Heroic: 2 Kings 12:1-19

One of the touchiest subjects with people is their money. Believe me, I work at a bank. Whenever you tell people that they are going to lose their money or that they have to give away their money, they take a defensive stance and try to protect their assets. For many reasons, money is one of the hardest things to let go of. It requires faith and trust that God truly does provide things and can rescue. In this story, Joash was made king at a very young age and was practically raised by the priest named Jehoida. Joash had developed a keen sense that God was worthy of worship and had given them a unique opportunity to participate in God’s work.

To set the context, the Temple needed funds. The way it sounds, it was getting a little run down. To modernize the situation, imagine being at a church with no A/C, no microphones. To make it worse, imagine the congregation averaging 500 attenders and only one outhouse instead of a bathroom with plumbing. It was getting outdated, rundown, and uncomfortable. Some things had to change. What makes it worse is that the funds were going to the workers only. No funds for repairs and updates at all.

It’s at this moment, Joash orders funds for the temple which should have been collected for that purpose anyways. Joash seemed shocked that there is something wrong when people have an opportunity to take part in something that God could do. This was the place where God shared community with His people, the place where people found hope, rescue, and joy. Everyone who had the opportunity to take part in God’s great plan was being avoided. Of course, there had been famine and problems with war and destruction. So the Temple still went unprepared. Joash then confront Jehoida. Where was the man who raised Joash to join with God’s plans to experience the heroism that God leads us too.

Joash finally convinces Jehoida to set funds aside. Sometimes it takes a little push from from someone who has understood that to be a part of God’s plan is the best way to see beauty, hope, and love come out in the world. Looking at God’s track record, we see that his main goal is to create moments of hope and love. The Temple was the center of that for the people of Israel.

The great thing about Joash is that he showed everyone the value of using our resources for what the kingdom needs and not just ourselves. In our faith, we have to find those things that promote faith, hope, creativity, and heroism. We have an opportunity to help people maximize their faith by showing them that God’s plan is to change the world for the better. We have been invited to take part in a mission to change the world. The question is will we allow ourselves to join in? Will we lead others in that directions? Are we up for God’s invitations of adventures in faith?


Heroic: 2 Kings 11:1-21

Have you ever met those people who are always able to take risks? One question that always gets asked about these people is how they are able to take these risk without getting hurt or being scared of retaliation. The truth is that most of the time, the risks taken by these people actually include fear and pain. Risking to see God move take bravery and a willingness to take fear and pain. We never escape the trial by fire experience, but what we can be escaped is futility. The efforts that are risky for heroes of faith always need to be couple with the thought that God will take the effort to its ultimate end, victory for what is good.

The old king, Ahaziah, was originally killed by Jehu. Immediately, the matriarch of the family, Athaliah, does what she can to protect the lineage of the the family while ensuring that their belief system . However, with all the paganism that was expected by the mother, this meant destroying any potential reform. Everyone was folding to Jehu’s reform and Athaliah was having none of it. So she killed off her family and took over. It’s a pretty gruesome thought that she did this, but it should not be surprising. Many people take extreme measures in order to preserve the legacy they create. Many people who embed themselves in churches are secretly trying to create their power circles with no regard to God’s will. It’s a hard thing for a church to rise out of this reality and it takes might heroes to team together to take the Church into the reality that God has for her.

Jehosheba was the first to act in hope. Her protecting Jehoram was planting a seed of change and revolution that would bring the people of God towards God. Had Athaliah learned of her plans, she would have been killed along with the baby. Sometimes individuals are the ones that begin a movement. It takes bravery to take actions that will create future change and will eventually create a challenge. The risk can be so great that not one individual will try to take action for a very long time. The fear is that they may punished with shame or even ostracized from the community.

Another thing is that it’s astounding how much time it takes to see the changes take place. Six years later, waiting to proclaim the proper king, probably seemed like a lifetime of waiting. Why they waited so long to make Joash king is not certain, probably waiting to learn who to trust and who to hide from. They probably were also building a base of loyalty much greater than Athaliah’s. Though it may seem sneaky to build up a coup and would be a call to shame, it is actually more respectful to the way God created human freedom. People are able to make the choice about who or what to follow. When we reach the New Testament, conversation based on convincing others was the primary way of bringing people to the way of God. It was also the primary way of correcting others in the faith. This is one of the greater risks of being a hero of faith, letting the other person make the decision of faith. It would make sense to counter the other power center and force people to follow what you believe, but what God wants is for those who follow His way to want and love to follow Him, which takes someone buying into His plans and not just going through the motions of fake faith.

