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Father’s Day 2024

Father's Day 2024

Sermon Transcript

Whether we have excellent fathers or less than stellar ones, the story of King Hezekiah shows us that the family we were born into is not the end of our story. Join Dr. Marty Baker as we celebrate Father's Day and see the redemption that can come from one man who follows hard after God.

This Father’s Day, I’m deeply thankful God gave me a godly father who led a highly functional family. He loved my mother, and he loved us.   Whether he coached one of my Little League baseball teams, even though he had a tight, demanding schedule as the U. S. Customs supervisor of a busy port of entry, or served as an elder at my last church, no one in our family doubted my father’s love for each of us.  Though he is with the Lord now, he left us with wonderful, enjoyable, instructive memories.  I miss him daily and can’t wait to see him in glory and thank him for giving me a great life.

However, I know that not everyone had the privilege of growing up in a functional, loving home like mine. For some, their homes were more like war zones, with fathers who failed to lead well. The atmosphere was filled with fighting, intimidation, and degradation, making it challenging for my friends to return home.  One shared, “When I want to find my father to talk to, I have to ride my bike to several bars and see which one he is at.” This might resonate with some of you.

Because my father created a functional, godly home, I’ve always enjoyed this day.  However, this day might be problematic for you because your home was all about dysfunction.  If you came from this type of home, I want to let you know that God is not finished with your story or what He wants to accomplish in your life.  Granted, you might have some heavy baggage you’ve been toting around for years, but for the man who follows God, he finds the baggage is removed, and the path of life is made straight instead of crooked.

I know all of this is true because I’ve looked at the life of a man in the Old Testament who left us all a legacy to learn from.  His name was Hezekiah, and despite coming from one of the most messed up families of all time, he demonstrated how a blessed life can emerge from what appears to be, from a statistical perspective, a cursed one.  So, I invite you today to dive into various parts of his story as recorded by the Holy Spirit in 2 Kings 18 through 20.  We will not be able to exegete all of the instructive content here, but we will touch upon some key concepts we can glean from his life so we, too, can learn from and live out his godly legacy.

What Do We Learn From The Legacy Of King Hezekiah?

From Dysfunction Can Arise Function

Hezekiah’s father couldn’t have been a more compromised, complex, cruel, and carnal man.  His name? Ahaz. He learned nothing from his godly father and king, Jotham (2 Kings 15:3238). Whereas Jotham chose to live righteously in his private and public life, Ahaz embraced evil at every turn.

Under Jonah’s prophetic ministry, Nineveh, a key city in the wicked Assyrian ever-expanding empire, experienced a massive and moving spiritual revival as hundreds of thousands turned from sin and worshipped the living God.  Unfortunately, the flame of that revival was extinguished by the time of King Ahaz, for the Assyrians were back at attempting to invade and conquer more surrounding countries.

When Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.) sought to destroy and dominate Syria and the northern ten tribes of Israel, the Syrian king of Damascus, Rezin, and the King of Israel, Pekah (737-732 B.C.), wanted Ahaz to do what his father, Jotham, would not do because it defied God’s prophetic warning: join our coalition to fight the Assyrian advance. He rebuffed them, so they attacked him with superior forces. He responded not by turning to God but unwisely seeking protection from the Assyrians. Though confronted by the wise counsel of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 7:1-8:18), he rejected the prophet’s word and paid his enemy a vast sum to deliver him and his people. According to 2 Kings 16 verse 8, he stripped the gold and silver from the Lord’s temple and dipped into the national treasury to make the hefty payment.  Tiglath-Pileser took the money and attacked the Aramean-Israelite coalition in 734 B.C.  By 732 B.C., he destroyed them.

When the Assyrian warlord died, the king of Israel, Hoshea, unwisely thought it an excellent time to stop paying tribute money to the Assyrians. He thought wrong. The new Assyrian king, Shalmaneser, attacked, and in 724 B.C., he laid siege to Israel’s capital, the city of Samaria. It fell in 722 B.C. and became a living lesson about what happens when God’s people choose not to seek His aid. It was a lesson King Ahaz failed to learn. By paying the Assyrians protection money once, the Assyrians demanded continued payment for continued protection. King Ahaz hadn’t considered the ramifications of his unwise, God-dishonoring decision.  He paid a perpetual price for his stupidity as his nation lost its liberty.

