Growing up I had this mantra that I lived by, that I would not be like my parents, that I would be very different from them. This mantra did not come up because they were these evil people, being young is just a naïve place where you come up with all sorts of mantras. Having said this, there still were aspects of my parents that I did not want to emulate. However, many years later, I am still astounded at how similar I am to my parents. I have come to the conclusion that genes are such a strong thing; we are very much like our parents in most cases. And the Word of God seems to affirm this.
I am currently reading the book of 2 Kings. I am astounded at how each record of the kings of Israel seems to compare these kings to Jeroboam. Jeroboam was made the King of the northern tribes of Israel following the revolt that led to the split of the Kingdom of Israel to 2. However, he was a very insecure king who reasoned that unless he was careful, the kingdom would return to the dynasty of David. He thought that when the people of the northern tribe of Israel went to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Temple of the Lord, they would give allegiance to the King of Judah. To prevent this, he had pagan shrines and other idol worship places set up in Samaria so that the northern tribes would not have to go to Jerusalem. And with these simple acts, there begun the years of pagan worship. Jeroboam therefore became the man distinguished as the man “who made Israel sin”.
As I have read this story, what I have found to be even sadder than that Jeroboam was the man who made Israel sin, has been all the comparisons of future kings to him. It is almost like he was the SI unit of evil and the kings were therefore measured against him to see who would break away from this trend. Sadly, many kings were recorded as follows “but he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam led Israel to commit.”
Jeroboam must have had strong genes. It is bad enough that this guy is responsible for a whole nation sinning, but even future kings cannot seem to get away from the grip of the sins he committed. He seems to have passed onto future generations such similarities to himself. I wonder if these kings found themselves, like me, often saying that they do not want to be like their forefathers, yet finding themselves being just that.
Strong genes battle
I wonder if these kings fought the battle against the inherited genes. I wonder if these kings desired to be different and set themselves apart from the failures of the previous generations. I wonder.
How many people do I know who are fighting this kind of battle without much success just as these kings? How many people like me have discovered how strong genes are? How many people do I know that have come from abusive families and are now perpetrating the same thing in their own families? How many people do I know that have come from alcoholic families and slowly are now digging into the same hole? How many people do I know that have come from families where adultery was common and now unbeknown to them, they are perpetrating the same thing?
The truth is we are fruits of the genes we come from. Denying this does not make it any less of a reality.
So is there hope I ask?
Is this therefore a lost battle? Should we all just sink into the good and the bad that previous generations got into? Is there any chance of our generation being greater than previous generations or are we doomed to be as good or as bad as they were? Did these kings ever stand a chance of taking a path different from what King Jeroboam set out?
Is there hope for Africa I ask? Africa is living out the genes of previous generations. We come from generations that worshipped other gods; we come from generations that were big in witchcraft; we come from generations that were big in corruption; we come from generations that were big in tribalism; we come from generations that lived in utter poverty. Is there hope for Africa?
These verses make it even a scarier reality, “You shall not worship them (other gods) or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Is there hope I ask again?
And the answer is
As I have read 2 Kings, I have come across kings that were kinda different, kings who seemed to have gotten away from the ‘Jeroboam gene’.
The bible records of these kings “the king did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight but not like David…..he did not destroy the pagan shrines and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense.”
These were good people. Unlike the Jeroboam’s, they did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. Yet one thing still remained; the one thing that would have distinguished them and made them like David. You see David was no perfect man, but David was not an in-between man. He did not do half living.
On the other hand, these kings did just that. They did what was pleasing before God yes, but never brought down the pagan shrines.
Is there hope? Yes there is. But that hope can only come about when we not only do what is pleasing before God’s sight but also bring down the pagan shrines. It will only come about when we refuse half living. This means we will not only please God by going to church on Sunday, but in our families, in our workplaces, in our lives we will absolutely live for Him.
No more pagan shrines
We will not allow any pagan shrines in our lives to remain standing. We will bring down the shrine of tribalism that is alive in our society, we will bring down the pagan shrine of business at any cost including corruption, we will bring down the shrines of African traditions that do not honor God, we will bring down shrines of practices that create dependency on other gods such as palm reading, horoscope stuff etc. We will do no more half-living.
Why you may ask, because future generations depend on it.
You see we may think Israelites are the only ones who had pagan shrines but the truth is so do we. Our world has created pagan shrines that are so entrenched in our society that we no longer see them as pagan shrines. A few years back I was a person very afraid to marry a person who’s not from my tribe, what with the wrath it would bring among friends and family – pagan shrines. I know many people whose businesses are surrounded by kick-backs, it is the only way to do business in our society – pagan shrines. I know of African traditions that involve animal slaughtering and other stuff that I don’t understand their need in a world that depends on the Lord – pagan shrines. I know of lifestyles that many of us Christians will adopt for fear of being different or so as to fit in – pagan shrines.
Who wants to rock the boat?
I will be real at this point. I kinda get where the ‘half-living kings’ were coming from. It is so much easier to just do what is pleasing to God but not shake existing systems. It is easier to not rock the boats. Afterall we are living lives that kinda please God.
Yet what I hear God telling me today is what Joshua said, that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. This is a bold statement, there is no half living in this statement. It is a clear choice to live for God period.
Is there hope for us against our very strong genes? I say yes, but only if we chose to live a life that has no half-living.
And so I am asking God to reveal to me the pagan shrines I am I holding onto, because this one thing I am determined and with God’s help I believe will be my portion, the generation after me will be greater, they will be said to be a people that loved and lived for the Lord like king David. Christ has become the curse for me, He is my hope in this battle. All He asks is I embrace a life lived for Him, to truly live for Him. And even better, He has given me a Helper. All He asks for is absolute surrender, He does the rest. He will lead you. He will help you. But the choice to accept Him is still yours.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Finally there was a king that chose to serve the Lord fully:
2 Kings 18:1, 3-5, 7-8 NLT
Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He did what was pleasing in the lord ’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.
Hezekiah trusted in the lord , the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.
So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He also conquered the Philistines as far distant as Gaza and its territory, from their smallest outpost to their largest walled city.