Read 2 Chronicles 18
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Some time later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked.” (2 Chronicles 20:35 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 77: Jehoshaphat. What a name, right? Jehoshaphat was the son fo King Asa. As we discussed the last devotion, Asa was a fairly righteous king; however, in the end he chose to make alliances to secure his own security and power, rather than relying and trusting God. He was scolded for that by his prophet, whom he had imprisoned and put in stocks. So, while he was certainly a decent king in comparison to the wicked kings, he was far from perfect.
The same could be said about Jehoshaphat, who became king when he was 35 years old and whose rule lasted for 25 years. Over all, as the Bible attests to, he “was a good king, following the ways of his father, Asa. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight.” (2 Chronicles 20:32 NLT). What’s more, the Chronicler says that, “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal.” (2 Chronicles 17:3 NLT)
Unlike other kings in Judah, and certainly unlike the kings of Israel, Jehoshaphat distanced himself from “evil practices” and followed the commands of God. He destroyed shrines and altars to Baal and tore down Asherah poles. He sent priests with his officials on a tour of the kingdom of Judah, carrying with them the Torah, and they taught people the laws of the LORD. In doing so, Jehoshaphat brought people back to the God they were in covenant with, the God who saved them, through Moses, from slavery in Egypt.
Jehoshaphat was so respected, and his God was so respected, that no one dared to declare war on Jehoshaphat and his kingdom experienced prosperity and peace under his rule. In fact, the Philistines even brought the king gifts of silver as a tribute and the Arabs brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats as a gift. As the king grew more and more powerful, he fortified Judah and secured it with great storage of food and supplies.
With all of this said, Jehoshaphat was not perfect, and he did make mistakes. He, like all kings, as a politician and tried to be diplomatic where he could. This is not a bad thing per se, but it can lead to unhealthy compromise. He allied himself with King Ahab of Israel, even in arranging for his son to marry Ahab’s daughter. This alliance led him directly into a battle that was against what God wanted. The prophet Micaiah had prophesied and warned them from going; however, Ahab dismissed this and Jehoshaphat went along with Ahab. This almost cost him his life and Ahab did lose his life in the battle.
The Bible also says this of Jehoshaphat, “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” (2 Chronicles 20:33 NLT). So, for all the good he did, some of his compromises ultimately countered any progress he made and set the Kingdom of Judah up to fall in the future.
There’s wisdom to be learned here. How many of us make seemingly small compromises in our faith and in our spiritual discipline that, overtime, add up to set us back BIG TIME. Or if those compromises don’t set us back, perhaps they have had lasting negative effects on our families. The challenge for us is to maintain our spiritual discipline, grow in our faith, and not compromise on what God is calling us to do. Healthy compromise is good; however, when it comes at the cost of our relationship with God, that is not healthy. The challenge for us is to remain faithful to God and to have the humility to return to God when we find we are not. By our own power, this is not possible…but in God, all things are possible.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”” — Jesus the Christ (Matthew 19:26 NLT)
Lord, apart from you I am hopeless; however, in you, I am empowered and through you all things are possible. I put my trust and my faith unwaverinly in you. Amen.