Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. (2 Chronicles 34:1-3)
The young king did not know his ancestral grandfather David. It had been almost four hundred years since the death of King David and following the death of Solomon, the division of Israel. Judah had gone through turbulent times with prophets declaring the judgment of the Lord against the wickedness of the people. Idolatry filled the hearts of the people. The holy nation of God’s people had become like the nations around them. Josiah was eight years old when he became king. His rule would be a refreshing time of righteousness for 31 years. Less than 25 years after the death of Josiah, the city of Jerusalem would be burned and the temple sacked. Describing the rule of the boy king, the Holy Spirit declared that he walked in the ways of his father David. While he was young, he began to seek the God of his father David. It was impossible to bring the nation completely back to a righteous nation as they were under David but Josiah molded his character after a man who had been dead for nearly four centuries.
Influence is a powerful tool to achieve great success and when it is a good influence, the changes made are remarkable. King David was a great man of faith and described by the Spirit as a man who walked after God’s own heart. The good kings of Judah were described by a desire to be like their ancestor David. What kind of influence would a man have to achieve to have his great, great, great grandchildren (and more generations) describe their faith by his life? The impact of one man’s life upon generations to come is a powerful story of faith. No one molded their life after King Saul or King Solomon. Those who followed in the steps of Jeroboam or Ahab were brought to destruction. In seeking the good kings of Judah, the Bible reader is drawn to the phrase, “he walked in the ways of his father David.”
The kind of life I live as a father can have an impact on generations to come for good or for evil. Like David, we should leave a mark upon our families that will be passed on from generations to generations so they will know the glory of the Lord and His righteousness. Leaving an inheritance of worldly goods will only rust and fade away. Riches of this life will not last but a good name and a devotion to the Lord will change the lives of young men and women who are forming their love for God. As fathers, we must establish a role model for our family to follow that gives honor to the word of God and the will of the Lord. Firmly entrenching the ideals of righteousness in the hearts of the children can produce many generations of righteous people. It is sad to look around the church and see single generations of faithful Christians instead of three or four generations of godly homes. Truth must be passed from one generation to the next. Losing a generation or two of families will have lasting influence upon the future of the Lord’s work. Rise up and build a legacy of godliness so that four hundred years from now they will still speak of the faith of their fathers. Let that faith shine for years to come.