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. Prov 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.
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. “This is the message the Lord gave Jeremiah when Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah: ‘Go to the settlement where the families of the Recabites live, and invite them to the Lord’s Temple. Take them into one of the inner rooms, and offer them some wine.’ So I went to see Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah and grandson of Habazziniah and all his brothers and sons – representing all the Recabite families. I took them to the Temple, and we went into the room assigned to the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God. This room was located next to the one used by the Temple officials, directly above the room of Maaseiah son of Shallum, the Temple gatekeeper. I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, but they refused. ‘No, they said, “we don’t drink wine, because our ancestor Jehonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘You and your descendants must never drink wine. And do not build houses or plant crops or vineyards, but always live in tents. If you follow these commands, you will live long, good lives in the land.’ So we have obeyed him in all these things. We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters. We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor. But when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked this country, we were afraid of the Babylonian and Syrian armies. So we decided to move to Jerusalem. That is why we are here” (Jer 35:1-11, NLT).
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. “When the tribe of Judah left Jericho – the city of palms—the Kenites, who were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, travelled with them into the wilderness of Judah. They settled among the people there, near the town of Arad in the Negev.” (Judges 1:16, NLT). 1 Chro 2:55 also tells us that the Kenites descended from Hammath, the father of the family of Rechab. According to 1 Sam 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. “When Jehu left there, he met Jehonadab son of Recab, who was coming to meet him. After they had greeted each other, Jehu said to him, ‘Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?’ ‘Yes, I am,’ Jehonadab replied. ‘If you are,’ Jehu said, ‘then give me your hand.’ So Jehonadab put out his hand, and Jehu helped him into the chariot. Then Jehu said, “Now come with me, and see how devoted I am to the Lord.” So Jehonadab rode along with him” (2 Kings 10:15-16, NLT).
Verse 23 says, “Then Jehu went into the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Recab.” 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. “We have never had a drink of wine to this day, nor have our wives, our sons, or our daughters. We haven’t built houses or owned vineyards or farms or planted crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed all the commands of Jehonadab, our ancestor.” Not even the lure by a prophet of God to drink alcoholic drink could entice them to violate the word of their ancestor who had died long ago – God had used 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!’” (Num 13:30, NLT). In Num 14:24, God testified to the character of Caleb: “But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.”
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. “Then the Lord was very angry with them, and he vowed, ‘Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me wholeheartedly. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the Lord’”(Num 32:10-12, NLT).
Deut 1:35-36 reiterates the resolve of God concerning Caleb. “‘Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he has followed the Lord completely. I will give to him and his descendants some of the very land he explored during his scouting mission’” (NLT).
And in Josh 14, Caleb himself recalls that particular event: “I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God’” (Josh 14:7-9, NLT).
What I have been trying to show you is that Caleb was from the tribe of Judah so also was Nabal. 1 Sam 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. “There was a wealthy man from Maon who owned property near the town of Carmel. He had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats, and it was sheep-shearing time. This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings” (1Sam 25:2-3, NLT).
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. “When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. She fell at his feet and said, ‘I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent” (1Sam 25:23-25, NLT). 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. “When Abigail arrived home, she found that Nabal was throwing a big party and was celebrating like a king. He was very drunk, so she didn’t tell him anything about her meeting with David until dawn the next day. In the morning when Nabal was sober, his wife told him what had happened. As a result he had a stroke, and he lay paralyzed on his bed like a stone. About ten days later, the Lord struck him, and he died” (1 Sam 25:36-38, NLT).
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 produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise” (Pro 20:1 NLT). Did you see that? Let me show you another Scripture. Nabal couldn’t have been wise and he couldn’t have lived long. “Alcohol is for the dying, and wine for those in bitter distress” (Pro 31:6, NLT). 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 Deut 17:17: “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord…” (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 1Sam 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 Sam 5:13 says, “After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters” (NLT). 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. “Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, ‘I’m pregnant’” (2Sam 11:2-5, NLT). 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! “King David was now very old, and no matter how many blankets covered him, he could not keep warm. So his advisers told him, ‘Let us find a young virgin to wait on you and look after you, my lord. She will lie in your arms and keep you warm.’ So they searched throughout the land of Israel for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful, and she looked after the king and took care of him. But the king had no sexual relations with her” (I Kings 1:1-4, NLT).
