And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab. — 2 Kings 8:27
Have you noticed that small children are great imitators? Their first words are echoes of what they hear. If we say “bye-bye,” they repeat it. Even that oft-spoken “no” comes from them hearing an adult say it first.
Older children also imitate adults. Due to some British roots in my family, I tend to say words containing “wh” using more air than most Americans. When I was teaching sixth grade, my students loved my pronunciation and started changing the way they spoke to sound like me.
Imitation goes much deeper than sounds and words, though. Children imitate behavior, manners, and even attitudes. Twice a year, I met with the parents of my sixth graders for a conference. I heard the same excuses from a parent as the child when I commented upon the student’s failure to turn in work. Correspondingly, I often saw self-discipline in the parent of a responsible child.
What influence do we have over our children when it comes to spiritual matters? We cannot make them become Christians by teaching them to live good lives or taking them to church, but the examples we set before them could make the difference in whether or not they see the Gospel as truth and choose to embrace it themselves.
Certainly many children raised in ungodly homes later learned the truth and chose it. I am the first generation in my family to be raised in a Christian home, as a cycle of sin was broken by my parents when they came to faith in Christ. Nevertheless, many children follow the steps of their parents. Daily habits learned in childhood form attitudes and behaviors that are kept for the rest of their lives. Based on our examples, will our children think it is important to attend church? Will they see the value of self-sacrifice for others? Will they consider prayer vital?
In today’s text, Ahaziah was an evil king largely because of his mother’s influence. He still had a choice, of course, but he was undoubtedly influenced to do evil by exposure to her sinful behavior. How would things have been different if Ahaziah’s father had not married into the wicked house of Ahab? Whatever might have happened, there are lessons to learn from this account. The person we marry will have a significant impact on our spiritual future, and the way we raise our children will influence their futures, for good or evil.
Let us pray for wisdom and guidance to walk carefully and conduct ourselves in a way that leads those we influence to live godly lives. Our examples will make a difference to those who watch!
The reigns of Jehoram and Ahaziah, kings of Judah, demonstrate the far-reaching adverse results of a marriage arranged by Jehoshaphat, a good king of Judah, and Ahab, a wicked king of Israel. For political advantage between Israel and Judah, Jehoshaphat had his son Jehoram marry Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah.
Athaliah brought Baal worship to Judah and helped influence Jehoram in his choice to follow the evil ways of Ahab rather than his father Jehoshaphat’s godly ways. Jehoram killed his brothers and encouraged the people of Judah in idolatry.
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau and their land was to Judah’s southeast. Judah had controlled Edom, but in today’s text the people of Edom revolted, and Jehoram was unsuccessful in regaining dominion over them. Libnah, to Judah’s west, was a fortress on the border between Judah and Philistia, and it revolted at the same time. Losing control of these areas weakened Judah.
In time, the Philistines and Arabians invaded Judah, taking Jehoram’s possessions, his sons, and his wives, so that only his youngest son, Ahaziah, was left. The nation of Judah was spared only because God was faithful to His covenant with David, promising to “give him alway a light, and to his children,” thus preserving the Messianic line.
Athaliah influenced her son Ahaziah toward wickedness, just as she had her husband. She was referenced as the “daughter of Omri” (in this case meaning granddaughter) to show that she was a member of Omri’s evil dynasty.
Ramoth-Gilead was on the northeast border of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and was controlled by Syria. Ahaziah joined with Joram (king of Israel) to regain this territory, and Joram was wounded in the battle. The wicked reign of Ahaziah lasted only one year before he died violently at the hand of Jehu’s army (2 Kings 9:27).
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
C. Jehoram of Judah (8:16-24)
1. The character of Jehoram’s reign (8:16-19)
2. The revolt of Edom and Libnah (8:20-22)
3. The death of Jehoram (8:23-24)
D. Ahaziah of Judah (8:25-29)
1. The character of Ahaziah’s reign (8:25-27)
2. The alliance against Syria (8:28-29)
As we make God the head of our lives, our children and the people around us will see the truth of the Gospel in action. Let’s provide them a good pattern to imitate.