Beat the Odds, Break the Cycle
I never realized before this morning the incredible odds that Josiah faced in turning the nation of Israel back to complete faithfulness and solidarity to Jehovah. 2 Kings 22 tells of his reforms as an 8-year old boy king committed wholeheartedly to God. I always admired Josiah as one of the godliest figures in Scripture, but something dawned on me this morning as I was reading this chapter and the preceding chapter – the odds were against him.
2 Kings 21 speaks of Josiah’s father and grandfather (both kings prior to Josiah) as being responsible for countless acts of wickedness and ungodliness in the nation. Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, held the longest reign of any of Judah’s kings, 55 years, thereby taking home the gold for holding the vilest, most wicked rule of them all. Here’s some of his exploits, to name a few:
1. worshiped stars and phallic idols (v.3),
2. sacrificed his son in the fire to Molech (v.6),
3. practiced witchcraft (v.6),
4. was responsible for leading the nation of Israel into worse atrocities than the nations God destroyed (v.9),
5. shed so much “innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem with it from one end to another” (v.16).
I could keep going, but I’ll spare you.
Josiah’s father, Amon, would have likely taken the silver medal for foulest reign had he not been assassinated two years into it (likely by God-fearing men who didn’t want a repeat of the previous 57 years).
Enter Josiah – an 8-year old boy king raised by a godly mother, Jedidah, and, as it seems, “under the care of guardians who trained him in the principles and practice of piety” (JFB Commentary). Even so, Josiah had a choice to make on his own volition – he could choose to follow in the steps of his father and grandfather and live an utterly wasted life, or he could do the opposite. He could follow Yahweh unswervingly and with undying devotion. He chose the latter. I love how Eugene Peterson put it, “He lived the way GOD wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right” (The Message, 2 Kings 22:2).
The odds were against him, but Josiah broke the cycle of familial sin and divine disobedience. He found himself as a pre-adolescent on the struggling remains of a shipwrecked vessel careening into the rocks ahead and he made the choice to get off. He broke the cycle. He wanted no part in the history of vulgarity, ungodliness and horrific patterns begun by his father and grandfather. He beat the odds.
I’m grateful for a dad who beat the odds. He’s my hero. I thank God everyday that he beat the odds – that he broke the cycle. The Lord only knows where his children would be today if he hadn’t. Now the baton is in my hand.
I’m privileged to accompany my dad this week on a mission trip to Satu Mare, Romania. Pray for us as we preach the Gospel to this needy country. Pray that the Holy Spirit will “open the eyes of their hearts” (Eph. 1:18) to see the glorious riches of Christ.
So, thank God for the people in your life who broke the cycle of sin. Maybe God is raising you up for that very purpose.
– “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise.”
Ezek 18:14 (HCSB)
(see Steve Farrar’s book Finishing Strong for more on breaking the cycle.