Kings in Contrast

Posted: December 9, 2010 in 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 17-18, “Kings in Contrast”

Do you ever feel as if you’ve got a split personality in your walk with Christ?  One week, it’s going great as you seek the Lord with diligence; the next week…well, maybe not so much.  With your head you know that Jesus is Savior, but perhaps with your heart you don’t act as if He’s really alive & on the throne. Praise the Lord that we serve a God Who’s faithful…even when we’re not!

That seems to be the case with Jehoshaphat in these next couple of chapters.  One day, he’s walking great with the Lord; the next day it’s more like, “What Lord?”  If Jehoshaphat doesn’t provide us enough contrast, the Chronicler actually turns his attention to the northern kingdom for a change.  At that point, it becomes a contrast between running to God & running away from Him.

2 Chronicles 17 (NKJV)
1 Then Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place, and strengthened himself against Israel. 2 And he placed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had taken.

  1. Remember our context: Jehoshaphat’s father was King Asa.  Asa was mostly a good king – early in his reign he relied heavily upon the Lord, but later in life he fell away & distanced himself from God (to the point of refusing even to humble himself & pray to God in times of sickness).  Prior to this, Asa had experienced years of victory in battle & peace in the nation – all by the hand of the Lord God. 
  2. Jehoshaphat basically tries to pick up where his father left off.  Asa did not have peace with Israel (in fact, it was due to a conflict with Israel that Asa stopped trusting the Lord).  Now that Jehoshaphat has the kingdom, he strengthens his borders & prepares himself against any potential invasion from the north.
  3. That’s where he was militarily – but what about spiritually?  See vs. 3…

3 Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel. 5 Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat, and he had riches and honor in abundance.

  1. What a contrast between Asa & Jehoshaphat!  Jehoshaphat followed the early example of his father (as opposed to the latter example), and walked in the ways of his father – and not just his father Asa; but his father David!  For a Jewish king, there’s no higher compliment they could receive than to be told that they followed the example of David. …  As a result, “the Lord was with Jehoshaphat.”  Amen!  Out of everyone who could be with you – the one you want the most is the Lord God!  God was with Jehoshaphat.
  2. How did Jeho. show that he walked as David walked?  In 2 main ways:
    1. He didn’t seek the Baals, but he sought God alone. [] Devotion.
    2. He didn’t walk like Israel, but followed the commands of God. [] Obedience.  Sometimes we pass off obedience as something God doesn’t really care about.  After all, Jesus already fulfilled the law & we’re saved by grace – so who cares about actual, consistent obedience?  GOD cares! [Samuel vs. Saul – 1 Sam 15:22] John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” []
  3. The result of all of this?  God blessed Jeho.  Whether through riches – or through esteem in the eyes of the people – or simply by further strengthening & establishing Jehoshaphat as king, God showered His blessing down upon him.  The same principle applies to NT believers today!  We’re not promised physical or financial blessing, but we ARE promised reward simply for trusting Christ through simple faith.  Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. []
    1. Jeho SOUGHT God.  IOW, he sought to worship God & please God & trust God in all things.  As a result, he experienced the blessing of God.  If that’s true for Jehoshaphat, how much more is it for those who already KNOW the Lord Jesus & continually seek & trust our Lord & Savior? …  We have immense blessings  when we continually seek after God.  We grow in faith – love – hope – perseverance – worship, etc. …
  4. Not only did Jeho seek the Lord personally – he also led his people in doing the same.  See vs. 6…

6 And his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord; moreover he removed the high places and wooden images from Judah. 7 Also in the third year of his reign he sent his leaders, Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 And with them he sent Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah—the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests. 9 So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people.

