Walking in Justice; Walking in Faith

Posted: December 16, 2010 in 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 19-20, “Walking in Justice; Walking in Faith”

Praise God that the Bible includes stories like those of Jehoshaphat.  King Jehoshaphat seems to have been like many of us: walking with God as best as we can, though stumbling & making mistakes along the way.  There are definitely some poor decisions that Jehoshaphat makes (and he’s properly disciplined by the Lord for them) – but overall, this was a man who tried to set up the kingdom to walk in righteousness & live by faith.  Micah 6:8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? []  Micah wouldn’t write those words for decades to come, but they seem to summarize Jehoshaphat’s life well.  Despite his stumbles, he desired to do justly & walk humbly with God.

Context thus far:  Alliance with Ahab…

2 Chronicles 19 (NKJV)
1 Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”

  1. Jehoshaphat’s foolish alliance with Ahab did not go unnoticed by God.  Obviously God miraculously protected Jehoshaphat in battle, but that doesn’t mean that God was happy with what Jeho had done.  (We often protect our kids when they walk into the street, but we discipline them when they’re back on the sidewalk again…)
  2. What was the problem?  Jeho was helping Ahab (one of the most evil & wicked kings ever to sit on the throne of Israel), thus he was helping someone who was an avowed enemy of God.  What an insult to the King of Kings?  How could anyone form an alliance with someone who absolutely hated a person’s father and/or family? … It’s no different with God.
    1. Importance of being equally yoked…  (2 Cor 6:14)
  3. As a result of this alliance, the anger of God (His wrath) was upon Jehoshaphat. … There’s a scary place to be! …  Why didn’t God wipe out Jeho?  Because God found something good in him – God saw righteousness within Jeho, demonstrated by Jeho’s heart for pure worship & devotion to God. …
    1. Why doesn’t God wipe out us, every time we sin?  Because God finds something good in us, as well.  Not works of our own, but the work of Jesus Christ!  God doesn’t see us in our sin, but He sees us covered by the blood & righteousness of His Son… (Isa 1:18)
    2. Does that mean our works don’t matter?  No – it means that the works we do are a result of the work Jesus has already done in us.  God knew Jehoshaphat’s heart & thus God knew the faith that Jehoshaphat had in God, which was the motivation for all of Jeho’s good works.  Likewise with us.  God knows those who have faith in the Lord Jesus – and though He might chastise us when we need discipline, He loves us & continues to call us His own.  The very fact we have faith in God is evidenced by our good works – just like Jeho’s faith was evidenced by his works.

4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers.

  1. Jehoshaphat continues to lead the people in national revival.  From Beersheba (the southern border) to Ephraim (the northern border), Jeho continued to exhort his people to follow the Lord God.
  2. Revival was a hallmark of Jehoshaphat’s reign.  As a leader of God’s people, he realized it wasn’t enough for him to be personally devoted to the Lord; he needed to continue to exhort the people to do the same.

–          Civil reform…

5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”

  1. Put judges throughout the land.  Judges were to judge as God judges: without partiality.  God does not take a bribe (Deut 10:17); He is completely just in all of His judgments.  Even when it comes to our salvation, God is no respecter of persons.  He saves the Gentile in the same way has He saves the Jew (as Peter found out with Cornelius – Acts 10:34): by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. Obviously this doesn’t just apply to civic judges; this is a principle that applies to all of us.  We need to be careful not to show partiality to someone based upon what we think they can do for us.  A person’s value is found simply in the fact that they are created by God & made in His image; not their bank account or popularity.  God didn’t show partiality when it came to us…which is the only reason any of us are saved!

–          Religious reform…

8 Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the Lord and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he commanded them, saying, “Thus you shall act in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart: 10 Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the Lord and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty.

  1. Not only did Jehoshaphat put up civil judges throughout the kingdom, he made sure religious matters would be judged righteously as well.
  2. Why did they have to judge & warn according to the commandment of God? Otherwise, they would bear their own guilt & the discipline of God.  The entire nation can fall under the judgment of God because of the offense of a few people – especially when those who know the word & will of God stay silent & do nothing.  For the priests & Levites of Judah, they could not stay silent when they saw high places & Asherah poles built up in the land; they had to say something or everyone would come under the wrath of God.  They had the responsibility of teaching the people what the word of God actually said in order that they would follow it.
    1. Do we lovingly warn our friends & family when they’re wandering off into sin?  For those who know the word of God, we have a responsibility to pass it on to those whom God has placed within our sphere of influence.  Obviously we don’t have a mandate to stick our nose into someone else’s business – but when these things “come to us” as they came to the Levites, we have a responsibility to represent God correctly in the matter.

