KEEPING GODLY FAMILY VALUES

PASTOR T. O. BANSO

In the past, family names were things that people held on to dearly. Families had values that had been cultivated over a long period and successive generations sought to perpetuate these values by avoiding anything negative that would drag the family names in the mud. Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (NLT). But these days, children, especially those who are being raised by absentee parents, don’t know anything about family values. Their values are sourced from friends, peers, the media, and most times these values are wrong and, without fail, will give them a wrong life which will lead them to a wrong destination.

With family life breaking down, godly family values are fast going into oblivion. But do we still need godly family values in our fragmented society? Are godly family values still necessary in a disintegrated society? Yes, we need godly family values or else our society, which consists of family units, will never be redeemed.

The Rechabites

In Jer 35, the Bible talks about the Rechabites (Recabites) and their godly family values which were kept even long after the death of Jehonadab their ancestor. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, ‘Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, ‘Drink wine.’ But they said, We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’ Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, ‘Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.’ So we dwell at Jerusalem’” (Jeremiah 35:1-11 NKJV).

Who were the Rechabites?  They were a Kenite tribe founded by Jonadab, the son of Rechab. The Kinites were a tightly knit group of descendants of the father-in-law of Moses. “Now the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up from the City of Palms with the children of Judah into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South near Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people” (Judges 1:16 NKJV). 1 Chronicles 2:55 also tells us that the Kenites descended from Hammath, the father of the family of Rechab.  According to 1 Samuel 15:6, the Kenites showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.

Who was Jehonadab? He was a man who had a zeal for the Lord and teamed up with Jehu to sweep the prophets of Baal out of Samaria. Now when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab, coming to meet him; and he greeted him and said to him, Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. Jehu said, If it is, give me your hand. So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. Then he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they had him ride in his chariot (2 Kings 10:15-16 NKJV).

Verse 23 says  “Then Jehu and Jehonadab the son of Rechab went into the temple of Baal, and said to the worshipers of Baal, Search and see that no servants of the Lord are here with you, but only the worshipers of Baal (NKJV). Jehonadab was there with Jehu when he supervised the killing of the worshippers of Baal by his guards and officers with their swords, dragged their bodies outside, dragged out the sacred pillar of the temple of Baal and burned it. Jehonadab was there with Jehu when he smashed the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple of Baal, converting it into a public toilet!

The Rechabites kept the word of their father, Jehonadab, that they and their descendants must never drink wine, build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. They never disappointed their ancestor.Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us” (Jeremiah 35:8-10 NKJV). Not even the test by a prophet of God for them to drink alcoholic drink could entice them to violate the word of their ancestor who had died long ago – God had used the Prophet Jeremiah to test the Rechabites to make a point to Jeremiah about the unfaithfulness of the Israelites to Him. May be many of the Rechabites were not even born when Jehonadab gave that instruction but they sustained their godly family values.

What godly instructions are you passing on to your children? Are you leaving behind godly legacies that your children and children’s children can sustain long after you’re gone?  What Bible-based family values are you bequeathing to the generations after you?

Nabal and Caleb

But compare Nabal with Caleb. Would you ever believe they were related? Look at the heritage Caleb son of Jephunneh, the leader of the tribe of Judah at a time, gave his family. He was one of the twelve leaders, each representing the twelve tribes of Israel, that went to spy the land of Canaan. Caleb together with Joshua demonstrated faith in God and brought back a good report. “Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it!’” (Numbers 13:30 NKJV). In Numbers 14:24, God testified to the character of Caleb: “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it” (NKJV).

Because of the faith in God that Caleb and Joshua demonstrated, the two were the only ones in that generation from 20 years old above that entered the Promised Land.So the Lord’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying,  ‘Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord’”(Numbers 32:10-12 NKJV).

Deuteronomy 1:35-36 reiterates the resolve of God concerning Caleb: “Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord” (NKJV). God said this.

 And in Joshua 14, Caleb himself recalls that particular event:was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God’” (Joshua 14:7-9 NKJV).

