How you respond to crisis determines your character/spiritual depth.
The day after Christmas I got a phone call from a friend who wanted to know all about my new twin grandkids, Sally, Christmas… she was chatty. In the time surrounding his death, my friend was in a dark place. She was lost. She could not think. I received many late night phone calls asking for prayer; she was feeling oppressed. Then BOOM! something changed. Mother’s day last year she felt a peace she hadn’t felt in years, God was telling her to choose life and living over death and confusion. It was like putting on glasses for the first time and suddenly seeing details you never knew existed…
The day after Christmas, as the conversation wound down, she said matter of factly, “My husband died a year ago today.” Aha, that’s why she called…. I thought of the contrast of what her phone calls used to be like compared to what they were now. She spoke of faith, of missing her husband, but knowing all is well. She spoke with confidence of her life situation and her life journey.
Sometimes it takes time to make it through a crisis, but for those who trust in God and believe in his promises, there is the promise of a new day, a new life, a new mind, a new strength, a new heart. God will always find a way for those that trust him!
Today’s scripture is Four Kings and a Queen. Sounds like a great poker hand! … Today we continue the series God’s Imperfect family: Character studies from Jesus’ genealogy in Matt. 1. The last character was King Jehosaphat. The character of each King is determined by whether or not they seek the Lord. We come to the darkest days of the Kings of Judah. (Reminder: Judah and Israel are two different nations. Judah is the heir of God’s promise.)
A month ago I handed out a cheat sheet of the Kings of Judah and Israel. The family of Jesus is traced through the Kings of Judah…In Matthew’s geneaology, he leaves out several of the Kings. If you have the list in front of you, Matthew jumps from Jahorum, son of Jehoshaphat, to Uzziah. Matthew skips Ahaziah, Queen Athaliah, Joash and Amaziah…What’s skipped are the darkest days of the Kings of Judah….
I will try to not confuse too much… listen for lessons from these 4 Kings and 1 Queen instead of trying to memorize who is who….The lesson: how crisis after crisis changes the course of history, but it is the response to crisis that shapes us….
Let’s travel back to the Four Kings and one Queen after Jehoshaphat….
CRISIS. Jehoshaphat is followed by his son Jehoram. Some people consider Jehoram to be the most evil of all the Kings of Judah. 2 Chron. 21:4 says Jehoram killed all his brothers. The 2nd evil action of Jehoram is to marry a daughter of King Ahab of Israel… This puts Judah at risk for it is an alliance with evil that takes several generations to unwind. Later we learn his wife’s name is Athaliah. She later becomes the self appointed Queen over Judah ~ she is not from Judah and is not a descendant of David. Jehoram leads the people away from God. He brings chaos to the people and destabilizes the national security of Judah... One line makes me smile… READ 2 Chron. 21:20a… We live in a world of drama; remain faithful to God anyway!
The enduring truth shining brightly beginning Jehoram’s reign is the reaffirmation of the promise of God: READ 2 Chron. 21:7. As the dark days of Judah stretch into years and decades, the people of faith must hold onto God’s promise. God will never give up on his people, no matter how dark the world seems. When facing a crisis, our tendency is to doubt, imagine the worst, fear, depression… Jehoram’s reign as King is the beginning of dark days for Judah, yet God’s promise illuminates the darkness: God’s promises are sure…
when your life is in chaos, remind God of His promises. You need to hear yourself speak His promises. Meet crisis head with God’s promises ~ to be present, to build up, a comittment to lead you to the promised land. Remind yourself of God’s Character: a God of love, a God who wants the best for his children, a promise keeper. Knowing God’s promises brings confidence and assurance in the storm.
Jehoram is an evil King, his actions create a domino effect of evilness, yet God’s promises are greater and he is in control…. “Because of the promise God made with David, he promised to maintain a lamp for Him.” When in a crisis, look for the light of God.
CRISIS. A new King. Ahaziah is the son of Jehoram. With all the chaos and the killing, the promise to David is intact… Credit the people of Jerusalem for their recognition of the rightful King…. READ 2 Chron. 22:1…Amid the corruption of the King, the people of Jerusalem held onto God’s promise and knew they needed a King in the line of David.
Ahaziah is king for one year. That’s it. A very weak King. He invites the advisors of his grandfather King Ahab of Israel to counsel him. He is like a puppet with Israel pulling the strings over the affairs of Judah…. Weakness breeds weakness. But it doesn’t have to…. You are responsible for your own decisions even if you came from a drama filled home. Some of the most amazing people are those that rise above their upbringing of abuse…. In a sad footnote to Ahaziah’s life his legacy is that he inspired nobody to be a leader. READ 2 Chron. 22:9d… Crisis…the downward spiral… no matter how dark the days look, you cannot give up. The day is coming when God will do a new thing….
