Sunday, June 17, 2012
Happy Father Day & A Study. Jehonadab: The Greatest Dad in the Bible
As we consider the important and absolutely necessary role of fathers, it is incumbent upon us to consider successful dads in the Scriptures. We find many models for consideration as well as some poor examples among the men of the Bible. David, the sweet song writer of Israel, described as "a man after God's own heart," was a successful king and military leader but not the best father. Abraham, noted as the friend of God, was a faithful dad, but this was not his most notable achievement. Others, like Jacob, had mixed success as fathers. Some of the stronger dads in the Bible seem also to have been obscure and minor characters on the pages of Scripture. Others were obedient to God in their own times but did not always pass on their faith to their families. A friend brought to my attention an obscure Bible character, one I had nearly forgotten. A more than casual study of all the texts about him suggests that Jehonadab may be "the greatest dad in the Bible."
Jehonadab cracked the code, so to speak, on how to perpetuate faith in his family down through the generations. As today, there are some men who love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul, yet they seem to founder as fathers. What can we learn from Jehonadab to challenge us in our role as fathers? Four primary qualities in the life of Jehonadab that make him "the greatest dad in the Bible."
I. Jehonadab had great zeal for the holiness of God. (2 Kings 10:15-31) In Jehonadab we see a man who was consumed with zeal for God's holiness among God's people. He assisted in the great reformation begun under Elijah and concluded under Jehu. While the proper worship of God was not completely restored, nevertheless the worship of Baal from the Northern Kingdom was permanently purged. This was truly a remarkable event, and Jehonadab was the principal aid to Jehu in this endeavor. While their actions may seem extreme by New Testament standards, Jehu and Jehonadab model the attitude we should have toward false doctrine and religious practices that diminishes the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some Christians today have become "religious inclusivists," willing to tolerate many of the proliferating new gods and cults so long as they may worship God freely. They say, "Let Jesus take his place among the gods and religions of our culture just so long as he gets equal time and respect." If Jehonadab were here today, he would make us uncomfortable. He would not agree with the tolerance and syncretism that is such a blight on the modem church.
In a similar theme, Paul talked of "casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5. We cannot learn too much from our text (2 Kings 10) about how Jehonadab conducted his family life, but he surely didn't have any Baal music groups on the local radio station, nor any Baal dolls around the house. Jehonadab and Baal didn't see eye-to-eye, and he would have opposed Baalism seeping into his family life through the various cultural means of his day. His children learned that old Dad didn't like the god Baal, and his children didn't either.
II. Jehonadab believed the Word of the Lord through the prophets (1 Kings 14:15-16; 19:15-18; 21:17-24) Jehonadab would have been a thorough Bible student for his day. Several prophets starting with Abijah had spoken earlier predicting the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. Then a few years later, Elijah predicted the complete destruction of the family of Ahab and Jezebel. Perhaps Jehonadab was a little boy at the gathering on Mt. Carmel when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal in direct battle and won. Perhaps he saw the fire of God descend and the entire gathering fall on their faces and cry out, "The Lord, He is God!" He would need to see such a miracle only once to know that Baal was a defeated god Jehonadab would later finish what Elijah had begun that day. Elijah had also prophesied that Jehu would be king of Israel. Jehonadab was willing to risk a confrontation with the family of Ahab and to assist Jehu because he knew the promises of God would be fulfilled. Many people today say they believe the word of the Lord but do not live and act accordingly. Many Christians today live as if this world were our final destiny. It seems that we do not take seriously biblical prophecies or the words of our Lord Jesus when he tells us that we should "not lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" Matthew 6:19. Jehonadab's obedience to God enabled his family to be equipped to survive in difficult times.
III. Jehonadab ordered his family life around God's word. (Jeremiah 35:1-19) Jehonadab set house rules, and his family obeyed him. He must have been a consistent and faithful worshipper of the God of Israel. We know from Luke 6:40 that faith is more caught than taught when it tells us, "A pupil when he has been fully trained will be like his teacher." When we want to see how well we are living the Christian life, take a look at our children and grandchildren. Our personal and direct influence can extend to the third generation by reaching and influencing our grandchildren for Christ, but we will need a lot of gravitas to reach six generations with the power of our faith. Our memory and testimony would have to be strong.
So it was with Jehonadab. His children were still talking about him 240 years later. The events of 2 Kings 10 took place around 840 BC, and the descendants of Jehonadab were awaiting the fall of Jerusalem around 603 BC. The obedience of six generations was based on one man's faithfulness. Those old house rules were still in effect. God sent Jeremiah to test obedience one more time by putting wine before them and they all refused. They were crusty, old curmudgeons like their great-great-grandad, Jehonadab. Christians ought to re the proper use of the word "no" before we are all swept away by the next wave of modernity and compromise which will surely confront us.
