2 Chronicles 18:1-8 (Part 2) – When the Running Game Is Not Working, Throw The Ball, Would Ya?!?!

Posted: August 31, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 18:1-8 (Part 2 of 3)

Jehoshaphat and Ahab

Opening Illustration/Comments

There is an old saying that says, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time.” I remember back in the day when Danny Ford was the coach of the Clemson University football team, he was a firm believer in having a punishing running game on offense and having a stifling and attacking defense. It was a great formula most of the time. He recruited big boys for the offensive line and have a bevy of running backs at his disposal. His teams would average over 250 yard rushing per game. They would just wear down and wear out an opposing defense with the relentless blocking of the huge offensive line. On defense, he recruited boys that just like to hit people and they were big and fast. He won more than 75% of his games as coach of the Tigers with this basic approach – methodical offense that chewed up bigger and bigger chunks of yards as the game progressed, and a hard-hitting, fast, and turnover seeking defense.

However, there were those 25% of his games that he lost. Often it was caused by the old turnover thing (the team with the fewest turnovers in a football has been statistically proven to win the game 78% of the time). But there were times, when Clemson ran up against a team here and there that was as big and as fast as they were. In some of these losses, when it was blatantly obvious to everyone that Clemson could not run the ball, Coach Ford would keep at it no matter what. In those days, Clemson quarterbacks probably threw the ball no more than 15 times a game. Ford was in love with running the ball and when Clemson could not do that during his tenure, they lost. But he never adjusted his strategy regardless of the obvious facts. Therein lies the definition of insanity. There were times when it was obvious while watching them on TV that you would yell, “Throw the dang ball a couple of times, would ya?” It would drive you crazy as a fan. But you put up with his crazy dedication to the running game because it worked over 75% of the time.

It is that idea of not listening to advise that is realistic and continuing with a track that will lead to ruin that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 18:1-8, again. Let us read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

18 Jehoshaphat enjoyed great riches and high esteem, and he made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by having his son marry Ahab’s daughter. 2 A few years later he went to Samaria to visit Ahab, who prepared a great banquet for him and his officials. They butchered great numbers of sheep, goats, and cattle for the feast. Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.

3 “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah.

Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” 4 Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

5 So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”

They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”

6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

7 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that, often, the evil kings of the Bible did not like God’s prophets who brought messages of condemnation and doom for the sinful way in which they ran their kingdoms. Many of them, then, hired so-called prophets who would tell them what they wanted to ear. The Bible is littered with such false prophets (e.g., Isaiah 30:10-11, Jeremiah 14:13-16, 23:16, and 21:30-36 just to name a few). These men would give the kings a sense of security that what he was doing was fine and that there was no need to change course. The true prophets such Isaiah, Jeremiah and others was to challenge the kings of Judah and Israel to repent of their sinful courses of action and steer the nation back toward God. However, the kings rarely wanted to hear the truth about their actions or lack of action.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is there is something here in this passage for both Christ followers, individually, and for churches, as the collective version of Christ followers. For individual Christians, we need to be able to hear things that “step on our toes” and examine what they are saying rather than get mad at a someone within the fellowship of your local church. Too often in churches, when there is conflict between people in the local church or conflict between people in the church and their pastor, people will just disappear and never deal with the issue. In our workplaces, we are able to have hard conversations, why are we so unable to do that in churches? Now, certainly, there are situations where what the person may be saying to you is not worthy of consideration. However, we must examine those tough conversations to see if the person was being hateful or was sincerely trying, in love, to help you grow and mature in Christ. There’s an old saying too about conversations, “take what you need, and throw away the rest!” That’s a quick way of saying that (1) we examine if the hard conversation was simply hatefulness or whether it was said in love and (2) take what we may need to consider more deeply in prayer from that conversation and then leave the rest floating in the air like leaves to the wind.

As churches, we must also be able to adjust our game plan when the running game is not working and be willing to hear that what we are currently doing is not working. As churches, as we move into the 2nd 1/5 of the 21st century, we stick to our guns on the timeless truth of God’s Word but how we package that and how we deliver this timeless message has to be examined to see what we may do differently. We live in a different age that we did 50 years ago in Christianity. Back in those days, it was just part of the culture of America, particularly in the South, to go to church on Sunday and to be there for weekly events during the week or on the weekend. Church was just ingrained into the culture. We did not really have to try that hard. The running game was popping holes wide open for the running backs. We invited people. They came. Sometimes, they just came on their own. It was all very easy compared to the current day.

Now, you are talking about 2nd and 3rd generations of families that have never darkened the door of any church for any reason. People today know of and create their own idea of what and who Jesus is and was because he is a well-known historical figure. Not because they know anything about Him at all in His true identity as the Son of God. He is just a philosopher to many. A radical rabbi and anti-establishment hero to others. Now, people see church as a option at best and as irrelevant to their lives at worst. They do not see any need for a Savior because they see themselves as good people and that’s enough for them. Many see Christianity and other religions as being responsible for much of the oppression of the past millennia and half.

In this environment, then, it is obvious that we have to quit trying to run the ball up the middle endlessly when its not doing anything to draw people into our midst so that they can encounter Christ, the real Christ. We need to examine how we are interacting with the world around as a corporate body and as individual Christians. Are we doing the same old thing and expecting different results? Are we expecting the world to passionately respond to us when we are not passionate to reach them? We live in an age where people are not going to come to us organically like they did in the 1970’s and prior to that. They are not going to come running when the doors open. Let us examine ourselves, have those hard conversations on the sidelines of the game, and then adjust the game plan. Maybe, Danny Ford would have won over 85% of his games if he had been able to listen to those hard conversations and change the Tiger game plan when they could not run the ball effectively. We have to be able to have those hard conversations as churches to see where we need to adjust our game plan to match this new era in which we live. The message of Jesus Christ is timeless and never changes but the way in which we build our game plan to achieve victory may need to be adjusted to match the new kind of defenses against which we are running our offense!

Amen and Amen.

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