  1. Jeho removed the wooden images. No idolatry; no more compromise… 
  2. Jeho sent teachers throughout the land to teach the Bible.  Once they knew to worship the One True God, they were taught HOW to worship & serve the One True God.
  3. Notice what all of this was couched in: (vs 6) “his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord.”  THAT’s where it begins!  When our heart delights in the Lord, we’re going to want to seek & serve Him alone – we’re going to want to know what He says about Himself through His word.
    1. We looked a bit last week at personal revivals; this is a crucial component.  When we delight in the Lord, much of what comes after naturally flows…

10 And the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. 11 Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents and silver as tribute; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred male goats. 12 So Jehoshaphat became increasingly powerful, and he built fortresses and storage cities in Judah.

  1. When the blessing of God came upon Jehoshaphat, he took it to his people.  As the people of Judah began to fear the Lord again, the nations took notice.  Whether it was the Philistines or the Arabians – people came from all around to pay tribute to this new God-fearing king.
    1. Reminiscent of what the Bible says about the millennial reign of Christ.  At that time, the nations will also pay respect to God’s blessed King.
  2. Notice that Jehoshaphat himself wasn’t necessarily feared by the nations (though perhaps there was a bit of this) – the nations’ respect came primarily because of the “fear of the Lord.”  They saw God’s blessing on God’s King, and they feared GOD as a result.
  3. The more powerful Jehoshaphat became, the more he was respected in the eyes of the surrounding nations.  The more he was respected, the larger his army became.  See vs. 13…

13 He had much property in the cities of Judah; and the men of war, mighty men of valor, were in Jerusalem. 14 These are their numbers, according to their fathers’ houses. Of Judah, the captains of thousands: Adnah the captain, and with him three hundred thousand mighty men of valor; 15 and next to him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and eighty thousand; 16 and next to him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself to the Lord, and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valor. 17 Of Benjamin: Eliada a mighty man of valor, and with him two hundred thousand men armed with bow and shield; 18 and next to him was Jehozabad, and with him one hundred and eighty thousand prepared for war. 19 These served the king, besides those the king put in the fortified cities throughout all Judah.

  1. Huge army! All totaled, that’s 1,160,000 soldiers…nearly double the size of his father’s army!  (And keep in mind that Judah wasn’t exactly a big nation…)  People came out of the woodwork to serve God…
  2. Note Amasiah had a similar heart to that of Jehoshaphat: he “willingly offered himself to the Lord.” How important is our simple availability to be used by the Lord!

2 Chronicles 18 (NKJV)
1 Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab.

  1. At this point, things get rather interesting with Jeshoshaphat.  Here’s a man that has been immensely blessed by God – who’s helped his people seek the Lord in national revival – who’s been used by God to inspire his Gentile neighbors to fear the Lord.  Yet now he goes & allies himself with Israel.  And not just any king in Israel (some weren’t so bad, after all) – he allies himself with Ahab (arguably one of the worst kings in Israel’s history).  Ahab had married an incredibly evil pagan woman by the name of Jezebel & together they led the northern kingdom in wanton apostasy, massacred the true prophets of God & attempted numerous times to kill Elijah.  Of all the people Jehoshaphat could have made an alliance with, why does he make one with Ahab through marriage?  Ultimately, Scripture doesn’t tell us – likely it was an alliance of convenience, but this convenience is going to get Jehoshaphat into a lot of trouble.
  2. Christian, be careful with whom you ally yourself!  Granted, few of us are negotiating military alliances between nations – but we do join ourselves with people of all sorts in relationships & business.  We need to be extraordinarily careful to whom we join ourselves.  Going into a business partnership with a non-Christian (or a carnal immature Christian) might invite ethical compromise, or give dishonor to the name of our Savior.  Joining in marriage with a non-believer can have disastrous consequences for children (or even yourself) as you’re faced with temptations every day to compromise.  The Bible warns us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14).  We need to take heed!

2 After some years he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria [‘down’ from the hills of Jerusalem; north to the city of Samaria]; and Ahab killed sheep and oxen in abundance for him and the people who were with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth Gilead. 3 So Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?” And he answered him, “I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will be with you in the war.”

