Small Group Leader Study Guide
Date: November 11, 2018
Series: The kings and the King: Season 4 (2 Kings)
Bible Text: 2 Kings 11-13
This Week’s Printables:
- Group Leader Study Guide (pdf)
- Group Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Chart: The Kings & Prophets of Israel & Judah (pdf)
Each week we begin with a warning: this week is going to be another dark week. The subjects we must speak of are not pleasant, and may even be uncomfortable, but speak of them we must.
As we noted in week 1 of our study of 2 Kings, the nations of Israel and Judah are on a downward trajectory. There are small glimpses of hope seen here and there, but overall, both nations are heading for destruction. That is a historical fact.
This week, we look at what happens when evil reigns. In this case, the evil daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Queen Athaliah. Our text begins this week with a grandmother (Wicked Athaliah) murdering her own grandchildren. These were not just any children, however, they were the children of Athaliah’s son, King Ahaziah of Judah, who himself had been killed in Jehu’s judgment of the family of Ahab.
We chose a single candle as the image to describe this week because as we will see, the birth of Jesus some 800 years later hinges on what happens in this chapter. If it hadn’t been for a great nursery program and godly nursery workers at the temple in Jerusalem, there would have been no manger in Bethlehem!
In Part 2 of this week’s lesson, we will continue to look at The Church in America. The topic this week is equally dark and difficult, but one we must discuss because it is impacting our community in ways many of us don’t want to acknowledge. The topic is transgenderism or gender identity. As we will note later in this lesson, this is a topic that many adults are uncomfortable discussing, but many children will consider this a normal part of a daily discussion.
To gain some perspective on the issue of gender identity, we must first understand what it is and the terminology used, but also understand where the federal government is choosing to advance their beliefs in this area and how that impacts your children. At the end of this lesson, we include some resources from trusted Christian organizations to help you talk to your child about transgenderism. What age do you need to start this conversation? Unfortunately, as early as 1st or 2nd grade. By the time your student enters the 5/6 grade, the school system’s beliefs regarding gender identity will be out in the open and fully enforced.
Two verses have rung in my ears as I’ve worked through this lesson this week: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Prov. 4:19). It is a dark time, and, I fear, will continue to get darker.
But, we are asking, “Is there any hope?” And the answer to that question is found in this week’s Take Home Truth: “Our only hope in life and death is that we belong by grace through faith to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
So, the second verse that has rung in my ears this week is this: Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”
After all, this is what those growing weary in a wicked world are seeking: rest. Not just rest from their struggles with the woes of our time, but eternal rest. Spiritual rest. The rest that is found only in Jesus Christ. Let’s point people in the direction of Jesus. We have the answer to the question, “is there any hope,” the answer is Jesus.
Memory Verse for This Week
Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”
Core Belief: Eternity
Eternity (John 14:1–4): We believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth and to establish his kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the dead: the believer to life everlasting and the unbeliever to the resurrection of judgment.
Take Home Truth
Our only hope in life and death is that we belong by grace through faith to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Can you remember a specific topic that was really uncomfortable to talk to your parents about? How did they navigate that subject with you?
How would you explain something to your kids you know is impossible, but the world believes is possible?
Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead to one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text
Read 2 Kings 11-13.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
Summarize What Is Happening in 2 Kings 11-13.
We continue our profession through the Kings of Israel and Judah. Tanner created a helpful “Chronological Chart of the Kings & Prophets of Israel” to help us see the progression. You can download a pdf of the chart here.
- The preservation on young king Joash (11:1-12).
- The death of the Queen Mother Athaliah (11:13-16).
- A new covenant with the Lord and the reforms instituted by Joash (11:17-21).
- Joash repairs of the Temple (12:1-16).
- The decline & assassination of King Joash (12:17-21)
- The reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoash, Kings of Israel (13:1-13).
- The death of Elisha (13:14-21).
- God’s mercy and kindness to Israel (13:22-25).
What is the messianic significance of Joash, King of Judah?