This entire story goes beyond being about one hero of faith and moves to being about a community of heroes surrounding their leader. It is important for a community to be supportive of each other and to move towards changes and challenges that produce growth towards God. The one thing that brings Athaliah to the end of her rope is the fact that the entire community stated through their actions that they were ready to take God’s plans over human plans. There is also a bit of irony that could present itself when we gather together under God’s plans, the one who is not following God’s plans may act as if the other side is not following God. In this setting the one who is working against the movement of God is the one screaming that everyone else is disobeying God. They are actually more worried about treason against their own will more than they’re concerned about God’s will. It can make it confusing for most and it takes much reflection, prayer, and maybe even study to see what would have for the situation.

It takes many risks and much time to produce good change that moves people towards greatness and heroic acts of faith. Faith is brave and realizes danger, but is worth risk and creates adventures that lead to stories to last for generations. The questions is what will we follow? Are we busy looking for religion, traditions, and rules, or are we more worried about aligning our character and virtues with the path Jesus laid out for us. What is worth it is the path of Jesus. It will lead to greatness in love and create the best relationships.

Heroic: 2 Kings 10:1-36

I have no other way to describe this passage than violent. I’m not kidding, it’s a violent that would even make Quentin Tarantino squirm. The majority of this passage is filled with the endeavor of Jehu to rid Israel of Baal worship, which is just one giant massacre. We learn that he succeeds in doing that and he is honored by God for doing that. Baal worship was creating major problems for Israel. Despite that violence, the story ends surprisingly tragic. After all of his efforts to turn Israel back to God, the sin that was plaguing the dynastic history of Israel was still in place.

Have you ever met people like that. They have this very strong sense of moral responsibility for other people and will go out of their way to make sure that those who are not morally in line on a specific topic need to be set straight. Make not mistake, Jehu was used by God to eradicate Baal worship from Israel, but he missed a major part of God’s plan. He was relentless to pull people away from what was obviously wrong, but forgot that God also is calling us to something. God is not simply trying to tell us what not to do but is also giving us a mission and a task as a people. Also, there is always something that God wants to change. He wants to take us to better places and those places can look vastly different than we would expect them to be.

To take this a little deeper, its not a bad thing that Jehu was acting on his moral conviction. Those things are not bad to have, but morality and ethics are not the bases by which we live. Character and virtue are the driving forces of our identity. When we live by character and virtue, we become consistent, honorable, valiant, loving, and many other things that define us as Christians. It’s easy to think that moral power can change the world, but it takes humility to believe that it is the Spirit’s power that transforms us (Romans 12:1). We really cannot change anything without God directing us, but we can be sure that every good thing that is every attempted is from God speaking into us and challenging us to create better worlds and live like heroes of faith.

Jehu was used by God the same way many humans are used by God. They are driven from religious zeal and try to eliminate anything that opposes certain rules. If we are to seek true heroism as found in Christ, we have to find the heart of the matter and speak in love. We have to seek people instead of law. We have to work with conviction and not coercion. It is always astounding when people begin to force people to follow a way of life have their character deteriorate. People who experience this most in their lives usually are in a community with low creativity and a high sense of legalism. Although some think that even if you are legalistic that you are at least doing the right thing. One thing that this story and even other stories in the Bible show us is that is not true. Even in modern times, some people are following a strict conservative rule book, but when you look at their hearts and their missions, you only see that they want rules and not relationship. The worry about the Bible being historically factual than letting it speak truth into their lives. They worry about fitting around certain taboos rather than letting the love of Christ guide their lifestyles.

What would happen if we choose creativity, conversation, and conviction over coercion and legalism? What usually happens is a real and vibrant faith. People begin to experience a real, loving, and creative God. The world begins see Jesus as the changer of lives and the creator of heroic stories. We begin to live the heroic stories we were made to live and become the changers of the world.