11 And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good.”

  1. Set up accountability with the priests & Levites…
  2. Ends with a great exhortation: be brave & do what’s right. …

2 Chronicles 20 (NKJV)
1 It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi).

  1. Big problem!  A confederacy of nations is conspiring to war against Judah.  Jehoshaphat’s spies had learned of the plot, which was already far along.  There was barely any time for planning.
  2. The nations involved seem very similar to those listed in Psalm 83 (with some exceptions).  Quite possibly Psalm 83 was written with this event in mind, with God directing Asaph to prophesy about a war that still has not yet found its final fulfillment.

3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

  1. Knowing the circumstances, it’s easy to understand why Jehoshaphat feared!  A massive foreign army is almost on their doorstep ready to wipe Jerusalem off the map.  Things look impossible – things look utterly hopeless.  What to do?  Seek God.
    1. Jehoshaphat personally sought the Lord.  This wasn’t something to be delegated out or outsourced…this is something he had to do himself.  Especially as a leader, he had to set the example.

                                                                          i.      You may not be responsible for a kingdom, but you might be responsible for a family.  Are you personally seeking the Lord & setting the example?

  1. Jehoshaphat declared a national fast.  We don’t often fast today in our culture, but to the Jews & early Christians, fasting was a regular part of seeking God.  Fasting isn’t done out of manipulation (as if we can somehow “twist God’s arm” because we went without food for a few days); rather fasting is an expression of humility & dependence upon the Lord God.  It’s an expression that we’re more dependent upon the Bread of Life of Christ than physical bread itself.

                                                                          i.      If you’re physically able to do so, consider fasting the next time you’re seeking the Lord…you might notice a difference in your prayer life.

  1. The people as a whole sought the Lord & asked for help.  Everyone took part!  It wasn’t left to the king to stand alone; the whole assembly & nation devoted themselves to seeking the Lord in prayer.  (National crises have a tendency to cause people to drop to their knees…)
  2. What do you do when circumstances look hopeless?  Seek the Lord!  We have a tendency of looking at our circumstances & thinking, “It’s too late – not even the Lord can help me now.”  On the contrary!  When no one else can help, it’s the perfect opportunity for God to move!  Obviously we shouldn’t wait until the last minute to seek God, or treat Him as God only in “foxhole prayers” – but neither should we avoid seeking the Lord in impossible situations.  That’s the perfect time to seek His face in humility.

–          Jehoshaphat’s prayer.

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?

  1. Note this was a public prayer.  It was done in the midst of the assembly & in the court of the Temple.  Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with Jehoshaphat going to his own private “prayer closet” to personally seek the Lord (and he did, per vs 3); but they also needed to seek God as a unified nation. … It’s also a declaration of Jehoshaphat’s dependence upon God Almighty.  By praying for help, the people would know it wasn’t the king who delivered them from their enemy (if they survived); it was the King of Kings.
  2. Prayer #1: Jeho affirms God’s supremecy & power.
    1. God is supreme over the nation; He’s the God of their people (Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob)
    2. God is supreme in heaven (He is God alone!)
    3. God is supreme in His sovereignty over all kingdoms – those that follow Him & those that deny Him.
    4. God is supreme in power.  No one is more powerful than God!

7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

  1. Prayer #2: Jeho affirms God’s provision of the land.  The land of Israel was the Hebrew’s rightful inheritance, granted to them by God Himself. … This was to be an everlasting possession of Israel, and neither Moab nor Ammon, nor anyone else could take it from them.

8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’

  1. Prayer #3: Jeho affirms God’s promise.  Recalls the initial prayer of Solomon when the temple was 1st dedicated (2 Chr 6).  What Jehoshaphat & the people are doing right now in supplication is exactly what they said they would do when the time came.  And God promised to answer that prayer (2 Chr 7:14 – “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face…”).

10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.

  1. Prayer #4: Jeho states the problem.
  2. Note what Jeho said before he ever got to the actual problem.  He was able to spend time praying about God’s wonderful character & history…  Often, we just blurt out our needs, without remembering that we’re coming to the Almighty Creator God who loves us & gave His Son for us.  We wouldn’t pick up the phone to talk to our parents & just blurt out a problem (skipping over, “Hello – how are you, etc.”).  We need to remember we’re not talking to a clerk at a cosmic complaint desk; we’re coming to our Heavenly Father! 

12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

  1. Prayer #5: Jeho states his request.
  2. Jehoshaphat may be in a desperate place, but his perspective is absolutely correct.  In themselves, they have no power against their enemy – they have no good plan against the enemy; but what they do have is faith in the Lord. []  Likewise for us!

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

  1. Emphasizes the entire nation was seeking the Lord.  No one (including children) were left out.

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

  1. Immediate answer from the Lord.  While the assembly is still gathered there, Jahaziel gives the answer from God.
    1. Answer #1: Do not fear
    2. Answer #2: The battle is the Lord’s.

