A Father; A Grandfather

As I was reading scripture this morning, I noticed something about Josiah, king of Judah. His dad, Amon, did evil in the sight of the LORD; his grandfather, Manasseh, was one of, if not the most wicked king Judah ever had. Yet, at a very early age, Josiah sought the LORD.

“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father… (2 Chronicles 34:3, ESV)

Why would this boy-king seek the Lord at the tender age of sixteen? Although his grandfather’s wickedness is legendary, so was his repentance. Manasseh was captured by the enemy and imprisoned. While there, he sought the LORD with all his heart, humbling himself, committing himself to do those things that were right in the sight of the LORD. 

As I read about this king or that king in their early stages of reign in the book of 2 Chronicles, I see that some kings did that which was good and others that which is evil, often in succession. A good king fathers an evil one and vise-versa. Manasseh fathered Amon; Amon fathered Josiah. In one instance, a young king’s mother influenced him for evil. (2 Chronicles 22:3) Perhaps this was the case for all the kings? Did they have nanny’s that had an influence on them? Teachers, as in the case of Jehoiada? (2 Chronicles 24:2) Whatever it was, the change could be stark; one king wanting to destroy everything evil, the next raising those things back.

In the case of Josiah, I’ll bet his grandfather’s transformation, and the unmitigated deviation shown by his wicked father, had an impact on him. I would like to believe that the contrast of Grandpa Manasseh’s contrast showed Josiah that the LORD will receive all who come to him and will in no way cast them away for good.

Manasseh had a great influence on his son as well. Amon wanted to be like his dad, doing everything just as dad did. He relished in it and knew that not only would he be like father, but would even outdo him. When Manasseh returned from captivity, he was a changed man. I am sure Amon could not, or would not, understand. I could hear there conversations now. 

“You must serve the LORD now, Amon. I was wrong in all the evil that I did. I led the nation in wickedness and evil, but now I see the desolation I caused, and it is beyond what I can bare.” Said the older and wiser king.

“But dad, you were great at what you did! You were feared. You were a great king. You still are a great king! I loved everything you did and all that you accomplished.” Said the young prince.

“No, my son,” said Manasseh, “You must not say such things. Remember the LORD. Learn of him, seek him, he will be found by those who seek him.”

“I just don’t get it dad.” Said Amon.

But, in the room was a four-year-old little boy named Josiah. His ears were as open as his heart and such a tender age. Josiah loved his grandfather. He never knew him as the evil, harsh man he was before, but only a tender, loving, and godly grandfather. Josiah knew that one day, he would want to be like his grandfather.

When he began to reign as king, just four years later, he would only remember grand-dad and his admonition to follow the LORD. Even at that age, although not really ruling, but under tutors and teachers to learn how to reign, he knew he wanted to be a godly king. The reason? Because of a godly man that once was a wicked man. As he progressed in school, he began to be assured in his desire to seek the LORD and, at sixteen, he made his choice as king. 

Where are you at, dad? Do you feel as though your B.C. (Before Christ) days are haunting you? Do you see that your children are not walking in the ways of the LORD? Each son or daughter will have to make a choice for themselves. They will have to decide whether they will do that which is right in the sight of the LORD or whether to do evil. But that does not mean that you do not have a chance to make a difference, even when you feel as though your words are hitting a brick wall. Remember, God is faithful. Continue in prayer. Continue to be a light and a witness. Don’t give up because God will not give up on you.

Calling All Sinners

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17, ESV

Jesus broke the mold. According to Leviticus 22:1–6, if a person touched or even was around someone unclean, they became unclean. So eating and drinking with ‘sinners’ was tantamount to committing Rabbinical-Holy-Man suicide. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors (the worse category of sinners of the day) because they needed the most help.

This reminds me of my High School days. A lot of the time I got to know my teachers and sat in the front row of desks. Why? Because I was such a good kid? No. I was actually kind of a pain in the neck. I was constantly getting into trouble, oh, not bad stuff, just ‘horsing’ around and constantly joking and talking. The teacher would put me in front because she wanted to keep her eye on me. I truly believe they wanted to help me. 

Later, when I became a believer at 16, I still wasn’t fully under control yet. I remember ditching one of my classes and sitting on one of the stairways, the principal walked up and asked me what I was doing. Actually, I was reading my Bible and showed him. He was not mad. He didn’t even tell me to get to class. He asked if I believed what the Bible said. I said I did. He asked for the Bible and he opened it up to Proverbs 12:1 and showed me where it read:

“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.”

