Persevering as a Father

Dr. Rob Green June 19, 2022 2 Kings 22-23
Outline

4 encouraging lessons from the life of Josiah that motivate perseverance

I. God Can Work in the Lives of Children, Despite the Failures of Fathers (22:1-2)

2 Kings 22:1-2 - Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.

A. Josiah’s father, King Amon (2 Kings 21:19-24)

B. Josiah’s grandfather, King Manasseh (2 Kings 21)

C. Josiah’s forefather, King Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-8)

II. Sensitivity to God’s Word Is a Catalyst for Strengthening Your Faith (22:3-20)

2 Kings 22:18-20 - But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.” So they brought back word to the king.

III. Pursuing Purity Provides Great Rewards Even When Some Consequences are Unavoidable (22:18-20; 23:25-27)

A. Commit to covenant loyalty to Christ (23:1-3; 21-23)

2 Kings 23:1-3 - Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.

2 Kings 23:21-23 - Then the king commanded all the people saying, “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God as it is written in this book of the covenant.” Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was observed to the Lord in Jerusalem.

B. Smash spiritual stumbling blocks for yourself and others (23:4-20)

IV. Josiah Provides Proof to Continue to Put Your Hope in Jesus (23:24-25)

2 Kings 23:24-25 - "Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him."

Happy Father’s Day. We prayed for you--fathers, for those who have lost their dads, and for those who would like to be a father.

  • Regardless of which category fits you best, we hope that God’s grace is evident in your life today whether for celebration, mourning, or both.

While we could focus on any life situation, our message is directed at fathers, but some of the applications apply to everyone in every life circumstance.

Many of us remember the day that our first child was born. Life changed. It changed practically, of course, as there was another person to love. Schedules changed. Time as a couple changed.

  • But more than the daily tasks, there was a spiritual responsibility. A weight that was far greater than a sleepless night or modified plan.

Fathers wrestle with questions about their children’s salvation. They wonder whether their children will waste their lives or make a difference for the cause of Christ.

  • They wonder whether they will seek a spouse who loves Jesus or one who will draw them away from the Lord. Or worse, they wonder whether their children will be someone who draws their spouse away from the Lord.
  • Fathers wonder whether there will be generational faithfulness or generational foolishness or something in between.

I hope that we see today that while fathers have roles and responsibilities. There is also hope and encouragement because the Lord will work in us and in our children to fulfill his plan for our lives. It is a plan we can trust.

With that in mind, please turn to 2 Kings 22. That is on page _____ of the Bible under the chair in front of you. We are going to look at one of my favorite Bible characters. Stephanie and I even named one of our children after him.

The man is King Josiah. We have entitled this message Persevering as a Father. I want us to learn Four encouraging lessons from the life of Josiah that motivate perseverance.

Before I go further, I want to say that I believe parenting is war. We are not warring against our children, but for them.

  • We battle everyday for their hearts. At times, this war is discouraging, exhausting, and confusing.
  • Some days you are convinced that you are losing. In fact, there are some days you wonder whether your children are possessed.
  • Sadly, some parents leave the battle. The children must figure it out on their own.
  • Our message today is to engage. Stay in it.
  • King Josiah is a perfect example of a powerful God who works in mighty ways.

Please notice first:

I. God can work in the lives of children, despite the failures of fathers (22:1-2)

Praise God for that, huh?

2 Kgs 22:1-2 - "Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left."

Eight. Eight. Eight? That sounds insane. An eight year old can barely keep their room clean let alone run a country. I was serving in the 3rd grade VBS this week. The children were delightful. But I tried to imagine each of them dressed in a suit and sitting in the oval office.

  • That thought was scary. Instead of $5 for a gallon of gas, it would be $5 for a pack of M&Ms and I can only imagine the run on Legos.

If his youth was not bad enough, he comes from one of the most dysfunctional homes in human history.

Josiah’s father, King Amon (2 Kgs 21:19-24)

Notice that Amon becomes king at 22, dies 2 years later, and Josiah was 8. When you do the math Amon became Josiah’s father at 16. Verse 20 says he did evil in the sight of the Lord.

