In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign…He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles…2 Kings 18:1-6
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.
King Hezekiah was a bright spot in an otherwise dark season for the people of God. Most of the kings had turned away from the Lord until Hezekiah, and Israel had already been conquered by Assyria. Only the kingdom of Judah was left.
Hezekiah’s faithfulness is contrasted sharply with his son Manasseh’s and his grandson Amon’s. Here is what scripture says of Amon:
He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him.2 Kings 21:20-22
So while Hezekiah was completely faithful to the Lord, Manasseh and Amon were worse than the former kings of Israel in their disobedience and infidelity. Yet, when Josiah–Amon’s son and Hezekiah’s great-grandson–became king of Judah, he made a hard turn back to the Lord. Scripture says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2).
King Josiah is the one who rediscovered the Book of the Law in the Temple of the Lord. Josiah is the one who re-established the covenant of God and enacted massive reforms throughout the land leading the people back to the worship of God alone.
This is a good reminder that the faithfulness of one generation can impact future generations. Though fidelity to the Lord may skip a generation or two, though there may be some prodigals in the family line, God has a way of honoring the faithfulness of former generations by causing a flourishing of faithfulness in future generations.
I sense this in my own life. I had two faithful grandmothers who I know often prayed for their grandchildren. I can’t help but sense that my own experiences in ministry are a result, not only of faithful parents, but of faithful grandparents. And I’ve also learned that even further back in my family line were some pastors and evangelists. It makes me wonder about how spiritual inheritance works in the Kingdom of God.
Our God is a God of the generations. When God sent Moses to set His people free, God told Moses to refer to Him as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob“(Exodus 3:16). He’s a multigenerational God who often keeps His promises to one generation by fulfilling it in the next generation.
Peter reminds us that God thinks in long-term plans and doesn’t rush to accomplish His purposes. What we often perceive as “slowness” is really just God’s patience with us.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you…2 Peter 3:8-9
What if the things happening between you and God right now are God answering the prayer that one of your ancestors prayed centuries ago? What if the spiritual gifts and open doors that you’ve experienced are, in part, a result of the faithfulness of past generations?
We must also wrestle with these questions: What are we doing now that will have ripple effects in the Kingdom of God down through our family line? What prayer are we praying now that our great-grandchildren will receive the answer for? What seeds are we planting now in the Kingdom of God that will bear fruit a century from now?