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. “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord” (1 Kings 11:1-3, NLT).
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. “In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done” (1 Kings 11:4-6, NLT). 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 Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. ‘What is your advice?’ he asked them. ‘How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?’ The young men replied, ‘This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” (1 Kings 12:8-11, NLT).
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? Prov 28:16 says, “A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people…” 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? Verse 16 of 1 Kings 12 says, “When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded, ‘Down with the dynasty of David! We have no interest in the son of Jesse. Back to your homes, O Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!’”
David was blessed with a wise son in Solomon as testified to by Hiram the King of Sidon: “When Hiram received Solomon’s message, he was very pleased and said, ‘Praise the Lord today for giving David a wise son to be king of the great nation of Israel’” (1 Kings 5:7, NLT). Queen of Sheba also remarked about Solomon: “How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom!” (1 Kings 10:8, NLT). 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. “So now the LORD said to him, ‘Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my laws, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. And even so, I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.’” (1 Kings 11:11-13, NLT). 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 far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it” (Prov 8:11, NLT).
Solomon prayed for wisdom at the inception of his reign and God gave it to him. “Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?’ God said to Solomon, ‘Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people—I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!” (1 Chron 1:10-12, NLT).
1Kings 4:29-34 also speaks of the exceeding wisdom of Solomon: “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (NLT). 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 you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking” (NLT). 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.
Isa 11:2 says about the Messiah, Jesus, before his birth: “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (NLT).
More examples of godly family values
Jesus, the Son of God, was not only wisdom personified; the Bible says he grew in wisdom among other things (Luke 2:40). 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: “The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, ‘Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?’” (Mark 6:2, NLT).
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 son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him, doing just as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deut 34:9, NLT). 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 Cor 3:18-20: “Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.’ And again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless” (NLT).
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 Chro 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 Exo 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 Exo 28:3: “Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service” (NLT). 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 (2Tim 1:5, 3:14-15).
Ungoldy family values
But Rebekah was not like Eunice. She taught Jacob a wrong value of deceit. In Gen 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 Gen 12, Abraham told a lie to Pharaoh in Egypt that Sarai was her sister and in Gen 26, Isaac his son also lied to Abimelech, king of Gerar about his wife, Rebekah. Also in Gen 27, Jacob lied to his father to receive a blessing from him and in later in Gen 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 (Gen 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 (Gen 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: “I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised” (Gen 18:19, NLT). 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. “Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance” (Matt 2:16, NLT).
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 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. “So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee” (Matt 2:22-23, NLT).
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 is also called Herod the tetrarch (Matt 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” (Mark 6:20, NLT). But verse 19 says, “Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless” (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. “When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, ‘This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.’ For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, ‘It is against God’s law for you to marry her.’ Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, ‘I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!’ Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened” (Matt 14:1-12, NLT).
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. “‘Oh, is he a Galilean?’ Pilate asked. When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. Meanwhile, the leading priests and the teachers of religious law stood there shouting their accusations. Then Herod and his soldiers began mocking and ridiculing Jesus. Finally, they put a royal robe on him and sent him back to Pilate. (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day” (Luke 23:6-12, NLT).
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. “…Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis…” (Luke 3:1, NLT) Herod Philip was the one Herod Antipas took his wife, Herodias, over which John the Baptist was beheaded. “For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, ‘It is against God’s law for you to marry her’” (Matt 14:3-4, NLT).
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. “About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him”(Acts 12:1-5, NLT).
Peter was miraculously freed from prison by an angel and testified to the church: “Peter finally came to his senses. ‘It’s really true!’ he said. ‘The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!’” (Acts 12:11, NLT) 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 was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, ‘It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!’ Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died” (Acts 12:20-23, NLT).
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: “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”(Acts 26:28, NLT). 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: “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar” (Verse 32). 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.