What I have been trying to show you is that Caleb was from the tribe of Judah so also was Nabal. 1 Samuel 30:5 describes Abigail whom King David later married as “Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite” (ASV). A Carmelite is a native or inhabitant of the town of Carmel in Judah. But Nabal, the husband of Abigail, was not just from the tribe of Judah, he was from the house of Caleb. He was a descendant of Caleb yet he lived such an ignoble life. The description of this man would make anyone from the tribe of Judah feel embarrassed. Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel, and the man was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb (1 Samuel 25:2-3 NKJV).

Not done yet, the Bible gives us the testimony of Nabal’s wife about him. At least a wife should know her husband sufficiently well. Now when Abigail saw David, she dismounted quickly from the donkey, fell on her face before David, and bowed down to the ground. So she fell at his feet and said: On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant. Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent” (1 Samuel 25:23-25 NKJV). It was unlikely that Abigail said those uncomplimentary words about her husband just to appease David or stave off disaster.

How can we be sure of this? Let’s see Nabal’s lifestyle – the lifestyle of a descendant of Caleb, a man of faith, a man with a spirit different from the spirit of the other spies excluding Joshua. Now Abigail went to Nabal, and there he was, holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; therefore she told him nothing, little or much, until morning light.  So it was, in the morning, when the wine had gone from Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became like a stone. Then it happened, after about ten days, that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died” (1 Samuel 25:36-38 NKJV).

Caleb had another spirit. Nabal also had another spirit but it was not the type of spirit Caleb had – a good spirit, a spirit that God commended. Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, might have benefitted from the family inheritance of Caleb but failed to inherit Caleb’s godly character.  Whereas Caleb was full of faith, Nabal was drunk with wine! Hear what the Bible says about wine and you’ll see why Nabal’s name means folly – he couldn’t have been wise! Wisdom and wine don’t go together! Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1 NKJV). Did you see that? Let me show you another Scripture. Nabal couldn’t have been wise and he couldn’t have lived long. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart” (Proverbs 31:6 NKJV). No wonder that Nabal died after his drinking orgy. Nabal means foolish, senseless, fool – he died a fool despite his exemplary family heritage – a Carmelite, a Calebite from the tribe of Judah.

David and his family

Just like Nabal, David also came from the tribe of Judah. David and his family are also a case study on family values. David became a polygamist contrary to God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 17:17: “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself” (NLT). David violated this instruction of God against polygamy. The Bible says after hearing of Nabal’s death, David sent messengers to Abigail to ask her to become his wife. He married her even when he was already married (1Sam 25:39). And in 1 Samuel 25:43, the Bible says, David married Ahinoam from Jezreel.

David was not satisfied; he went for more wives. Since he started violating the Word of God, there was no stopping him! 2 Samuel 5:13 says, “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David” (NKJV). These series of marriage and obsession for women were just setting the stage for the monumental disaster David had in his unholy affair with Bathsheba that dented his glorious reign until today. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child’” (2 Samuel 11:2-5 NKJV).

David not only impregnated Bathsheba but callously got the husband killed and married her. But David paid dearly for it because the Righteous Judge visited him with His judgement which never left David till he died.

Until his dying years, David, no doubt, had problem with women and his servants were aware of this problem. They devised a carnal way of keeping him warm by bringing a virgin to him to sleep with him. What happened to his harem of wives and concubines that he needed a new wife? What kind of illness was that? And what kind of therapy that prescription was?  When David couldn’t do anything with the woman despite his reckless sexual life, they knew his death was close! Now King David was old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, ‘Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.’ So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her” (1 Kings 1:1-4 NKJV).

Unfortunately, Solomon took after that ungodly family value of polygamy and surpassed David’s record. His obsession for women was legendary; it was unprecedentedly scandalous. But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:1-3 NKJV).

Solomon violated the Word of God concerning marriage just as David, his father, had done. Though Solomon was wisdom personified, one cannot find any wisdom in his having 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. The negative consequence of this disobedience was that the many women in Solomon’s life, especially the foreign women, turned his heart away from the Lord. Solomon backslid from following the Lord in his old age; he worshipped foreign gods. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David” (1 Kings 11:4-6 NKJV). The failure of David with regard to relationship with women was compounded in the life of his son, Solomon. Parents, especially fathers, must be careful about the values they imbibe and model to their children.

