A Praying Father Influences the 4th Generation
INTRODUCTION: In Exodus 20:5-6 God warns Israel with these words,
“…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;…” This verse is saying, "God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children – all the way down to the grandchildren and to the great grandchildren."
On the other hand, in verse 6 we read where God brings blessing upon those who honor Him, “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
The next generation is always the most important generation. Its morals, beliefs and lifestyles can change so dramatically from the current generation. Thus, it is the responsibility of the older generation to influence today’s leaders, who then influence the young adults, who then influence the children. This progression continues from generation to generation.
Many people, including Christians, do not think far into the future because they are too concerned with the here and now.
They are concerned with what is in it for them and how much they can get out of it.
They are concerned with where they can make the most money.
They are concerned with what society teaches rather than what the truth of the Word of God teaches.
They are concerned with not offending any one, so the morals of society have been diluted, therefore many actions are no longer considered sinful.
The truth is, the decisions we make today will influence and prepare the way for the second, third and fourth generations. In Psalm 89:1 we read, “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”
This being Father’s Day, I want to address the men of this church, and in so doing, to reach the families of this church. We are facing a crisis in this country in the area of male leadership – leadership in the home, leadership in the church, and leadership in the nation. Here are four important statements that we, as fathers, need to understand.
NUMBER 1: "You and I influence the future of our children, by the way you and I live NOT BEFORE THEM, but by the way you and I live BEFORE GOD.”
NUMBER 2: Fathers who disregard the will of God, will HINDER and DIMINISH the Spiritual DIRECTION and the Spiritual PROGRESS of their children and future generations.
NUMBER 3: On the other hand, fathers who consider the WILL OF GOD and who CONSISTENTLY APPLY THE WORD OF GOD TO THEIR LIVES, will invoke the blessings of God upon their children and future generations.
NUMBER 4: The success you have as a father will be measured not so much in your children's lives as much as in your children's, children's lives.
Now if all this is true, from what we have read in Exodus 20:5-6, we have one of the most sobering revelations in the Bible. It may also give us a clue as to WHY our children are the way they are. Quite simply, our children are becoming what we are.
It is not so much what a man is before his wife.
It is not so much what a man is before his children.
It is what a man is before His God that has the greatest influence on his family.
Listen, gentlemen, you know what you are inside before God.
It may not be the same thing your wife thinks about you.
It may not be the same thing your children think about you.
It may not be what the people at church think about you.
What is of primary importance is what you are before God.
God is saying in His Word, if you are upright before Me, and if you are going to honor Me, I will honor you and visit your family with blessings.
I thank God for a godly, God-fearing father. My father was heavily involved in a number of spiritual and ministry endeavors.
If I had my life to live over again, I would still prefer that my Dad be equally involved in the things of God. The WILL OF GOD, the WORD OF GOD and the WORK OF GOD took priority in his life.
Anyone who knew Dad knew him as a man of prayer. Dad prayed for me daily. I believe God has honored my parent’s prayers, godly influence, and obedience to the Word of God by putting Him first in their lives.
The principle I am seeking to impress upon you from the Word of God is "A FATHER MUST BE RIGHT BEFORE HIS GOD FIRST AND FOREMOST." When this is so, God will honor that man and bless his family.
Let me illustrate this principle from the life of King Hezekiah found in Exodus 20:6. Hezekiah was one of the few good kings to reign in Judah, and I am sure he was a very, very busy king.
As you skim over II Chronicles 29-32 you will find there is no reference to Hezekiah's wife or family even though he had both. But in these chapters, you will discover something of Hezekiah's relationship to his God.
Please notice II Chronicles 29:1-3,
“Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. (2) And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. (3) He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.
As you go back into the history books of II Kings and I & II Chronicles you will find with the kings of Judah one man did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and another did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Unfortunately most of the kings did that which was EVIL in the eyes of the Lord. There were exceptions and Hezekiah was one of these exceptions who did right in the eyes of the Lord.
Not only did Hezekiah want to do what was right in the sight of God, he also desired that all his subjects do what was right in the eyes of God.
Notice verse 30:1, “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel.” He wanted the nation to serve God as he served God. But they didn't all have that same desire.
Notice verses 17-18a, “For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD. (18) For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written.”
