Isaiah 37-39 tells of the Lord’s salvation for Judah, the southern kingdom in one of its darkest hours. Jerusalem, the capital city, is surrounded by Assyrian (Modern day Iraq) forces. Weakened by siege, famine, and lacking troops, the city of God seems destined to become another trophy of Assyrian might. But a defeat of Jerusalem would not only be a trophy for the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, but the Lord of Israel would be seen as a weaker deity in comparison to the gods powering the war machine of the armies of the global Assyrian empire.
In the middle of this account, Hezekiah falls ill. The divine diagnosis is solemn: “Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1). Hezekiah weeps, prays to the Lord and pleads for his life. The Lord grants him a few more years.
Hezekiah responds in chapter 38 with a psalm of praise to the Lord, recounting how the Lord spared him from death “in the middle of (his) days”. Within the psalm he says,
The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. (Isaiah 38:19)
Within the Bible, those who have seen the great works of God are commanded to recount the deeds of the Lord for future generations (ex. Deut 6:6-9, Josh 4:1-7). When God acts in history, his actions are not only for the benefit of those who immediately are impacted from his works, but also for all of the people of God throughout all of time. What we have in the Scriptures are divinely-inspired accounts of God’s work in history recorded so that the future generations might become wise unto a salvation centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Whenever God acts in history, the generations continue to add more reasons to proclaim the greatness of our God to the next generation.
While God’s actions reveal many great things about His character (ex. his love, mercy, kindness, gentleness, glory, holiness, justice, wrath), Isaiah 38 focuses on the faithfulness of God. It also pinpoints the responsibility of this generational remembrance upon the Fathers, the leaders of the home.
So fathers, parents, are you telling your children the ways in which the Lord has been faithful to you?
You can think about this from the perspective of the Bible. God was faithful to you to send his Son into the world to die for your sins. He is faithful to you in how while you were a sinner Christ died for you (Rom 5:8). When your heart was darkened by the deceitfulness of sin (Eph 4:18, Heb 3:13), God sent someone to tell you good news. God opened your eyes to see the truth of the Gospel and give you new life. Even as you struggle with sin, parenting, physical frailty, unending responsibilities, He is faithful to you (2 Tim 2:13). He will continue to strengthen you and bring you to himself.
Fathers and parents, always be quick to proclaim the Lord’s faithfulness to you in how He saved you.
Also, as Christians we know that all of history is ordered by God. Even in this passage we previously considered, our God laughs at the general of Assyria who flaunts his nation and its gods over the God of Israel. The Lord responds:
‘Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass.
‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me. (Isaiah 37:26, 28)
God is essentially saying, “you think that you and your nation are so great? From eternity past I planned everything that you are going to do and I know everything that you will do!”
In our own lives, we not only see God’s faithfulness in salvation, but how he orders our lives to display his glory. From stock market crashes to presidential elections, nothing is outside of his control. In your own lives, how have you seen God’s faithfulness? Was it in a medical diagnosis which seemed grim but in the end resolved in nothing short of miraculous? Was it a step of faith in moving to a new place or trusting God with a decision? Was it God sustaining and strengthening your marriage in a tough season? Even in these instances let us not forget the divine hand guiding all of our events according to his own purposes for his glory.
Our children also need to know that God’s faithfulness is not absent even when the medical diagnosis does not change or the prayers go unanswered. God is faithful and present even in the midst of suffering. His faithful power is present in weakness sustaining and sanctifying believers throughout the hardships of life (2 Cor 12:9). In Divine economy faithfulness does not always equal success, health and happiness in this life, but more often than not it calls for saints to lift their eyes to what is promised when Christ restores all things.
Fathers, parents, make sure that in the big things and in the small things, even in the story of your own life, you tell your children about the numerous ways that God has proven his faithfulness to you.
Jared Poulton (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Pastor of Children and Families at First Baptist Church Dublin, in Dublin, GA. He is married to Kerry Poulton and they have two children, Riley and Oliver. Jared and Kerry are originally from South Carolina. You can follow Jared Poulton on twitter at @Jared_Poulton, or see his personal blog at @jspoulton.wordpress.com.