Solomon and Rehoboam

Isn’t it disappointing that Solomon who is known as the wisest person that ever lived could give birth to a son as unwise as Rehoboam during whose reign the kingdom of Israel was divided and his father’s house controlled just one tribe and Jerusalem? Obviously, he didn’t learn wisdom from his father. Or was it that his father didn’t teach him wisdom. Rehoboam rejected the wisdom of the elders and went for the ‘wisdom’ (foolishness) of the youths. But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, ‘What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?’ Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, Thus you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’” (1 Kings 12:8-11 NKJV).

Here was somebody yet to be anointed king speaking arrogantly like this. What a demonstration of foolishness! All the people wanted him to say was to agree to their request. A wise person would have done that appreciating the burden that Solomon’s reign placed on them, which they peacefully carried obviously because he ruled them with wisdom. Lack of wisdom cost Rehoboam a greater portion of the kingdom. What did he hope to gain from such callous answer he gave the people? Proverbs 28:16a says, A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor” (NKJV).

Rehoboam lacked wisdom and understanding that was why he thought he could oppress the people. But what did he get in return for his foolish reply to the people’s demand? 1 Kings 12:16 says,Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: ‘What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!’ So Israel departed to their tents” (NKJV).

David was blessed with a wise son in Solomon as testified to by Hiram the King of Sidon:So it was, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly and said, Blessed be the Lord this day, for He has given David a wise son over this great people!” (1 Kings 5:7 NKJV). Queen of Sheba also remarked about Solomon: “Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!” (1 Kings 10:8 NKJV). But the same cannot be said of Rehoboam.

It is true that Solomon laid the foundation for the break-up of the kingdom by worshipping other gods in disobedience to God’s word. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen’” (1 Kings 11:11-13 NKJV). But in addition, Solomon was unfortunate not to have a wise son succeeding him. Rehoboam consummated the process of break-up that his father commenced.

Parents need not only to teach their children wisdom, they need to pray for them for wisdom and teach them to ask for wisdom from God because wisdom is very important to success in life. For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (Proverbs 8:11 NKJV).

At the inception of his reign, Solomon prayed for wisdom and knowledge to to lead  his people properly, and God gave it to him. Then God said to Solomon: ‘Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like’” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12 NKJV).

1 Kings 4:29-34 also speaks of the exceeding wisdom of Solomon:And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon” (NKJV). That is awesome! But how his son, Rehoboam, manifested exceeding foolishness could not but surprise one! Rehoboam should have prayed to God for wisdom.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (NKJV). That was what Solomon did, and God answered him. If we ask God for wisdom for our children and we teach them to also do so for themselves, there is assurance in God’s Word that they will be baptized with wisdom and not live a foolish life.

Isaiah 11:2 says about the Messiah, Jesus, before his birth: The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (NKJV).

More examples of godly family values

Jesus, the Son of God, was not only wisdom personified; the Bible says he grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40). Note that He was filled with wisdom. After his birth, Jesus didn’t just grow physically; he grew in wisdom and had favour with God and men. Your children shouldn’t just develop muscles! They should grow in wisdom. Wisdom is so important that Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t do his ministry without it. Wisdom manifested so much in his ministry that the religious leaders of his days couldn’t but wonder where he got the wisdom. Here is an instance: “And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!’” (Mark 6:2 NKJV).

Joshua couldn’t have been able to lead the vast number of Israelites successfully to the Promised Land without wisdom. No foolish person would have been able to lead such people like the Israelites. They wouldn’t obey him. But the Bible says, “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9 NKJV). If Jesus needed wisdom and Joshua required wisdom to succeed, how dare anyone underrate wisdom?

God can give our children wisdom and us if we see the need for His wisdom rather than trust in the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness as far as God is concerned. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:18-20: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’;  and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” (NKJV).