As a result notice what Hezekiah did in verses 18b-19, “But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one. (19) That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
It appears when this man had a SPIRITUAL PROBLEM in the kingdom, he did not call a cabinet meeting, discuss the matter, nor institute a new program, "HE PRAYED!"
Someone said “If the church is to be light in this perverse generation, she must humble herself and PRAY. She must understand that victory comes from her knees." We are instructed to:
Pray when we are in need of direction or wisdom,
Pray for boldness in our Christian life,
Pray for one another,
Pray for those who have wronged us,
Pray for the afflicted and the sick, and
Pray for those who are in the gospel ministry.
You know, I cannot help but wonder how much more effective and fruitful our pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and Christian school teachers might be if we took seriously our responsibilities to pray for them.
Here was a young man at the very outset of his reign facing a spiritual problem. He prayed, and notice verse 20, “And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.” Here was a godly man who wanted to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. It wasn't any easier then, than it is now.
Yet, when he found himself beset with spiritual problems, not with himself, but with others around him, he immediately went to the Lord in prayer and God gave the answer.
And what an answer to prayer it was from Exodus 30:21-23, 26-27,
“And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD. (22) And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers. (23) And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness. (26) So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. (27) Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.”
A spiritual problem ariose and immediately Hezekiah sought God's face and God answered. But, Satan does not stop, because he never does. You deal with one issue and you say, “Praise the Lord that problem is behind me.” However, no sooner you say that, then another problem takes its place and you say “Where did that problem come from?”
However, Praise God, "every problem for a child of God is a prayer problem."
Notice please II Chronicles 32:1-2, “After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. (2) And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,…”
Here you have this Assyrian King Sennacherib attacking Jerusalem.
He wanted to lay waste to Jerusalem and destroy Hezekiah.
He wanted to lead the people away from following the God of Israel.
What did Hezekiah finally do? Notice Exodus 32:20-23,
“And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. (21) And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. (22) Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. (23) And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.”
When this king had a SPIRITUAL PROBLEM, what did he do? He PRAYED. He took the matter to God. He was a godly man. He was concerned about what God thinks about it.
When this king had a POLITICAL PROBLEM, what did he do? He PRAYED. He took the matter to God. He was a godly man. He was concerned with what God thinks about it.
Now Hezekiah faced yet another problem. This time he had a PHYSICAL PROBLEM. Please notice II Chronicles 32:24, “In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD…”
The background to the miracle of healing in answer to Hezekiah’s prayer is found in II Kings 20:1-11. Here we find Hezekiah turning his face to the wall and crying out to God. God answered his prayer by adding fifteen more years to his life. So here was a man:
Who was so concerned with his relationship to God he TALKS to God when he has a SPIRITUAL problem.
Who was so concerned with his relationship to God he TALKS to God when he has a POLITICAL problem.
Who was so concerned with his relationship to God he TALKS to God when he has a PHYSICAL problem.
It appears no matter what his problems were he talks to God. Years ago I came across this great quote as a result of a question posed to Christians,
"What's the biggest thing you've asked God for this week?" I remind them that they are going to God, the Father, the Maker of the Universe, the One who holds the world in His hands. What did you ask for? Did you ask for peanuts, toys, trinkets, or did you ask for continents? I want to tell you, it's tragic! The little itsy-bitsy things we ask of our Almighty God. Sure, nothing is too small – but also nothing is too big. Let us learn to ask from our God some of those big things He talks about in Jeremiah 33:3, "Call upon Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things that thou knowest not."
Now let us move on to II Chronicles 32:32-33 where we find for the first time the mention of Hezekiah having a son,
“Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. (33) And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.”
Now when you read the next chapter, II Chronicles 33, you come across one of the bleakest and darkest chapters of all of Israel's history. In summary let me read from verse 1-2, and verse 9,
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: (2) But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. (9)So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.”
Now when you read those verses, you immediately question, “What Happened?”
Here is a father who honored the Lord. He prayed in the midst of a SPIRITUAL problem, and in the midst of a POLITICAL problem, and in the midst of a PHYSICAL problem and God answered.
Here was a man who did that which was right before the Lord yet he has a son who lives like the devil.
