Many of these may be similar to the I King stories, but with more information about Judah's story. While much of this may have been touched on previously, this is new reading for me in II Chronicles.
When we were last in II Chronicle (chapter 16), King Asa ended a good reign on a sour note. He became diseased in the feet and sought physicians over the the Lord. He carved out his own tomb, as opposed to being buried with the Fathers, I assume. It ends by saying they made a great fire for him, although I am unclear about that.
II Chronicles 17
Jehoshaphat Becomes King
Verse 1 and 2 describe a competent transfer of power. Jehoshaphat made a strong position through troops, garrisons, and a strong presence in the areas recently captured by his father, Asa.
Verses 3 and 4 states that God was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of David and worshipped the Lord; and did not worship the baals and do the wicked things Israel was doing.
This led to prosperity in the land and the tribute from the people of Judah made rich and honored.
He removed the Asherims and high places and took pride in the Lord.
Oh, this is new for me. In verse 7, "In the third year of his reign he sent out his officials, Benhail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Miciah to teach in the cities of Judah."
I'm guessing that is the Obadiah and Miciah of previous passages. It's interesting that they started in Judah. Obadiah was one of Ahab's top servants, so I wonder if that's the same one. But I bet Miciah is!
Along with these officials, verse 8 lists several Levites and priests that also went throughout Judah aith the Book of the Laws and taught the people.
That is so smart. I'm surprised more of the kings didn't do this. At least not that made it into print. It's not enough to tear down what people were worshipping falsely; and not enough for them to hear the Book of Laws during the three annual festivals...the people needed the word on a steady diet. And if there was that much to tear down...they weren't getting it from the local Levites.
And even as a secular leadership choice, that's how other kings made nations into empires...unify the laws, unify the religion, unify the language, etc. Be singing from the same hymnal, as they say.
Verse 10 tells us that the dread of the Lord was on all of the lands surrounding Judah, so they did not make war. Instead many enemies brought gifts, such as gold and flocks, which allowed Jehoshaphat the luxury of building even more store cities and fortresses. He was also surrounded by a massive number of valiant warriors.
This is the cycle with God. Obedience leads to blessing; disobedience leads to curse. He makes it very plain in Deuteronomy. Not that blessing always looks like gold and flocks...but you know in your heart you have the blessing of the Lord- which is worth much more.
II Chronicles 18
Verse 1 breaks the news that Jehoshaphat allied himself with Ahab through marriage, his son, Jehoram to one of Ahab's daughters.
Next is the re-telling of Jehoshaphat visiting Ahab in Samaria and getting talked into trying to take back Ramoth-Gilead that Ben-hadad never returned. There are a few more color-commentary details, such as the large number of animal slaughtered for the feast in his honor. But the part about seeking a word from the Lord and Ahab's prophets is almost word-for word. This includes the entire exchange between Miciah and the kings.
Notice that verse 9 describes the kings on their thrones while they wait for Miciah to be brought and then in verse 18 Miciah describes the Lord sitting on His Throne. That doesn't seem like a coincidence to me.
the rest of the chapter is the identical description of the ensuing battle, God's hand protecting Jehoshaphat and Ahab's death.
II Chronicles 19
The chapter opens with Jehoshaphat returning to Jerusalem after the disastrous attempt to take Ramoth-Gilead and Ahab's death.
He is met by Jehum son of Hanani the seer with a harsh word from the Lord:
"Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord, and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord?"II Chronicles 19:2b
I assume this refers to joining in the battle for Ramoth-Gilead, but he's also married his son off to Ahab's daughter and traveled to see Ahab, claiming they are one force. So I don't know all that God is referring to in this warning. Still, heartbreaking to hear from the Lord that your choices are stirring up the Lord's wrath.
But God, being faithful, does also encourage Jehoshaphat after the reprimand. He comments on Jehoshaphat having some good in him because he pulled down the Asheroth and does seek the Lord.
The Lord seems to have gotten through to him because he, himself now went out to the people and brought them to the Lord and appointed judges city-by-city. He made it clear to the judges that their decisions needed to be for the Lord, not for any man. That cuts against the grain of the time that the judges would be rewarded for being a revenue stream for the king. He also appoints judges in Jerusalem nd gives them similar warnings.
So, the questions is, why is this such a major undertaking, they've had judges for a long time, But as this is covered under his reforms and turning back to God, it makes me think he's appointing new judges- meaning that he's replacing corrupt judges.
It's worth noting that this is what I meant when I was ranting against Solomon and his claim that there's nothing a king can do about corruption in the judges system. I think it was Wiersbe who gave Solomon a pass (I think it was in Ecclesiastes) by explaining that a king can't take on the whole corrupt system or he would sow seeds of dispute. I said that that is exactly what a strong king could do. And Jehoshaphat does it.