  1. Already this alliance is getting Jehoshaphat into trouble.  Ahab wants to go to war with Syria, and he convinces Jeho to be drug along for the ride.

4 Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 5 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” So they said, “Go up, for God will deliver it into the king’s hand.” 6 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?”

  1. Jehoshaphat may have been foolish in his alliances, but he didn’t leave all his wits behind.  At least he still desires to seek the Lord – although we don’t know if he had any desire to follow through on what the Lord may have asked him to do.  What would Jeho have done if God told him not to go to war?  He would have been torn between his loyalty to God & his hasty commitment to Ahab.
    1. Jeho got this exactly backwards.  Instead of committing to go to war first & then inquiring of the Lord, he should have inquired of the Lord FIRST before making any commitment.  Too often we do the same thing in our prayers…we make our plans & then ask God to bless them.  Instead, we ought to be seeking the Lord 1st in order that He might guide us AS we make our plans.
  2. The gathering of the prophets is interesting in itself.  Keep in mind that Ahab had already persecuted the true prophets of God.  Back in 1 Kings 18, we learn that Jezebel had massacred the prophets & only 150 remained in the land due to a royal servant by the name of Obadiah, who had hidden them in a cave.  (To be a prophet of God in Israel during the reign of Ahab was a dangerous profession!)  It wasn’t until Ch 22 that this event is paralleled in 1 Kings.  To have 400 prophets standing before King Ahab means that they had 400 false prophets standing before the king – and Jehoshaphat knew it.  400 guys deliver a “positive confession” & Jehoshaphat sees right through it & asks for a real prophet to be brought forth.
    1. The more we know the truth about the word of God & the character of God, the easier it will be for us to spot those who proclaim what is false.  There are teachers that get on TV all the time that spout off all sorts of nonsense about the Lord under the guise of “prophecy.”  Don’t be fooled by it!  The more you know the revealed word of God, the more you’ll be able to recognize the truth if someone truly IS speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

7 So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil. He is Micaiah the son of Imla.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!”

  1. Sometimes we wonder why all the false prophets so often get the stage & Ahab provides a perfect illustration of it.  People hear what they want to hear – and they’re willing to knowingly shut their ears to the true words of God if they don’t like it.  Ahab simply didn’t like Micaiah because the prophet apparently didn’t hold back the word of God regarding sin, judgment & repentance.  As a result, Ahab didn’t want to hear anything the prophet had to say.
  2. It’s worth checking our own hearts on the matter.  Do we listen to the Lord?  Or do we just listen to what we want to hear?  Regarding our behaviors & attitudes…  Even regarding our theology?  Are we willing to take our theology back to the words of Scripture to ensure that what we believe is truly what the Bible says?

8 Then the king of Israel called one of his officers and said, “Bring Micaiah the son of Imla quickly!” 9 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah, clothed in their robes, sat each on his throne; and they sat at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. 10 Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed.’ ” 11 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, “Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the king’s hand.”

  1. So the king sends for the prophet of God.  In the meantime, this false prophet named Zedekiah gets up & does his dog & pony show…unwittingly being used by the Sovereign Lord God in the process (as we’ll find out later).

12 Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Therefore please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.” 13 And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak.”

  1. Amen!  Would that every person who purports to speak in the name of the Lord would do the same!  The only thing that any pastor or teacher of God’s word has any right at all to speak are the things that God has said through the Bible.  We don’t have any right to change one jot or tittle from it! 
  2. This isn’t only an example for pastors; it’s an example for all of us.  Whenever someone asks us what God has to say on a particular subject, we’ve got an obligation to answer according to God’s word; not our own.  That’s not to say we don’t want to attempt to encourage someone, or be winsome in our speech, or be kind in the way we talk to one another…of course we do.  But we need to understand that the word of God is the final authority on the subject; not our own opinion.  If someone comes to us & tries to get us to justify their sin – we may want to affirm them because we love them, etc…  But though we affirm our own love for them, we cannot back down from the revealed word of God. …