As a vassal, the Assyrians expected the Jewish King and his people to worship their gods, so the king acquiesced to their expectation. After one meeting with Tiglath-pileser in Damascus, Ahaz was so taken with a massive pagan altar the warlord had built that he commanded his leading priest to craft one and place it in the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:10-12) in place of God’s holy altar.  Talk about an unwise, godless decision.  He even commanded God’s offerings, as prescribed in Leviticus, to be offered on this new pagan altar.

Acts of willful wickedness always descend into other acts. According to 2 Kings 16, verse 3, King Ahaz even went so far as to offer one of his sons to be burned alive to worship a pagan, lifeless god. He also made sure his people felt free to worship false gods anywhere and everywhere they desired (2 Kings 16:4).  And you thought your family was dysfunctional.  As I said, you couldn’t be more messed up than the family of Hezekiah.  When your father burns your brother alive on the red hot arms of an iron-shaped lifeless god for the sake of worship, and when he couldn’t care less about divinely disclosed law, you know your family has some significant issues.

But this was Hezekiah’s jacked-up family; however, despite his father’s evil legacy, this man chose to live differently.

Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem, and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. (2 Kings 18:1)

“He did right in the sight of the LORD” sums up how this son chose to live.  His father rejected God, but he accepted Him. His father hated God’s Word, but he loved it. His father lived life his way, but he lived life God’s way. His father polluted everything he touched, but he sought to purify everything. His father was a prideful man, but he was a humble man. His father made terrible decisions despite godly counsel, but he made memorable decisions based on godly counsel (from prophets like Isaiah and Micah).  So, from the depths of family dysfunction of the first order arose a young man committed to function at all levels of his life, from how he raised his family to honor God to how he responded to worldly, cultural pressures to conform.

Whether your father drank too much, caroused too much, or scared you with his unpredictable temper, or frequently made terrible decisions that negatively impacted the family, I want to encourage you.  His dysfunction doesn’t have to be yours.  Like Hezekiah, you can wake up and say, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.”  When you humble yourself before God and put God first in your life, He goes before you to make the crooked path before you straight.  Believe it because it is what happened in Hezekiah’s formerly dysfunctional world.  Function replaced dysfunction, and God blessed accordingly.

From Lawless Living Can Arise Lawful Living

Hezekiah’s father despised law and order as designed and demanded by God through Moses.  The Ten Commandments were only malleable suggestions to him. He invented law as he went along and encouraged others to join him in his quest to throw off lawful living by living how they wanted.  Isaiah chapter five gives us a sad recounting of the sins of the people under the reigns of kings like Ahaz:

  • Like good materialists, wealthy people bought more land than they needed for their expansive, palatial homes: “8 Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, Until there is no more room, So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!” (Isa. 5:8 NAS)
  • The people drank and partied hard, constantly: “11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! 12 And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD, Nor do they consider the work of His hands.” (Isa. 5:11-12 NAS)
  • Metaphorically, the people engaged in so much evil activity it was if they pulled around heavy loads of all forms of wickedness: “18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes;” (Isa. 5:18 NAS).
  • Because the absolute rule of law was thrown to the wind, error and falsity replaced truth: “20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20 NAS)
  • Because moral and legal chaos ensured with the abandonment of truth, bribes destroyed true justice for law-abiding people: “23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!”(Isa. 5:23 NAS)

The dysfunction of King Ahaz became the dysfunction of the people. It's funny how that works. Your family dysfunction will eventually leak out like acid and negatively affect others. Hezekiah stopped the unraveling of the sick society his father gave him by taking bold, definitive, courageous action. The law of God was clear:

3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Exod. 20:3-5 NAS).

