At the tender age of eight years old there was no way that young King Josiah could assume the responsibilities
of the throne of Judah, nor could he educate himself in God’s ways without help. Josiah was wonderfully blessed
with two outstanding parents: his mother Jedidah and his “father” of former generations, David (2 Kings 22:1,2).
Both names signify “the beloved”. Josiah was lovingly and carefully schooled in the law of Yahweh and directed to emulate not the example set by his infamous father and grandfather, but to his “father” David, the man after God’s own heart. A godly conscience and teachableness was quickly engendered by a devout mother in Israel. There are many lessons we can learn from these outstanding characters that will help us in these last days of the Gentile times.

Josiah’s early education in God’s precepts is comparable to that of Timothy, a somewhat shy and reserved youth brought up by two God-fearing sisters. In his childhood and teenage years he developed an unfeigned faith that later stood the test of rigorous campaigns with his “father” in the faith, the apostle Paul. The qualities of character manifested by Paul were mirrored in his young assistant, Timothy. Paul said that he had no man like-minded (Phil 2:20). That heightened sense of responsibility to the advancement of the gospel, to the adherence to the Faith, to the welfare of the brethren and sisters; those qualities sprang out of a godly home. The qualities are traceable to two sisters, his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois; there lay the origins of his unfeigned faith.

There, too, lay the origins of Josiah’s godliness. Josiah was not a product of his age. He was a godly young man carefully trained up in the way he should go by his mother, despite tremendous odds. A widow and her son and a small band of godly men and women feared Yahweh, thought upon His name and spake often one to another of the precious heritage of the Truth. Despite the scene of appalling chaos and ruin, this group of like precious faith were determined to preserve that heritage. There was a faithful remnant. There was a lightstand. There was a small circle of devout men and women whose faces were aglow with a common love for the Faith. Can we imagine the scene? In the perilous last days of Judah’s commonwealth, the mother and son, the faithful scribe Shaphan and his young son Ahikam, the High Priest Hilkiah, and his son Jeremiah would join that circle of friends. There were others like Zephaniah and Huldah the prophetess, a small company attracting a few Levites to their Bible studies: except they didn’t have a Bible to study from! They rehearsed from memory the faith of the patriarchs and thereby were built up in their high and holy calling. They rejoiced together when they could have despaired. They encouraged each other and fostered the godly awareness of the young people when they could have bemoaned the nation’s ills. They did not despise the day of small things but by a mutual love for the faith of their forefathers they revived the Truth as a living, transforming power. Applying their hearts unto wisdom, they redeemed the times for the days were evil and redoubled their collective efforts in educating the young ones in their midst. They presented the Faith in terms easily recognisable by their young ones and satisfied their hungering and thirsting after righteousness. It wasn’t an academic exercise. This small circle of young friends and elderly counsellors grew up in an atmosphere of delighting in God’s law day and night.

Josiah and his friends didn’t have the advantages that our young people have; the fraternisation with many, in a highly structured ecclesial program with excellent activities and numerous facilities for social and spiritual enjoyment at classes, outings, weekends and conferences. None of that! They were revivalists. They were builders creating a haven for the Truth out of ruin. They had to show initiative, personal zeal and dedication, grit and determination and “stickability” to a cause because they were surrounded by obstacles that made their task look impossible. To the casual observer, the Truth was to all intents and purposes lost, in complete disarray, but this faithful remnant held aloft the Scriptures, diligently memorised and rehearsed, despite the depressing environment. They were not deterred from their mammoth task. They reached out to each other, and stirred up their pure minds by way of remembrance of the living oracles, holding fast to the form of sound words.

By contrast we have been wonderfully blessed by the sense of purpose demonstrated by our previous and older generation who, in like manner to the remnant in Josiah’s day, gathered in home study classes, embarked on gospel proclamation projects, enthusiastically commenced new ecclesias, sponsored Bible Schools and fostered young people’s study classes. These and many other activities which we take for granted today and are given at times to deprecate, all flourished because the good hand of our God was guiding and blessing the dedicated labours of a comparative few. The fruits of their labours are evident today. The scale and value of the activities enjoyed by us all, and particularly those catering for the spiritual growth of our children and young people, is perhaps unequalled in the ecclesial world, now or in any previous generation. This legacy from our parents and grandparents is both an inestimable blessing and a challenge to our young people. Their are many appeals made and exhortations given to the young people, frequently referring to the same challenge:

  • Are they committed to preserving and consolidating that which they have freely received?
  • Have they the same spirit of their grandparents and forefathers?
  • Do they take the Truth for granted? On a more personal level some self examination may reveal some shortcomings:-
  • Are our young people basking in the social warmth of their many activities, without selfless determination to put into their associations more than they receive?
  • Are they passengers or are they workers?
  • Do they go to the activities with a joyful, positive and enthusiastic spirit, counting it a privilege to be there, or does an indifferent, self-centred, apathetic and critical manner cancel out any benefits derived?

 These and many other questions could be asked, all seeking to address the symptoms of the present. It can equally be said that many of our young people have an industrious spirit, a godly conscience and should be warmly commended for their zeal and love of the Truth. They are combating face to face an evil and an adulterous age and are overcoming it. As many “fathers” and “mothers” we should encourage our young ones in their warfare of faith, sympathising with the many difficult choices they have to make and reassuring them that they have our whole-hearted support and understanding.

Yet when we recall the spirit engendered in Josiah’s circle of friends and in Timothy’s home life, we may need to assess whether our bringing up of our children resembles that of Jochebed, Hannah, Jedidah, Eunice and Lois and many others. Great men of faith owe their zeal for God to that quiet, loving instruction gained on a mother’s knee and to the loving discipline, quiet encouragement and faithful example shown by a father and mother who treasure their children as a gift from God. Perhaps in having so many excellent activities so readily available we are lulled into relying on a program outside of our homes to look after the spiritual interests of our children. Sunday Schools, youth groups, young people’s classes and outings are very commendable and worthy adjuncts to our family involvement in the ecclesia, but they alone will not save our children. If there is a spiritual vacuum at home, no amount of attendance at youth activities will stave off the insidious pressure of the world.

If we are responsible parents, entrusted with the care of God’s children, then we will constantly create an atmosphere in our homes where the Truth comes first, where God’s Word is hallowed and precious and where the love and joy of God’s blessings are shared and enjoyed with others of like precious faith. From that vibrant home base our children will gladly mix with their Sunday School and Youth Group friends at their classes and outings. They will have a Godly conscience and will “flee also youthful lusts”. Yet their energies and friendship needs are best met by following (pursuing) “righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22). With the Word abiding in their hearts and abiding in their homes they can overcome this evil world (1 John. 2:14). They will give honour to those who have laboured in the past so faithfully and diligently in word and doctrine. They will count their blessings and see their many organised activities, not as a man-made “system” but as opportunities to serve with all the boundless enthusiasm of youth tempered by the awareness of God’s righteousness enveloping their lives (Eccl 11:9,10).

 May it be that our Lord will soon come to find the faith—the prayerful faith—in the earth actively engaged in a continuance of things diligently begun. Yet if we are to endure steadfast for a while longer, may it be that our individual families will integrate together with redoubled commitment in preserving the spirit of our forefathers. We can leave our children no greater legacy.