Focus: The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal. He sought his father’s God and obeyed his commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel. 2 Chronicles 17:3-4
Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but he went out among the people, traveling from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, encouraging the people to return to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 2 Chronicles 19:4
Jehoshaphat’s father, King Asa, started out as a King who served the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 14:2-6, we are told that “Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God” and God gave Asa and Judah peace. However, in his later years something changed – Asa allowed fear to grip him. In his fear, he turned away from trusting God and instead chose to trust man. In 2 Chronicles 16, we learn that the King of Israel invaded Judah — remember God’s people split between the kingdoms of Israel (who immediately turned from God) and Judah (who kind of seesawed between trusting and not trusting God) after King Solomon’s death. Instead of trusting God to protect Judah as God did early in Asa’s reign when the Ethiopians attacked with an army of a million men (2 Chronicles 14:9-14), Asa stopped trusting God. Instead, he drained the treasury of the Temple of the Lord of gold and silver, and sent the treasure to the King of Aram begging him to protect Judah from Israel. Bad move. God sent one of His prophets to warn Asa. The prophet told Asa: “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” Asa didn’t like what God said through the prophet and sent him to prison instead of heeding the warning, repenting, and turning back to the Lord. Another bad move.
Asa suffered through the rest of his reign without peace and with a serious foot disease until he finally died. I go back and recount the history of Asa because it’s important to what I feel God is leading me to write about in today’s devotional as we will soon see.
We pick up today’s reading with Asa’s son Jehoshaphat becoming King of Judah. Over the course of the later part of Asa’s reign, the people of Judah must have reverted back to their idolatry and false god worship because we learn in today’s reading that Jehoshaphat went to great lengths to destroy these shrines and encourage his people to return to the Lord. Jehoshaphat was king over a nation, but he still faced a choice that might be one many of us face. We may have been raised or currently find ourselves in an environment that doesn’t believe in God or may even be hostile to God. We may have come from circumstances where the only way people around us even know the name Jesus Christ is as a curse word. Jehoshaphat lived through his father’s reign. He probably saw at least some of the time his father was faithful to God and the peace and prosperity that came from it as well as when his father turned from God and the resulting chaos. His choice was either would he carry on the evil legacy that Asa adopted over the last five years of his life where he turned away from God, or would he humble himself and seek God as his Lord. Our choice today is similar: will I carry on a sinful family legacy that turns away from God or even mocks Him, or will I humble myself to my Creator and seek Jesus as my Lord and Savior?
The Bible provides us with a lot of lessons concerning family legacy. We are told in several places that there are consequences that carry through generations of a family when the adults live in a way that is contrary to God’s will. For example, Exodus 20:5 tells us: “You shall not worship them or serve them (false gods of the people of Canaan); for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the parents on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”. These verses are often misinterpreted though. These verse don’t mean that God will punish the children for their parents’ sins; instead, they tell us that there are consequences that affect a family when sin is present. For instance, when a mother or father commits adultery, it isn’t the child’s fault; however, the child suffers the consequences of a broken family. God is very clear in His Word in multiple places that a person is accountable only for his or her own sin and that He doesn’t punish a child for the sins of his or her parent. For example in Ezekiel 8:20 we read “The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.” John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life” – it doesn’t say whatever son or daughter as long as the parents believe; God’s promise is that we are each accountable for our own sin, and whoever seeks forgiveness for that sin through Jesus Christ is forgiven and becomes adopted as a son or daughter of God.
I really like how this topic is discussed at gotquestions.org (http://www.gotquestions.org/sins-of-the-father.html):
Sin is never a private issue. It always affects those around us. This is especially true in families. The sins of the parents will affect their children. However, God is gracious and merciful. We are all marred by sin (Romans 3:23). We are all given the option to accept Jesus’ cleansing (Romans 6:23). We can be adopted into God’s family and inherit a new nature. The Bible even speaks of being born again in genetic terms: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them” (1 John 3:9, emphasis added). God forgives sin when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace and mercy. Please forgive me for the sin in my life. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Please help me to let go of any family legacies that are offensive to You or keep me from You. Please help me to live my life and lead my family (if applicable) in a way that puts You first. In Jesus’s name… Amen