Such A Time As This

The books of I and II Kings read like current events. Weak, wicked kings capitulating to a wicked, rebellious populace. Strong, wicked kings leading eager subjects into further debauchery and idolatry. Cycle after cycle, a progression of increasing heinousness and decay.

But sprinkled into the timeline are a few righteous kings who know the truth and restore (for a time) a semblance of morality and order during their reigns. A measure of prosperity and favor flow from the brief times when these monarchs help lead the people back to the one true God by both edict and example. The coming judgement due an increasingly wicked people is stayed, albeit briefly.

I think I took these “good” kings for granted when I read the Old Testament as a child. After all, didn’t everyone know God’s Word and his standard for kingdoms, clans, and families? Didn’t everyone know the right thing to do and know they should do it?

But we are now raising children in a post-truth era when the spirit of the age is incessantly taking the nuclear option to any as-yet-untoppled bastion of Judeo-Christian morality and ethos. Our cultural icons leapfrog each other down the second half of Romans 1 at a breakneck pace, a veritable pageant of brazen immorality parading as Progress. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

It’s enough to tempt a parent to unchecked anxiety or maddening speculation. How are we to know what lies in store? What is the future arc of our country and culture? Are these the latter days of an evil Abijam with a righteous Asa in the wings, or are we just beginning 55 years under an abominable Manasseh? If the latter, and if the cultural fallout proves irreversible, how are we to live in these evil days?

The stories of Joash and Josiah are among the things keep me from forlorn disenfranchisement. As a baby, Joash was kept alive in secret and then crowned at age seven by a brave priest after his father’s entire family was slaughtered by an insurrection. And Josiah is the most unlikely of righteous kings—the grandson of Judah’s most wicked ruler, and thrust onto the throne at eight years old when his father gets the Et Tu Brute at the hand of conspirators. There is nothing in either of these boy kings’ heritages or circumstances that would cause anyone to expect the righteous reigns that follow.

Yet each of these boys rise from the charred ashes of idolatrous fathers and despicable grandfathers to become righteous kings over God’s people. How? How on earth was wanton wickedness succeeded by the fruit of righteousness and justice?

The simple, ordinary answer is that these boys were each mentored and taught and raised in the way of the Lord by the members of a faithful remnant who had not yet bowed the knee to Baal. There were chaste, orthodox citizens ready, willing, and able to instruct and guide a future generation onto the the paths of life—out of the scorched earth of their fathers’ depravity.   There were faithful men and women who preserved the truth and taught it to the next generation.

Maybe the course of our debased culture won’t be reversed in your lifetime or in mine. Maybe our trajectory has dipped too far down with too much momentum. Perhaps the toothpaste is irrevocably out of the tube, as they say. But in hope and expectation, let’s parent and teach and grandparent as if the next Josiah was on our lap. Let’s homeschool and Sunday school and counsel and care for the next generation to equip them for the rebuild.

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for God’s people from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

January 28, 2022

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