It wasn’t Solomon alone that God gave wisdom; it was only that his wisdom was extraordinary. The Bible speaks of others who also possessed wisdom from God. Zechariah was one of them. Zechariah was described as a man of unusual wisdom. 1 Chronicles 26:14 says of this man, Zechariah: “The responsibility for the east gate went to Meshelemiah and his group. The north gate was assigned to his son Zechariah, a man of unusual wisdom” (NLT). A man of unusual wisdom! How will you feel being described like that? Great, I suppose.

There is another man called Bezalel. The Bible says of him in Exodus 35:31: “The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts” (NLT). But he wasn’t the only one – there were other craftsmen in his mould. God told Moses about these ones in Exodus 28:3: “So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest” (NKJV). All these were no foolish people like Nabal – they possessed the wisdom of God, which made them distinguished. Wisdom will make you the cynosure of all eyes; it will make you stand up among your colleagues and even make you outstanding. The same thing will happen to our children and the generations after us if they receive a baptism of wisdom which God makes available generously to those who desire and request for it in prayer.

Timothy had godly family values that he imbibed and stood him out later in life becoming an aide of Paul. The quality of parenting he had from his Jewish mother is recorded in the Bible with no mention of the contribution of his Greek father to his life. Eunice, his mother, transferred to him the faith that was in her own mother, Lois. Timothy learned the Scripture from his childhood and his mother must have been responsible for that (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15).

Ungoldy family values

But Rebekah was not like Eunice. She taught Jacob a wrong value of deceit. In Genesis 27, she taught Jacob how to deceive his father in order to obtain the blessing the father had wanted to put on Esau.

In fact, lying was an ungodly value in the Abraham’s family line. Abraham started it, and   it continued in his descendants. In Genesis 12, Abraham told a lie to Pharaoh in Egypt that Sarai was her sister and in Genesis 26, Isaac his son also lied to Abimelech, king of Gerar about his wife, Rebekah. Also in Genesis 27, Jacob lied to his father to receive a blessing from him and in later in Genesis 37, his own children also deceived him that Joseph was dead. Rebekah, as I early said, was a deceitful person teaching her son, Jacob, to deceive his father. She also manipulated her husband to send Jacob to go and marry from the daughters of Laban whereas her real intention was to make him escape from Esau’s wrath (Genesis 27:5-17, 42-46; 28:1-5).

Laban, a member of the family, was neither a straightforward person. He deceived Jacob making him to serve for a total of 14 years to marry two sisters and changed his wages ten times (Genesis 29:18-28; 30:27-35; 31:7). Lying had become a family value!

Families should have godly values they live by and communicate to the next generation. Hear what God said about Abraham: “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19 NKJV). That was what God expected of Abraham. Can God count on you to model godly values to your children?

The generations of the family of Herod mentioned in the Bible – Herod the Great, Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas, Herod Philip II, Herod Agrippa 1 and Herod Agrippa II  – were all far from being godly.

Herod The Great

Herod the Great, the founder of the Herodian dynasty, was a ruthless ruler. He was the one who decreed the murder of male children in Bethlehem hoping that Jesus would be killed in the process. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 NKJV).

History says that he was married ten times and had fifteen children. History also says that out of jealousy and suspicion, he killed those he considered a threat to him including his family members. He was said to have died of an incurable disease in 4 B.C. But before he died, after ruling for about thirty-seven years, he divided his kingdom into three among his three sons namely Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip II.

Archelaus

Archelaus received from his father Judea, Samaria and Idumea to rule over. He was not different from his father, Herod the Great, in evil and wickedness. Because of his cruelty, Joseph couldn’t go to his region on return from Egypt with Jesus and Mary. Joseph was warned in dream not to go there.But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:22-23 NKJV).

Archelaus was said to be a vicious man who started his reign by killing three thousand prominent people. Like father, like son. But he was banished nine years later. Archelaus not only inherited the throne of his father (though a portion of the kingdom), he also inherited the spirit of evil in his father, Herod the Great.