16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.

  1. IOW, you’ll find them dead.  They’re coming up to fight against Judah, but Judah is going to be the ones that actually find them after the Lord’s done dealing with them.

17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

  1. Not unlike what Moses told the Hebrews on the shore of the Red Sea.  Exodus 14:13-14 (13) And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. (14) The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” []
  2. This is always how we see the salvation of the Lord: we stand still & depend upon His grace & work!

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

  1. The right response: worship & praise.
  2. Note their posture.  In worship, they bowed before the Lord; in praise they stood & raised their voices.

20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

  1. The next morning, they head off to battle, and Jehoshaphat exhorts them again to be courageous & have faith.  Basically tells them: “You’ve heard the word of God; now have faith in God!”

21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”

  1. Most armies would lead their march with chariots or tanks or cavalry of some sort – putting the big guns in front.  Jehoshaphat puts the worship team there. J  Actually, this was very appropriate.  God was the one fighting the battle; Judah’s job was simply to praise God & give glory to Him as they witnessed His marvelous work.
  2. beauty of holiness”: Obviously God is beautiful in His holiness (and worthy of praise because of that fact – just ask the cherubim!), but some have suggested the phrase could probably be better translated “holy attire.”  Just as the high priest was arrayed in holy garments for his work in the Temple, God is described here as the Great High Priest (which Jesus is), who does the work of ministry perfectly.

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

  1. God caused them to defeat themselves…
  2. Notice when this happened: “when they began to sing & praise.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much.

  1. How soundly did God defeat them?  It was a total annihilation.  By the time Judah got there, nothing but dead bodies were left.  So many, that it took 3 days to collect all the spoil.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies.

  1. “Berachah” = “blessing.”  Amen!  You bet they were blessed!

28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord.

  1. They bookended the battle with praise!  They sang to God going in, and when they witnessed the salvation of the Lord, they sang to God going out.

29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

  1. As with so many other times, when the nations witnessed the work of God on behalf of His people, they couldn’t help but fear the Lord.  They wouldn’t dare attack Judah because of fear of what the Lord would do to them as well.
  2. Whenever people understand the work of God, they can’t help but fear God.  When Peter realized he was sitting in his fishing boat with God’s chosen Messiah, he couldn’t help but ask Jesus to leave because Peter was a sinful man.  When people see the work of God in your life & can’t deny that it was in fact God who did it, they can’t help but fear the Lord as a result.

31 So Jehoshaphat was king over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. 33 Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.

  1. Summarizes the rest of Jehoshaphat’s reign.  He was a wonderful king that learned the best from his father Asa (not the worst).  
  2. Vs. 33 seems at odds with the rest of the account of Jehoshaphat.  Overall, he was a king who encouraged revival in the land & purity among the people as they worshipped God.  He actually did take away the high places in the land (Ch 17:6) – but apparently the people kept putting up replacements.  Purity in our devotion to the Lord Jesus is not a one-time thing; it’s constant.  We need to be vigilant in our dedication to worship God alone.

34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel. 35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted very wickedly. 36 And he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion Geber. 37 But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.

  1. Sadly, the account of Jehoshaphat doesn’t end with vs. 32-33.  The Chronicler includes one more account of him, again making the same mistake as he did with Ahab: forging a foolish alliance with a wicked king in Israel.
    1. Dogs returning to vomit…
  2. In His love, God disciplined Jehoshaphat.  The ships may have been wrecked & unable to travel, but Jehoshaphat’s relationship with the Lord wasn’t shipwrecked in the process.

Conclusion:

Did Jehoshaphat do everything right?  No.  He made some foolish errors – what’s more foolish, he made the same error multiple times.

Yet overall, Jehoshaphat had a heart that was determined to follow the Lord.  He sought to honor God in how the kingdom was run & he was determined to rely on God by faith in times of trouble.  He walked in righteousness & lived by faith.

Some of you might find yourself in a similar position to Jehoshaphat.  You’ve made some unwise decisions – you’ve acted foolishly & have experienced the discipline & loving (but restrained) anger of God as a result.  He loves you, so He chastises you. Yet you also desire to walk in righteousness & live by faith.  Don’t give up that determination!  Keep on keeping on.  Not in your power (we have none); but in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Walk in humility with God, leaning upon the strength He offers through Christ Jesus, and you’ll find the perseverance to continue, even if you’ve made some mistakes along the way.  Deal with the mistakes through confession & repentance; and then dust yourself off & keep walking in faithfulness.  Be encouraged!  Your Heavenly Father loves you & He will equip you for every need – just don’t give up.  Stand still & see the salvation of your God, who will deliver you if we just lean upon Christ.

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