Perhaps you are saying, “It appears that King Hezekiah was a praying king, but he had little time for his family.” You do not read where King Hezekiah takes Manasseh aside and teaches him, works with him, plays with him. Is not that the reason he turned out wicked? Perhaps, but this is not the end of the story.
Please notice verse 10, “And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.” When a man is out of fellowship with God, God uses two means to bring that man back to himself:
First: There is the WORD OF GOD. Notice again verse 10 "And the Lord spoke unto Manasseh…" It may be the Word of God has been taught to you week after week, but to no avail – all you do is sit there and listen.
You don’t allow the Bible to make an impact on your life.
You don’t take its truths and apply them to your life.
Now if the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God does not change you, God will bring into your life a second means to bring you back unto Himself.
Second: There are the WORKS OF GOD. Please notice verses 11-13,
“Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. (12) And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, (13) And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.”
When God brings TRIALS and DIFFICULTIES or HARDSHIPS or even TRAGEDIES into a man's life, and he places him on his back, all of a sudden that man looks up and cries out God I now realize you are speaking to me. And that's what happened in Manasseh's life.
Now, reading verses 14-16 you'll find a vast change in Manasseh's life.
“Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah.(15) And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. (16) And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.”
You notice in this man’s life,
There was repentance and a desire to return to God.
There was a desire to make restitution for his wrongs.
When I read that, I ask myself, "Why did all this take place?" I believe it was because God was honoring the life and prayers of a godly father. Not only does God say the SINS of the father will he pass down to the third and fourth generation, but also the VIRTUES of the fathers, their godly character will also be honored.
If Hezekiah prayed when beset by SPIRITUAL problems,
If Hezekiah prayed when beset by POLITICAL problems,
If Hezekiah prayed when beset by PHYSICAL problems,
I believe he must have prayed when he had PERSONAL problems.
So Manasseh stood there as a monument to a godly father. He could not escape the prayers of his godly father. At this point, His father was dead, but never-the-less these prayers were tracking that son down until he finally came back to God and repented.
This is the truth found in God’s Word – we influence the future of our children.
Not so much the way you live before your children, but more so by the way you live before your God.
When a father walks with God; HE PRAYS FOR HIS FAMILY. His family cannot escape the results of the impact of those prayers even after the father dies. God HONORS THE PRAYERS of a godly father.
I began this message by referring to my father, who is my children's grandfather. The WILL OF GOD, the WORD OF GOD and the WORK OF GOD were a priority in his life. Let me now refer to a personal incident from my immediate family that I believe illustrates what Exodus 20:5-6 is saying to us.
I thank God for our five children who are all grown. This story goes back some 44 years. One evening Jonathan, our oldest son, who was 7 at the time, called me into his bedroom. Bed time in our home was early between 7:00-7:30 p.m. Shortly, I would be leaving as was my custom to do every Tuesday and Thursday evening for soul-winning visitation.
Jonathan said something like this, "Daddy, I would like for you to stay home tonight and play a little more with us, but I would rather that you go out and tell people about Jesus."
I believe that evening when Jonathan gave up his Dad for the cause of Christ, God gave him his ministry for today He is a soul-winner who leads people to Jesus Christ, and he also stands behind a sacred desk this very hour proclaiming the eternal riches of God's Word.
One of the greatest investments I can make in the lives of my wife and our five children and their spouses, and now twenty-one grandchildren, is to pray for them.
E. M. Bounds said "What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations, or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — MEN OF PRAYER, MEN MIGHTY IN PRAYER. The Holy Ghost does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but He anoints men — MEN OF PRAYER…"
Prayer should become our FIRST and most NATURAL RESPONSE to every circumstance of life. We simple acknowledge God’s presence, surrender our will, and seek His will regarding:
every decision, every conversation, every hurt, every joy, every desire, every response and every relationship, every moment of the day.
To do so is to live a life of unceasing prayer, undaunted faith, undisturbed rest, unlimited power, and uncommon intimacy with the God of the universe.
May God richly bless you FATHERS, as you come to grips with your relationship to God in the mighty purpose of PRAYER, and by the grace of God seek to influence your family even to the fourth generation.
If God has spoken to you after reading the sermon “A Praying Father Influences the Fourth Generation” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
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