Herod Antipas

Herod Antipas is also called Herod the tetrarch (Matthew 14:1). He was given Galilee and Perea to rule over by his father, Herod the Great. Herod Antipas was the king responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist though he regretted making the promise that Herodias’ daughter exploited to make the request for the head of John the Baptist on a tray! The Bible says, “Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him” (NLT). But verse 19 says, “Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerlesss” (NLT).

But Herodias had her way using her daughter as a tool. She modelled an ungodly family value to that daughter. Only God knew what a girl who callously asked for the head of a prophet like John would have become later in life.At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus  and said to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him. For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.’ And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:1-12 NKJV).

The same Herod Antipas was also involved in the trial of Jesus. The death of Jesus that his father couldn’t achieve, he succeeded at it.  He spoke with Jesus Christ after His arrest before sending Him back to Pilate. “‘When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other” (Luke 23:6-12 NKJV).

Herod Philip II

Herod Philip II was also a son of Herod the Great. He was given the territory of Iturea and Traconitis to rule over by his father before his death. “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene” (Luke 3:1 NKJV). Herod Philip was the one Herod Antipas took his wife, Herodias, over which John the Baptist was beheaded. For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’” (Matthew 14:3-4 NKJV).

Herod Agrippa I

Herod Agrippa I was the nephew of Herod Antipas and a grandson of Herod the Great. He persecuted the church and got James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover” (Acts 12:1-5 NKJV).

Peter was miraculously freed from prison by an angel and testified to the church: “And when Peter had come to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people’” (Acts 12:11 NKJV). Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for Peter and when he couldn’t be found, he interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death.

But it was a matter of time for him to reap what he had sown. Herod died from a strange sickness after he was struck by an angel for accepting that he was a god. Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country. So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:20-23 NKJV).

Herod Agrippa II

Herod Agrippa II was the last of the Herod Dynasty that ruled Palestine. He was one of the judges that presided over Paul’s case (Acts 25, 26). He was not a godly man either. Agrippa interrupted Paul in the course of defending himself: “You almost persuade me to become a Christian”(Acts 26:28 NKJV). He never became a Christian. Herod Agrippa II, guest of Festus, the governor who had requested him to listen to Paul whose case had been referred to him, after everything merely said to Festus: “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar” (verse 32 NKJV). Like his predecessors, he never turned to God even when He was so close to Him.

 Jezebel and Athaliah

The story of Jezebel and Athaliah could be described as “like mother, like daughter”. Just as the mother was wicked, the daughter was wicked. They both influenced their husbands to do evil. They both killed the prophets of God. They both loved power and shed innocent blood.

1 Kings 16:31-33 says about Ahab who married Jezebel: And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (NKJV).

Due to the evil influence of Jezebel on Ahab, Israel went deep into idolatry. What never happened before in Israel took place during his reign – Jericho, a city cursed by Joshua sequel to his capture by Israel, was rebuilt at a price pronounced in the curse. “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the Lord, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun” (1 Kings 16:34 NKJV).

Jezebel promoted idolatry in Israel – she had 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah supported by her whom Elijah eventually killed. (1 Kings 18:19, 40; 19:1). She also killed the servants of God. God said to Jehu in 2 Kings 9:7 through one of the sons of the prophets: “You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel” (NKJV). She shed the innocent blood of Naboth just because she wanted her husband to have Naboth’s vineyard, the family inheritance he had refused to give to him (1 Kings 21:1-15).

Jezebel was such a terrible Queen who influenced both her husband and the land of Israel towards evil. Hear how the Bible summarized it: But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 21:25-26 NKJV).

How did she end her life? She died a violent death as spoken by the mouth of Prophet Elijah. And he looked up at the window, and said, ‘Who is on my side? Who?’ So two or three eunuchs looked out at him. Then he said, ‘Throw her down.’ So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot. And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, ‘Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.’ So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, ‘This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, ‘Here lies Jezebel’’” (2 Kings 9:32-37 NKJV).