Heroic: 2 Kings 8:28-9:37

Have you ever had a moment where doing something would change everything around but would put you in some sort of danger? Would you take the risks or take a safer route? These situations happen everyday to people all across the world. For Christians this takes many different forms. Everything from martyrdom under forces hostile to Christianity to people within Churches unwilling to support changes even if they protected the future of your community can endanger a hero of the faith. The unfortunate thing about some people who claim to be Christian is that we assume that God will always give us a safe life with no trouble. That is not the case. Our faith will occasionally call for sacrifice and struggle, especially when God is making you a catalyst for change.

This story is filled with danger and change. It begins with an intensely dangerous act by one of the prophets under Elisha. When being asked to tell someone who is under a king that he is going to perform a coup de taut, the important question is if this guy will still be loyal to the king or will there be someone who will hear me and kill me for performing treason. It makes sense for this guy to have to turn tail and run. What does not make sense is the request to still perform the act, but one thing we know from God is that He has created us to be the catalysts for change and actions here on the earth. So it was immensely important for this prophet to go to Jehu and deliver the message.

Imagine what would have happened if this man had started with the running away part. It may have delayed God’s plan. God will still find someone to do His work, but the tough reality is that this man would not have been a part of the great plan to rescue Israel from evil. Jehu’s loyalties might have looked different later on. Since this man acted in faithfulness to God, he got to help start something profound and salvific for Israel. Although we do not take part in violence as Christians, the same concept of obedience is crucial for believers acting as heroes of faith.

When we listen to God and obey Him, we initiate profound changes and can even create movements of faith that create better lives for others. Have you ever dreamed that you could be an important figure in a movement that would be remembered for thousands of years. The good news is that we have that chance. God is offering us a place in His giant mosaic. It is a piece of art that has spanned for thousands of years and is finding new ways to express itself every day. The question is will we allow God to use us. How are you listening to God? Are you willing to act as His ambassador in even the most dangerous situation?

We have to be willing to carry on God’s plan. Even though its true that God will find a way to make His plan work, it is tragic to not take part in the plan. We have been offered a way out of a plan that we started but is not working out. His plan not only gives us a way towards a better future, but a sense of purpose. His plan is about salvation, help, serving others, and even taking dangerous risks when needed.

And even if the highest danger, which is death, comes to us, we are promised that it is not final and that resurrections will come.

Heroic: 2 Kings 8:7-27

Honesty, openness, and confrontation are a few things that keep a hero of the faith a hero. It’s what keeps character in check. The two stories here show us how ignoring this can affect an individual’s life and then how it affects the life of a community. The first, with Elisha confronting Hazael, points out how on individual can look at God’s will for his life and say no. The second story shows how an individual can make decisions that massively affect the community for the worst. The one thing we should remember is that no matter what we think is at stake, our soul and the soul of our community is always at stake in every decision that we make.

In the first story, it is interesting that Elisha called Hazael’s deepest intentions out to his face. Hazael was the servant of a King and if he had any notion towards an assassination, you would think Elisha would be killed for mentioning it. Regardless of that fact, Hazael was being told what evil was waiting for his future, but he did not take note and run away from it. God gave him a way out by speaking through Elisha, but Hazael ignored him and killed his King just to gain power. It shows that God is in the business of not giving up on people. He is always trying to bring people into a journey to bring goodness and love to the world. Amazingly, most of the problems in the world are not some supernatural intervention, but the acts of greed and suspicion on the side of humanity and a fallen world. God is continually telling us to take His plan of greatness instead of our own plans for chaos.

The second story is a similar point, but on a larger scale. People have the potential. You would think that Ahaziah would learn from the mistakes of his father, but he continues making the same mistakes. This almost looks like a familial curse when you read this story, because he seems almost fated to failure. However, the funny thing about familial curses is that they are not uncontrollable curses placed on a family. They are more like listening to possible outcomes because of where and how you were born and accepting them as fate. The truth is that God breaks curses. Through Jesus, all curses are null. The only curse is the one that we place on ourselves. It’s amazing how much patience God has with His people even though they seem to take on a familial or cultural curse as their identity. God sees many kings who would do evil and does not destroy them immediately. God seems to have a more hopeful outlook for humanity. He wants all people to be hope and light in the world, and will continually send messages to bring them towards that reality. Even if it takes hundreds of years, he will try to bring them back to Kingdom living.

If we are going to walk a journey with God and continue as a tribe, we have to be honest with ourselves, open with others, and willing to be confronted by God and his people. Once we see God’s plans and begin to allow this to happen, we can learn, grow, and become a people of hope filled with heroes.