The power of influence is how we impact the lives of others for good or for bad. Everyone has an influence upon others in some way or another. Our lives cross the lives of many people whether knowingly or unknowingly.
In the Old Testament, following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided by two rival kings. Rehoboam was the son of Solomon and took his father's place on the throne. In Egypt, Jeroboam heard of the death of Solomon and returned to Israel. He had fled to Egypt after he rebelled against Solomon (1 Kings 11:26-40). In fulfillment of the words of the prophet Ahijah, ten tribes of Israel gave their allegiance to Jeroboam. The prophet had told Jeroboam, "Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you" (1 Kings 11:38).
Jeroboam did not follow after these words. Instead, he set up two golden calves for the people to worship and serve as the gods who brought them out of the land of Egypt. He allowed priests to come from any tribe and he "ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month." He did more evil than all those who were before him and because of his actions, set the tone for the following kings of Israel. Ahijah prophesied that God would "give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin" (1 Kings 14:16).
The influence of this one king would set the tone for the history of the Northern tribes of God's people. Jeroboam's son, Nadab, "became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin" (1 Kings 15:25-26). Nadab had a good teacher and would follow in the steps of his father.
Baasha would be the next king of Israel as he conspired against Nadab, killed him and "he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger" (1 Kings 15:29,30).
Baasha "did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin...And also the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD in provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed them" (1 Kings 15:34; 16:7).
Elah, the son of Baasha, reigned two years before he was murdered by Zimri (his own servant) and Zimri destroyed all the household of Baasha "for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, by which they had sinned and by which they had made Israel sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols" (1 Kings 16:13).
"In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. Now the people who were encamped heard it said, 'Zimri has conspired and also has killed the king.' So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. And it happened, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king's house and burned the king's house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he had committed to make Israel sin" (1 Kings 16:15-19).
Omri was the next king of Israel and he "did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols" (1 Kings 16:25,26). And then there was Ahab, who ruled after Omri.
"In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him" (1 Kings 17:29-33). 1 Kings 17-22 is the life of King Ahab and how wicked he was before the Lord.
"Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done" (1 Kings 22:51-53).
The remaining kings of Israel followed
the pattern of their predecessors. All followed in the way of Jeroboam. The
destruction of the kingdom of Israel was completed by the Assyrians when they
invaded the land and took the ten tribes away, never to be a united people again.
"And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and
delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His
sight. For He tore Israel from the
house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day" (2 Kings 17:20-23).
The lesson in this sad history is the impact a life can have on so many. Jeroboam's works followed him after he died. The evil he lived in his life was not contained only while he lived but continued on for generations to come. Consider how many lives were lost because of his influence. Think of all the lives that were given over to evil because of his influence. The powerful influence of an evil life destroyed a great nation.
Our lives are not contained in only the time we have on this earth. We influence people every day by our words, our actions, our dress, our motives, our example -- and the influence we give them may well determine an influence of good or evil. Jesus exhorts his disciples to be the salt and the light of the world -- "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:13-16).
We cannot live without influencing others. The influence we have -- whether good or bad -- may last for generations. As disciples of Christ we must work diligently to leave an influence of good and an example of what a Christian should be.
If I attend services rarely, I am showing others to do the same thing. When I fail to pray, I exemplify to others not to pray. As my life becomes concerned more with recreation than the work of the Lord, others will see that and live the same way. Generations of children have followed the pattern of their parents who failed to serve the Lord. Many others have followed our examples and have not increased in their faith. The powerful influence of Jeroboam should be an example of how powerful our influence can and will be upon others.
The child of God must live for those words spoken by the Spirit in Revelation 14:13 -- "That they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." The kind of works here are those works of a good influence to bring others to Christ. Even after death, the godly influence of a father or a mother will carry on in the lives of their children. The godly influence of each one of us can bring others to Christ even in generations to come. Make ready for the next generation by living godly today!
The influence of Noah, Abraham, Job, Moses, Joseph, Paul, Peter, Timothy still lives today as faithful examples. We can also see the power of influence from Ahab, Jezebel, Judas and Demas. When your name is spoken in years to come, which list will your name be included in? Most important -- will your name be in the Book of life? (Revelation 20:11-15)
by Kent Heaton -- Via The Trenton Bulletin, July 16, 2000
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