STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Chronicles 18. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | You have the choice to influence others or be influenced by them.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last week your group discussed King Solomon and how to win the Battle for Desire. This week you will look at King Jehoshaphat and how he fought the Battle for Influence. His story is a cautionary tale in letting others influence you. In this life, we have a choice—to influence others or be influenced by them. We are not alone in this battle. God has given us what we need to win the fight. The Battle for Influence is won by listening to God and obeying His Word, regardless of what others say or think.
Q: What does it mean to be influenced by someone or something?
Q: Describe in your own words what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
AN UNCOMMON ALLIANCE
Jehoshaphat’s reign as king in Judah was going well. He had riches and honor, a sign of blessing for a king. Then he made a misstep. He aligned himself with the king of Israel, Ahab. Ahab was a notoriously bad king. His 22-year reign in Israel was marred by repeated spiritual compromises. He led Israel further away from God and even married a foreigner (Jezebel) whose name is today synonymous with someone extremely shameful and immoral.
READ: Read 2 Chronicles 18. What stands out to you in this story?
Q: What do you think motivated Jehoshaphat to make an alliance with Ahab?
A STRANGE PROPHECY
Ahab wanted to capture Ramoth-gilead, a critical territory southwest of the Sea of Galilee held by Syria. He asks whether Jehoshaphat would ride into battle with him. Jehoshaphat agrees to go with him, but first requests they ask of the Lord. Ahab gathers four hundred prophets who tell him to go into battle. But Jehoshaphat asks, “Is there another prophet we can ask?” Ahab is frustrated. He knows a prophet named Micaiah, but he never prophesies good for the king. Micaiah is summoned to speak and the prophet reveals the truth. If the Israelites go into battle, it will be a disaster.
Q: What's involved when you “ask of the Lord” when making a big decision?
JUDGMENT AND MERCY IN THE BATTLE
Despite Micaiah’s warning, Ahab and Jehoshaphat ride into battle together. Ahab deceives Jehoshaphat by disguising himself and telling the king to wear his kingly robes into battle. The battle goes just as Micaiah predicted. Israel is defeated and Ahab is killed. Jehoshaphat avoids death only by crying out to the Lord. Jehoshaphat made a colossal mistake aligning with an evil king, but God showed him mercy in the battle.
Q: What does God’s saving Jehoshaphat despite his choices say about His character?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
POOR CHOICES ANDBAD CONSEQUENCES
What does Jehoshaphat’s story teach us about the Battle for Influence? The main lesson we see is that a bad influence affects our judgment. Clearly, Jehoshaphat was influenced by Ahab. Even though the Bible celebrates Jehoshaphat’s reforms in Judah, his choices led him to be a lesser king than God called him to be. He compromised his beliefs by joining forces with an evil king. That decision had disastrous consequences, both for him and Israel. Later in 2 Chronicles we’re told Jehoshaphat’s son who became king lived like Ahab and led Judah far from God.
Q: Where is it tempting to compromise your beliefs in your life?
Q: What keeps us from understanding the consequences of poor choices?
LESSONS FROM JEHOSHAPHAT
It’s easy to read Jehoshaphat’s story and think, “How could he be so foolish? God spoke to him, and he didn’t get the message. I know I would’ve listened.” Is that true? Are there not times when God spoke to you and you didn’t listen? Maybe you didn’t want to confront your sin. Maybe you thought, “I can get myself out of this mess. I can fix it.” Or have you ever compromised your beliefs in order to save face, fit in, or take the easy route? The truth is, we’re more like Jehoshaphat than we care to admit.
What the history of Israel’s kings reveasl is the misguided, foolish nature of the human heart. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Without God, it’s that much easier to associate with the wrong crowd, listen to them, and make poor decisions. However, with God, we have hope in the Battle for Influence. We can choose to listen to Him and act on what He says, regardless of what others say or think.
Q: The characters in the Bible act as a mirror to reveal our own sin. How is this beneficial in our walk with God?
Q: What can you do to keep your heart from being deceived?
DON’T FIGHT ALONE
God doesn’t want you to fight the Battle for Influence alone. There is a Greater King who fights with and for you. Jesus is the Messiah, the promised king God sent to rule His kingdom with wisdom, justice, and righteous. Jesus was faithful to God’s mission to the very end. He was the influencer, and He never compromised His beliefs.
God has gone a step further to help you in the battle. You have the Holy Spirit and your community to fight alongside you. The Spirit is your ally in the battle, He gives you authority to do what’s right and reminds you of who Jesus is and what He did. You also have brothers and sisters in Christ fighting the same battle. God gives you strength in numbers. So, don’t neglect what you can learn from the battle-tested men and women in your life.
Q: How does knowing King Jesus fights with and for you give you hope?
Q: In what ways can your group fight the Battle for Influence together? Be practical.
As you pray, remember the acronym A.L.A.D. First, admit you need God and His wisdom. Second, look to Jesus and pray to live more like Him as someone obedient to God. Third, ask for wisdom because God gives it to all who ask. Finally, do what you hear God saying, regardless of what people may say or think.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Proverbs 13:20 and consider how this proverb relates to Jehoshaphat’s story.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
The Role of a Prophet
The primary role of a prophet wasn’t just to foretell the future but to be a spokesman for God. They were God’s voice to a people who had rebelled from God. Their words called the people to remember God’s promises and turn back to God before He judged them.
What About This Lying Spirit
Micaiah prophesies to Ahab and Jehoshaphat about whether to go to battle with Syria. He also tells them God put a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. While this may seem strange, it’s important to understand that God was testing Ahab. Ahab, despite being told the truth, refused to accept it. His actions show that he failed the test.1
Ultimately, the story of the Old Testament leads us to Jesus, the Messiah King sent to be the king all former Israelite kings failed to be. Romans 1:2–3 tells us the story of Jesus (the gospel) was long ago promised by the Old Testament prophets. The Old Testament is more than character studies that show us how to be good little boys and girls. It points us forward to Jesus, the true King, and how He established God’s kingdom and brought us back to God.
1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 766.