In 2 Kings 17 the Scripture encapsulates generations in just a matter of verses. And in so doing, the Holy Spirit shows us the importance of being faithful stewards with our individual days and in specific application here, with our children.
In the context, Assyria comes in and takes control of Samaria. The Samaritans fall into intense idolatry. One of the priests from Bethel comes to the people to instruct them of how they are to fear the LORD (v.28). The critical word in verse 30 pierces the heart: ‘But’. The Scripture says: “But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made…”
As a result their idolatry inflamed. And as is so often the case, they measured themselves by their environment rather than the word of God. For if you live and play with a bunch of spiritual harlots, and then of course your prostitution of the glory of God will not appear as sickening. For everyone is doing it!!
These guys actually appointed for themselves teachers and priests in accordance with their own desires (vv.32-33). And in the end the testimony of Scripture, in response to their rebellious avoidance of revelation is painfully sobering:
2 Kings 17:40-41 However, they did not listen, but they did according to their earlier custom. 41 So while these nations feared the LORD, they also served their idols; their children likewise and their grandchildren, as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
Do you see the devastating result of spiritual negligence? They “did not listen”. They had the truth but did not listen, AND as a result their children and grandchildren walked in the same idolatrous footsteps as them.
I read a passage like this and ask myself what I am doing to prevent my children from wandering? What am I doing to instill the fear of the LORD in them? It is a lack of fear of God that produced such irreverent negligence in the first place. This is why the text emphasizes the need for such a recovery of fear (vv.37-39). It is so important for parents to be delivering truth to their children’s hearts daily, and in so doing molding a heart that genuinely fears the LORD.
But this can never be done without first having our own hearts impressed with God enough to fear him ourselves! The need for a daily trembling in view of the character and testimonies of God is in order. This must be done by coming freshly to the fountain of eternal delights to bend our twisted minds straight! If we try to calibrate our spiritual bearings by those around us we’ll be in Samaria in no time. However, if we by the grace of God, renew our minds by the unchanging word of God we’ll be on our way to further sanctification. It is through this exercise that we work out our salvation with fear in trembling, and in so doing, model faithfulness and fear for our children and their children.