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Lessons from the Life of Jehoshaphat
2 Chronicles 18:1-19
Let us learn some things about Jehoshaphat as set forth in 2 Chronicles 17:1-19 .
1. Jehoshaphat walked in the first ways of his father David. This expression, as found in 2 Chronicles 17:3 , carries much weight. David was a man after the heart of God. He set the Lord continually before his face. He knew no greater joy than to write Psalms and sing hymns in praise of his God. He walked in the Commandments of the Lord, blameless.
Jehoshaphat also followed the Lord fully. He made Him first in all his ways. He sought to magnify the Lord in every act, as king of Israel.
Would that we had many like-minded today.
2. Jehoshaphat sought to the Lord God of his father. He not only walked in the ways of his father, but he went back of the ways of his father, to his father's God, and walked in the Commandments of the Lord. Would that we might center everything that we do in the Lord. Let us call Him Lord not only with our lips, but with our hearts. To our mind, the greatest need of this age is the renewed vision of the goodness, greatness, and glory of God our Lord. We should be environed in Him, and walk in Him, just as we are environed in the air and walk in it. We should be faithful in keeping every commandment of His.
3. Jehoshaphat lifted up his heart in the ways of the Lord. In other words, the king of Judah loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. His affection was placed in God. He served Him, not as a matter of duty, but as a matter of Love.
4. Jehoshaphat was established by the Lord in his kingdom. The people loved him and followed. All Judah brought presents to him, and he had riches, and honor, and abundance. God always blesses the man who follows Him.
5. Jehoshaphat sent the Levites to teach in Judah. They took the Book of the Law of the Lord with them and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people. The king did not think that the Word of God should be relegated to the priests alone: he wanted the people to have it in their own hands. He wanted them to be taught its precepts, and he wanted his kingdom to be established in the fear of the Lord.
May we say kindly that any nation that eliminates the Word of God from its public schools and colleges, and from the masses of the people, will be a crumbling nation that cannot last long against the tyranny of the enemy and the wiles of the devil. Would that the Bible might once again be enthroned in the heart of the nations.
6. Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly, and he built castles in Judah, and cities of store. He had mighty men of war in Jerusalem. Thus it was that the nations for many years refrained from making war against him. They knew that God was with him. They knew that God's Word was enthroned in his kingdom, and the fear of the Lord fell upon the kingdoms which lay around and about Judah. The Philistines even brought Jehoshaphat presents and tributes. The Arabians brought him flocks of rams and goats. So he increased more and more.
I. JEHOSHAPHAT JOINED AFFINITY WITH AHAB (2 Chronicles 18:1 )
1. Who was Ahab? Ahab was none other than the king of Israel. At first it might have seemed altogether right for the king of the two tribes to join heart and hand with the king of the ten tribes; however, it should be remembered that Ahab was a man who knew not God. Ahab "Did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him."
In addition Ahab took to wife Jezebel and went with her and served Baal and worshiped him.
We remember how Elijah the Tishbite pronounced the curse upon Ahab and told him that there should be no rain nor dew upon the land until he gave the word. After three years Elijah came down to Ahab, and Ahab said, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" Then Elijah said to Ahab, "I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim."
2. Can two walk together except they be agreed? The believer must have no fellowship with the works of darkness, but rather he must reprove them. Even if a man be called a brother, God has said that we are not to be in company with him, if he be a fornicator, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one we are commanded not to eat.
II. THE SAD RESULT OF AN UNHOLY AFFINITY (2 Chronicles 18:2-3 )
1. Jehoshaphat went down to Ahab. This happened after certain years, but it happened because Jehoshaphat had joined affinity with Ahab. When he went down Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance and for the people that he had with him. Then, afterward, Ahab persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead.
Whenever we break God's law of separation, and begin to mix and to mingle with sinners we will be certain to become entangled with them in evil. We will be going where they go, and doing what they do. God has commanded us to come out from among them and be separate. Contrary to God's Word, we yoke ourselves with them when we go where they are, and invite them to come where we are.
2. Jehoshaphat joined with Ahab in fighting his battles. When Ahab asked him to go with him to Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat answered, "I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war."
The Lord Jesus never joined affinity with Pilate or Caesar to put down the rage of impurity and drunkenness that prevailed in Rome and in the Roman Empire. In truth, the Lord Jesus nor His apostles who were after Him, never were known to enter into affinity with the world in order to clean up the filth of the world.
3. Could Jehoshaphat join hands with Ahab to fight Ramoth-gilead when there was an inseparable gulf that separated the two? The God of Jehoshaphat was one God; the God of Ahab was another God. The ideal of Jehoshaphat was one ideal; the ideals of Ahab were another. Jehoshaphat tore down the idols that were built; Ahab set them up. Jehoshaphat taught the Law in Judah; Ahab denied the Law. Jehoshaphat sent out the Levites, the Prophets of God to teach the people: Ahab supported the prophets of Baal. There was no place for cooperation.
III. THE SWAY OF FALSE PROPHETS (2 Chronicles 18:4-6 )
1. Jehoshaphat's request. Jehoshaphat, after he had promised to go with Ahab to battle, had a certain tinge of fear upon him lest he might displease the Lord, so he said unto Ahab, "Enquire, I pray thee, at the Word of the Lord to day." The result of this was that Ahab sent throughout Israel and gathered together of the prophets four hundred men, then he said unto these, "Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?"
It would have been all right to have inquired of these prophets, had they been men who knew God and knew His Word; they were prophets who were false.
2. Are there false prophets today? In the Epistle of Peter we read, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them."
