In our 5G world, I think we’ve forgotten the impact of a life well lived—or in some cases the life lived poorly.
When I’m talking about impact, I’m not talking about merely for today, tomorrow, or even the years to come. I’m talking about generations. Our lives hold the potential to bring enormous good—or negative consequences—for generations.
To see this played out in history, consider the lives and legacies of two kings of ancient Israel, as told in the Bible: David and Jeroboam.
The Life and Legacy of King David
I think about the life of King David. He wasn’t perfect. He failed to discipline his sons. He had an affair. He conspired in the murder of one of his friends in a cover up. He was too lax with his leaders.
But David had one overriding virtue. He kept following hard after God. And that faithfulness continued to be the mark of a generational legacy.
But consider this. In II Chronicles 34, Josiah ascends to the throne of Judah. He’s just 8 years old. He’s the 17th king after David. And it has now been nearly 300 years since David’s death. Despite this passage of time, here’s what is written about Josiah:
He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (II Chronicles 34.8)
Three hundred years later and they are still talking about the way of David. I find it stunning that one man can have such a lasting impact.
The Life and Legacy of Jeroboam
In stark contrast to David, consider the life of Jeroboam. He was a servant of King Solomon, and he’s described as a man of standing in the scriptures.
Because of the unfaithfulness of King Solomon, the prophet Ahijah delivers a message from the Lord to Jeroboam:
If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. (II Kings 11.38)
Not many people remember this prophecy about Jeroboam. Why? Because he did not walk in obedience. In fact, when Jeroboam became king in Israel as prophesied, he chose power and position over obedience. Jeroboam feared that he would lose his kingdom if he allowed the people to return to Jerusalem to worship. So he set up other idols in Israel and commanded the people to worship those idols.
The consequences were disastrous. Ahijah, the prophet, now old and blind, prophesies about Jeroboam’s end in I Kings 14.10-11:
“‘Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!’
Sure enough, the prophecy is fulfilled and Jeroboam’s sons are all killed.
First in a Long Line of Bad Rulers
The kingdom in Israel is then marked by a succession of evil kings. Some get assassinated. Many of their reigns are short. And every account of an evil king ends with a postscript like this:
“…you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins…” (I Kings 16.2)
Jeroboam’s life impacted generations of kings. In fact, in the entire history of Israel there is only one good king mentioned (Jehu), and even his resume is spotty.
Taking the Long View
Our lives have consequences, and not just for the moment.
David’s and Jeroboam’s stories make me pause and wonder if perhaps we can return to a place of considering the long-term impact of our lives. Of following David, in his finer moments, to lives of honor, truth and grace. A place where we are less afraid of the shadows and more attuned to the melody of faithfulness.
What would it look like to live this way?
I believe that if we lived with a much longer view in mind, then our world could change dramatically.
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Published June 24, 2020
Topics: Family Legacy