God’s promise of a future deliverer is made in Genesis 3:15. This cryptic verse points to “the seed of the woman,” a veiled hint to the virgin birth. For Satan, however, masquerading as a serpent in Genesis 3, this is a declaration of war, a war Satan intends to win.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see satanic attacks upon the genealogy of this promised savior. In Genesis 12, God began to identify a specific family—the family of Abraham—from which the Messiah would come. This family hinged on the birth of a single son—Isaac—to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. From Isaac would come Jacob, later called Israel, and from Israel would come the 12 sons who would become the 12 tribes of Israel.
From this nation, the Lord identified a single tribe—the tribe of Judah—and from this tribe, a single man—David. It was on the throne of David that the coming Messiah would reign forever (2 Samuel 7).
Following God’s promise to King David that a son of his would sit on his throne forever, Satan had a clear target. A single line of one man throughout all of human history that he could focus his efforts. Extinguish this line, and the Messiah would never be born.
In 2 Kings 11, we see Satan’s ultimate attempt in the Old Testament at destroying the messianic line of David. Through an unholy marriage, a son of David, Jehoram, is wed to Athaliah, the daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel. While this union made political sense, like all unholy unions with the satanic world system, it brought destruction to the people of God.
Following the death of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, Jehoram became king of Judah. To secure his throne, he killed all of his brothers and any other living person who might have a claim to the throne of David (2 Chronicles 21:1-7). Then, suddenly, a band of Arabians invaded Judah and killed all of Jehoram’s sons except fo one—Ahaziah. Following the death of Jehoram after only eight years of tumultuous rule, Ahaziah became king (2 Chronicles 22:1).
When God raised up Jehu to put to death the family of Omri, Ahab, and Jezebel, Ahaziah, the son of Athaliah and the grandson of Ahab and Jezebel was put to death.
Let all of this sink in. Through tragedy, murder, and assassination, almost every last heir of the throne of David has been exterminated. The only remaining sons who can claim a direct line to David, are the sons of Ahaziah. But, Satan is not finished. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah determines to take the throne of David for herself and on behalf of her family, the line of Omri.
This brings us to our text this week in 2 Kings 11. In a night of terror, Athaliah kills all of her grandsons, the sons of Ahaziah…except one, a baby named Joash. Verse 2 tells us, “But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death.”
David Guzik explains the significance of these two words, “But Jehosheba:”
This little-known woman had an important place in God’s plan of the ages. Through her courage and ingenuity, she preserved the royal line of David through which the Messiah would come. Evil people like Athaliah will begin their work, but God can always raise up a Jehosheba.1
Dale Ralph David gives more color to this insignificant woman, Jehosheba, from the dusty pages of 2 Kings:
Wherever antichrist is, Christ always has faithful servants. Here her name is Jehosheba, sister of Ahaziah, daughter of Jehoram, wife of Jehoiada the priest (this last from 2 Chron. 22). Somehow in this emergency she spirits away the sucking infant Joash, along with his nurse, crams them in a room marked ‘Bed Supplies’, and then, apparently raises him in her apartment in the temple complex for six years (v. 3a). Yahweh’s promise to David was one infant away from proving false and falling to the ground. What a crucial moment! Jehosheba is the human agent responsible for preserving the kingdom of God in this world. If it weren’t for Jehosheba, there wouldn’t be any Christmas. The Davidic pipeline would’ve been broken. Here is the lady who saved Christmas. She is God’s Rolaid in what sometimes seems the soap opera of history. Because of her initiative in verse 2, all of verses 4–18 can take place. You see how strategic Jehosheba’s act is? Yahweh’s promise hung by a frazzled thread in 840 BC and she kept it from snapping.
You see Yahweh’s method, don’t you? No spectacular intervention. Oh, he could have caused Athaliah’s hiatal hernia to make her choke on her granola one morning before she ever started her bloodbath. But he didn’t—he had his servant Jehosheba in place.2
Praise God for the Jehosheba’s in this world, the modern-day Schindler’s who see evil storm clouds forming and are obedient to God’s leading to take action.
Application for Christians Today
For this portion of our group lesson, we will return to the book, The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness by Erwin Lutzer. This week we will look at Chapter 6: Transgenderism, Sexuality, and the Church: Calling Out the Lies of the Culture.
We have looked at several difficult issues this fall as small groups. Some of these issues are not only difficult but uncomfortable to talk about. This week is one of them.
