Draw Close to God
He Dignifies Us With Free Will
PARENTS are supposed to set a good example for their children. A positive parental influence may help a child to develop endearing qualities and to make wise choices in life. Sadly, many parents set a poor example for their children. Are such children doomed to fail? We find the answer in a most reassuring truth—Jehovah God has dignified each of us with the gift of free will. Consider the case of Hezekiah, as found at 2 Kings 18:1-7.
Hezekiah was “the son of Ahaz the king of Judah.” (Verse 1) Ahaz led his subjects away from Jehovah’s pure worship. This wicked king carried on Baal worship, with its rites of human sacrifice. He had one or more of Hezekiah’s own brothers slaughtered. Ahaz had the doors of the temple closed and “made altars for himself at every corner in Jerusalem.” He “offended Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 28:3, 24, 25) Clearly, Hezekiah could hardly have had a worse father. But was Hezekiah destined to repeat his father’s mistakes?
Upon succeeding Ahaz to the throne, Hezekiah soon showed that he was not the helpless victim of a poor paternal example. Hezekiah “continued to do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” (Verse 3) Hezekiah trusted in Jehovah, and “there proved to be no one like him among all the kings of Judah.” (Verse 5) In the first year of his reign, the young king began a spiritual reform that led to the removal of the high places, where pagan idols were worshipped. The temple was reopened, and pure worship was restored. (Verse 4; 2 Chronicles 29:1-3, 27-31) Hezekiah “kept sticking to Jehovah . . . , and Jehovah proved to be with him.”—Verses 6, 7.
What enabled Hezekiah to rise above his father’s poor example? Is it possible that his mother, Abijah—about whom little is known—exerted a positive influence on her son? Did the good example of Isaiah, who began his prophetic service before Hezekiah was born, have a molding effect on the young prince?* The Bible does not say. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Hezekiah chose to pursue a course that was in stark contrast with that of his father.
The example of Hezekiah is encouraging to any who may have experienced a difficult childhood because of poor parenting. The past is unalterable; we cannot erase painful past experiences. But such experiences do not doom us to failure. We can make choices in the present that can lead to a happy future. Like Hezekiah, we can choose to love and worship the true God, Jehovah. Such a course results in a satisfying life now and can lead to everlasting life in God’s new world. (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:3, 4) How grateful we should be to the loving God who has dignified each of us with a most precious gift—free will!
Isaiah prophesied from about 778 B.C.E. until sometime after 732 B.C.E. Hezekiah began reigning in 745 B.C.E., when he was 25 years old.