I was reading through 2 Chronicles 21 yesterday (May 20) when I came upon the story of Jehoram. What struck me in reading about him was the similarities found with common themes of the recently-completed series “Game of Thrones.”
From what I understand, there are several reasons Christians should probably steer clear of watching GoT. I did because I’ve never really been drawn to that fantasy/scifi genre. It’s the same reason I never dove into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But, I became aware of Game of Thrones as much as others would who spend any amount of time reading online or basically being awake. I know it became a phenomenon and found an unmistakable footprint in culture.
One of the hallmarks of GoT is that it wasn’t surprising for the good guys to lose. Routinely, evil triumphed and innocent people suffered for no reasonable purpose.
This case of Jehoram, king of Judah, occurs following the death of his father, King Jehoshaphat. Jehoram was the oldest son and so was crowned king. But to ensure his rule, he immediately had his six brothers killed as well as other key rules of Judah. The prophet Elijah would condemn Jehoram for his actions, calling the slain brothers “better men than you” and opining how the king had not followed the good example of his father. Jehoram’s reign would only last eight years before he died of a painful severe intestinal disease (one website I found suggested it was colorectal cancer.).
Some better-known Bible stories involve unimaginable strength and death (Samson) or triump against the greatest of odds (David and Goliath). Other lesser-known accounts chronicle conflict among family of the highest order such as David’s children and the rebellion led by his son, Absalom. There are even stories of an entire people being saved from genocide (Esther) or an assassin who killed “a very fat king” with one thrust of his dagger (Ehud).
Those stories aren’t just relegated to the Old Testament. How about the Messiah who healed the sick, made the blind see, walked on water, died, and returned to the living? Or the murderer-turned-missionary who survived a shipwreck and poisonous snake bite? Keep reading to the end of the New Testament and you even encounter the story of a lady and dragon.
A well-told story captures the attention. But what about a well-told story that’s true? People can get emotionally involved in a movie series or TV show with fictional characters. If you went to “Avengers: Endgame,” you know what I’m talking about. No condemnation here, I just find it curious for someone to get that attached to a character who isn’t real. When “Seinfield” ended I didn’t cry, though I did wonder how Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer would be changed by a year in prison.
When I read the Bible, I feel a connection to the names and events. While it’s easy to skim past names such as Jehoram, their story is part of my story. Even though I’m a Gentile, as Paul wrote I’ve been grafted in to this larger story of how God reconciled man to Himself. You and I are part of how God continues to work today not just in our town, state, or country, but around the world. That connects back to the one who told you about Christ, whoever told him and her, and so on.
We, too, want to leave a footprint in our culture. That comes from being familiar with the stories found within Scripture. It happens when we “will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” (Ps. 78:4). Everyone loves a story; and well within reach lies the greatest story of all, accessible to anyone willing to listen.