Home > OT Vignettes of Lesser Known Heroes and Villains (A Study in 2 Chronicles)
OT Vignettes of Lesser Known Heroes and Villains (A Study in 2 Chronicles)
The Monarchy (part 1)
This is the first audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
There are few true heroes or villains in the biblical record. Most fully-developed characters in the Old Testament are not so easily labeled. They are heroes who sometimes did wrong, or they are villains who sometimes did right. Hero or villain--they each have something to teach us. Saul, David, and Solomon reigned over Israel as a United Kingdom. They were neither all badnor all good. The portrait of Solomon painted by the author of the Chronicles, however, is very positive. He blossoms under the Lord’s blessing; he labors and sacrifices to build a beautiful temple worthy of the presence of God; and he receives a divine pat on the back for his efforts. Despite his many faults, he is still heralded as the wisest and richest man who ever lived.
Rehoboam: King of Conflict (part 2)
This is the second audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
Rehoboam was the first king of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, following the division of Israel into North and South. As a man of conflict, he helped ignite a 200-year Civil War within Israel. Conflict seemed to follow this man everywhere he went, and he saw very little resolution to any conflict during his seventeen-year reign as king. This leadership flaw led the author of 2 Chronicles to record, “He did evil because he was not determined to follow the Lord.” A villain who did a few things right, Rehoboam can teach us much about how not to live. His failure to resolve conflict with God, his fellow Israelites, and other nations displeased the Lord and led to tragic consequences.
Abijah: King of Partial Devotion (part 3)
This is the third audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
You pick the word. On your tombstone, what word would you like to see complete this sentence: “This believer was __________ devoted to the Lord.” Here are some options: “Fully devoted” would mean that you were sold out for Jesus Christ without compromise. “Conditionally devoted” would mean that you spoke well of the Lord during fair weather, but cursed Him during inclement weather. “Not devoted” would mean that you were simply too busy with life’s distractions and attractions to pursue your relationship with God. For most of us, I think an honest description on our tombstone would read, “Partially devoted.” That means that we had some episodes of growth in the Lord, and many times of stagnation. Pick the word you want included on your tombstone.
Asa: King of Self-Reliance (part 4)
This is the fourth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
Every day we must choose who we
will rely on. We can rely on ourselves; we can rely on others; or we can rely on
God. It’s a question of living by faith or living by sight. We live by sight
when we rely on anyone other than God—and we also grow disappointed when they/we
let us down. We live by faith when we rely on God—and we never grow disappointed
because He is always faithful. When faced with an obstacle or problem, is your
first instinct to figure it out and tackle it on your own? Do you immediately
think of others you can recruit to help you? Or do you run to God with issue and
entrust the dilemma to Him? Relying on ourselves and others is natural; relying
on God is supernatural.
Jehoshaphat: King of Good Judgment (part 5)
This is the fifth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
In his day, Jehoshaphat was the most decorated king since Solomon. He did so
many things right. He was a model team builder. He wasn’t afraid to delegate, to
form alliances, to trust in the Lord, or to identify and utilize others’
talents. He knew where his own strengths ended and where others’ began. He
seemed constantly aware of his shortcomings, and successfully surrounded himself
with those who could handle what he couldn’t. He also never seemed to allow his
pride to get in the way of his objectives. Simply put, he demonstrated sound
judgment in nearly all of his dealings: pertaining to himself, others, and God.
Jehoram: King of Consequences (part 6)
This is the sixth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
A great deal of confusion surrounds the topic of consequences. Many mistakenly
assume that consequences are inherently negative (some are, some aren’t). Others
falsely believe that anything negative that may happen to us is a direct
consequence of sin (some consequences result from sins, others don’t). Still
others incorrectly think that any negative consequences disappear after we’ve
been forgiven (forgiveness does not erase all consequences). The life of Jehoram
teaches us that God is ultimately in control of every consequence we face.
Furthermore, the consequences in our lives are designed to teach us things. If
we are wise we will learn from them; if we are foolish we will likely remain
under them—or see them again real soon.
