The books of Chronicles has been very enlightening, especially the one we’re reading today about King Jehoshaphat. Having read through it before, it seems mundane and – dare I say it – boring! However, as we have set our sights to blog through the entire Bible, breaking down two chapters at a time, so many things have come to life from these Old Testament Scriptures.
I pray that as you read along that you will be blessed by our endeavors! If so, feel free to leave a comment and let us know. That would greatly bless US, all to God’s great glory!
In Case You Missed It…
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Chapter 19: Grace For Jehoshaphat
By all rights, Jehoshaphat should have met his demise on the battlefields, there in his Kingly robes, as Syria came against him with nothing but his death in their hearts. However, he cried out to God and found himself back at home, safe, and it just goes to show how merciful God is. Even in the grip of his own situation, his destruction was not entirely imminent.
But still, he gets a sharp rebuke from God, through a man by the name of Jehu. He was the son of a well-known seer known as Hanani. But the rebuke turns into grace:
And 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. Nevertheless, there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.2 Chronicles 19:2-3
This wasn’t Jehu’s first time delivering a sharp message against an authority figure. In 1 Kings chapter 16, Jehu speaks to Baasha, one of Israel’s kings.
Jehu Brings a Reminder From God
The problem here, which brought the Word from God to Jehoshaphat in the first place, was his allegiance and admiration for those who “hate the LORD”. Having banded together with Israel’s King Ahab, both personally and in a military alliance, he was in direct contradiction to his professed love of God.
It would have been beneficial here for Jehoshaphat to have remembered the words of King David:
Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.Psalm 97:10
According to a breakdown of some of the words in this verse in the Strong’s Concordance, we see the love/hate relationship to point towards that of allies and foes rather than an actual emotional response.
Don’t Take It Too Hard, Jehoshaphat
God’s wisdom is ever and always IMMENSE, to the very fiber of our being, and He knew that it would simply crush Jehoshaphat if his rebuke were left to stand on its own. So God went on to add a bit of encouragement, as merciful as He is, to those words.
God specifically mentioned two things:
- His removal of wooden images – As much as God hated the fact that Jehoshaphat had done some things he ought not to have done, He did appreciate the fact that he didn’t approve of all forms of evil, as many before him had. His refusal to compromise on allowing wooden images to stand was a plus in God’s eyes. He wanted Jehoshaphat to know it.
- His preparing his own heart to seek after God – Jehoshaphat had sought God. But even more than that, he had spent time preparing his heart for it. This meant that it wasn’t just some passing thing for him, but a priority on which he would not be confounded.
Jehoshaphat Is Encouraged
It’s not that uncommon that when you encourage someone and remind them of the good they have done, it makes them want to go out and do even more good. And that’s just what Jehoshaphat did. The Bible says he brought the people back to the LORD God of their fathers. The significance here, I think, is that it seems to have been a personal action. Because he did not SEND people to bring them back, HE did it.
He took it a step further by actually creating reform within the cities of Judah and speaking with each city’s judge personally. He told them to be very careful and to understand they weren’t simply judging as a man but in the very place of God. Furthermore, he instructed them to be careful because, after their judgments, they themselves would be judged, accord to that judgment.
Chapter 20: Victory for Jehoshaphat
As chapter 20 opens, enemies of a very hostile nature assemble themselves together against the land of Judah. The fact that there was a “great multitude”, specifically, the people of Moab, Ammon, and others as well, was cause for worry. Considering his very narrow escape from death’s jaws on the battlefield with Syria, he knew there was more necessary for a battle of this magnitude.
Setting a Nation Towards God
The fear that rose up in Jehoshaphat left him only one course of action: to set himself, and his nation, back towards the LORD. He called for all people throughout Judah to fast and ask God for help, and that’s just what they did.
The fear that Jehoshaphat felt was a combination of understanding his own frail human nature and guilt associated with his own most recent past. However, more than that, he realized the great majesty of the God he served, and his fear was a mix of awe and gratitude for his salvation against his enemies.
Setting An Example
Jehoshaphat was not ready to ask something of his country that he was not willing to do himself. He came first with his own devotion, setting an example of what ALL leaders should do. It moves the heart of God when a leader moves his people to seek HIM above all else.
We see this kind of national-level devotion in other places in the Scriptures as well, such as when Israel’s small remnant turned to God in 2 Chronicles 11. King Asa brought the people of Judah closer to God in 2 Chronicles 14 and 15. We will see it again in King Hezekiah and King Josiah as we come to 2 Chronicles 31 and 32.