The fact of the false prophets would not be so bad if it were not that God had foretold "And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
These prophets, through covetousness and with vain words, make merchandise of the people. Jude tells us that they speak great swelling words, that they have gone in the way of Cain and have run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. The false prophets of our day are spots in our feasts of love; they are clouds without water; they are trees whose fruit withereth; they are raging waves of the sea foaming out their shame.
3. A false affinity is sure to be followed by a false leadership. If we are going with Ahab, we are sure to be under the spell of the prophets who prophesy according to Ahab's pleasure. When we yoke ourselves together with unbelievers, our yoke draws us into their ways, unto their ideas, and into their negations of everything that is near and dear to us.
They will tell us to go up, where we should not go up. They will call black white, and white black. They will say, "God has said," when they know nothing of what He has said.
IV. THE DESPISED PROPHET (2 Chronicles 18:6-8 ; 2 Chronicles 18:14-22 )
1. Jehoshaphat's second request. In 2 Chronicles 18:6 Jehoshaphat says, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?" Jehoshaphat had walked with God too long to trust these unfaithful prophets. There was something within him that made him doubt that they were out and out for God. Therefore he asked if there were not another prophet in Israel.
2. Ahab's reply. "And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil." This Prophet's name was Micaiah, the son of Imla. Of course, this true Prophet prophesied only evil of a man who was the servant of evil. Of course Ahab hated him. How could he do otherwise? He hated everything that was of God, inasmuch as everything that was of God was against him.
3. What Micaiah said. Micaiah was brought before the two kings; however, as he went, a false prophet met him and said, "We have all told Ahab to go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper for the Lord shall deliver them into the hands of the king; let thy word, therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good." Micaiah said, "As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak." Thus when he stood before the two kings, he said, "I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace."
4. The result. The king of Israel quickly said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil"? Thus it is that the man of sin repudiates and rejects the Prophet of truth.
V. PROPHESYING FEARLESSLY AND AT ANY COST (2 Chronicles 18:18-22 )
1. The prophecy. After Ahab had criticized him for prophesying evil, Micaiah went right on and said, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting upon His Throne, and all the host of Heaven standing on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? * * Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail."
Then said Micaiah, "Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee."
2. The result. Then Zedekiah smote Micaiah upon the cheek and said, "Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?"
Let any prophet of today who is true to God, and who dares to proclaim the whole truth, know that he, too, will be smitten. His chief enemies and persecutors will be the false prophets who seek to maintain, in the eyes of the world, their integrity.
VI. PAYING THE PRICE OF FIDELITY (2 Chronicles 18:24-27 )
1. The wrath of the king. When Micaiah had done speaking, Ahab, the King of Israel said, "Take ye Micaiah and carry him back to Amon, the governor of the city and to Joash, the king's son, and say, thus saith the king, Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with the bread of affliction and with the water of affliction until I return in peace."
Here is the cost of fidelity to God. At this very moment God has his heroes in the pulpit who are unwilling to bow their knee to Baal, and who are unwilling to cease to proclaim the truth. At this very moment many of them are in jail for Christ, paying the price of their fidelity to God. Are we willing to go to jail, if needs be? Are we willing to eat the bread of affliction and to drink the water of affliction if need be? God help us to be faithful to our calling.
2. Micaiah's final word to Ahab. After Micaiah had heard the sentence of the king, placing him in solitary confinement, he said: "Go, and if thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me. And he said, Hearken all ye people!"
When we preach the Word, we must preach it with a certified dogmatism, and we must be willing to stand by it, even unto the end. We must be ready to place our reputation as prophets, or preachers, and our very life's security, upon the truth of our testimony. We must unflinchingly face the popularist and say, "Hearken all ye people!"
VII. THE BATTLE (2 Chronicles 18:29-34 )
1. The plan of battle. The king of Israel, Ahab, said to Jehoshaphat, "I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes"; thus they did. Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, "Fight ye not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel." Thus it came to pass when the captains saw Jehoshaphat, they said, "It is the king of Israel." Therefore they compassed about him to fight. This is what it costs the true men of God who go to battle with the enemy of the Lord.
2. The shot at a venture. When Jehoshaphat was surrounded by the enemy, he cried out, and the Lord helped him, and God moved them to depart from him, for they perceived that it was not the king of Israel. Then came a certain man, and "drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness." Thus it was that the prophecy of the despised prophet came true, and the king of Israel fell wounded unto death. The fact that the arrow was shot at a venture, seems to show that God carried it right to the vital point in the king's armor.
3. The king taken from the battle. When the king saw he was wounded, he said, "Carry me out of the host; for I am wounded." The battle increased that day; "Howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died."
4. The aftermath. The battle being over, the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, returned to his home in peace, even to Jerusalem. Then it was that Jehu, the son of Hanani, the seer, went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord." Thus even a good man fell under the ban of God because he made affinity with an evil man.
Because of his good deeds, and because he had prepared his heart to seek the Lord, the Lord brought him back again in safety. After this Jehoshaphat went out again to the people, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers.
Ahab's death could have been averted had he only turned to God.
A young sailor once rose and said: "In a thunderstorm, far at sea, I was struck by the lightning and taken up for dead. As they were carrying me along the deck, I heard the mate say, 'Poor fellow; he is gone.' I was conscious, and knew all that was said and done. I said to myself, 'Where will I go to?' In a moment it seemed as if all the acts of my wicked life passed in review before me. It was an awful sight. I thought hell was not far off; and go there I must. They revived me; but I had been too near eternity to be any longer indifferent. I fled for refuge to Christ. That was five years ago. I have stood up for Jesus ever since, on both land and sea." "So persecute them with Thy tempest, and make them afraid with Thy storm" (Psalms 83:15 ; Nahum 1:3 ).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Chronicles 18". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27