Friday, October 28, 2011

the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...or does it?

My favorite brother, Matthew has such knowledge and desire for the Word.  His oldest son, Levi was named after Jacob’s son Levi.  The tribe of Levi was in charge of the tabernacle (God’s temporary dwelling place among the Israelites). On October 15th, the newest member of my family was born- my nephew, Josiah Samuel Dale Goode.  These two nephews have names with incredibly rich meaning.  King Josiah and the tribe of Levi honored God and are remembered for their trust in the LORD (YHWH).
In class this week, we studied the Kingdom era.  Let’s play a little history catch up... After Moses passes away in Moab and Joshua succeeds him, Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promise Land.  The twelve tribes settle and are soon in cycles of sin during the Judges era.  The people cry out for a king and Samuel appoints Saul then David.  Solomon succeeds his father David.  After Solomon’s reign, his son Reheboam comes into power but Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam, leads a rebellion and Israel splits, north and south.  Therefore, the kingdom era includes the united and divided kingdoms.  
During the divided kingdom, there were 19 kings in the Northern Kingdom and 20 kings in the Southern Kingdom.   Every king in the Northern Kingdom was evil and God eventually brought judgment on them through the invasion of Assyria.  However, there were a few (~8) kings in the Southern Kingdom who were “good”.  King Josiah was one of those kings: “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or the left.” (2 Kings 22:2) However, King Josiah’s father, Amon, was an evil king.  Amon reigned for 2 years and was killed by his servants.  “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” “He abandoned the Lord, the God of his fathers and did not walk in the way of the LORD.” (2 Kings 21:20 & 22)  The contrast of their lives is black and white.  Amon “served the idols that his father served and worshiped them.” (2 Kings 21:21), yet Josiah did not follow in the foot steps of his father.  When Josiah was 18, his secretary found the Book of the Law while visiting the high priest and he had him bring it back to him.  Josiah’s secretary read the Book to him and he “tore his clothes.” (2 Kings 22:11).  He was so moved by God he read it to his people and made a “covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments....and all the people joined in the covenant.” (2 Kings 22:3) Josiah also restores the Passover.  Talk about a reformation! 
In Exodus 34:7, God says he will not let the sins go unpunished and will punish the children for the sin of their fathers to the third and forth generations.  This seems to be contrasted in Ezekiel 18:19- 20, “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”  Our speaker this week, Charles Stolfus, helped us understand these two verses.  Our sins will always have consequences and some for years to come (the third and forth generations) but each believer is solely responsible for their own sin, accountable to God for their own actions. 
This is a freeing truth!  If you parents didn’t live a life that honored God, your life may have affects from that but you can walk in freedom.  The sins of our parents do not have control over us; their mistakes do not predict the way our lives will turn out.  Amon was an evil man who did not follow God, yet his young son honored God and lead his people back to the LORD.  
My Dad trained up my brother in the way he should go, and now that he’s older, he has not departed from it (Prov 22:6) and he is instilling that into his children.  Our God is a compassionate God who still cared for and looked after His people, Israel, even when an evil rebellious king was in power, and He will do the same today...for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

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