Tuesday, June 26, 2012


“Jehoram was 32 years old when he became king and reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for Ahab's daughter was his wife. He did what was evil in the Lord's sight…” (2 Chronicles 21:5-6 HCSB)

Archie Bunker, the curmudgeon; Edith, the dingbat; Meathead, the hippie son-in-law and his wife Gloria—these comprised the colorful cast in the classic TV series, “All in the Family.”  The Norman Lear sit-com burst on the scene in 1971 and was the top show for five consecutive years—a record at the time.  “All in the Family” was both a reflection of the times—with the conflict between traditional morality and the advancing counter-culture being played out for real in America, and also an attempt to promote these new ways of thinking about the old standards.  That family gave America many laughs, but seriously began to affect popular thinking—as the media has great power to do. It was entertainment and propaganda.  Now, thirty years later, the degradation of traditional morality into the debauchery of our times makes us understand Archie and Edith’s longing expressed in the opening song of the show, “Those Were the Days.”

That was a fictional family, but today’s Bible lesson presents an actual one—and grants us insight into what happens when truth is abandoned for error and moral restraint is cast aside for moral relativism.  But, this story was no laughing matter.

The good king Jehoshaphat has died, leaving his son Jehoram to take the throne of Judah.  We are told that his father left him and his brothers material possessions and military power, but somehow failed to instill moral principles in the prince.  What happened?  How did a worthy man raise such a wicked son?  We could only speculate, but the connection with King Ahab and his demonic wife, Jezebel, who ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel was too close, for one thing.  Their influence caused some difficulties to arise in Jehoshaphat’s life, but it was disastrous for Jehoram.  God repeatedly warned Jehoshaphat to separate himself from that hellish crowd, but he didn’t.  It would prove spiritually poisonous to his son.

Jehoram married into Ahab and Jezebel’s diabolical family.  Imagine having Jezebel as a mother-in-law!  We have all heard the mother-in-law jokes.  The mother-in-law is often portrayed in our society as some dreadful woman that meddles and makes mischief.  That is a caricature—there are good mother-in-laws.  I had a great one.  But, Jezebel was the epitome of the evil mother-in-law monster.  You wouldn’t find any worse.

When Jehoshaphat’s body was decaying in the grave, so did his influence on his son.  He was instead shaped by his wife and her family into a beast of a king. 

When Jehoram had established himself over his father's kingdom, he strengthened his position by killing with the sword all his brothers as well as some of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was 32 years old when he became king and reigned eight years in Jerusalem.  He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for Ahab's daughter was his wife. He did what was evil in the Lord's sight…” (2 Chronicles 22:4-6 HCSB).

If we are not aggressive in raising our children for God, the culture will overtake them, like weeds in a garden.  God blesses us with this little plot of soil we call our family.  The seed of our children are planted and begin to sprout.  There is much potential in them for godly fruit for the glory of God.  But, it is a constant work that is required.  Righteousness must be cultivated.  The insects of iniquity will consume their thinking if we don’t kill them with Bible bug spray.  The mildew of materialism will rot them if we don’t dust them with prayer.  The weeds of the world’s standards will choke them if we are not consistently cultivating them for Christ—by our lips and our lives—education and example.  Get busy with other stuff, leave it to the Sunday School teacher, shirk your role and slack off for a day or two, that turns to a week, then the neglect of a few weeks and the beautiful garden of your family has become a jungle of noxious weeds.

I wonder if toward the end of his life, Jehoshaphat and his wife didn’t gather around the piano and sing, “Those Were the Days”?  Nostalgia is never enough.  Longing for, “The Good Old Days” won’t change the future.  We must be proactive—while there is time.

There is a window of opportunity to mold the character of a child.  One day, we will be gone and that next generation will become the leaders of the home and nation.  If we have not rooted them in the truth, there will be no fruit of God’s blessing on them.  Whereas, we might have shaped a generation to shake the world for Christ, we may leave behind a posterity that has been shaped by the world and will be shaken in judgment instead.

When such filthy hands seize the controls of a nation—government, business, education, and religious institutions what results is tyranny.  Jehoram’s first official act was to slaughter his siblings.  Further, there is the spread of moral anarchy.  Jehoram also built high places in the hills of Judah, and he caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, and he led Judah astray.” (2 Chronicles 22:11 HCSB)

God brought judgment on this wicked king and his kingdom, both sovereign and subjects sentenced because of sin.  The indictment was sent in a letter from the High Court of Heaven through God’s Deputy:

“Then a letter came to Jehoram from Elijah the prophet, saying:
This is what Yahweh, the God of your ancestor David says: ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or in the ways of Asa king of Judah but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves like the house of Ahab prostituted itself, and also have killed your brothers, your father's family, who were better than you, Yahweh is now about to strike your people, your sons, your wives, and all your possessions with a horrible affliction.  You yourself [will be struck] with many illnesses, including a disease of the intestines, until your intestines come out day after day because of the disease.’” (2 Chronicles 22:12-15 HCSB)

How fitting an end to a rotten man.  There was a nasty reminder every day of the moral filth of his life.  It was a stench that accompanied him.  Are we going to leave a legacy of the fragrance of grace or the odor of decay?

“The remembrance of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.”  (Proverbs 10:7 HCSB)

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