CRISIS. The next ruler is Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah and wife of Jehoram. She appoints herself Queen. Her son is dead. Rather than look for a legitimate King, she takes matters into her own hands. READ 2 Chron. 22:10. This includes her grand children, Ahaziah’s children. She is seeking to eliminate all legitimate heirs to the throne in an attempt to wipe out the House of David. She is no different from King Herod, who centuries later demanded every baby boy be killed in and around Bethlehem because he was so threatened by the birth of Jesus Christ. Athaliah meets crisis by showing us what not to do ~ manipulate for our own gain! How you respond to crisis determines your character…
The lesson of Athaliah: God is wild. He will always raise up godly people to risk for him. Be one of those faithful people. While Athaliah is out of control, one of her daughters hides the next future King, Joash, by hiding him in the temple for six years. (See 2 Chron. 22:11-12.) He is 7 when he is crowned King (see 2 Chron. 24:1). As for Athaliah, she was so unpopular, when she was put to death by the sword, the people of Judah were happy (READ 2 Chron. 23:21). Athaliah was not the legitimate Queen, so when Joash was crowned as the rightful King, Athaliah tried to fight and was killed.
CRISIS. Joash is the new King. The people of Judah must be wondering what God is up to after 15 years of crazy Kings and a nutty Queen. Joash begins as a faithful King. When he was hidden away as a baby from the sword of his grandmather, Joash’s rescuer was his aunt Jehoshiba. 2 Chron. 22:11 tells us Jehoshiba is married to the priest Jehoida. In this dark period, the priest Jehoida is a great man of faith used by God to keep the promise of God alive. He protects the young Joash, he crowns the King, he becomes the trusted advisor to King Joash. During a crisis, find people you trust, faithful people of God… The impact Jehoida made on Joash is amazing: READ 2 Chron. 24:2.
The next part of 2 Chron. 24 speaks of Joash’s temple reforms, and how Jehoida helped organize the rebuilding efforts and re-established the worship of God. Tragically, after the death of Jehoida, another CRISIS, Joash loses his bearings. One can’t help but wonder how deep Joash’s faith was, but only God knows the heart… How you respond to a crisis defines your character. READ 2 Chron.24:15-19. Joash completely lost his way and murders the sons of Jehoida, his long time God fearing advisor… Joash begins well but ends poorly as he gets caught up in high stakes drama. He is murdered in his bed for revenge against his own murder of Jehoida’s sons.
When Crisis hits, get away from drama! Look to God, not revenge, not taking matter into your own hands, not trusting your own wisdom….
CRISIS: The next King is Joash’s son, Amaziah. His character is described in a most interesting way: READ 2 Chron. 25:2….Like so many Kings and other leaders in the Bible, Amaziah starts out well, then wavers in his faith and turns away from God. 2 Chron. 25 tells how Amaziah sometimes followed God and at other times he did not… As we face crisis in life, we make our own choices, we open or close our heart to the Lord. After Amaziah becomes King one of his first acts is to kill those that conspired to kill his father Joash. Amaziah highlights one truth that is a great reminder that everyone is responsible for their own relationship with God. The Bible explains that Amaziah did NOT put to death the sons of the conspirators because it written, READ 2 Chron. 25:4b.
I am responsible for my own choices. CRISIS will come, we all are given a hand that was dealt to us, but we are still responsible. We are not responsible of the sins of our parents or the circumstances in which we are born. In the eyes of God I am not held accountable for the sins of those that have gone before me. One of the greatest lessons of the Bible: no matter what CRISIS comes our way, through Jesus we can overcome…///
It was one CRISIS after another as Judah endured 4 Kings and a Queen in a dark period of history. How you respond to a crisis determines your character.
- God’s promises are greater than your crisis. His promise is the guiding light of life! Embed that truth in your heart and mind!
- Never give up no matter how drama filled your life seems.
- God is wild. Look for Godly people for guidance and inspiration like Jehoiada the priest. They are there…. (I think many of you wonderful people of faith in this Church can actually be the Jehoiada for others….)
- Expect God to intervene in his way, in his time, just like he used an aunt of a future King to hide the child until he was old enough to be crowned. That is a part of facing crisis: God will orchestrate amazing things beyond your power…
- No matter the crisis, God sees you as responsible for your actions, /decisions. God will judge us according to our hearts. Others set the table for us, others may try to control, but God has the final say… May his judgment be sure and may his grace be sufficient.