I Kings 16:31-33 says about Ahab who married Jezebel: “And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King EthBaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him” (NLT).
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. “It was during his reign that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho. When he laid its foundations, it cost him the life of his oldest son, Abiram. And when he completed it and set up its gates, it cost him the life of his youngest son, Segub. This all happened according to the message from the Lord concerning Jericho spoken by Joshua son of Nun” (I Kings 16: 34, NLT).
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, NLT). She also killed the servants of God. “… I will avenge the murder of my prophets and all the Lord’s servants who were killed by Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:7, NLT). 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: “(No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 26 His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done—the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites)” (1 Kings 2:25-26, NLT).
How did she end her life? She died a violent death as spoken by the mouth of Prophet Elijah. “Jehu looked up and saw her at the window and shouted, ‘Who is on my side?’ And two or three eunuchs looked out at him. ‘Throw her down!’ Jehu yelled. So they threw her out the window, and her blood spattered against the wall and on the horses. And Jehu trampled her body under his horses’ hooves. Then Jehu went into the palace and ate and drank. Afterward he said, ‘Someone go and bury this cursed woman, for she is the daughter of a king.’ But when they went out to bury her, they found only her skull, her feet, and her hands. When they returned and told Jehu, he stated, ‘This fulfils the message from the Lord, which he spoke through his servant Elijah from Tishbe: ‘At the plot of land in Jezreel, dogs will eat Jezebel’s body. Her remains will be scattered like dung on the plot of land in Jezreel, so that no one will be able to recognize her’” (2Kings 9:32-37, NLT)
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 son of Ahab began to rule over Israel in the seventeenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria two years. But he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the example of his father and mother and the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had led Israel into the sin of idolatry. He served Baal and worshiped him, arousing the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done” (1 Kings 22:51-53, NLT). 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 Chron 21:17; 25:23) and Azariah (2 Chron 22:6). Ahaziah began to reign as king at Twenty-two years of age (2 Kings 8:26; 2 Chron 22:1) but he was a wicked king. The Bible says, “Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. Ahaziah followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done, for he was related by marriage to the family of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:26-27, NLT). 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. “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols” (Rev 2:20, NLT). 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 King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family” (2 Kings 11:1, NLT). 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 peaceful because Athaliah had been killed at the king’s palace…” (2 Kings 11:20, NLT). 2 Chro 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: “Over the years the followers of wicked Athaliah had broken into the Temple of God, and they had used all the dedicated things from the Temple of the Lord to worship the images of Baal” (2 Chro 24:7, NLT). 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 the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone” (Psalm 37:9-10, NLT). 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 Chro 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 Chro 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. “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10, NLT). 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. “O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” (Psalm 78:1-4, NLT).
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. “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God. Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility” (Gen 17:7-9, NLT).
Verses 14 and 17 of Deut 12 speak 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 Exo 27:21, 30:21, Lev 3:17,6:18, 7:36, 10:9, 17:7, 23:14, 21, 31,41, Deut 7:9,
David, in his songs of praise in 1Chro 16, also underscores this truth: “Remember his covenant forever – the commitment he made to a thousand generations. This is the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant: ‘I will give you the land of Canaan as your special possession’” (1Chro 16:15-18, NLT).
That is why God wants us to teach our children using every opportunity we have especially being a godly model to them. Deut 6:6-9 says, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (NLT).
Deut 4:40 states the benefit of parents and children obeying God’s decree and command: “If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time” (NLT). Deut 12:25 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, “Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.” (NLT)
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. “If at that time you and your children return to the Lord your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you. Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors!” (Deut. 30:2-5, NLT).
This is what God told David concerning his house and the throne of Israel. “If your descendants obey the terms of my covenant and the laws that I teach them, then your royal line will continue forever and ever” (Psalm 132:12, NLT). Did you see again that God’s plan is not that the blessing upon the father should terminate upon his demise? “He always stands by his covenant – the commitment he made to a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8, NLT). Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation” (NLT).
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.
If you’re not born again, you need to make yourself ready for eternity. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t 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 to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 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 resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. 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 will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523