Ahaziah: King of Easy Influence (part 7)
This is the seventh audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
Are you influential or influence-able? Do you wield influence or does influence wield you? It's been said, “You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.” And Ahaziah fell. Over and over during his short reign he succumbed to bad counsel and folded under pressure. He inclined his ear to the wrong advisors, and applied their suggestions unilaterally without using a filter. Simply put, Ahaziah was a pushover. Moreover, his fear drove him into hiding and his incompetence left Judah with no king strong enough to rule after he died. A fine line exists: We shouldn't be pushovers, but we also shouldn't be unteachable. Do you have the humility to listen to counsel and the wisdom to apply it selectively?
Athaliah: Queen of Insignificance (part 8)
This is the eighth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
There are many ways to describe a life of insignificance. My favorite is the
image of a bucket of water: Stick your hand in it and pull it back out, and the
dent you leave in the water indicates one’s significance. But we all want more
than that. We want our lives to count. Neither possessions nor positions
guarantee lasting significance. Athaliah had all of these and yet her life was a
living tragedy. She did evil, and the Bible records no lasting good that
resulted from her life. What can we do today to leave a significant impact? How
can we avoid becoming a living tragedy?
Joash: King of Hypocrisy (part 9)
This is the ninth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
There are many forms of hypocrisy. The most common form that we normally associate with hypocrisy is a person who verbally claims righteous convictions but then fails to behave according to them. But another form of hypocrisy exists that may be nearly as common. This person behaves according to righteous standards that he himself doesn’t truly believe. His "conditional" good behavior is usually temporary or sporadic because it is motivated by factors other than God’s pleasure. When a “godly” young person tubes her faith when she goes off to college, we’re forced to ask what motivated her "good behavior" before she went. When a “godly” traveling business man morally fails every time he leaves town, we’re forced to ask what motivates his "good behavior" when he’s home. If our righteous behavior is motivated by anything other than God’s pleasure, what will happen to our behavior when that motivation is removed?
Amaziah: King of Pride (part 10)
This is the tenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
God is so very gracious. Perhaps the greatest ongoing evidence of God's grace resulting from the cross is that He does not smite us when we sin each day, but invites us to confess repeatedly and picks us back up over and over again. In the Old Testament, God would sometimes send prophets to kings who sinned. We often view prophets as preachers of doom. But these messengers were actually agents of God's grace whose threats of judgment were in fact invitations for repentance. Some kings accepted that invitation and turned away from their sins. Other kings responded with hardness of heart and pride. They would rather suffer imminent consequences than bend their knee in acknowledgment of an Authority greater than themselves.
Uzziah: King of Boundaries (part 11)
This is the eleventh audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
It's important to know where our responsibility ends and someone else's begins. In short, it's important to identify the boundaries in our lives. We experience an amazing amount of freedom and fruitfulness when we faithfully serve within our appropriate boundaries. When we go outside of our boundaries, by definition we encroach on others' territory. We trespass. We rob others of the opportunity for faithfulness by doing what they were meant to do. And we also abdicate our own roles, thus neglecting our own stewardships. Have you identified your roles? Do you stay within your own boundaries? Do you respect others' boundaries? Doing more than we're asked to do (by crossing boundaries) doesn't earn us bonus point; rather, it reduces our effectiveness and undermines the contributions of others.
Jotham: King of Simplicity (part 12)
This is the twelfth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
An uncomplicated life is as precious as it is rare. Because of the myriad of opportunities presented to us, we tend to live life reactively rather than proactively. Life gets complicated when we lose our focus. The Apostle Paul writes about "the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." While Paul accomplished many things during his life, he had but one focus. Jotham, likewise, had but one constant focus: to please the Lord his God. How refreshing to find someone who is willing to focus on the right things and strong enough to resist tempting distractions. What is your focus? Is it the right focus? Is it constant? Does your life bear any evidence of your focus?