Hezekiah used his power and position to radically rid the nation of that which pulled them away from God:

4 He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him (2 Kings 18). 

I’m sure his actions raised a few eyebrows and caused some to be offended, but none of this deterred him.  Instead of obeying God’s laws, the people obeyed their laws, so Hezekiah took away those objects, which caused them to stumble.  They had even taken the bronze serpent from the time of Moses, some 700 years earlier, and used it as a sick form of veneration.  Think about this.  They worshipped the object God had said to look to be saved from the venomous snakes He sent among them for their disobedience. Talk about an ingrained sin. They did this instead of worshipping God, so Hezekiah obliterated the object of their lawless spiritual living.

At the very beginning of his reign, Hezekiah literally reopened the Temple his father had basically nailed shut (2 Chronicles 28:24).  After this, he invited the priests back into the temple precincts, had them clean up and sanctify the place, and then he challenged them to re-start worship of the Lord again (2 Chron. 29:3-36).  The Chronicler recounts how Hezekiah even reinstituted the worship of Passover since it had been shelved for years (2 Chron. 30).  It is interesting how the dysfunction of King Ahaz had polluted even this sacred duty.  Instead of remembering how God had delivered his people from Egyptian bondage by commanding them to find protection from his wrath by applying the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, a leader like Ahaz had corrupted the people by causing them to shun the sacred and embrace the unholy.  Hezekiah righted this wrong. No wonder we read there was no king like among the kings of Judah outside of David.  He did what was necessary to return law and order to a society in love with lawlessness, and his efforts proved fruitful. Don’t tell me the actions of one man sold out to God and God’s Word can’t make a radical difference in a world gone mad.

Stop and take a look at the world you were raised in. If it was dysfunctional, I’m sure that has led to things that need to be radically addressed.  Lawlessness, be what it is, can and should be replaced with lawfulness, and you, like Hezekiah, should lead the way.  So, if your father’s drunkenness has become yours, I think you know what you need to do. Take radical action. If your father’s penchant for lying and deceiving others has ingrained itself in your life, it’s time to confess this and seek God’s help to speak the truth. I don’t know what lawlessness from your father has done to your heart and mind, but the Lord does.  He has his finger on it right now; you know what I’m talking about.  If you learn anything from Hezekiah’s holy legacy as a godly man, father, and leader, it is this truth:  you must deal definitively with evil and pursue what is holy before God.  Do this, and God will bless you. This is, after all, what we read in Scripture:

6 For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. (2 Ki. 18:6-8 NAS)

Do you see the cause-and-effect relationship between following God and dealing with evil and God’s blessing your life with all types of prosperity?

A third point of Hezekiah’s legacy for father’s can’t be overlooked:

From A Prayerless Life Can Arise A Prayerful One

Hezekiah’s father either never prayed because he didn’t see its value or prayed to all the false gods he permitted to be worshipped throughout the country.

Hezekiah couldn’t have been more different than his father.  For him, prayer was the essence of his power for daily living, whether times were tough or trying.  We read in 2 Kings 18 that King Hezekiah stopped paying hefty tribute to Assyria when Sargon II (721-705 B.C.) did and was replaced by Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.).  It was a gusty, courageous, but costly move because Sennacherib attacked all the nations that rebelled against him (Tyre, Moab, Edom, Ammon, and Judah). Eventually, his troops positioned themselves outside the walls of the fortress of Jerusalem.  After much verbal harassment by their chief propagandist, Rabshakeh, it looked as if the city and nation were doomed to destruction (2 Kings 18:17-37). How did Hezekiah respond? He prayed.

15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. Thou hast made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 And now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, O LORD, art God." 20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.' (2 Ki. 19:15-20 NAS)

Someone once wisely quipped: The quickest way to get on your feet is to get on your knees. How true.  Hezekiah had buckled on a prior Assyrian incursion and bought them off by stripping 3oo talents, or 39,000 pounds, of gold and silver from the Temple (2 Kings 18:13-16). In so doing, he had fallen into the old sinful ways of his spineless father.  But in this second incursion, according to ancient historian John Bright (History of Israel, 284-286), Hezekiah had secured new inner strength to stand firm against the approach of evil.  So, instead of bending before evil, he got into bowing before God. He passionately prayed that God heard (as He always does), and He acted definitively . . . and miraculously:

35 Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. 37 And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place. (2 Ki. 19:35-37 NAS)