IV. Jehonadab set standards to preserve his family spiritually. (Jeremiah 35:1-19) The practical application is difficult to implement, but he set up strict guidelines. He wanted to assure that his family could survive the changes in Israel that would inevitably come when the nation was destroyed. He took measures thatwould permanently set them apart. They were to live differently than those around them. They were to maintain moral purity; hence no wine, and they were to remain a nomadic people, building no houses and planting no vineyards. We would say today that he was old fashioned and behind his times. In reality, he was ahead of his times, preparing his family for the tragedy to come upon their nation in a few short years. Many other families didn't survive because they had been living the "good life." Jehonadab's clan did survive and moved on because they believed the word of the Lord through the prophets and made necessary plans. These were practical plans with a spiritual goal. The key ingredient was Jehonadab 's setting his family a spiritually and morally. He wanted them to be separated believers. What should the modern Christian do to follow his example? When we blend in with the culture of the world, testimony for Christ may disappear altogether. Home schooling and Christian schooling would fit the example. Demanding a pure and moral life for our children would be like Jehonadab, as would teaching them to avoid worldly influences and preferring a simple life.
We would encourage them to make their closest friends among their families and the Body of Christ. We can tell our children that "brothers and sisters are permanent friends" when they are feeling lonely and wondering if their peer groups will accept them. Personally teaching them a trade or profession insure that they will be able to support themselves and the work of the Lord, showing them how to stay out of debt, instructing them in the necessary disciplines of godliness - Bible study, prayer, family worship-would practically protect and prepare them if the culture and society crash, as well they might, our children will be like the children of Jehonadab, safe in tli walls of Jerusalem when others have failed or fallen.
CONCLUSION. In Jeremiah 35:19, we see one of the most extraordinary promises given to a father and his family in the entire Bible. It is this text and promise that has earned Jehonadab his title of "the greatest dad in the Bible." The text says that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and rewarded the faithfulness and obedience of Jehonadab and his descendants, saying, Jehonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not lack a man to stand before me forever." The new Contemporary English version says, "So I promise that your clan will be my servants and will never die out." This must mean that the descendants of Jehonadab still survive and serve the Lord somewhere in our world today. Can God preserve a family like this for such a long time? Does God bless and honor Jehonadab's type of faith and obedience today? A little known but classic example may be seen in the life of the Christian family leader, Dr. James Dobson. His granddad, a godly pastor, carried an unusually strong burden for his earthy family and spent weeks in prayer and fasting for them. When he emerged from this time with God, he announced that God had promised him that every one of his children and grandchildren would faithfully serve the Lord in full-time Christian work. He said that God had promised this to him. Among his own children, this proved to be true. Everyone became a pastor or missionary or married a pastor or missionary. And so it was with the dozen grandchildren of the third generation, all except one--James Dobson. James did not feel led into full-time Christian work, nor did he want to become an ordained minister. He wanted only to be a child psychologist and write books on the family, but he, too, has not been able to escape from the faith and obedience of his godly grandfather. It is not a remarkable blessing how God has used this dedicated Christian layman to minister to all the families of America and the world?
When Dr. Dobson's grandfather had a burden for his own earthly family, God turned his concern into a blessing for many other families. "Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think to him be the glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" Ephesians 3:20-21.
But what about the descendants of "the greatest dad if Bible," Jehonadab? What ever happened to them? Well, really don't know very much about them after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. We have only the sure promise of Jeremiah 35:19 that "Jehonadab.. .shall not lack a man to stand be me forever." Since the Bible is true, we could speculate some of the sons of Jehonadab returned from Babylon' Nehemiah and rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. Later, surely a son of Jehonadab sat on the hillside in Galilee when Jesus fed the 5,000. Later, one of Jehonadab's descendants gathered in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came in power on Pentecost. We may even wonder if a son of Jehonadab worked with St. Augustine when he wrote his great works, Confessions The City of God. One may even have trained at Geneva with Calvin or served John Knox in Scotland during the Reformation.
Might we not see a son of Jehonadab coming ashore , the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and 260 years later passing out the hymnbooks at a D. L. Moody crusade in 1880? We really don't know where they are today, but we know on authority of God's Word that there are sons and daughters of Jehonadab, the greatest dad in the Bible, somewhere in world, loving, worshipping and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. What a promise! What a dad! And most of all, what a great God and Savior!
© 1997, revised 2006 E. Ray Moore, Jr, This article may be reproduced as long as the copyright remains with the article.