After the killing of Ahab in the war with the Arameans (Syrians) over his bid to recapture Ramoth-gilead, Ahaziah, his son, succeeded him. Ahaziah inherited an evil heritage from the family and he followed this to the letter. This is what the Bible says about the ninth king of Israel, Ahaziah, the son of both Ahab and Jezebel: Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done” (1 Kings 22:51-53 NKJV). What a tragedy!

Somehow, there was another man called Ahaziah who had a link with Ahab and Jezebel. Ahaziah was the sixth king of Judah and he reigned for only one year. Ahaziah is also called Jehoahaz (2 Chronicles 21:17; 25:23) and Azariah (2 Chronicles 22:6). Ahaziah began to reign as king at Twenty-two years of age (2 Kings 8:26; 2 Chronicles 22:1) but he was a wicked king. The Bible says, Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah the granddaughter of Omri, king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab, for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:26-27 NKJV). Did you see that? Ahaziah followed the evil example of Ahab’s family because her mother, Athaliah came from that family.

Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab born to him by Jezebel that wicked woman, so wicked that even the New Testament referred to the spirit at work in the church in Thyatira as Jezebel. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20 NKJV). What the Jezebel in church in Thyatira did was not different from what the Jezebel of the Old Testament did.

Athaliah took after her mother, Jezebel. She influenced her son, King Ahaziah to follow the evil example of her family in Israel. So the evil of Ahab’s family in Israel was exported to Judah! What a wrong marriage relationship! And what a lesson for us today! Wrong marriage relationship can corrupt your family. So be careful.

Athaliah loved power as much as her mother, Jezebel, did. And her love for power and her viciousness came to the fore upon the death of her son. She seized power and unleashed terror on the land. “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs” (2 Kings 11:1 NKJV). Can you believe that! But that was what she did. She killed everybody she knew could ascend to the throne and she began to rule (2 Kings 11:1). She was successful but only for a season. She didn’t know that there was somebody called Joash who had been helped to escape her decimation of the princes. She must have deluded herself that she had successfully exterminated all in the royal family and she could sit comfortably on the throne for as long as she wanted. But how foolish she was!

Wicked people don’t always get away with it here on earth; God sometimes allow them to reap the harvest of what they have sown before they die – there is a more severe judgment still waiting for them after death.

In the seventh year, there was a revolt and an end was brought to her illegal, cruel reign with the enthronement of Joash as king. Athaliah couldn’t believe what she was hearing but it was too late for her. Not only was she dethroned, she died a violent death like her mother. She did not only inherit evil from her, she also inherited violent death! (2 Kings 11:13-16).

The Scripture cannot be broken; whatever a man sows that shall he reap. Athaliah’s death was good riddance to bad rubbish for the entire nation of Judah. No one mourned her death; she was as bad as her mother. Hear what the Bible says about her death: “So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king’s house” (2 Kings 11:20 NKJV). 2 Chronicles 23:21 also corroborates this statement. The entire land rejoiced over her death. What a commentary! That tells you how wicked Athaliah was. She inherited the wickedness of her mother. Here is an instance of the Bible’s description of Athaliah’s wickedness in Judah: “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken into the house of God, and had also presented all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord to the Baals” (2 Chronicles 24:7 NKJV). Wicked people always influence others in their wickedness – they always have followers who have imbibed their wicked ways.

But God’s Word assures us that the wicked will not live forever; God will cut them short. “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more” (Psalm 37:9-10 NKJV). Be a godly influence on your daughter; be a godly influence on your son.

Josiah: Avoiding evil family values

Josiah is an example of a person who, despite his young age, was not influenced by the evil lifestyle of his parents. His grandfather Manasseh was the most wicked king in the entire land of Israel before he repented, cleansed the land of idolatry and commanded the people to return to the Lord. Before then, his evil surpassed that of the Canaanites that God wiped out of the land He gave to the children of Israel. “So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9 NKJV).