14 Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” And he said, “Go and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand!” 15 So the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”

  1. This can be somewhat confusing at 1st glance.  After all, Micaiah just made a big deal of speaking only the things God told him to speak.  And then once he gets in front of the king, even the king knows that the prophet is lying to him.  I would suggest that Micaiah has the spiritual gift of sarcasm & he lays it on so thick that even Ahab picks up on it.  Ahab knows that because of his sin, he’s under the judgment of God, so when he actually hears good news from a prophet of God, he’s rightly suspicious that the prophet isn’t telling the truth.

16 Then he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.’ ” 17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”

  1. The real prophecy: Ahab is going to die.  As the king of Israel, he served as the shepherd of his people (even though he was wicked).  In the prophecy, the shepherd is gone, but the sheep remain & God preserves them & cares for them.
  2. It’s hard to read the words of this prophecy & not think of the words of Jesus as He had compassion on the multitude, as they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mk 6:34).  We all need a shepherd, but we don’t need just any shepherd (we might end up with an Ahab!); we need the Good Shepherd, Christ Jesus!

18 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left. 19 And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ 21 So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’ 22 Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you.”

  1. Very interesting!  As with the opening chapters of Job, we get a little look behind the spiritual ‘curtain’ of what was going on with God & the angels (and even demons) regarding Ahab. Apparently, at this meeting, a spirit offered to go to the false prophets & lie to the king in order to get him have false confidence & go into battle & die.  Zedekiah & the other prophets were obviously not speaking the word of God, but they WERE being used by God in His sovereign purposes – even if they didn’t realize it at the time.  The whole event raises 2 big questions:
  2. Question #1: Can God use false prophets for His glory?  Yes!  God expressly tells Israel through Moses that He will use false prophets to test the people.  If a prophet arose & told the people to go follow other gods, the people were to not listen to the words of the prophet, knowing that God was testing them (Deut 13:1-3).  God can use pagan prophets, pagan kings, and all sorts of people for His purposes.  He’s God; He’s got the right to do so.
  3. Question #2: So was God lying to Ahab?  No.  One of God’s fundamental characteristics is that He is faithful – the Bible tells us that God will not lie (Num 23:19) & goes as far to say that God CAN not lie (Titus 1:2).  Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, & the life (John 14:6) – everything He says is the truth & everything He does is based in truth.  That said…God can USE those who lie for His glory & His sovereign purpose.  The harlot Rahab lied & hid the Hebrews spies from the guards of Jericho (Josh 2)…  The Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh & saved the lives of baby boys (Exo 1)…  Thus likewise here.  God Himself does not lie, but this particular spirit apparently can – and God would use it for His righteous judgment of Ahab.
    1. In case there are still doubts, keep in mind that God STILL revealed the truth to Ahab.  The only reason Ahab learned of this event in Heaven was because God revealed it to Micaiah & had him share it with Ahab.  Usually if someone’s going to lie to you, they don’t turn around & tell you the truth about how they were planning to lie & deceive you.  God doesn’t leave Ahab in the dark about what was going on – He tells him the absolute truth.
  4. Beyond the questions – there’s a bigger issue at play here.  Notice that it is God Himself that is against Ahab.  God proclaimed in vs. 19 that Ahab should “fall at Ramoth Gilead” – God (in vs. 22) had “declared disaster” upon the king.  We often observe (with comfort) that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)  There’s wonderful comfort & assurance knowing that we are kept safe in our salvation & in spiritual warfare because of the power of the Lord Jesus!  But what if it were the reverse?  What if instead of God being for us, God Himself were against us?  Surely there could be no more terrifying place to be!
    1. Keep in mind that God had given Ahab opportunity after opportunity to repent.  And every time, Ahab ignored the Lord.  Many times, Ahab had been shown the mercies of God – and in response, Ahab continued to follow his own way, even standing by as his wife had an innocent man murdered just so that Ahab could steal his land.  By this point, Ahab had run out of chances – his judgment was sure, and God would judge him righteously.
    2. Likewise for so many who continually reject Jesus Christ as Lord.  There will not be a soul in Hell who can shake their fist at God & accuse Him of being “unfair.”  Every day an unregenerate person wakes up is another expression of mercy by God, giving them the opportunity to repent & place their trust in Christ for forgiveness & salvation.  Those who refuse to do so will find themselves on the Day of Judgment staring into the eyes of Christ who is not for them; but is rather against them…a terrifying place to be.