I guess when the Lord send a messenger on your road home from a near death experience to tell you to clean up your act...you make a way.
II Chronicles 20
A coalition of kings decides to invade Judah. This ends the season in which Jehoshaphat had peace. Who knows the mind of God, but maybe He was saying, so you're willing to fight for Ahab? Peace just isn't your cup of tea? The lesson being, don't let ungodly men take from you what God has given to you.
I hope I can remember that lesson for myself!
So Jehoshaphat gets word there is a great multitude coming. And he is afraid.
But he's on the right path and he seeks the Lord. He also proclaims a fast throughout Judah. The people come together to seek the Lord. Jehoshaphat meets the assembly from the Temple court.
And he leads them all in prayer.
- First he properly honors God for who God is.
- Then he recounts a remembrance of what God has promised them and he takes God up on that promise, showing he has faith in God's word and strength to save.
- Then he brings the current matter at hand to the Lord.
- He also goes one step further to "remind" the Lord that the invaders are people that the Lord forbid Israel to fight on their way to the Promise Land because they were distant relatives. (descendants of Esau and Israel as descendants of Jacob)
- He again, states that the invaders are coming to take what God has given them.
- He points out they are helpless to help themselves against this multitude.
- "...our eyes are on Thee."
With all of the people of Judah watching, the Lord moves a prophet to tell the people not to fear, "...for the battle is not yours but God's."
What a good good word! For the Lord to tell you that the multitude isn't going to crush you. He will fight your battle.
Another lesson I hope I take to heart. We cannot conscript Him into our battles; but we can cry out and seek Him and He tells us He will be found.
I love this passage. there is so so much to learn here.
The next thing the Lord tells them is that they will face the multitude tomorrow and they should prepare to go against them.
You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out and face them, for the Lord is with you.II Chronicles 20: 17
Isn't that the best thing you've ever read? So personal. So comforting. A parent assuring a child that she is safe. She's gonna see some stuff, for sure...but she's going to be alright. 🙂
Jehoshaphat bowed and the people fell down and worshipped the Lord. And the Levites worshipped a loud They all got it.
The got up the next morning and headed out. Jehoshaphat reminded them to put their trust in the Lord and they would be established and he told them to trust His prophets, since they would be getting their instructions from them. He seemed to know that the people might become fearful and try to do for themselves, instead of staying the course and trusting God. If that was his thinking, it was a wise reminder. We can be on the right path, following God and them become spooked like an animal...and try to save ourselves. Or at least that happens to me. Let God establish you ways.
He put people in front of the army to praise the Lord.
When they started singing (an act showing faith on their part), God caused confusion in the oncoming army and they destroyed themselves.
When Judah arrived at the battle, they found a supernatural victory had already occurred. they found bodies and not one escaped.
Not only did they have a military victory, but they were able to take the spoils from the defeated armies, so much it took them three days to carry it all off.
And then they stopped and blessed the Lord. they had the presence of mind to remember to thank Him who saves and He who provides.
Another benefit they gained from this episode was that all of their enemies heard the story and God gave them dread in their hearts. Giving Judah peace on all sides.
Here's the main new thing I took from this passage this time, previously, people start with the invading army when they talk bout this story; but it really starts before that. How was Jehoshaphat able to get all of the stubborn, sinful people of the land to fast, assemble, pray, and follow the instructions of the Lord in this time of need? He had laid the groundwork for seeking the Lord as he, personally, had gone out to turn people back to the Lord and to bring them just judges.
No one ever mentions that.
In my opinion, this story only goes this way because he was properly leading God's people. We're amazed by how God saves and provides for them in this story; but I suspect there would be many many more stories like this if the kings had been leading their people to the Lord.
God didn't change and suddenly start doing things differently. The people and the king were the ones acting unusually. God, from way back in Deuteronomy, promised this would happen. Bless Him and they would be blessed; act like morons and face the consequences.
Speaking of which...
Verse 31 begins the standard king's summary, started his reign at 35 years old, reigned 25 years in Jerusalem, walked upright; but he left the high places.
And sadly, he does not finish strong. We learn in verse 35 that, in the end, he allied himself with Ahab's son, the new king of Israel, Ahaziah. "He acted wickedly in doing so."
He makes a commercial alliance regarding ships going to Tarshish. The ships are destroyed and God sends a prophet to proclaim that God destroyed his works because of the wicked alliance.
Tough way to go out. And it can happen to any of us. We have to remain alert and draw close to God every day. Thank God for the Helper through His Holy Spirit. Amen.