  • In fact, he was so bad that his own servants killed him (v. 23) in his own house.

Josiah’s father was a wicked man of epic proportions. The only blessing appears to be the short duration which Josiah had to live under his father’s authority. But that is not the full story. If we go another generation back, we find that things are not better.

Josiah’s grandfather, King Manasseh (2 Kgs 21)

Manasseh also took the reigns early in life (he was 12). Unlike his son Amon, Manasseh had 51 years to live out his wickedness. (Read vv. 2, 6, 11-13, 16)

You know it is going to be a very bad day when God says that your grandfather is so wicked that he will judge the entire nation because of it.

God’s promise was a scary one – he would bring discipline in part due to the disregard of innocent blood.

  • Verse 16 provides a powerful image: he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood from one end to the other.

This is Josiah’s heritage, his family reputation. Sitting around the campfire telling stories would be downright terrifying. “Grandpa, (Remember, Josiah would have been 6 when Manasseh died) what did you do last week?

  • Well Josiah, I killed some of my children. Some who spoke out against me and my practices I hung from the rafters for all to see. I wanted my people to know how powerful I am.”

When we were in Romania I had the privilege of speaking in a seminary where Richard Wumbrand was a visiting professor (he started Voice of the Martrys). The president told me a story about Nicolai Couschescu … the wicked communist dictator. He destroyed everything within eyesight of his palace except the seminary. His palace is the 3d largest structure, by square footage, ever built. He accomplished it by destroying everything else. This guy is like Manasseh and Amon.

One wonders whether the people thought Josiah would follow his family tradition. Even looking back further, Hezekiah started well, but did not finish well. Even …

Josiah’s forefather, King Solomon (1 Kgs 11:1-8)

He struggled too. 1 Kings 11 tells us that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Despite the complete insanity of those numbers, the Bible tells us that they stole his heart away from the Lord.

  • He did not live faithfully.

Please notice 2 Kings 22:2 – “Josiah did right in the sight of the Lord … did not turn aside to the right or left.”

Despite all the family drama, the wicked history, and even Josiah’s young age, Josiah’s story is not the same as his father or grandfather.

The Lord was working in Josiah’s life to help him live faithfully despite not having positive role models.

  • Josiah’s daddy did not teach him to pray, study the Bible, refuse temptation, or live righteously.
  • But God worked anyway. He was going to raise up a strong man who lived faithful to the Lord.

I want to make two applications right here:

Dads, we have all sinned in our parenting and in the example we set for our children. Sometimes we see the failures in our children as we look in the mirror. We are not perfect fathers.

  • But Josiah is a story that reminds us that our children are not defined by our failures or destined to repeat them. The Lord can work despite our sins, to keep his Word and glorify his name.
  • Of course, if we know we are sinning then our proper response is to repent and change.

Dads, some of you had evil fathers. They taught you the wrong lessons. You feel inadequate for your parenting task. You don’t have a positive role model. You don’t have a good experience.

  • This story reminds you that the Lord’s grace is enough. Like Josiah, you can have a father so wicked even his friends want to kill him, and you be the exact opposite of your dad.

Persevere fathers. Line up for battle everyday and take courage that the Lord can work in your life to do things right and can work in your children despite your failures.

Second, Dads, here is another lesson.

II. Sensitivity to God’s Word is a catalyst for strengthening your faith (22:3-20)

No one grows without exposure to the Word. We can make several important observations from this section:

  1. The temple is in disrepair and it needs fixed.
  2. They finally found a Bible and started reading it.
  3. They asked the Lord for his plan and will.

All of this points to the state of affairs in Israel. How can the temple be in disrepair?

  • That is the place everyone is supposed to worship. You would think that is the last thing to be a mess. Can you imagine the White House being a dump?

No one even knows where the Bible is. Here is a little tip, if you don’t know where your Bible is, you have a big problem.