Ahaz: King of Idolatry (part 13)
This is the thirteenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
Nothing bad is recorded about Jotham in 2 Chronicles. This week we look at his son, Ahaz, about whom nothing good is written. Ahaz had a problem worshiping God alone, preferring instead to follow the latest and greatest religious trends. He embraced an unfocused syncretism, which tries to simultaneously embrace many different gods—saying yes to every religion and no to none. His life teaches us that worshiping God on Sunday is completely unsatisfactory if we are worshiping something else on Monday. God does not want us to worship Him; He wants us to worship only Him. God does not want to be our Lord; He wants to be our only Lord. God does not want our devotion; He wants our complete devotion. Anything less simply won’t do. I think He’s deserved as much.
Hezekiah: King of Transformation (part 14)
This is the fourteenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
"We may be going in the wrong direction, but we’re making excellent time.” When you suddenly realize that you’re on the wrong road or heading in the wrong direction—you also conclude that to continue in your present course would be anything but progress. A U-turn is required. In relationships, in our careers, or in our spiritual life there exists a right bearing and many competing wrong bearings. Once we’ve recognized our wrong direction, urgency demands that we seek to transform that area of our lives. Such change of course often meets with many forms of resistance and thus will fail if we go about it in a half-hearted manner. An urgent and wholehearted effort is required to turn the ship of our lives in the right direction . . . and to keep it there. Hezekiah models this by pulling off a nearly flawless U-turn.
Manasseh: King of Second Chances (part 15)
This is the fifteenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
The Book of Chronicles was written to a people who were desperately in need of a second chance. So of all the kings described, Manasseh was probably the one they paid attention to the closest. Manasseh was a wicked king who experienced divine consequences for his unrighteousness. In response to this discipline, he turned around and pursued the Lord and righteousness. Like the Prodigal Son, he was offered a gracious second chance . . . and he took it. Many of us have experienced a second chance (and a third, and a fourth...). We are each either facing a second chance sometime in the future, or we are on the other side of one. Wherever we find ourselves, the life of Manasseh teaches us how to properly prepare for—and respond to—God’s gracious second chance.
Josiah: King of Sacred Truth (part 16)
This is the sixteenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series.
Another reform takes place under king Josiah of Judah. He inherited a wicked nation who did not know the Lord and he diligently turned them back to Yahweh worship. The primary catalyst that enabled his success, however, was not his good intentions. Rather, it was the discovery of something in the temple that had been lost for years. They found a copy of the Scriptures. Josiah made haste to read the Word of God, privately and publicly, and then he began to do what it instructed. God's Word reveals Himself, informs our worldview, provides answers, and instructs us on daily living. Like a compass, it shows us the direction of true North. And Josiah devoured its teachings. To our embarrassment, Josiah read and studied and obeyed his one copy of Scripture more than most of us do the ten copies in our homes. There is no replacement for getting into the Word of God daily, and getting the Word of God into us. Are you ashamed of your ability to handle this Book? Should you be?
Jehoahaz: King of Helplessness (part 17)
This is the seventeenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains series
Today’s text screams out helplessness. What remains of Judah appears powerless, directionless, and leaderless. They’re watching from the sidelines as two dominate nations battle to become the sole world leader. They’re subject to nations who don’t know the Lord, their kings become pawns, and their temple becomes defiled. God sometimes engineers helplessness as one of His most effective tools. It’s designed to turn our reliance onto Him Who alone is able to overcomeour difficult situation. But helplessness is lost on those who neglect turning to Him. How do you respond when you are helpless? Do you marry your helplessness to hopelessness, or do you turn to the Lord in utter dependence against all odds and hope against hope.
Zedekiah: King of Blindness (part 18)
This is the eighteenth audio message for the Heroes & Villains Series.
Zedekiah is a runaway
train who doesn’t see that the end of the track is fast approaching. He must be
aware of the severity of his sins, but he must be blind to the consequences
awaiting him. As if he were living in denial about the reality of God and the
threat of a powerful enemy nation, he continues to break God’s law and enrage
his enemies. He ultimately pays for it dearly. The nation suffers, the temple
is burned, the city is destroyed and left defenseless, and the survivors in Judah
are exiled to Babylon.
As for Zedekiah himself? His sons are murdered before his eyes just moments
before those same eyes are physically removed. The last king of Judah
failed miserably. But God raises up another king from a foreign nation who
seeks to restore Judah
and rebuild the temple—and so the book ends with a glimmer of hope . .