Saturday, March 24, 2012

2 Chronicles 17-20: Jumpin' Jehoshaphat

LINK: 2 Chronicles 17-20 
Parallel Passage: 2 Chronicles 18 parallels 1 Kings 22:41-50

BACKGROUND 


Jehoshaphat of Judah

Reigned: 873 - 848 B.C. for 25 years

Character: Good 

Overlap with Israel's King: Ahab (874-853 B.C.), Ahaziah (853-852 B.C.), Jehoram/Joram (852-841 B.C.)

Manner of death: Natural

Parallel story: 1 Kings 22

Yesterday, in 1 Kings 22, you were introduced to Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah.  The account in 2 Chronicles 17-20 gives you a view of his reign under a microscope as the chronicler always focuses on the Kings of Judah. 

As I said yesterday, Jehoshaphat began his reign in 873 B.C. as co-regent because of his father's poor health (1 Kings 15:23). He was one of Judah's eight good kings, but he did not remove the high places.


We learn from the chronicler's account that he followed in the way of David and his heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD (2 Chronicles 17:1-6), removed the high places of pagan worship (17:6), sent priests and Levites throughout Judah to explain God's Law to the people (17:7-9), and assigned other priests to judge in conflicts between the people (19:5).

Because of all this, the fear of the Lord fell on all of the surrounding nations so Judah enjoyed peace with them and the nation of Israel (17:10; 1 Kings 22:44). They even brought tribute (17:11), and the kingdom flourished under his reign.

We learned in 1 Kings 22 that Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahab for war. From today's reading, we have learned that Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahab by having his son marry Ahab and Jezebel's daughter, Athaliah. 

The alliance with Ahab had some long-term consequences that we will read about over the next couple of weeks:
1) God was angry with his decision to align himself with Ahab, a wicked person who hated the LORD (2 Chronicles 19:2). 
2) Ahab and Jezebel's daughter became queen after Jehoshaphat died, and she tried to destroy all of David's descendants (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). 
3) She influenced her husband, King Jehoram, in bringing the evil of Israel back to Judah after Jehoshaphat's reforms (2 Chronicles 21:4-7; 21:4-7; 22:3; 2 Kings 8:16-19). 
4) Jehosphaphat's economic alliance with Ahab's son, Ahaziah, was condemned by the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:37) and the plan did not succeed.
After being rebuked for #4, Jehoshaphat did come back strong when faced with invasion from the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites (an Arabian tribe living in Edom [Mount Seir] and east and south of the Dead Sea). God had not allowed Israel to invade their land when they came from Egypt (Numbers 20:14-21). Now, they were a threat.

Jehoshaphat did not panic but proclaimed a nationwide fast in order to seek the Lord. He led Judah in a prayer committing the crisis to God, acknowledging His awesome power, recalling how He drove out the inhabitants from the land He had ordained for them, acknowledging that He would hear and save, and professing complete dependence on God for the outcome. 

The message through Jehaziel the Levite was clear: 
Do not be afraid or dismayed (shattered) because of this great army for the battle is not yours but God's . . . You need not fight . . . take up your positions, stand and see the salvation (deliverance) of the LORD on your behalf . . . do not fear or be dismayed (shattered) . . . face them, the LORD is with you. 
(2 Chronicles 20:15-17)
So the battle was won by the LORD as Judah sang praise to God. 

This was definitely the pinnacle of Jehoshaphat's reign! But he was just a "good" king and not the "best" king of Judah because of this summation of his reign:
He walked in the way of his father Asa and did not depart from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed; the people had not yet directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.
(2 Chronicles 20:32-33) 

REFLECTION

In the past, I have tried to fight battles and put out fires on my own strength. I think self-sufficiency is one of my top sins!

Slowly He has transitioned me over to Jehoshaphat's way of doing things. Now, it seems as though the battles are few because they are not my battles but His, and I have given up control.

One in particular was difficulty with a certain family member. That person just seemed to not like me and was usually quite rude to me at family functions. I used to kick and scream and cry about it until God said, "Let me take care of this."  So, I set aside some time to fast and pray about it and continued to pray daily for a whole year for this family member.

The "silent battle" evaporated, and it was all the LORD's doing!

APPLICATION 

Are you facing a personal or family crisis? What about the crisis in our nation as things are heating up in many foreign countries?

Try gathering the family and/or friends together. You might even want to fast. Then you can let go of all the time spent in food preparation and eating to focus wholeheartedly on the LORD.

Worship Him as a God of power and give it all over to Him. "Be still (cease striving, let go, relax) and know that [He] is God" (Psalm 46:10 and our psalm for tomorrow!).

PRAYER

Lord, thank You that You fight all battles for us. We submit our need for control over to You. We acknowledge that it is by Your strength and power that we survive from day to day. We praise You ahead of time for what You will do. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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