                                                                          i.      Know this: that is NOT what God desires for you!  God loves you & sent Jesus to the cross precisely so that you would not have to face the judgment of God.  God is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).  Take the opportunity you have today to repent!

23 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go from me to speak to you?” 24 And Micaiah said, “Indeed you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!”

  1. Apparently, Zedekiah couldn’t help getting a potshot in at Micaiah.  Micaiah just said how Zedekiah & the others weren’t just false prophets, but that they were speaking under the inspiration of a lying spirit.  That had to have hurt his ego a bit & he takes it out on Micaiah.
  2. Can’t help thinking how the Pharisees & Temple guards treated Jesus in the same fashion (Mark 14:65)…

25 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son; 26 and say, ‘Thus says the king: “Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I return in peace.” ’ ” 27 But Micaiah said, “If you ever return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Take heed, all you people!”

  1. True to form, Ahab doesn’t like what Micaiah said & has him thrown in prison, saying he can get out when the king returns from battle.  Micaiah (rightly) sees this as a death sentence, knowing that Ahab WON’T return.  That was the point of his whole prophecy.
  2. It’s worth asking where Jehoshaphat was in all of this?  After all, Jeho was the one who asked for the prophet of God to be brought forth.  He was the one who had allied himself with Israel in the 1st place.  Yet a true prophet of God is being persecuted for the word of the Lord, and this king (who at one point had faithfully sought the Lord) apparently remained silent.
    1. We cannot be silent!

28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 29 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle; but you put on your robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.

  1. It’s uncertain what happened to Jehoshaphat’s wisdom (if he had much at all by this stage).  Ahab is blatantly using Jehoshaphat as a guinea pig (kings tended to attract a lot of attention on the battlefield) & again, Jeho says nothing.

30 Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots who were with him, saying, “Fight with no one small or great, but only with the king of Israel.”

  1. The king of Syria undoubtedly had no idea, but this was exactly according to the prophecy that Micaiah had shared.  Vs. 16 said the shepherd was gone, but the people returned in peace.  Syria wasn’t so much coming to do battle with the armies of Israel & Judah; they were on a singular assassination mission – being used by our Sovereign God the entire time.

31 So it was, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, “It is the king of Israel!” Therefore they surrounded him to attack; but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God diverted them from him. 32 For so it was, when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.

