In 1616 a phrase appeared in a book of proverbs by Thomas Draxe called ‘Bibliotheca Scholastica Instructissima’. Though it wasn’t the first time it was used and a variant of it appears in Ezekiel’s book in 593-571 BC (Ezekiel 16:44).
Yet even though the whole world knows the phrase, it isn’t true for everyone as this next verse shows us: “Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah” (Matthew 1 v9)
‘Like father like son’.
In the family line of Jesus are:
Sons disappointed in how things turned out for their father
Maybe you are reading this and you think of your parents, they may have died a long time ago but it feels like yesterday. You remember how disappointed you were to witness the wrong decisions they took in their life. They didn’t finish well. If you know something of this then spare a thought for Jotham who at 25 years of age took over from his father as King of Judah.
Eight of the sixteen year reign was spent as the administrator to his father who was in isolation with a skin disease because of God’s judgment on his pride.
Uzziah was a loved King but he was cut off from the prime of his leadership with unfinished projects, buildings and temple extensions which Jotham had to pick up.
Sons so wickedly opposite to their fathers you struggle to believe they are sons.
Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham as King of Judea. He has to be the most evil king in the Old Testament. He even made his son walk through the fire for Molech, the god of child sacrifice.
The prophets Obed and Isaiah failed to turn Ahaz back to God. He turned to Syria for his help and not Yahweh. But his downfall, like his grandfather, had to do with the Temple and again pride was the sin. He had gone to Syria to thank them for their help and in Damascus he saw an altar that he liked. He had it copied and sent to Jerusalem for placing in the Temple. On his return he brought a sacrificial offering and forced the priests to do so.
When he died a strange thing happened with the weather. During the day the sun shone for only two hours so that his funeral had to be rushed through quickly. Maybe it was heaven giving their disapproval?
Sons who inherit a nightmare from their dysfunctional fathers
So how do you follow Ahaz the wicked king in the Old Testament?
If your name is Hezekiah then you know all about it.
He inherited disorganisation; debt to other foreign nations because of wrong allegiances; threats of war; spiritual deadness; God’s people looking like they weren’t; neglect and poverty; prophets like Isaiah and Micah calling for a return to God but falling on deaf ears; a closed and defiled Temple; Hezekiah must have shaken his head at what his father had left for him. But he began the reform and was a good king. No greater chapter in his life for the favour God had on him is found than when he was granted a 15 year extension to his life. God had told him he would die. Hezekiah pleaded and God relented with more years for him. Hezekiah promised God that the Temple would be kept clean and pure and that he would teach the next generation the songs of the Temple.
That is amazing isn’t it?
However, good intentions and all that!
Hezekiah gets some visitors, from Babylon, intrigued by the story that a king was due to die but recovered. Hezekiah showed them all his wealth, in fact the Bible says there wasn’t anything Hezekiah didn’t show them with pride. Isaiah comes to him and pronounces the judgment that Babylon will come again and take everything and everyone into exile. Why? His pride.
Pride had slipped through the generations.
Maybe in every generation there is the strong possibility that the sin of the previous can sneak through to the next. Maybe like father like son, like mother like daughter cannot be helped or needs even more careful attention than we thought.
Who can stop this? Who will come that will prevent sin breaking through? We need a better king? He is coming soon!