Series: Thru the Bible
***Video is HERE***
King Jehoshaphat …is my Obedience fromConviction or Passion?
Scriptures covered: 2Chron. 19-20; 1Kings 22:41-53; 2Kings 1
Well it’s good to be back to our trek ‘Thru the Bible’. I don’t know about you but I have truly been enjoying this. The way we have approached this has allowed me to take my time reading through these books. It has afforded me opportunities to see things and address questions which I had not in the past. It has challenged me in a few areas to be sure, but mostly it has strengthened an already firm belief in the agreement and continuity of God’s word from Genesis to Revelation.
Now it’s been 3 weeks since the 16th of December so I imagine you may have forgotten where we left off. We were looking at the two kings of Israel – Jehoshaphat king of Judah and Benjamin and Ahab, King over the rest of Israel.
Jehoshaphat was a good king…not a perfect king, but a good king. Ahab, king of Israel on the other hand was a wicked king. God’s testimony of him was that “none had sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols.”
I titled our last message, “Ahab, king, warrior and big baby”! I did this because he was in fact king though he only acted like it in war. In nearly all other matters he was led about by his sick little wife Jezebel. More than once we see him reacting like a big baby to news he disliked, curling up in near fetal position on his bed. It isn’t hard to imagine him sucking on his thumb from the verbal imagery provided to us in those passages.
I want you to remember that though Jehoshaphat had been, by all natural accounts, an exemplary king, he also showed himself to have a character flaw, which led him to compromise.
Within the sanctity of his own kingdom, in which he grew up and over which he now reigned, he seemed to rule with authority from a place of strong moral conviction. Throughout the biblical account of this man’s life only three things are mentioned as worthy of God’s disapproval and two of them had to do with his interactions with his neighboring kings of Israel – namely Ahab at first, followed later by Ahab’s son who succeeded him Ahaziah.
In both cases, Jehoshaphat either lacked confidence OR more likely, just succumbed to peer-pressure rather than taking a stance for righteousness.
Now this in itself is a lesson, because Ahab was, as we mentioned earlier, a big baby. In all likelihood, he would not have retaliated against Jehoshaphat should he have taken a strong stance for what was right in not accompanying Ahab to war against Ramoth-Gilead. That Jehoshaphat desired to have Ahab as a peaceful neighbor seems clear in that he had previously forged a type of alliance with him through the marriage of his son Jehoram who married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah. The lesson here is that often those we are most intimidated by are themselves highly intimidated and childlike.
Every person has a breaking point…meaning, a point at which they are more inclined to allow pressure to outweigh conviction. That pressure comes from something we desire MORE than we value the honor of God and the purity of our own conscience.
For Jehoshaphat, that breaking point seems to have been keeping the peace.
His reasons may have been fear of conflict between the divided kingdom of Israel. It may have been something as common as peer-pressure but in both instances of his life where he compromised it was during interactions with his neighboring King over the rest of Israel.
King Jehoshaphat seemed to have no problem going out into the public of HIS domain, and commanding religious reform. He had idols destroyed and idol worship banished from the lands of his domain – namely Judah and Benjamin. He did not do this from the safety of his throne room, but by visiting the povences and townships within his jurisdiction. So a general fear of man does not seem to be his weakness, but rather a fear of those he considered his equal.
In the face of Ahab and his son, Jehoshaphat’s actions were more about peace keeping than peace making.
You may remember that we’ve covered the difference several times over the years.
Peace keeping is always horizontal, external and superficial. It will do anything…say anything in order to avoid, dissuade or calm conflict. Most often it requires a lowering of moral convictions, wagering that the outcome of a lack of external strife is solid enough grounds for some flexibility in our moral convictions.
Peace making, on the other hand, is mostly vertical, internal and substantively real. It concerns itself with attempting to convince those who oppose godly living to align themselves with God’s word in agreement and obedience. The result of which is peace with God and so also, peace with man.
So you can see that Jehoshaphat showed himself to be a bit of a peace keeper in several of his actions. He quickly allied himself with Ahab and only requested the counsel of God after he had already done so. He seemed to have a lack of a backbone as well, for even after hearing the word of the real prophet Micaiah speaking doom over Ahab in the battle, Jehoshaphat still went to war alongside him.