Victory over evil came when one godly man asked God for help, and God responded by solving the issue by dispatching just ONE angel.  Jaw-dropping. And you think the evil you face as a father is entrenched and powerful? It cannot stand before a man who gets on his feet by getting on his knees first. Are you that man? Will you be that man? Will you be this kind of father? When adversity comes, will you be found before the Lord’s throne seeking His face, protection, and mercy? What greater thing can you teach your children than to be people who have open lines of communication with the Heavenly Father? What greater thing can your children see than your prayers being answered in a profound, never-to-be-forgotten fashion? This is a legacy you want to learn from and leave behind.  But there is one more:

From Tripping Up Can Arise Standing Up

As a father, you are not perfect. No one is.  Hezekiah wasn’t.  Even though he is remembered as a godly man, a spiritual reformer, and an able leader, he did have his moments where he left the spiritual rails for a moment.  Consider 2 Chronicles 32:27-31 as Exhibit A:

27 Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, 28 storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds for the flocks. 29 And he made cities for himself, and acquired flocks and herds in abundance; for God had given him very great wealth. 30 It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. 31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chr. 32:27-31 NAS)

As I said earlier, when you walk with God, He brings prosperity to your life.  No, I’m not saying He will make you rich in earthly goods; he may; however, His prosperity can and will come in many other ways, from raising great children to having a wonderful marriage.  But in this prosperity, one must always guard one's heart from pride. Yes, one must always be on guard of thinking their abilities cause blessings to pour all over them.  Toward the end of his eventful, instructive life, Hezekiah received a little test from the Lord to give him a glimpse at his heart. Did he give God the honor, or did he take the honor for himself?

What was the test? The test concerned an up-and-coming regional power, Babylon.

12 At that time Berodach-baladan a son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 13 And Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and the house of his armor and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them. (2 Kings 20)

This sounds like something his unwise, unthinking father would have done.  Hezekiah had no idea that the Babylonians one day would be motivated to invade his country because of the wealth he had shown them.  So, he failed the divine test to see if he would be humble or haughty. He chose the latter.  Merodach-baladan reigned as king of Babylon on two occasions: 721-710 B.C. and 703 to 702 B.C.  He had difficulty holding onto power because of the superpower, Assyria. So, now, he sought to play to Hezekiah’s pride and convince him to join him in a coalition against the Babylonians.  Hezekiah played right into the evil plan of Merodach-Baladan because pride got the best of him. By so doing, he had fallen back into the dysfunctional sin of his father of trusting in the flesh instead of God.

Have you ever let pride get the best of you? Has your pride ever caused you to fall down when you were walking so well with the Lord? Have you ever dropped your guard for just a moment, only to wake up wondering what you did in a fleeting moment? That’s what this great man of God did.  In one moment, he believed the press reports and enjoyed some self-praise.  It cost him, and he knew it.

In short order, God sent Isaiah in to confront the king:

 14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where have they come to you?" And Hezekiah said, "They have come from a far country, from Babylon." 15 And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them."

 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD. 17 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. 18 'And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.'" 19 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good." (2 Ki. 20:12-19 NAS)

Watch a godly man, a spiritual father, in action here.  He heard the words of confrontation, and he agreed they were true.  In our vernacular, he came clean.  He also received the discipline of the Lord insofar as he learned his actions would eventually cost Judah the kingdom, but not in his lifetime.  Finally, in verse 19, Hezekiah agreed that God’s Word was good, though hard to hear. To say this took some humility.

From this final glimpse into Hezekiah’s life, we learn this timeless truth: when you trip up, you can stand up and be used by God again by confessing your sin before God. This is why the Lord’s throne is called a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).  If you are a father here today who has stumbled over a sin, realize God is not finished with you.  On the contrary, He’s avidly working in your life to increase the positive legacy you’ve been working on.

While you work on your legacy, I trust you will learn from Hezekiah’s. What does he teach us?

  • From dysfunction can arise function.
  • From the lawless can arise the lawful.
  • From a prayerless life can arise a prayerful one.
  • From tripping up can arise standing up.

Happy Father’s Day.