Christian fatherhood is a monumental responsibility. It has consequences that reach far beyond our lifespan. As fathers, we have the biblical responsibility to raise our children in the fear of God (Ephesians 6:4) and are called to devote our lives to providing for their needs and preparing them for the future. God the Father models this role throughout Scripture, and we represent His fatherhood to our children.
God’s concerns for us never end with the here and now, and He calls fathers to have that same mindset for their children. In the Old Testament, He lays out a long-term, multi-generational plan of redemption—a plan that was first outlined after Adam’s fall and culminated millennia later with the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. The promises God made to Adam, Abraham, and David concerned a glorious future that wouldn’t be realized during their lifetimes.
God promised Adam a future descendant who would one day reverse the curse brought about by his original sin (Genesis 3:15). God promised Abraham a great nation that would descend from him and be God’s representative people on Earth (Genesis 17:7–8). And out of that nation, God promised David an ancestry of kings that would culminate in an eternal King (2 Samuel 7:12–16).
All the kings that descended from the house of David were meant to rule under the covenant God made with David. The heir to the throne was always important because he extended the lineage that would one day produce the King of kings.
Hezekiah was one of those Davidic kings. Scripture’s testimony concerning him is overwhelmingly positive. He trusted in God, kept His commandments, and chased idolatry out of Israel. He also enjoyed great military victories against the world powers of his time (2 Kings 18:1–8).
Such God-honoring faithfulness was a rare quality among Israel’s kings. Scripture says that Hezekiah’s faith in God was such “that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him” (2 Kings 18:5). That’s no small commendation—God Himself wrote it.
But Hezekiah was still flesh and blood. His instinct for self-preservation was a recurring theme in his life, and it invited God’s displeasure.
Hezekiah ruled at a time when Israel was divided into two kingdoms: North (Israel) and South (Judah). During his reign over Judah, the Assyrians took the Northern Kingdom into captivity (2 Kings 18:9–12). It was ultimately God’s judgment for covenant-unfaithfulness and a grim reminder for Hezekiah about the importance of maintaining a right relationship with the Lord.
Rather than trusting in the Lord, Hezekiah thought the Assyrian threat could be averted by paying them off—and he stripped the Temple of its silver and gold to do so (2 Kings 18:13–16). Hezekiah did eventually seek deliverance from God, but only when the situation had spiraled out of control and all other hope seemed lost (2 Kings 19:1–4). Nonetheless God, in His great mercy, delivered Hezekiah from the Assyrian military juggernaut (2 Kings 19:6–7, 32–35).
Later in his life, the desperation of terminal illness drove Hezekiah to again seek God’s mercy (2 Kings 20:1–3), and God granted him fifteen more years (2 Kings 20:5–6). During those extra years, Hezekiah foolishly and brazenly showed off his great wealth and military secrets to the Babylonians (2 Kings 20:12–13). Little did he realize that the Babylonian empire was a sleeping giant—one that would soon place its foot on the neck of the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 20:16).
As a result, God pronounced judgment on Hezekiah’s kingdom, warning of wrath that would be directed at Hezekiah’s sons:
Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (2 Kings 20:17–18, ESV)
Hezekiah should have been horrified at God’s pronouncement. The thought of his sons serving a pagan king as eunuchs is horrible in itself. Couple that with the prospect that David’s family tree could come to an end and Hezekiah’s distress should have been at an all-time high. After Hezekiah repeatedly pleaded with God for his own life, you might think he would do so with far greater passion over the future of his sons.
But their future calamity doesn’t seem to have bothered Hezekiah. While he was often concerned about his own circumstances, he showed no concern for his family legacy. For proof we need look no further than Hezekiah’s final recorded words: “‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?’” (2 Kings 20:19, ESV, emphasis added).
Peace and security in his days. That was Hezekiah’s end game. He may have been a good king but he was also a bad dad. His concerns were always in the present and he had no eye for the future, which led to misplaced priorities in the present—particularly as it related to preparing and training his children to equip them for the future.
It’s a telling indictment on his parenting skills that his son Manasseh (who was born during the fifteen extra years of Hezekiah’s life) inflicted unprecedented wickedness on Israel, undoing any good his father ever accomplished.
Manasseh rebuilt every idol that Hezekiah tore down, and added countless new ones as well. He even installed some in the Temple. He practiced occult rituals, even sacrificing his own son to a pagan god. He filled Jerusalem with blood. He was the most evil king Israel ever witnessed. More evil than every pagan king that had gone before him (2 Kings 21:1–16)!
Hezekiah is proof that it’s possible to honor God in our workplace but fail Him in our homes. Maybe there will be “peace and security” in our days. But if that is all that matters to us, what does it say about our passion for the furtherance of God’s kingdom?
Our investment in our children’s future needs to go far beyond college funds and good health plans. It needs to revolve around intercession before God and bringing God’s Word before them. We may worship God rightly, but we also need to train our children to worship Him rightly as well:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:5–7)