This just goes to show that while a person may be very upright in many areas of their life there are always areas of weakness. Jehoshaphat’s area of weakness seemed to be in not being willing to go far enough in his stance for righteousness. Specifically he was a man who was afraid of facing up to others he saw as either equals or in some way superior to himself.
At the end of our last time together, we saw both Ahab and Jezebel dying by the sovereign decree and power of God. If you remember, a warrior of Syria had shot an arrow “at random” and it soared through the air over the heads of countless warriors from both sides of the battle and found its way to the vulnerable spot between Ahab’s pieces of chest armor so that he died. What guided the randomly shot arrow was the hand of God – or more likely an angel acting at His command.
We pick up the historical account right there with Jehoshaphat returning home to Jerusalem after that battle…
“(1) Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned to his home in Jerusalem in peace. (2) Then Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to confront him and said to King Jehoshaphat,
“Do you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the LORD’s wrath is on you. (3) However, some good is found in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles from the land and have decided to seek God.”
This type of confrontation should seem familiar to us. It reads very much like the letters of Jesus to the 7 churches. He addresses both the good and the bad. Contrary to popular thought, one does not conceal or cancel the other. They both stand upon their own merits.
Actions speak louder than words
While there is no record of Jehoshaphat’s reaction, there is a continuation of godly behavior from that point on.
“(4) Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and once again he went out among the people from Beer-sheba to the hill country of Ephraim and brought them back to the LORD God of their ancestors.
(5) He appointed judges in all the fortified cities of the land of Judah, city by city. (6) Then he said to the judges, “Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the matter of judgment. (7) And now, may the terror of the LORD be on you. Watch what you do, for there is no injustice or partiality or taking bribes with the LORD our God.”
(8) Jehoshaphat also appointed in Jerusalem some of the Levites and priests and some of the heads of the Israelite families for rendering the LORD’s judgments and for settling disputes of the residents of Jerusalem.
(9) He commanded them, saying, “In the fear of the LORD, with integrity, and with a whole heart, you are to do the following:
(10) for every dispute that comes to you from your brothers who dwell in their cities–whether it regards differences of bloodguilt, law, commandment, statutes, or judgments–you are to warn them, so they will not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath will not come on you and your brothers. Do this, and you will not incur guilt.
(11) “Note that Amariah, the chief priest, is over you in all matters related to the LORD, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, in all matters related to the king, and the Levites are officers in your presence. Be strong; may the LORD be with those who do what is good.”
Here we see a heart of wisdom in King Jehoshaphat. He rightly understands his position of authority and his purpose before God is to help steer the hearts of the people back towards allegiance to God. He also understands the nature of justice and the job of judges and commands them accordingly. He has a command of sphere authority and places due emphasis on who is in charge of the spiritual as compared to the natural issues of the kingdom.
In all things mentioned Jehoshaphat is a good and noble-hearted king.
“(1) After this, the Moabites and Ammonites, together with some of the Meunites, came to fight against Jehoshaphat.”
Now here we may see a difference in translation. Many translations instead of mentioning the Meunites will say “others beside the Ammonites”. This is because that phrase is considered by some to be a name of a certain people called Mohammonim or Mehunim (which is mentioned specifically in 2Chron. 26:7). These people dwelt in Mount Seir and are either a branch of the old Edomite race descending from Esau or a separate tribe who were settled there. Those coming with the Moabites and Ammonites were also from Mount Seir as we will see from Jehoshaphat’s own mouth in verse 10.
“(2) People came and told Jehoshaphat,
“A vast multitude from beyond the Dead Sea and from Edom has come to fight against you; they are already in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, En-gedi).”
“(3) Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he resolved to seek the LORD.”
While fear is not a good response, seeking the Lord IS! David himself said in Ps. 56:3, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.” This is Jehoshaphat’s response as well. You do not seek the Lord in times of trouble if in your view He is not a trusted source of help.
Jehoshaphat leads by example
I want you to notice that as a godly leader and king, Jehoshaphat humbles himself before the people and prays. This is VERY significant. It is one thing to do this in private, it is quite another to do it before your people. Unlike the political “nods” in God’s directions often practised in western politics, in this day, a cry for help from a leader and king could easily be seen as a sign of weakness. Like David, Jehoshaphat did not care. His focus was upon God, acknowledging God and His authority and power in the middle of this threat, expressing humility in bowing before Him and requesting His salvation.
