Just like Judah long ago, we are in a spiritual decline. Why? Because we have wandered far from God. The Bible is the Word of God and He gave it to us so that we would get to know Him better. It also transforms hearts and lives. The more we read the Bible, the more we follow and trust in Him rather than in the world. In today’s stories, we meet Jehoshaphat, who is the next good king and we all learn a valuable lesson. Let’s dig in…
2 Chronicles 17 – Jehoshaphat Rules in Judah
Then Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became the next king. He strengthened Judah to stand against any attack from Israel. 2 He stationed troops in all the fortified towns of Judah, and he assigned additional garrisons to the land of Judah and to the towns of Ephraim that his father, Asa, had captured.
3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal. 4 He sought his father’s God and obeyed his commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel. 5 So the Lord established Jehoshaphat’s control over the kingdom of Judah. All the people of Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so he became very wealthy and highly esteemed. 6 He was deeply committed to the ways of the Lord. He removed the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent his officials to teach in all the towns of Judah. These officials included Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah. 8 He sent Levites along with them, including Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah. He also sent out the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They took copies of the Book of the Law of the Lord and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people.
10 Then the fear of the Lord fell over all the surrounding kingdoms so that none of them wanted to declare war on Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines brought him gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats.
12 So Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful and built fortresses and storage cities throughout Judah. 13 He stored numerous supplies in Judah’s towns and stationed an army of seasoned troops at Jerusalem. 14 His army was enrolled according to ancestral clans.
From Judah there were 300,000 troops organized in units of 1,000, under the command of Adnah. 15 Next in command was Jehohanan, who commanded 280,000 troops. 16 Next was Amasiah son of Zicri, who volunteered for the Lord’s service, with 200,000 troops under his command.
17 From Benjamin there were 200,000 troops equipped with bows and shields. They were under the command of Eliada, a veteran soldier. 18 Next in command was Jehozabad, who commanded 180,000 armed men.
19 These were the troops stationed in Jerusalem to serve the king, besides those Jehoshaphat stationed in the fortified towns throughout Judah.2 Chronicles 17 NLT
2 Chronicles 18 – Jehoshaphat and Ahab
Note: If you’ve been following along with our journey through the Old Testament, you’ll remember King Ahab of the northern kingdom who married the wicked Jezebel. You can refresh your memory in 1 Kings 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.
Jehoshaphat enjoyed great riches and high esteem, and he made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by having his son marry Ahab’s daughter. 2 A few years later he went to Samaria to visit Ahab, who prepared a great banquet for him and his officials. They butchered great numbers of sheep, goats, and cattle for the feast. Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.
3 “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah.
Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” 4 Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”
5 So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”
They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”
6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”
7 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”
8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Micaiah Prophesies against Ahab
9 King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. 10 One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”
11 All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”
12 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”
13 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what my God says.”
14 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”
Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for you will have victory over them!”
15 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”
16 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”
17 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”
18 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 19 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice King Ahab of Israel to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’
“There were many suggestions, 20 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’
“‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.
21 “And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’
“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’
22 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”
23 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.
24 And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”
25 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. 26 Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”
27 But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”
The Death of Ahab
28 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.
30 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.” 31 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the Lord saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him. 32 As soon as the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they stopped chasing him.
33 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of the chariot. “I’m badly wounded!”
34 The battle raged all that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans. In the evening, just as the sun was setting, he died.2 Chronicles 18 NLT
2 Chronicles 19 – Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges
When King Jehoshaphat of Judah arrived safely home in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. “Why should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” he asked the king. “Because of what you have done, the Lord is very angry with you. 3 Even so, there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles throughout the land, and you have committed yourself to seeking God.”
4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but he went out among the people, traveling from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, encouraging the people to return to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 5 He appointed judges throughout the nation in all the fortified towns, 6 and he said to them, “Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the Lord. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. 7 Fear the Lord and judge with integrity, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.”
8 In Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests and clan leaders in Israel to serve as judges for cases involving the Lord’s regulations and for civil disputes. 9 These were his instructions to them: “You must always act in the fear of the Lord, with faithfulness and an undivided heart. 10 Whenever a case comes to you from fellow citizens in an outlying town, whether a murder case or some other violation of God’s laws, commands, decrees, or regulations, you must warn them not to sin against the Lord, so that he will not be angry with you and them. Do this and you will not be guilty.
11 “Amariah the high priest will have final say in all cases involving the Lord. Zebadiah son of Ishmael, a leader from the tribe of Judah, will have final say in all civil cases. The Levites will assist you in making sure that justice is served. Take courage as you fulfill your duties, and may the Lord be with those who do what is right.”2 Chronicles 19 NLT
(Godly Judges! What a concept!)