Talking about sexuality and many of the cultural issues that fly around the orbit of sexuality is both difficult and uncomfortable, but many in this world (including Christians) are looking for answers to issues surrounding sexuality, and, as a church, we can either have answers or we can become irrelevant to the conversation.
Understanding the Times: The Great Reset
To underscore the overarching themes we have looked at the last few months, we have identified that the world and the church is undergoing a paradigm shift. We looked in Week 1 at the “Cycles of History” nations have followed throughout history. Our country will look very different in 2020 and 2030 than it did in 2010. Historically, we have witnessed similar paradigm shifts:
- In the 1860s, the United States went through a civil war and years of “reconstruction.”
- In 1910-1945, the world entered an era that saw two world wars and a global depression.
- In the 1960s, the United States went through a tumultuous decade marked by assassinations, war, riots, and cultural chaos.
If you look at the times of chaos in our nation’s history, starting in 1860, 1910, and 1964, you will see that roughly 50 years separates the start of another period of cultural chaos. Many times, those periods of great upheaval last 20-30 years before a “new normal,” a new paradigm, becomes the accepted way of life.
I believe we are in the early years of another “great reset” in which we will see a very different world in 2030 or 2040 than we did in 2016. Most Americans living today have no reference for difficult times. We’ve lived in a technology-driven bubble that insulates us from many of the hardships previous generations accepted as normal.
Degrading Sexual Norms
The area of sexuality has seen a continual downgrade for the last 50 years. It was only three years ago, in June 2015, that the US Supreme Court handed down its Obergefell v Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage. The Obama administration celebrated this court decision by decorating the White House in rainbow colors the night of the decision.
That seems like decades ago. In the three years since Obergefell, we have watched as the entire spectrum of sexual abnormalities have been brought into mainstream culture. What was an abnormality three years ago is now being pushed into the normal category today.
What does the Bible say about gender identity?
Describing the creation of mankind, the Bible states,
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Our physical sexuality—male and female—is defined at a chromosomal level. If you are a man, you will always have male chromosomes; if you are a woman, you will always have female chromosomes. Every cell within our body is programmed as either male or female. Every human being is the result of the interaction between a male father and a female mother. There are no exceptions. We are created male and female.
How would you define transgenderism?
One of the difficulties we have today is keeping up with the definitions. What was acceptable yesterday is not acceptable today. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, transgenderism is defined this way:
Transgender, term self-applied by persons whose gender identity varies from that traditionally associated with their apparent biological sex at birth. In its original and narrower sense, transgender referred to males and females who respectively gender-identify as females and males. In a later and broader sense, it has come to designate persons whose gender identities incorporate behaviours and traits traditionally associated with the opposite sex. Transgender persons may thus include transsexuals, transgenderists (in one usage of the term, persons who gender-identify with the opposite sex but who choose not to undergo sex-reassignment surgery or hormone treatments), and androgynes (biologically or psychologically androgynous persons), among other groups. In its broader sense, transgender is closely related to the more-recent term genderqueer, which is self-applied by persons who are either transgender or who have no gender, a third (neither male nor female) gender, or a fluctuating gender.3
Erwin Lutzer defines transgenderism as “gender rebellion.” What is gender rebellion?
To put it simply, it’s an attempt to blur gender distinctions by saying that it’s not your physical anatomy that defines gender, but rather it’s what you feel or think you are. While the roots of gender rebellion are in atheistic evolution, it is being pushed to the forefront of today’s society through initiatives such as the feminist movement whose goal is “to reform or eliminate traditional gender roles.” This attempt to “reform” gender is destroying families and young people, and it affects us all. It is indeed a time to weep.4
Where has the government focused its power in attempting to shape the transgender issue in America?
Like many aspects of the war on the Judeo-Christian morals upon which America was founded, the government seeks to focus much of its attention on where it has the most influence and can affect the greatest long-term impact: America’s public schools.
In a May 13, 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter,” the Obama Administration directed public schools to make no distinction between students concerning their gender identity. Addressed to public school administrators and coming from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, the letter begins by clarifying that the purpose of the letter is to provide significant guidance (emphasis in the original) to schools on how to treat transgender students in public schools. The DOJ and DE note that this significant guidance should not be considered law, but does inform schools how to be in compliance with Title IX requirements for funding.