“So he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, (4) who gathered to seek the LORD. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek Him.
(5) Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the LORD’s temple before the new courtyard. (6) He said:
“LORD God of our ancestors, are You not the God Who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. (7) Are You not our God Who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and Who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? (8) They have lived in the land and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name and have said,
(9) “If disaster comes on us–sword or judgment, pestilence or famine–we will stand before this temple and before You, for Your name is in this temple. We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver.”
Does this prayer sound familiar? I want you to make note that Jehoshaphat prays a prayer we have become very familiar with in this church and it was applicable since he prays it under the old covenant in regard to Israel and the land given to them by promise.
I want you to notice as well that it BEGAN with a godly leader – not in a request FOR one.
Jehoshaphat – in weakness is made strong
“(10) Now here are the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir. You did not let Israel invade them when Israel came out of the land of Egypt, but Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them. (11) Look how they repay us by coming to drive us out of Your possession that You gave us as an inheritance.”
“(12) Our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast multitude that comes to fight against us.”
We do not know what to do, but we look to You.
You know, leaders are not supposed to admit that they do not know what they are doing. It is a show of weakness for them to look to others for instruction rather than being the ones who offer it. Jehoshaphat is acting like David – embracing his weakness that he may be infused with God’s strength!
It is the timeless lesson of grace. You cannot receive God’s influence and power if you do not in humility, first embrace your weakness and look to Him in surrendered trust!
God in our midst
“(13) All Judah was standing before the LORD with their infants, their wives, and their children.
(14) In the midst of the congregation, the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants), (15) and he said,
“Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
“(16) Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel.
(17) You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.'”
WOW! God is SO gracious and kind! This response of God from simply being in their midst, to the words He spoke remind me of one of my favorite statements from David’s song of deliverance found in 2Sam. 22:36 & Ps. 18:35, “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great. You have enlarged my steps beneath me so that my feet did not slip.” Whereas the paths of the wicked, according to Ps. 35:6; 73:18 & Jer. 23:12 are dark and slippery so that they fall to destruction.
God steps in and owns the battle – “It is NOT yours, it is MINE”
This may be God’s response to Jehoshaphat’s prayer pointing out that it was God Who did not allow them to be destroyed years ago. It is almost like God is saying, I was giving them an opportunity to seek Me and find Me, but they have rewarded MY mercy with hatred. Their attack is not against you, but against Me and I will deal with it.
Notice also that God is careful, as He always is, to settle the hearts of His people by addressing their fear. Twice in this short statement of His, God encourages them to not be discouraged or afraid. In fact, it is both the FIRST and the LAST words out of God’s mouth!
Jehoshaphat believes BEFORE he sees
“(18) Then Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD to worship Him.”
In the same way that God’s words to Israel were bookended with encouragement, Jehoshaphat’s actions as well as Israel’s were bookended with worship! This, if we allow it, teaches us VOLUMES about what is proper for mankind in relation to God.
“(19) Then the Levites from the sons of the Kohathites and the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel shouting in a loud voice.”
Faith is revealed in hope
“(20) In the morning they got up early and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa.”
“As they were about to go out, Jehoshaphat stood and said,
“Hear me, Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem.
“Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.”
(21) Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing FOR the LORD and some to praise the splendor of His holiness.
When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing: Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithful love endures forever.
(22) The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated.
(23) The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped destroy each other.
(24) When Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and there were corpses lying on the ground; nobody had escaped.
(25) Then Jehoshaphat and his people went to gather the plunder. They found among them an abundance of goods on the bodies and valuable items. So they stripped them until nobody could carry any more. They were gathering the plunder for three days because there was so much.
(26) They assembled in the Valley of Beracah on the fourth day, for there they praised the LORD. Therefore, that place is still called the Valley of Beracah today.”
The word beracah means blessing.
“(27) Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem turned back with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD enabled them to rejoice over their enemies. (28) So they came into Jerusalem to the LORD’s temple with harps, lyres, and trumpets. “
“(29) The terror of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.”
“ (30) Then Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was quiet, for his God gave him rest on every side.”
“(31) Jehoshaphat became king over Judah. He was 35 years old when he became king; he reigned 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.
(32) He walked in the way of Asa his father; he did not turn away from it but did what was right in the LORD’s sight.”
