Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Children...on Thrones??

I have finished another read through of the Bible. When I got to Revelation 20, something NEW stood out to me. (I love that about Scripture--always having God show me new things!)

"Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus, for proclaiming the Word of God. And I saw the souls of those who had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They came to life again and reigned with Christ for a thousand years..." Revelation 20:4

Perhaps it was in combination with something I heard that this verse made it's impact. In a podcast sermon by Tommy Nelson this has been stuck in my head, "This [young] generation will have to know the Word of God like they did in the first century to live a righteous life in today's culture."

I suddenly realized that the people sitting on the thrones were there because they had stood up to all the evil in the final days. They were strong. They were in fact beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and their incredible commitment to preach the Truth of God's Word.

Then it hit me:

Those people on those thrones COULD be my very own children.

I don't know the timing of Revelation. Neither do you.

How are those people who end up in the final days learn that passionate, stand-by-my-Jesus faith? For certain they do not just half heartedly choose to be beheaded!! And the second group of souls that John saw...they were ones who had not worshiped the beast or his statue and refused the mark of the beast. That means they too stood up to culture, pressure and the call to survive and counted their faith in Christ as more valuable than life.

Then I wondered, would my very own Jensi, Anneli, Oliver, Zareb and Darrah Kate be ready to stand up to that kind of pressure?   Would they stay faithful in the final days??

I was suddenly feeling very nervous. Very fidgety. A flutter in my heart.

This. is. on. me. ON ME!

I am the one who is with them, raising them, hoping to cultivate hearts that love the Lord and care about others. I am the one who seeks to teach them how to respond to people who attack, curse, challenge and lie about you. I am the one who demonstrates mercy, grace and compassion to the underdog. I am the one who must help them navigate through this culture, loving the people in the world but not being of it. I am the one showing them how to live a life of faith.


I am the one who must answer their questions lovingly and direct them towards God's Word. I am the one who must sort out their troubles and show them to learn from them and how they can handle them better next time.

Suddenly the responsibility of raising godly children in a depraved generation never seemed more challenging. And the call to do so for such a future as we (or our descendants) will have seems all the more weighty.

This morning, I began reading in Isaiah. The first verse inspired me to do a bit of a research: "These visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem came to Isaiah son of Amoz during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah--all kings of Judah." Isaiah 1:1

"Who were these kings?" I wondered. I dug back into 2 Kings and found out. I began to make some notes about each king. Turns out, these are 4 generations written out in a row.  Uzziah (I think of him as famous from the Isaiah 6 verses about "send me!") is Great-granddaddy, Jotham is Granddaddy, Ahaz is Bad Daddy and Hezekiah is the son.

Turns out that 3 out of 4 of these kings were called "good." But something interesting emerged: each had NOT torn down the pagan shrines. Hmmm. I decided to go backward in time and see if THEIR fathers had a similar pattern.

O. my. word.

Here's what I found:

Joash began this whole "incomplete obedience" thing. He got the throne at age 7. (Yikes!) He was trained by a priest. Apparently the priest didn't mention that "other" thing about the shrines, or he just didn't press little Joash to boldly pull them down. (There are to be no other gods before the True God and those pagan shrines were a tad bit of a problem.)

Amaziah is Joash's son. He takes the throne at age 25. He has a father to train him how to be a king. Here's what the Scripture says about him, "Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, but not like his ancestor David. Instead he followed the example of his father, Joash. Amaziah did NOT destroy the pagan shrines, where the people offered sacrifices and burnt incense." (2 Kings 14:3-4) Hmmm.

Well, along comes Uzziah. He's Amaziah's son. He gets the throne at age 16 and guess what? He was good, but didn't destroy those pagan shrines. By now, they were part of the landscape. He probably didn't even notice them as standing out. And this is our "great grand daddy" that I mentioned. Is it any wonder how the rest of this plays out?

Jotham gets the throne at 25 and yep, you guessed it, he is good like his father BUT he doesn't take down those treacherous pagan shrines either.

Does anyone? Look around...guess not. It must just be cultural. It's okay, everybody's doing it. Sound familiar?

Well, guess what? Jotham's son is a man named Ahaz. He is wearing the crown at age 20. And all those years of incomplete obedience apparently have come to a head. This king goes whole hog in the OTHER direction. He not only doesn't destroy those pagan shrines, he sacrifices one of his own children. (In addition to a whole list of other evil things!)

Alarming??? Yes? Scares me too!

Now delightfully, after the rotten king that Ahaz was to Judah, his own son Hezekiah turned completely to the Lord. Was it the total disgust of having a brother burned at the stake to a false god that woke him up? Hezekiah's life was one that pleased the Lord and Scripture says that "there was never another king like him in land of Judah, either before or after his time." Oh the things to study on this king's life!!!

So back to the thrones and thinking about my children. If the legacy of incomplete obedience (which we could go out on a limb here and call DISobedience) began long ago in the lineage of these kings...and the subsequent generations never once looked to see if MAYBE they should destroy those shrines...I just wonder...

What are the pagan shrines today? What are we as parents who desire to raise up a godly generation tolerating as part of the "landscape" that might end up hurting our children, grandchildren or great grandchildren? Or beyond?

Will YOUR children be sitting on those thrones? I surely want to be parenting in such a way that they are READY to be sitting on them.

And *GULP* that means I have a lot of personal examination to do along the way!!!

Oh God, help me raise them righteously!!!

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