King Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 17:1–21:3 – Jehoshaphat

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One Reply to “King Jehoshaphat”

  1. The story of Jehoshaphat is very interesting and mostly good. He begins well, removing idols and places of idol worship. “The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surround Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat…[he] became more and more powerful” (2 Chronicles 17:10,12).

    In chapter 18 we read about his relationship with Aha, King of Israel. Recall that Ahab was the horrible king of Israel, married to Jezebel, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:30). Jehoshaphat meets with Ahab as he’s about to battle against Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat advises Ahab to seek the advice of the Lord, but Ahab brushes off the notion about hearing a true prophet saying, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad…’The king should not say such a thing,’ Jehoshaphat replied” (2 Chronicles 18:7).  Micaiah, the prophet, sarcastically replies “Attack and be victorious” like the others, but is encouraged to actually tell the truth. So he speaks what the Lord shows him only to be slapped by Zedekiah son of Kenaanah and thrown into prison (18:23-26). Micaiah’s response: If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me…mark my words, all you people” (18:27).

    So Ahab decides to engage in the battle and invites Jehoshaphat to observe wearing his royal robs while Ahab dresses down. The chariot commanders focus on Jehoshaphat (as expected), but he cried out “and the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him, for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him” (18:31-32). In a plot-twist it seems, “someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the breastplate and the scale armor” (18:33) and Ahab dies at sunset. Thus his tragic rule comes to an end. Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem.

    God was not impressed with Jehoshaphat’s choice of friends and sends Jehu the seer to greet him upon his return from battle: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God” (19:2-3). How nice! There is some good left after all and Jehoshaphat seems to do his best to reestablish judges and Levitical processes. When the Moabites and Ammmonites (and others) come to attack him, Jehoshaphat seeks the Lord (20:3-4). He offers a very public pray asking the Lord for deliverance and it comes in a mighty way: “You will not have to fight this battle” (20:17). They sang and worshipped while the Lord won the battle by turning the offending armies on themselves and they destroyed on another (20:23).

    Jehoshaphat’s desire to unite with the Northern Kingdom leads him to an alliance with Ahaziah. He agrees to build him ships, but Eliezer prophesied against him saying, “because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made” (20:37) and the ships were wrecked, not able to set sail.

    One sad truth remains. In 17:6 we read, “he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah,” but in 20:33 we discover, “the high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors.”  Our daughter Cynthia would say, “you tried, but you failed!” Jehoshaphat was well-intentioned, but unable to change hearts, the people back-slid into their idol worship. The second commandment violated is like the random arrow piercing Ahab’s armor (18:33), you cannot hide sin from the Lord, it always leads to death.

    Perhaps Jehoshaphat’s fatal flaw was his desire to unite the kingdoms. Surely he knew about Ahab and Ahaziah, their devotion to idol worship and the evil they did–he had to know! And yet he continues to make alliances, to seek unity, but he fails to ask if this is the Lord’s desire. Taking matters into his own hands is the true fatal flaw.  Seek God. Listen to his voice and do not try to take matters into your own hands. Lord, the battle is always yours, but it’s difficult at times to hear your voice amid our own desires.

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