  1. The armies rush toward the only person on the battlefield dressed as a king (per the plans of Ahab), but they recognize it’s the wrong king & they retreat (per the plans of God).  God will never be outsmarted by man!  God’s will WILL be done.
  2. Jehoshaphat’s response in all of this is interesting.  Scripture tells us that he “cried out” & God responded – but it doesn’t specify that he cried out to the Lord.  I want to be careful not to preach from silence, but there’s a disturbing pattern in Ch 18 for Jehoshaphat.  He makes an alliance he should never had made – he inquires of the Lord after he already committed to battle – he remains silent while a prophet of God is persecuted.  Now he’s in battle, he’s in trouble, and he just cries out.  When his father Asa was in his initial battle, Scripture tells us specifically that he cried out to the Lord his God (2 Chr 14:11) – yet we get no such assurance from Jehoshaphat.  Perhaps he’s compromised so much by this point that it doesn’t even occur to him to actually cry out to God for help.
    1. Have you ever found yourself in the same place?  Your prayer time has dropped off to being virtually non-existent.  You can’t remember the last time you read your Bible outside of Sunday morning or Wednesday evening.  Your worship time has been just going through the motions.  You’ve compromised in a bunch of areas…and then when trouble comes, it doesn’t even occur to you any longer to cry out to God your Savior.  It’s just a trial in which you despair & don’t know what to do. … How many trials do we feel as if we walk through alone simply because we don’t seek the Lord?  When Jesus is your Lord, you have the wonderful promise that He never leaves you nor forsakes you!  When we feel “distant” from the Lord, the distance is all our own; not His.  Return to the Lord & seek His face!
  3. Whatever it was Jehoshaphat said when he cried out, we don’t know – but we do know the response of the Lord.  God “helped him.”  There’s an understatement!  This would have been a supernatural deliverance as foreign soldiers who had no idea what the king of Israel looked like recognized in the heat of battle that this wasn’t the king they were looking for.  God opened their eyes, and saved the life of Jehoshaphat. Beyond the actual method of deliverance, the fact that God delivered Jehoshaphat at all is wonderful!  Jehoshaphat may have compromised at every turn, but God remained faithful.  God was compassionate & gracious – and to a king who was acting in confusion, God showed forth His power & grace.
    1. THAT’s the God we serve!  There may be times in which we act as confused as Jehoshaphat.  But praise God that our Lord is merciful & compassionate & faithful to His promises.  What He has begun in us, He will be faithful to complete (Phil 1:6) – even when we are faithless, He is faithful.

33 Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 34 The battle increased that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Syrians until evening; and about the time of sunset he died.

  1. What was random for the Syrian archer was ordained by the hand of God.  Ahab may have thought he could escape the judgment of God, but God’s word will always be true.  God promised judgment – Ahab refused to repent – God delivered His judgment just as He promised & Ahab died on the battlefield.
  2. How much better it would have been if Ahab had repented!  Would God’s judgment have changed?  We don’t know – Scripture doesn’t tell us.  Yet we do know of other times when God relented from His righteous judgment (re: Jonah & Ninevah) – even in Ahab’s own life himself (1 Kings 21:29 – delayed the captivity of Israel).  … What we do know for sure is that Ahab did NOT repent, and he suffered the judgment of God as a result.
    1. Don’t waste the opportunity!

 

Conclusion:

Contrast between two kings here.  Both claimed to be leaders of God’s people (one in the north; one in the south); each had vastly different relationships with the Lord!  God was with Jehoshaphat, but God was against Ahab.  Jehoshaphat was diligent to seek after God; Ahab was persistent in running from God.

Given a choice between the two, it ought to be pretty easy: we’d much rather be like Jehoshaphat than Ahab!  Between facing the sure judgment of God, or experiencing the delivering grace of God, who wouldn’t want to be delivered?  And that’s exactly what’s available to every person who places their faith & trust in Jesus Christ.

Yet even in the life of Jehoshaphat, we see a contrast of two kings (so to speak).  There’s the Jehoshaphat that diligently sought after the Lord & saw God’s provision in his own life – saw revival among God’s people – and was a witness of God to the world around him.  And then there’s the Jehoshaphat that hemmed & hawed & compromised with people he ought to never have entered into dealings with.  We might say it’s the difference of a Christian living in submission to God & a Christian living in carnality.  Think of it from a level of spiritual warfare: if the Devil can’t have your soul, then he’d at least prefer your silence.  An ineffective carnal Christian (on the outside) isn’t much different than non-believer.  Jehoshaphat in his compromise was side-by-side with Ahab in his rebellion…and that ought to never be the case for someone who claims Christ as Lord.

Let me challenge you to examine your heart tonight – to go before the Lord & ask Him to reveal those areas of your life where you’ve entered into spiritual compromise.  That’s not referring to non-essential doctrines; but rather referring to devotion.  To whom is your heart dedicated?  The Lord Jesus – or yourself & your desires?

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