Josiah also had the heritage of an evil father, Amon who didn’t learn from the error of his father’s life. Amon who succeeded Manasseh took after his evil life. “Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done; for Amon sacrificed to all the carved images which his father Manasseh had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. Then his servants conspired against him, and killed him in his own house” (2 Chronicles 33:21-24 NKJV).

Rather than take after the evil lives of his grandfather, Manasseh and his father, Amon, Josiah, who began to reign at the age of eight years, was a reformer. He lived a life that pleased God; he did what was right in His sight.  He was a reformer who returned Israel to the Lord. The Bible summarized his thirty-one years on the throne in Jerusalem thus:  “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him” (2 Kings 23:25 KJV). 

Josiah’s life teaches us that one does not have to follow the evil pattern in one’s family. One does not have to make a wicked grandfather or father one’s role model. If there is no good example in your family to emulate, there are enough good examples in the Bible, your church and other Christians in the society to emulate. We are surrounded by godly examples that we shall not have any excuse before God that it was because of the ungodly families we were born into that we couldn’t live a life that pleased the Lord. Josiah looked beyond his immediate family for a mentor. He didn’t choose Amon or Manasseh as his mentor. That is why the Bible says, “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2 NKJV). Did you take note of that phrase “in all the ways of his father” But biologically, David was not his father; Amon was his father and Manasseh, his grandfather. David was his ancestor, and it is significant that it was him that Josiah connected with bypassing many generations of kings in Israel!

Ensuring continuity of godly family values

The present generation must not fail the next generation; we must guide against the rising of an evil generation in our families as it happened in Israel after the death of Joshua. “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10 NKJV). So there was no continuity of worship of the living God. We must pass to our children the godly values our fathers and mothers taught us and modelled to us so that there will be continuity of godly family values. The Bible talks of telling the children the stories told by the ancestors.Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done (Psalm 78:1-4 NKJV).

God is concerned about generations after us not our present generation alone. He is interested in our descendants. Godly values must not terminate with you; it must be perpetuated. That is why God talks severally in the Bible about descendants, seeds, generations, etc. For instance, the covenant God cut with Abraham was not for Abraham alone but also for his children. God said, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8 NKJV).

Exodus 12:14-21 speaks of Israelites celebrating Festival of Unleavened Bread from generation to generation. There are several other scriptures that speak of permanent laws that must be observed by Israelites from generation to generation. These include Exodus 27:21; 30:21; Leviticus 3:17; 6:14-18, 7:34-36; 10:8-9; 17:6-7; 23:10-14, 15-21,26-31,33-41; Deuteronomy 7:9).

David, in his songs of praise in 1 Chronicles 16, also underscores this truth: Remember His covenant forever,
the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance’” (1 Chronicles 16:15-18 NKJV). 

That is why God wants us to teach our children using every opportunity we have especially being a godly model to them. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says,And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (NKJV).

Deuteronomy 4:40 states the benefit of parents and children obeying God’s decree and command: “You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time” (NKJV). Deuteronomy 12:23-25 warns Israelites and their children against eating the blood, which displeases the Lord, so that all might go well with them. Verse 28 of the same chapter says, “Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God” (NKJV).

All the scriptures I have referred to were addressed not only to the generations of Israelites living at that time but also their children living and those yet unborn. God is always interested in both the ancestors and their descendants. The commandments are for both the ancestors and their descendants; the blessing is also for both the ancestors and their descendants. Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:1-5 NKJV).

This is what God told David concerning his house and the throne of Israel. If your sons will keep My covenant
and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore” (
Psalm 132:12 NKJV). Did you see again that God’s plan is not that the blessing upon the father should terminate upon his demise? He remembers His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations (Psalm 105:8 NKJV). Psalm 100:5 says,For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (NKJV).

God wants the children to carry on the blessing of God upon their parents but they will need to obey the God of their fathers. It is godly family values that will direct the paths of the children in the righteous direction that their fathers’ followed. Parents have a great role to play in both the cultivation of godly family values and their transmission to their children.

I pray that you will not bequeath to your children ungodly values. May your children and succeeding generations follow godly values and perpetuate them.

 TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and cannot save yourself, and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

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T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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