Monday, May 30, 2011

Sins of the Fathers Upon the Children - The Case of Abijah

1 Kings 14 provides a very sad story of Jeroboam and his family:

1 Kings 14:1-18
At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, "Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people. And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child."
And Jeroboam's wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.
And the LORD said unto Ahijah, "Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman."
And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said,
Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. Go, tell Jeroboam, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, and rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes; but hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.

Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now. For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.
And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died; and they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.
In this sad story we see Jeroboam trying to get some good news about his son. Jeroboam seems to have a mistaken or confused notion about the power of prophets. Jeroboam seems to think of prophets as magicians, people with their own power or at least with some control over God's power.

Thus, Jeroboam thinks about the only prophet he's ever run into that was nice to him, gets his wife to bring what would presumably be a pretty generous gift for an average person, and instructs her to go and ask the prophet for good news regarding the son. Of course, Jeroboam know that he's out of favor with the Lord, so he tells his wife to disguise herself so that the prophet won't know whose wife she is.

It's all carefully calculated, and somewhat silly. Ahijah the prophet is, by this time, blind from old age. He can't see and so the disguise is a waste of time. At the same time, he's a seer. He gets revelation from God, and God isn't fooled by Jeroboam or his wife. God knows that the wife is coming before she gets there.

Moreover, the prophet is a true prophet of the Lord. What the Lord tells him, he tells to Jeroboam's wife. He doesn't make up good news to cheer a grieving mother. He tells "heavy tidings" to her. He informs her that when she gets back her son will die.

Moreover, he informs her that her whole family is going to be destroyed. The colorful metaphor that the Lord uses is that Jeroboam's family is going to be removed "like dung." How much dung do you leave around the house if your child or pet has an accident? None, of course. You scrub until the site and smell of it are gone. The same went for Jeroboam's family.

The son who died was the lucky one. He got mourned by all Israel and buried in the family grave. His brethren died more miserably - killed and left to be eaten by wild animals. They received an undignified and humiliating death.

Why was Jeroboam's family to be utterly wiped out? God's answer is clear:
for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam
This is a fulfillment of God's threat for violations of the second commandment:
(Exodus 20:4-6)
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

(Deuteronomy 5:8-10)
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
This is not the only instance of this sort of thing in the Bible, but it is one example. Because of Jeroboam's sins, his family was wiped out.

Because of Solomon's sins, the kingdom was rent from Rehoboam and ten tribes were given to Jeroboam, yet God showed mercy to the line of David. Recall that it is written regarding Abijam (not Jeroboam's son who died, but one of David's great-grandchildren):
1 Kings 15:1-5
Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah. Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father. Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
This example of God's favor to David's children on account of David's righteousness is something that leads believers to have a hope that God will show favor to their children. It is not that we have a righteousness that deserves or merits favor, but that God is still pleased to bless even the very imperfect righteousness of those who, like David, trust in the Lord.

Moreover, the federal principle even applied to the nation. Notice that Israel's future destruction is prophesied by the prophet. Whereas Judah was chastised by God, but then restored to the land.

The federal principle, you see, is not only for judgment but also for blessing. That is why Abraham was called to circumcise his sons and why we baptize our children. It is why all those in Adam died, but all those in Christ will be made alive.

-TurretinFan

1 comment:

natamllc said...

Excellent TF, just truly excellent!