The letter then states,
As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations. The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity. The Departments’ interpretation is consistent with courts’ and other agencies’ interpretations of Federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.
So, if a school wants to continue receiving Federal funds through Title IX, they will comply with this directive.
SIDE NOTE: In 2016, Jenifer Owensen, Chief Human Resources and Legal Affairs Officer for Ankeny Community Schools, gave a presentation to the Iowa Association of School Boards titled, “Building A Culture of Equity.” This presentation provides a good insight into how Ankeny Schools are addressing transgender issues. The chart below included at the end of the presentation provides of good summary of Ankeny Schools’ policy direction on this issue.
What is the crux of the matter when it comes to gender identity issues? Is Gender identity a physical issue or a mental health issue?
It is not politically correct, but a person who is dealing with gender identity issues is dealing with mental health issues, not physical health issues. For example, if I believe my left arm is not my left arm and seek to have it surgically removed, is that a physical issue or a mental issue? It is a mental issue. Physically, my left arm is in perfect health. There is nothing wrong with it. The problem is in my mind.
Here is another example: if a woman suffers from anorexia and perceives herself to be severely obese when in truth she is suffering from the effects of starvation, is that a physical problem or a mental problem that has physical consequences?
Yet, to suggest that a person with gender identity has mental health needs and should seek the help of a mental health professional is woefully inappropriate in today’s climate. So much so that organizes from governments to colleges and universities to businesses threaten to fire employees who fail to address transgender people by gender-neutral pronouns.
Those who offer counter-cultural responses to transgender issues are often accused of bigotry or even hate speech. How should a Christian respond to this accusation?
Understand that by offering an opinion, even one based on solid biblical instruction can often lead a Christian into a minefield. Many on the left have become skilled at bullying others and forcing compliance with their beliefs. I would like to say that hearing someone call you a bigot should be considered a badge of courage, but, I know, it is really difficult when you are publicly shamed for your beliefs.
Again, to underscore a thesis of this fall’s study, the world wants nothing more than for Christians to shut up and move to the sidelines. They don’t care what you believe as long as you keep it to yourself. We are arguing that in order to be a gospel influence in our culture, you can’t buy into that line of reasoning. Christians need to engage in the conversation, and that comes with the risk that we will be called bigots and that what we are saying is hateful.
Erwin Lutzer share the following story to illustrate how we can respond in a culture that considers biblical Christianity “hate speech:”
Kaeley Triller is a woman who, as a child, was sexually abused by a pedophile who destroyed her sense of self-worth. Her feelings of shame and worthlessness plunged her into a series of terrible choices that perpetuated the lies she believed about herself.
Her employer at the local YMCA asked her to draft talking points to sell a new policy that would open the organization’s locker rooms and bathrooms on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex. Kaeley refused. She thought of the little girls getting ready for swimming class exposed to a predatory male. How damaging it would be for girls to know that at any moment a man could invade their privacy. She had already encountered predators who were trying to gain access to girls’ events. Most probably every pedophile in our nation is in favor of bathroom legislation that gives them access into the bathrooms of the opposite sex. Kaeley asked that the Christian men around her would defend her cause, but for that, she was fired.
Soon she was employed by the statewide campaign to repeal the open locker room law in the state of Washington. She knew she would need the help of the local church, but of 150 churches contacted, only seven said yes. All the others had the same response, “We don’t want to be perceived as being unloving to the broken.” After she made her story known, she heard from hundreds of women with similar stories and the most recurring theme was:
When I asked the church to help me, no one would.
When I asked the church to help, no one would!
Her understanding of our culture comes through in her response to those churches: “But, dear church, our need to feel loving cannot supersede our responsibility to truly love well. The world has convinced too many of us that truth is bigotry, real love is hate, silence is golden, and if it feels good it is good.”
She continues, “These battles require an army, not isolated soldiers…. We need the church’s help. A church that intimately knows the heart of her King does not fear conflict with the world; she embraces the conflict as His vehicle to radical transformation.”
And finally, “True love isn’t defined by the world; it’s defined by the One who laid down His life to redeem the world.”5
Fear is one of Satan’s most effective tools against the Christian. If the Devil can convince us we might do more harm by speaking into a subject than by simply remaining silent, he has won the battle. We must stay engaged in the conversation, regardless of the risks involved to our personal reputation or the reputation of our church.