“(33) However, the high places were not taken away; the people had not yet determined in their hearts to worship the God of their ancestors.”
Now this may mean that they worshipped other gods, but I am not convinced of that from these words. Unless it is otherwise stated clearly, they may have maintained God as the focus of their religious service, but failed to worship Him by NOT following the commandments regarding the temple and sacrifices offered in Jerusalem. I quite honestly do not know for certain. However, the accounts we have of these ending events as read in 1 Kings (which were closer in time to the actual events) seems to indicate this possibility.
“(34) The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign from beginning to end are written about in the Events of Jehu son of Hanani, which is recorded in the Book of Israel’s Kings.”
There is none righteous…no not one
“(35) After this, Judah’s King Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Israel’s King Ahaziah, who was guilty of wrongdoing. (36) Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. (37) Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you formed an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD has broken up what you have made.” So the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.”
“(41) Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king over Judah in the fourth year of Israel’s King Ahab. (42) Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king; he reigned 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.”
“(43) He walked in all the ways of his father Asa; he did not turn away from them but did what was right in the LORD’s sight. However, the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.”
“(44) Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel. (45) The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, along with the might he exercised and how he waged war, are written about in the Historical Record of Judah’s Kings. (46) He removed from the land the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who were left from the days of his father Asa. (47) There was no king in Edom; a deputy served as king. (48) Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go because the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber.”
“(49) At that time, Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing.”
“(50) Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of his forefather David. His son Jehoram became king in his place.”
“(51) Ahaziah son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat; he reigned over Israel two years. (52) He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight. He walked in the way of his father, in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin. (53) He served Baal and worshiped him. He provoked the LORD God of Israel just as his father had done.”
Ahab’s son Ahaziah’s short reign (1yr)
You may remember that God had spoken destruction upon Ahab and his descendants, but then commuted the verdict to occur during the reign of his son due to Ahab’s repentance.
We read about that in 1Kings 21:21-22,
“(21) This is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on you and will sweep away your descendants: I will eliminate all of Ahab’s males, both slave and free, in Israel; (22) I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked My anger and caused Israel to sin.”
Then skipping down to verses 28-29 it says,
“(28) Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: (29) “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, because he has humbled himself before Me. I will bring the disaster on his house during his son’s lifetime.”
This is what we see happening in 2 Kings the first chapter.
“(1) After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. (2) Ahaziah had fallen through the latticed window of his upper room in Samaria and was injured. So he sent messengers instructing them: “Go inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, if I will recover from this injury.” (3) But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ (4) Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not get up from your sickbed–you will certainly die.'” Then Elijah left. (5) The messengers returned to the king, who asked them, “Why have you come back?” (6) They replied, “A man came to meet us and said, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and declare to him: This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you’re sending these men to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore, you will not get up from your sickbed–you will certainly die.'” (7) The king asked them: “What sort of man came up to meet you and spoke those words to you?” (8) They replied, “A hairy man with a leather belt around his waist.” He said, “It’s Elijah the Tishbite.” (9) So King Ahaziah sent a captain of 50 with his 50 men to Elijah. When the captain went up to him, he was sitting on top of the hill. He announced, “Man of God, the king declares, ‘Come down!'” (10) Elijah responded to the captain of the 50, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your 50 men.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his 50 men. (11) So the king sent another captain of 50 with his 50 men to Elijah. He took in the situation and announced, “Man of God, this is what the king says: ‘Come down immediately!'” (12) Elijah responded, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your 50 men.” So a divine fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his 50 men. (13) Then the king sent a third captain of 50 with his 50 men. The third captain of 50 went up and fell on his knees in front of Elijah and begged him, “Man of God, please let my life and the lives of these 50 servants of yours be precious in your sight. (14) Already fire has come down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of 50 with their fifties, but this time let my life be precious in your sight.” (15) The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him. Don’t be afraid of him.” So he got up and went down with him to the king. (16) Then Elijah said to King Ahaziah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron–is it because there is no God in Israel for you to inquire of His will? You will not get up from your sickbed; you will certainly die.'” (17) Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken. Since he had no son, Joram became king in his place. This happened in the second year of Judah’s King Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat. (18) The rest of the events of Ahaziah’s reign, along with his accomplishments, are written about in the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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