Evil in the Hands of a Good God

1. How does this passage portray God’s heart toward evil and violence? What does God do when he sees it? Discuss how this should shape how we think about and respond to violence inside and outside the church.

2. As the sovereign King, God can co-opt any form of evil for his purposes. No evil is outside of God’s ability to manipulate and use for good. For example, Baasha and Zimri are motivated by pure evil when they conspire and kill to take the throne and they are both punished for it, but God uses their actions to accomplish his purposes (Baasha carries out God’s judgment on Jeroboam; Zimri carries out God’s judgment on Baasha). Reflect on why this is good news in light of all the evil and violence we see and experience.

3. Israel’s leadership during this season was marked by so much scandal, division, and violence—any other human institution would eventually break. But God manages to preserve his people in the midst of the messiness because he is a good King. Discuss the relevance of this truth for the church today, where it seems like every new day unearths a scandal, a leader exposed for abuse, or a new issue for the church to divide over.

4. Jesus chooses a different path than the kings of Israel. Rather than conspiring and killing for power, he relinquishes it and identifies with the weak and vulnerable, which ultimately leads to a cross where he saves us. How should Jesus and his cross shape the path we choose to walk in our lives? Discuss a place in your life where you are reaching after power and need Jesus’ grace to change course.