What is the antidote to hate speech and how do we employ it with this issue?
Remember the great commandment: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
Unfortunately, many today only quote a portion of this commandment: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” They leave it there. That’s it. If you love someone you will never question them about anything or suggest that a deeper, eternal truth might apply to their situation.
But, in truth, is it loving to permit someone who is struggling with an issue like gender identity to go on without help? Think back to the young woman struggling with anorexia. Is it loving to listen to her pain and struggle with this issue and then tell her, “well, that’s how God made you. Rejoice!” No. We wouldn’t do that, and we shouldn’t do the same with a person struggling with gender identity.
When God places someone in our pathway who is struggling with their sexuality, whether it is gender identity or same-sex attractions or lust and pornography, we need to listen to them when a caring heart and with a loving spirit. Truthfully, many times these dear people are hurting, and we can’t dismiss that with a “Rejoice in how God made you!”
In the article “Suffer the Children,” Jamie Dean writes, “To love transgenders we must work through the complicated layers of sin and pain—a process that requires the relational context churches can provide.” The author goes on to quote Heath Lambert of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors: “It will be the death knell if we say ‘this is wrong’ but then we can’t help.”6
Only when we see the depth of Satanic deception are we able to help others see their problems from a divine perspective. Remember, those who walk in darkness do not see things as they are, but rather see things the way they want them to be. “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Prov. 4:19).
Let it be said, it is better to be accused of being harsh than it is to tell lies with hushed tones of compassion, love, care, and thoughtfulness.
In my opinion, the church is the last barrier against a total breakdown of sexual sanity. And, if we feel powerless against the media, the courts, and our politicians, let us remind ourselves Jesus is in the trenches with us.7
To a world blinded by pain and finding only emptiness, Jesus makes this promise: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29 KJV).
Help for Parents
Unfortunately, if your child attends a public school, he/she is likely more fluent in gender identity issues than you are as a parent. To help you navigate discussions with your student, here are some resources from respected Christian organizations:
- Talking To Your Kids About Transgenderism (American Family Association)
- Talking To Your Children About Transgender Issues (Focus on the Family)
- How To Talk To Your Kids About Gender (The Gospel Coalition)
- Talking To Kids About Gender Identity (Family Life Today)
Becoming A House of Prayer
“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices; Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – Isaiah 56:7.
Prayer Focus for the Week of November 11 …
Pray that all of us would be sensitive to those who are struggling with gender-identity issues. Pray that we would have the willingness to listen and that they would have the willingness to hear that God honors the body. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Questions to consider as you continue to reflect on what you learned this week:
- Take Action: Spend some time reading the linked resources this week and gain both familiarity and some level of comfort in discussing transgender issues, both with your friends and neighbors, but also with your children.
- Take Courage: We are not the first generation to live in tumultuous times. The church was started in one of the most wicked, sex-saturated cultures in history. The Romans didn’t just tolerate sexual perversion, they worshipped it! Yet, nowhere in the New Testament do we see Jesus or the Apostles instructing the church to ignore the wickedness of the world or to run and hide. The church is an active, engaging instrument of both hope and change in a world gone astray. There is power in the gospel, but we must be ready to share the gospel in order to see our culture changed.
Work to memorize this week’s memory verse: Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls”.
This week’s Core Belief is Eternity (John 14:1–4): We believe there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth and to establish his kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the dead: the believer to life everlasting and the unbeliever to the resurrection of judgment.
Take Home Truth is “Our only hope in life and death is that we belong by grace through faith to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Remember to use the Daily Bible Reading plan as part of your walk with Christ, taking the time to reflect on each passage and what it means for your lives.
- David Guzik, 2 Kings, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible (Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik, 2005), 2 Ki 11:1–3. ↩︎
- Dale Ralph Davis, 2 Kings: The Power and the Fury, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2005), 171. ↩︎
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016). ↩︎
- Erwin W. Lutzer and Ed Stetzer, The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018). ↩︎
- Ibid. ↩︎
- Jamie Dean, “Suffer the children,” World Magazine, April 15, 2017, https://world.wng.org/2017/03/sufferthechildren. ↩︎
- Erwin W. Lutzer and Ed Stetzer, The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018). ↩︎