This morning, my Bible reading included the story of Hezekiah, Manasseh and Amon, three generations of kings of Judah. Despite having an ungodly father, Hezekiah became one of the godly kings of Judah. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of God, except for when he showed the Babylonian envoys the treasures of his kingdom. His pride over his wealth led to Judah's eventual invasion by Babylon.
As punishment for his pride, Hezekiah was told that Babylon would invade and destroy Judah, including his own descendants. I consider his recorded response as telling to his character: " 'The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,' Hezekiah replied. For he thought, 'Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?' ”(2 Kings 20:19, emphasis added). Hezekiah was more concerned with the present and his own comfort than his children's future.
Granted, Hezekiah was being told something that God was going to do. Having seen God in action many times in his lifetime, Hezekiah had every right to accept what he heard as true. But Hezekiah also knew that God heard and answered prayer. 2 Kings 20 gives the account of when Hezekiah was told that he was going to die from an illness. Instead of accepting what he was told, Hezekiah cried out to God for mercy, and was subsequently healed. The Bible makes no mention of Hezekiah crying out for mercy when it concerned his children's future.
When Hezekiah dies, his son Manasseh succeeds him as king. The Bible states that Manasseh rebuilt the idols and altars to false gods that his father had destroyed (1 Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 33). In other words, Manasseh came after his father and undid his father's work. I would venture that it is safe to assume that a father who places his current security over his children's future does not seek after his children. Manasseh probably knew that Hezekiah valued his own comfort over his son's.
There is some redemption concerning Manasseh, though. Thanks to his own father's pride, Manasseh was carried off to Babylon. According to 2 Chronicles 33:11, the Babylonians came, put a hook through Manasseh's nose, shackled him, and took him to Babylon. The Bible doesn't say if Manasseh had to walk the 500+ mile trip, but I cannot see a conquering army letting a prisoner of such distinction ride. At any rate, it was a profoundly humbling trip. Once in Babylon, Manasseh cried out to God with true repentance. God heard his cries and allowed Manasseh to return to Jerusalem.
Once returned to his home, Manasseh was a changed man. He rebuilt what had been destroyed, threw out the idols, and led the people in only sacrificing to God. Sounds like a new man, right? In many ways, yes. However, Manasseh repeated the failed pattern set for him by his father.
After Manasseh died, his son Amon became king. The Bible tells that Amon "worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made" (2 Chronicles 33:22). Apparently, Manasseh did not completely rid the country of idols since Amon was able to worship idols his father had made. For all of the changes Manasseh made after his return from Babylon, Manasseh left some things undone.
Time and time again, the books of Kings and Chronicles detail how the sons capitalize and embellish upon the sins of their fathers. Amon must have been a very hard-headed young man to not learn from what happened to his father. Amon's wickedness led to a brief reign of only 2 years. After Amon was assassinated, his son Josiah became king.
Parenting in the moment is not enough. A parent is not raising a child; a parent is raising a future adult. A parent needs to remove and destroy the idols in his own life, or run the risk that his children will find the idol and build upon it. Most importantly, however, a parent should intercede for his children. The Bible gives too many examples of God answering prayer for the importance of prayer to be disregarded.