The key word here is “SEEK”, which carries an air of worship. The root of the idea is that Jehoshaphat discovers his deepest level of trust doesn’t lay in his own military might or numbers, but rather in the very Person of God.
Calling A Fast
Jesus explained the massive significance of combining prayer and fasting in Mark 9:28-29. It’s not that these things create a greater worthiness in the flesh, but rather draws us closer to God’s own heart. It expresses complete dependence on Him and what He can accomplish when HE is all that we seek!
Jehoshaphat knew that combining fasting and prayer would be a means through which the nation’s humility would show their complete and utter dependence on God. As the people came forward in this response to the King’s call, and as they sought God like never before, it showed they were not only willing to follow the King’s lead but to completely trust the outcome to God.
As if the idea behind the combination of prayer and fasting weren’t enough, Jehoshaphat went on to pray a prayer that proved his dependence on God. Furthermore, he prayed this prayer in the assembly. It wasn’t just a gathering of people, it was the whole kingdom coming together on the most logical grounds possible. Jehoshaphat’s prayer has been called one of the most sensible and “correct” prayers in all of the Old Testament.
As his prayer began, he noted God’s dominion over both heaven and earth. The Moabites, Philistines, Ammonites, and others, prayed to and worshipped gods that were specifically “local” to their own regions. He moved on to the recognition of God’s history of power and might. If He did it for them, then surely He could do it again, here and now.
The King also demonstrated his knowledge of God’s Word. By mentioning the fact that God had not allowed Israel to invade Moab, Ammon, nor Mount Seir when they were brought up out of Egypt, he was making a clear statement. It would be unfair for God to allow these peoples to destroy Judah when Israel had been held back from destroying them all those years ago.
God Answers That Prayer
Out of the midst of the assembly came the voice a Jahaziel, Zechariah’s son. It’s not unusual for this to happen when an assembly of God’s people gather, fast, pray, and WAIT for Him to answer.
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed; to morroe go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.2 Chronicles 20:15-17
The threat was real. But the God they served was also REAL. The battle would belong to HIM that day.
Stand and Believe
Even though the Lord had instructed them not to fight, it wasn’t like they had NOTHING to do. It was actually quite a posture to position themselves and then stand still. Doing so in the face of a massive oncoming army would be impossible without God. And yet, that’s exactly what they were called to do!
The Worship That Followed
After receiving the Word of the Lord, the King and all his people bowed before God and worshipped him. Their enemies were not currently defeated, but the trust they had in God and His Word told them they would be. And that’s when those TRUSTING hearts became GRATEFUL hearts!
Oh, that we could believe Him with such worship today!
Worshipping first, bowed down, they soon raised themselves to stand along with the worship leaders of the day. The Levites.
Leading With Worship
We see that the people “rose early” that next day, proving that they didn’t just believe the prophecy. They were actually excited and ready to move forward and meet the soon-to-be-defeated armies. Jehoshaphat told them that to believe the prophets was to believe God, and this remains true to this day.
It was the singers that preceded the army into battle. And they knew it would BE a battle, which is why they brought along the entire army. However, that army was behind a barrage of worshippers who knew that if God did not hold true to His Word, they would surely be the first to die.
So what was it they sang? “Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever”.
It was clear they did not take refuge in their own might, or the power in the actions of Abraham, David, or even Moses. They knew that their peace could only be rooted in the mercy of God, which had already endured countless ages.
Victory for King Jehoshaphat & Judah!
The EVIDENCE of the FAITH that the people carried with them into battle was their worship. We see that the Lord set up ambushes against the enemy, and some believe these to have been carried out by angels. But then, an amazing thing started to happen.
The enemies of Judah began to fight and kill one another. Judah literally did not have to lift a finger as they watched their enemies defeat one another in their presence. By the time Judah arrived at the place where their enemies had been fighting, not one living body remained.
King Jehoshaphat went on to be the victor by continuing to walk in the ways of his father, the good King Asa. However, for all the reforming of the nation that the King had attempted, his desires were not completely fulfilled. It seems the people themselves simply would not be reformed.
There is SO MUCH to glean from these two chapters! What stood out most to you? Where did God’s grace seem most apparent for King Jehoshaphat? Does it seems significant that prayer and fasting were used in this instance?
Dear Lord, I am SO THANKFUL for your mercy and grace! I’m also thankful that You have given us such wonderful stories… examples by which we can live… that STILL move Your heart today! Lord, help us to be mindful EACH AND EVERY DAY, of your unending mercy, for it truly does endure forever. In Jesus precious Name we pray, Amen!