So there he is in 2 Kings 18: a grown man of 25 years, taking over the crown of Judah (v. 2). Truth be told, he didn't exactly start out with a prize; the kingdom was mired in apostasy, idol worship (v. 4) and even those who were religious and true to God had somehow managed to pervert their faith.
Named Hezekiah, he "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (v. 3) even though he grew up as son of Ahaz (v. 1) and might have watched his brother become a child sacrifice to Molech (16:3). Hezekiah did not waste any time but cleaned house and reinstituted the worship to the Lord.
Leading by example, he must have been a great leader since even in the face of utter annihilation his people would obey him (v. 36). Quick to take his problems to God (19:14), he relied on Him to fix things - and God always came through.
So, what's the problem?
All in all, Hezekiah looked like he had everything going well. He had risen above his circumstances and become a leader that was an inspiration to his people and a joy to His God. He did not despair in the face of adversity and he did not shrink back in his faith when the problems were literally knocking on the city gates.
Actually, King Hezekiah's problems became evidence after God granted him a favor that is not found oft recorded in other interactions the Lord had in those days!
In 2 Kings 20 the Bible talks about an illness that the king suffered. God warned him of his impending death and admonishes him to put his things in order, make sure the will is up to date, etc. (v. 1) but Hezekiah is not done living yet. In an unprecedented prayer that just barely falls short of hubris, he asks God to remember his walk. No, he does not ask specifically for anything but he wants to remind God of their time together, and the Lord is moved.
Seeking to reward His faithful servant, God grants Hezekiah an additional 15 years of life (v. 6). Yet something had changed in Hezekiah.
He became a doubter who needed reassurance.
Maybe it was the brush with mortality or the reminder that his time on this earth was finite, but suddenly King Hezekiah was no longer as trusting in the Lord as he had been in the past. Asking for proof of God's intention (v. 10) he receives it, but his character has changed.
When well wishers from Babylon arrive, he takes them on a guided tour of his palace and goes through great pains to show them his riches, one asset at a time (v. 13). Even as God is quick to deal with Hezekiah's misplaced trust and reassurance in earthly riches (v. 17), the king does not change his attitude and instead simply evidences a "whew, at least it won't take place in my lifetime" kind of attitude (v. 19).
In those 15 years the Lord gave him, he did a few things and had children, namely the future king of Judah, Manasseh, who is said to have been one of the worst (21:9) kings Judah ever suffered.
Are you parenting like Hezekiah?
Even as nothing of his parenting skills is said in the Bible, the odds are good that the doubting nature he developed and the sudden overly reliant attitude toward earthly riches had an adverse influence on his children in general and the future king in particular.
1. Do your children see you - the born again Christian - time and again doubt the power, goodness, and love of God?
2. Do your children hear you malign God's church, grumble over giving a tithe, and complain about the leadership's sermons?
3. Do your children see you turn to God as a matter of last resort instead of at the first signs of trouble?
4. Are you living in such a manner that "looking out for number one" means that you need to take or keep a job that forces you to work when you should be in church rather than looking for a job that will allow you to worship the real number one on His schedule?
If so, the odds are good that you, too, are parenting like Hezekiah. Manasseh never saw his father in his glory day of being wholeheartedly devoted to God but only when he undertook his spiritual decline. Sure, Manasseh still had a choice, just like Hezekiah chose to elevate himself from his father's bad example, but lacking his dad's conviction he did not choose to do so.
It's not too late to wise up!
Unlike Hezekiah, we have the chance to play Monday morning quarterbacking to his kingship and his walk of faith and it is evident that free will or not, to give your kids the best possible chance at seeing a true Christian walk for all its worth, they need to see you in your prime, not in your faded glory.
In Revelation 3:14 - 20, Jesus admonishes an errant church in Laodicea to leave lukewarm ways behind (v. 16) and to realize that earthly riches are pretty much useless in the eyes of heaven (v. 17). Jesus calls for earnest repentance (v. 19).
Therefore, whether you decide to learn from the example of Hezekiah or decide to just go ahead and listen to Jesus, remember that when it comes to money and other possession, they can be wiped away quickly by a flood, fire, hurricane or earthquake! Also, gold - which we so highly prize on earth - in heaven is little more than pavement (Revelation 21:21)! Leave your children with a lasting impression of a faithful walk with God that does not require the retelling of old stories of glory and devotion.
If you find that you keep telling the stories of your spiritual walk from the college days or keep prefacing them with "oh, that was before you were born," you know it's been too long and you are running the risk of parenting like Hezekiah!
About Sylvia Cochran
Sylvia Cochran - Christian Parenting Corner and Common Sense Parenting and Parenting By the Book Christian Parenting Book Reviews
Sylvia is a seasoned writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Courses at Suite 101. Sylvia's goal is to provide help and encouragement to raise the next generation of Christ-followers.
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