2 Chronicles 20 – War with Surrounding Nations
After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.” (This was another name for En-gedi.)
3 Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. 4 So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.
5 Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6 He prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 7 O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? 8 Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. 9 They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’
10 “And now see what the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir are doing. You would not let our ancestors invade those nations when Israel left Egypt, so they went around them and did not destroy them. 11 Now see how they reward us! For they have come to throw us out of your land, which you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”
13 As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children, 14 the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph.
15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.
20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”
21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”
22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.
25 King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! 26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.
27 Then all the men returned to Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat leading them, overjoyed that the Lord had given them victory over their enemies. 28 They marched into Jerusalem to the music of harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they proceeded to the Temple of the Lord.
29 When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the Lord himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them. 30 So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign
31 So Jehoshaphat ruled over the land of Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi.
32 Jehoshaphat was a good king, following the ways of his father, Asa. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. 33 During his reign, however, he failed to remove all the pagan shrines, and the people never fully committed themselves to follow the God of their ancestors.
34 The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Jehu Son of Hanani, which is included in The Book of the Kings of Israel.
35 Some time later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked. 36 Together they built a fleet of trading ships at the port of Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “Because you have allied yourself with King Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy your work.” So the ships met with disaster and never put out to sea.2 Chronicles 20 NLT
Bad People Don’t Listen to the Word of God
One thing that stood out for me is when good King Jehoshaphat asked to get advice from a true prophet of God, Ahab told him that there was one, but he hated him. Why? Because the true prophet of God spoke God’s Message. He spoke the truth and Ahab didn’t want to hear it. Obviously, it went against what he wanted to do. We have that problem today as preachers fail to teach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ because people don’t want to hear it. It goes against all the prideful, lustful and evil things that our human nature wants to do.
Ahab was an idolater. He worshiped Baal, the fake god of his wife Jezebel. She was horrible. Jehoshaphat had his son, Jehoram, marry Ahab’s daughter, a pagan, to strengthen the political relationship. That was a stupid move as we will see in tomorrow’s post. Subscribe so you don’t miss out.
During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the people of Judah were in spiritual decline. As the leader of a nation facing his enemy, Jehoshaphat chose to trust God. His prayer built his faith in God.
A young man in his struggle, he chooses to seek strength from God and to build his faith by speaking the Word of God. But the young man wondered in himself, “If the Word of God is alive and powerful, why do I feel nothing when I say it?” In his contemplation he thinks that if the word of God is never wrong, then there is something wrong with him.
Finally he realizes that in fact he does not believe in the word of God. What is in his heart is his desire to get out of the problem. He has a big question, why his problem can’t be solved easily when the Word of God lives and reigns in his life.
The Word of God is not intended to fulfill our desires or only solve our problems. God’s Word is not given to change the situation at hand, but to change our response to that situation (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
When God allows the matter to happen, it does not mean He does not care or does not have power to change it. God wants his people to grow in the truth of His word and to acknowledge Him and know Him correctly.
Reading the Bible is not meant to add to our knowledge only, but it is meant to change our heart and life.Bethany Church Singapore (emphasis mine)
The Battle Belongs to the Lord!
In the final chapter of Jehoshaphat’s story, he had a big problem that God solved for him. Imagine sending the singers and musicians out to the front lines of a battle. The praising of God so confused the enemies that they started killing each other! Never underestimate the supernatural power of Almighty God. I have a feeling if anyone tried to do that by themselves, under their own power, they wouldn’t succeed. Trust in God only!
Read the Word of God Daily!
Ever since the government took Bible reading and prayer out of schools, America has been in a steady moral and spiritual decline.
Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
Notice when the enemy is on the attack everyone is a little less concerned about separation of Church and State. Here the king stands up in the Temple and leads the nation in prayer. Remember, in the days after September 11, American politicians sought God’s help openly and publicly. But once the immediate crisis subsided, any reference to God became taboo again. It’s so hypocritical. We only seek God in a crisis?…
…Too often we overestimate the part God expects us to play in His plans… Hey, God’s shoulders are big enough to carry the load. The battle is never really ours – but God’s… Most of the time, our efforts only get in God’s way…Sandy Adams
The Holy Spirit is our Guide
Jesus didn’t leave us alone in the world to fend for ourselves! No! He gave us the Holy Spirit as a gift. A true born again believer has Him in his or her heart. Do you?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…