In our previous studies, we have seen the reigns of Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa. Although Asa's reign was the longest so far (41 years), the Chronicler is giving more book space to Asa's son Jehoshaphat. Tonight, we will be looking at three of the four chapters which chronicle Jehoshaphat's reign.
David is always the standard by which the kings' devotion to God is measured. In this case, David's great-great-great-grandson Jehoshaphat is said to have followed his example. He didn't turn to idolatry, but sought the Lord and followed His Word.
Some may find fault with the fact that Jehoshaphat "took great pride in the ways of the Lord," saying that pride is a sin. But to clarify, pride is a sin when you are prideful of your own power (Lev. 26:19) and being contemptuous of others (Psa. 31:18). But it is not wrong to be proud of the Lord and His ways. Remember, that the apostle Paul said,
1Cor. 1:29 ...no man may boast before God.
1Cor. 1:31 ..."LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
Jehoshaphat knew that the Word of God was vitally important to his nation. And so he sent officials and Levites to teach the people the book of the law of the Lord.
In the book of Deuteronomy, God made a promise to the Jews. If they were careful to keep the commandments, loved the Lord, and walked in His ways, then...
Deut. 11:25 "No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land...
God is keeping His word because Judah was keeping the Word.
Jehoshaphat continued to grow in power and strength. These verses list the number of warriors and names of commanders in his service.
Ahab was the king of Israel. We saw a few minutes ago that Israel was acting against God (2Chron. 17:4). King Jehoshaphat makes a grave mistake by forming a marriage alliance with Ahab. As we saw back in chapter eight, a marriage alliance is an implied peace treaty and pledge of assistance by two royal families of different countries intermarrying.
This was a grave mistake for Jehoshaphat to make, for he has unequally yoked his nation together with Israel, who is in apostasy.
Raw-MOTH Ghil-AWD was in the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh east of the Jordan River. During the days of King Solomon, it had been under his control (1Kings 4:13), but now the Arameans had control of it (1Kings 22:3)
When Jehoshaphat paid a diplomatic visit to Samaria, Israel's capital city, Ahab convinced him to partner with him in war against Raw-MOTH Ghil-AWD. Jehoshaphat committed, but then added a request...
Jehoshaphat says, "Let's seek the Lord first." This is part of the trouble of being unequally yoked in partnership of business or marriage. You say, "Let's pray about it," but the idea is completely foreign to your partner. They just use common sense and statistics, or emotions and feelings to make their decisions. But we need to seek the Lord.
Ahab had lots of prophets around. But they weren't God's prophets. They were prophets of other religions, worshippers of false gods. Every one of them said, "Go for it. The war will be successful."
Jehoshphat said, "Hey, aren't there any real prophets of God around here? Ahab acknowledged that there was one, named Me-KAW-yeh, but he never said anything that Ahab wanted to hear.
What a wonderful testimony of a man of God! I am reminded of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, when he talks about how he and Timothy were so brutally honest:
1Th. 2:1-5 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know...
Today, the pulpits are full of men who speak as pleasing men, needing to flatter, afraid to be bold, and desperate not to offend. We need more men like Me-KAW-yeh, who are only concerned with the reputation they have before the Lord.
The two kings sat there as prophet after prophet made their presentations - some even used visual aides! Meanwhile, the messenger sent to bring Me-KAW-ye asked him to go with the flow, and agree with the other prophets.
But Me-KAW-ye knew he had to only speak what the Lord told him. How absolutely necessary it is that pastors and prophets understand this as their mission! God told Moses,
Ex. 4:15 "...I will be with your mouth..."
Job was incredulous with his friends as he asked,
Job 13:7 "Will you speak what is unjust for God, and speak what is deceitful for Him?"
When we find someone in ministry who is not speaking what God has said, we are to disregard them. God said through Jeremiah,
Jer. 23:16 ..."Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the LORD."
When Me-KAW-ye appeared before Ahab, he was asked whether or not they should go to battle. In total sarcasm - mocking the false prophets - Me-KAW-ye imitated them, saying, "Oh, yes, you should definitely go!"
Ahab of course knew what Me-KAW-ye was doing, and demanded the truth from him. So Me-KAW-ye told him the truth - if Ahab went to war, he would die. He even gave the behind-the-scenes exclusive look into the throne room of God, where an evil spirit volunteered to deceive the other prophets.
Tsid-kee-YAW, the son of Ken-ah-an-AW, was the one who had been prophesying with the iron horns he'd made. He knew that he was doing this with supernatural leading. What he didn't understand was that the spirit leading him was an evil, deceitful spirit.
Me-KAW-ye, after being struck by Tsid-kee-YAW, let him know that he would soon learn the truth about this. The Bible never does tell us how this prophecy was fulfilled.
Me-KAW-ye was thrown in prison for speaking God's Word to the king. It is interesting to me that we often quote Jesus saying,
John 8:32 "...the truth will make you free."
But in context, we see that Jesus was talking about the freedom someone experiences in continuing in His Word (John 8:31) as they are freed from sin (John 8:34-36).
But we need to remember that sometimes telling the truth will lead to imprisonment and confinement. This is because not everyone wants to the hear the truth, even when they ask to hear it. Paul asked the Galatians,
Gal. 4:16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Jehoshaphat should have known better. The one prophet of God had said Ahab was going to fail, but he continues this ungodly partnership. This should be a solemn reminder to us that even the most godly person can make wrong decisions when failing to seek the Lord at every step.
Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, "I want you to be the guy in charge. I'm going to pretend to be just another warrior in the battle."
Now, it's just a hunch, but I'm guessing if someone approached you a few years ago about being one of Saddam Hussein's lookalike body doubles, you would have passed! You might as well be the Far Side deer with the "bummer of a birthmark" in the shape of a target!
But put yourself in Jehoshaphat's place - a two-nation army, and you're being asked to be the head honcho - the only one in royal attire. Pride would easily overwhelm common sense.
Unfortunately, being the only guy on the battlefield wearing royal robes made him a singular, visible target. It was only by God's intervention that he wasn't killed.
God also intervened for King Ahab during the battle. But it wasn't for Ahab's good. It was for his death. An arrow shot at random somehow just happened to hit him. This "random" event was of course foreordained by the Lord.
By the way, that is why I don't use the word "luck." "I was lucky! You really lucked out! Good luck with that test!" You see, I don't believe in luck. I don't believe that anything which happens on this earth happens by accident.
Jehoshaphat had stumbled and fallen. And yet God was merciful. He allowed the king to return in safety to his house in Jerusalem.
You may remember Khan-aw-NEE from our previous study. He was the prophet during the days of king Asa. Asa had put him in prison for rebuking the king's actions. Now, the next generation has arisen: Asa's son Jehoshaphat is the king, and Khan-aw-NEE's son Jehu is the prophet. Jehu has been sent by the Lord to rebuke the king. Will history repeat itself with the prophet being thrown in prison?
Jehoshaphat got right with God again. He rededicated himself, and challenged the leaders to do the same.
He told the judges to remember that they were judging for man, not God. Therefore, they must judge in the fear of the Lord without partiality.
He charged the Levites with judging in accordance with the Word of God, so that they would not be guilty before the Lord.
His final command to them was to "act resolutely." That phrase literally translates, "do strongly," or "make it firm." There is to be no compromise in their ministry, no weakness as they operate in the Word of God.
The prophet Joel reminds us,
Joel 2:11 ...strong is he who carries out His Word.
And John wrote,
1John 2:14 ...you are strong, (for) the Word of God abides in you...