  • The nation had neglected the Word so long that they forgot where they put it. In those days, there were sizeable scrolls. I mean this is not like misplacing the small print Gideon NT + Psalms and Proverbs that could have fallen behind the couch.

But what I want to highlight is Josiah’s reaction.

V. 11 When the King heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.

  • Wow. Dads, when is the last time you were so impacted by the truth of God’s word that you responded in mourning?

We think that he was reading Deuteronomy 28-30 which explains the blessings and discipline that comes from either keeping or rejecting God’s covenant.

  • Josiah was very honest about it. He knew the temple was neglected, he knew that the reading of the Word was not part of the culture. He knew that God would bring discipline.

But his attitude toward the Lord was so soft and tender. Notice vv. 18-20

2 Kgs 22:18-20 "But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king."

God blessed Josiah because Josiah responded properly to the reading of His Word. It was not just read a few verses and check the Bible box. It was not, well, God probably won’t bring the discipline anyway. It was not, well we are not that bad.

  • He read about the discipline coming upon the nation and it grieved him.

Josiah’s response to the Word produced significant results. God was pleased with his sensitivity toward his Word.

Dad’s (everyone). There is a lesson right here. Let the Word of God influence you, impact you, and change you.

  • When your children are grown; they will make decisions for themselves. They have a life to lead. You do not have the ability to dictate their actions.

But you can set an example for what it means to live sensitive to the Word. You can rejoice over the great news of Jesus and you can mourn over your sin.

  • Even though Josiah’s dad couldn’t even find a Bible, when Josiah heard – it moved him to tears and action. The Lord can work mightily.
  • If you have a wayward child please remember that the Lord can bring them back.

When your children (even grown children) think about you, let them think that you are a person of the Word. You are not perfect, but you were a person of the Word. Your children ought to know where your Bible is, because you use it so frequently.

Dads, being faithful to the Word is an important part of your life before the Lord and the example you set for your children.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Fathers can persevere by (1) Remembering the Lord can mightily work regardless of our family history and legacy; and (2) Being sensitive to the Word of God. Josiah’s story does not end by simply being sensitive to the Word. Let’s consider what happens next. Dads can also persevere by …

III. Pursuing purity provides great rewards even when some consequences are unavoidable (22:18-20; 23:25-27)

According to v. 20 we learn that God decides not to bring the discipline during Josiah’s life because he is soft toward the Lord and humble before him, God’s discipline will come after Josiah dies.

  • However, the point is still that discipline is coming. Josiah will not see it, but there is nothing he can do to stop it.

So what does Josiah do? Well, okay, it is not going to occur in my lifetime so just eat, drink, and be merry?

  • Live my life of peace and enjoy all I can? Since the Lord already told me, now I can relax in my pursuit of him.
  • After all, if I knew I was going to get an A in the class no matter what, why would I study?

Thankfully, Josiah does not live like that. He understands that his life is always before the Lord. Discipline or not, he lives for the Lord. Blessing or not, he lives for the Lord. Challenge or not, he lives for the Lord.

His sensitivity to God’s word not only impacts his emotion (he was mourning), but it also impacted the leadership that he offered. He leads the nation to …

Commit to covenant loyalty to Christ (23:1-3; 21-23)

He knows that his father and grandfather led the nation away from the Lord. They could not even find the Bible, let alone follow it. He gathers the elders and leaders. He commands everyone to come and listen to the truth of God’s Word.

2 Kgs 23:1-3 - "Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant."

He leads the nation to renew their covenant loyalty to God.

I need to pause a moment and say something to all of us --- dad or not. Josiah was leading the nation to have a right relationship with God. Do you have a right relationship with God?

  • The Bible says that all of us offend God. There is no one righteous, not even one.
  • That offense is worthy of eternal punishment away from God in hell.
  • Thankfully, Jesus came, died, was buried, rose again, and is returning. All those who recognize their sin and place their faith in the D/B/R of Jesus will be saved.
  • The most famous verse in the Bible… John 3:16 says … For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes on him will have everlasting life.