Proverbs 12:1, NKJV

I’ll never forget that day. A man of such a high standing in the school and he spent time with me. He knew I didn’t want to be stupid. Then he said I could have the day off from that class, but I needed to be there the next day.

Jesus did something similar when he met with those who were the social outcasts of the day. Instead of making him unclean, he made them clean. He preached the gospel to them. He allowed them to get to know him and offered them forgiveness. 

Jesus was a religious leader. And he wasn’t. He wasn’t anything like those who paraded around in flowing robes demanding respect from the masses. No, he was a leader with integrity. The other religious leaders could not understand why Jesus would meet with sinners. But there were no others that needed the kind of doctoring he would bring them. They needed compassion. The religious leaders wanted them to be isolated.

When Jesus said that he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners, he didn’t mean that there were certain righteous people that could not be saved, but in reality, there were none that could be saved. Only a confessed sinner sees their need for a Savior. A self-righteous person does not, and therefore, they never are saved.

The Great Physician is with you. If you humbly go to him, he will give you the greatest of all healings-the forgiveness of sins and being accepted in his family. 

A Man’s Hand

There must have been some disappointment in the servant of Elijah. If not, perhaps some doubt. The prophet he served said there would be rain. This was exciting news because the country was suffering from a terrible drought. It would be nice to be able to grow crops and take a bath or drink a tall glass of cold water. 

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”

1 Kings 18:41–43, NKJV

I am sure cattle were suffering and therefore a meat shortage meant no backyard grilling. But the prophet had heard from God that this would all be over soon. 

When we hear such news, we could either be encouraged and excited or live in disbelief. They had been disappointed. After all, they were living in a drought. Would God finally open up the windows of heaven and give them rain? 

It does take faith. Faith is not self-confidence, although it may appear that way to others. It is not positive thinking, which it can be mistaken for. Faith is a belief that God exists and that He desires to help those who call upon His name. As a person of “faith”, I do not assert my own will and tell myself that it is God speaking, but I listen for God’s “still, small voice”. How can I discern the difference between the “Voice” and presumption? Because my voice is mostly concerned about me. I must learn to hear myself, truly so that I know when the authentic voice of God speaks to my heart. That voice is completely consistent with what He says in Holy Scripture. There is a sweet spot that when I know, I know. 

It takes a while to get to know someone. Even if they want the relationship as bad as you do. We must give and take. We must try not to dominate the conversation, nor be the silent one. But we must interact or, as my wife would say, hit the tennis ball back. When we do, it is surprising how well we get to know someone and how easily the conversation goes. It is the same way with God. When we do this, we are able to hear his voice, know it is Him, and believe that what He has said will come to pass. 

Well, that is the conversation Elijah had with God. They talked back and forth often. I am sure Elijah could discern that God was ready to lift the drought, so he asked. He believes that God would do it. 

Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”

1 Kings 18:44, NKJV

It took seven times to see a cloud as small as a man’s hand. Elijah got so excited that he did what no weatherman would do—he gave the forecast from a small cloud—“rain’s a-comin’” There would be a huge storm that would end the drought for good. 

Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

1 Kings 18:45, NKJV

It happened all because of a relationship. Some people want God to be a genie of sorts to grant all their wishes when they say the right words of “faith”. Others are so stand-off-ish that they dare not ask God for a thing because, in their estimation, God doesn’t answer with miracles anymore. The truth is, both need a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus. In fact, we all do. 

I am not Elijah. I am Steve. I am still getting to know God, even though He knows me. When I seek Him, I’ll find Him, that’s what He said. I am still seeking and He is still revealing more and more of Himself in this relationship we have. Jesus made this possible for all. We can all be in that sort of relationship with God. In intimacy comes more intimacy. When we get to know God so well, when we ask, we receive. Not because of some wish fulfillment, but because we are able to discern his voice and will and when we want what God wants, we get what we want. 

Blessings to you! If you do not know Jesus, you can have this kind of relationship. All you have to do is to start the conversation. We call that prayer. You tell him you are ready to stop running and you are ready to stop your life of sin with His help and you believe that He exists. But even more so you want that relationship where there is a conversation between you and Him, knowing He is your master and teacher, being willing to do what He wants as He reveals it. That’s it! In the name of Jesus, you are in the family of God. Keep listening for His voice through the Bible. Get into a Bible-teaching church and begin to get to know your brothers and sisters in this family. Remember, you are loved!