injustice, and sexual immorality. The Lord divided the kingdom of His people and when their transgressions could be tolerated no longer, He handed them over to their enemies to be judged and winnowed. (As I will highlight in an upcoming series, the Lord always preserved a remnant of His faithful people though they experienced the hardships along with their countrymen.)
Scripture is not silent about how parents are to raise their children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9, 11:19; Proverbs 19:18, 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21 to highlight a few); in both covenants, parents are told to explicitly train their children in the commandments of God. When parents ignore such instruction, disaster inevitably follows.
One example from my recent studies in 1 Kings comes at the hands of King Asa, a temporary reprieve in what would prove to be a long line of disastrous kings. The following three verses tell us a great deal of the state of Israel only three kings removed from Solomon (Jeroboam, Rehoboam, and Abijam only covered 20 years).
And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done. He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all of the idols that his fathers had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron.
1 Kings 15:11-13
Asa’s grandfather, Rehoboam, was responsible for setting up altars and temples to false gods, leading Judah into rank idolatry, and establishing cult prostitution in the land by adopting the practices of the very nations the Lord had driven out before them. Scripture even states that he led the people of Judah into greater sins than their forefathers had committed.
Rehoboam no doubt observed these vary practices from his own father, Solomon, who married 700 women in addition to 300 concubines and fostered their idolatry in the land. The details of what Solomon allowed are for a post in the aforementioned series; for now the focus is on the impact it invariably had upon his lineage. Each successive generation inherited sinful practices and yet refused to deal with them.
When Asa took the throne, he was dealing with three generations worth of idolatry and wickedness. It surely would have been easy to maintain the status quo, especially since the queen mother, his grandmother, was keeping the practices alive within the family. One could hear “this is the family way” in the background.
Asa could have dealt with the national issues exclusively. He could have outlawed the idolatry and prostitution and obtained a clean public image; the traditional family king, perhaps. Many a politician and ruler has done just that, hiding personal and family issues as far from the public eye as possible and hiring individuals to manage their public image. “Let me champion this cause of which I myself am guilty,” just doesn’t have a convincing ring to it.
Yet, Asa surely knew what Matthew Henry said about this passage:
Bad practices will never be suppressed in the country while they are supported in the courts [home].
Matthew Henry on 1 Kings 15:13
What we are seeing right now is the long nurtured fruit of bad practices permitted in the home. My focus here is not the pagan world behaving in a pagan way but the bad practices adopted by families confessing Christ. It does not take a great deal of sifting through the 2018 State of Theology to figure out that many professing evangelicals are wildly ignorant of the Scriptures they claim to adhere too. For example:
- 52% agree that mankind is good by nature and only sins a little.
- 51% agree that God accepts the worship of all religions.
- 78% agree that Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God; this is what the Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses teach.
- 53% of 18-34 year old evangelicals believe that the Bible contains myths and is not literally true.
- 36% believe God is actually concerned with their day-to-day decisions.
- 51% believe that the Bible’s teachings about homosexuality do not apply today.
- 46% believe gender is a matter of choice.