Dads, I know some of you are leading your family to have a right relationship with the Lord. You are bringing the Lord’s word to bear in as many ways as possible.

  • You are faithful to the Lord and when your children act like it is a huge chore to come to church you bring them anyway.
  • You want your children confronted with the wonderful truths of Scripture at every turn.
  • Way to go! Keep it up. We stand with you and support you.

There are other dads who believe that attending church once a month is faithfulness. There are some dads who listen to their 8 year old say they don’t like church because it is boring so they don’t bring them.

  • The 15 year old says the youth group is full of cliques so they don’t want to go.
  • Sadly, what is the alternative? The 8 year old and 15 year old fill their time worth of garbage music, rotten entertainment, and unending selfishness.
  • I will take boring and clique over that any day.

I was once asked, why do you hate the band ACDC so much? My answer was simple. Because they celebrated going to hell.

  • If you are not going to share Christ with others and help them escape an eternity of suffering, then the least you could do is not make it easy for a person to join you in the suffering.

Josiah led the nation to covenant renewal. Dads, you can lead your home in such a way that every member of your household hears the Word of God on a regular basis. If your children are not going to follow Christ faithfully, at least let them reject the Word after 100,000 exposures to it.

Jump with me to vv. 21-23.

2 Kgs 23:21-23 - "Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant."

Here we find the reinstatement of Passover. Do you ever yell at your Bible (at least in your mind)? What? Passover, the most sacred holiday of the nation has not been properly celebrated since the time of the Judges? We are talking centuries!

  • Can you imagine us cutting out Christmas and Easter for 300 years. That’s insane!

Josiah renews the covenant and reinstates Passover. See, his sensitivity to the Word resulted in specific concrete actions for himself and everyone he was leading.

  • Positively speaking, Josiah is putting people in the best position to live faithfully for the Lord.

Here are some easy steps for us dads, especially if you are struggling with some of them:

  1. Faithful attendance. That means 48 out of 52 Sundays. You get 2 for sickness and 2 for vacation. When I was younger I used to hear a lot of membership testimonies that started like this, “I grew up in a Christian home and we were in church anytime the doors were open.” I hear that less frequently now. Dads, that’s on us.
  2. ABFs for the Word and friendships. The Sunday service is rarely a time you can build relationships. There is very little about the service structure that fosters it. But that is not true in ABF. ABF is about the Word and friendship. Every Christian should have some Christian friends.
  3. Faithful reading of the Word and encouraging that reading in the other members of the family.
  4. We have church family night once a month. We celebrate communion. Jesus is called our Passover lamb in 1 Cor 5. Communion is our revamped Passover. Passover looked to the day God redeemed his people from Egypt.
    1. Communions looks to the day Jesus saved his people from their sins and points us to his return. Dads, here is another simple step.
    2. You should be leading your family to celebrate Jesus’ death and his coming return whenever the opportunity is there.

Josiah’s actions do not stop there – with the positive. He also believes there is some house cleaning that needs done. In fact, what he does next highlights why he is one of my favorite Bible characters.

Smash spiritual stumbling blocks for yourself and others (23:4-20)

Kings have authority. They can go tell people what to do. Verses 4-20 however, point to Josiah’s personal participation. He is involved in the process not simply commanding others to make it happen.

As I read, Let’s note the various smashings …

  1. All temple items dedicated to the worship of false gods were removed and burned. (v. 4)
  2. All priests in Jerusalem who worshipped other gods and led others to do so were removed from office (v. 5).
  3. The Asherah poles (a symbol of worship) were taken down and burned (v. 6), the homes of cult prostitutes (v. 7), and gates leading to the high places (places of worship because after all, the worship is better the closer you get to them) were destroyed.
  4. He destroyed Topheth (a place they sacrificed babies; v. 10).
    1. If something was dedicated to false worship he tore it down and smashed or burned it.
  5. He dug up dead people who participated in false worship and burned them on the alters (v. 16).
    1. That is anger at a whole new level.
  6. He destroyed additional high places (v. 19) where they provoked the Lord.
  7. The pagan priests who led the nation to sin were executed (v. 20).

That friends, is quite a list. Josiah sees everyone of these items as a threat to faithful worship.

  • While re-establishing the covenant and Passover was an important part of the equation, he also wants to rid the nation of the dangers.

It is fascinating that the high place in Bethel is still there some 300 years later. Josiah says we have tolerated this long enough!

  • He cleans house in Judah and all over Israel. According to v. 20 then he returned to Jerusalem. There is something about leadership too Dads.

Josiah implements the positive change required to bring the Word to people. Instead of dust accumulating on a hidden Bible, Josiah is about Passover, covenant renewal, and the public reading of the Bible.

But he also understands that peoples heart clamor after shiny things. The false gods “promised” prosperity and success. People wanted prosperity and success. The sell was not a hard one.

  • Offer your child and (pick a god) will give you 3 in his/her place. (v. 13)
  • Worship Baal and your cattle will have lots of healthy calves and your crops will produce awesome yields.
  • Worship Asherah and you will have many children.

Josiah calls it out. He says it is a lie. He defiles all of it. He destroys it, he digs up dead people, he executes priests and burns them. He scatters ashes all over the place. He is communicating a message.

  • If this thing led Israel to sin and worship a false god, then I will defile it so it can never be used again.
  • If a person led Israel to false worship then we will execute them, burn them to highlight their wickedness.

In biblical counseling we have a concept called radical amputation. We normally take it from the words of Jesus where he says if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out, if you hand causes you to sin cut it off.

  • Josiah is a perfect illustration of what radical amputation looks like.
  • He looks across the nation and he adds proper worship of the Lord and he removes as many temptations as possible making them unusable for the future.

Dads, what needs to be destroyed in your life or in your family’s life to put each member of the family in the best position to be positively impacted by the Word?

  1. For some, there may need to be some entertainment destruction. I realize it can be costly to do that. It might be costly in a different way if you don’t.
  2. For some, there may need to be some time destroyers. There are some things that take an incredible amount of time, but produce little value. You may need to evaluate the family calendar and eliminate a time destroyer.
  3. For others, there might be some “false priests” in your or your families’ life. We are not the government, unlike Josiah, so we do not execute people, burn them, and wipe them off the face of the planet. However, we can cut off the relationship. Sometimes you must lose a friend to live for Jesus.
  4. For others, you might need to remove a habit or something you enjoy because it stands in your way to a deeper walk with Jesus.

Dads, I left these applications general. Entertainment, time destroyers, “false priests,” and habits can look different for every family. I hope that you will be sensitive enough to the Word and the Lord’s work that you will be able to identify those things in your individual family situation.

  • Moms and children … I hope you are willing to follow this leadership joyfully.
  • We say we want leadership, but that test comes when a godly father tries to destroy one your idols … then you will know.

Pursuing purity often has two sides … putting something in our life that we need and removing something from our life that stands in the way of faithful living.

Fathers can persevere by (1) Remembering the Lord can mightily work regardless of our family history and legacy; (2) Being sensitive to the Word of God; (3) Pursuing Purity in our relationship with the Lord and finally …

IV. Josiah provides proof to continue to put your hope in Jesus (23:24-25).

2 Kgs 23:24-25 - "Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him."

Today, we live post cross. We know that God still brought discipline and we know that not all of Josiah’s children faithfully lived as he did.

  • But when it was ultimately time to meet his savior, it is hard to imagine anything other than “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”
  • Josiah turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might … a very familiar phrase. Jesus used the exact same terminology to explain the greatest commandment.

Josiah did not control the future, he was not the fulfillment of the messianic promises, but he showed us what it looks like to live faithfully. He did so without a strong spiritual heritage.

  • That can be true for you as well.

But honestly, dads, we must ask whether we have some house cleaning to do. We might need to destroy a few things of our own. We might need to instill some new patterns or habits that we have neglected.

We must entrust ourselves to the Lord to bring about his will, his plan, and his purposes.

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.