November 3, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Chronicles 16-20.
Background: II Chronicles 11-15.
Concepts and Connections.
The final years of Asa: For much of this chapter, see II Kings 15:17-24. The only part that is added here is verses 7-10, in which the Lord speaks to Asa through Hanani the seer rebuking him for relying on the king of Syria for deliverance and not Him. He reminds Asa of the war that was fought with Ethiopia in which he was gravely out numbered and should have lost, but the Lord was with him to deliver him and grant Judah triumph over Ethiopia (see chapter 14). Now, it seems that Asa has forgotten the deliverance of the Lord, and has begun somewhat of a downward spiral as he doesn’t repent at the words of Hanani, but rather throws him in prison and inflicts cruelties upon some of the people. Note here that the eyes of the Lord are on the lookout for those who’s hart is blameless toward Him. In his old age, Asa walks away from the Lord instead of sticking close to Him as he had done in the early years of his reign.
Jehoshaphat’s trust in the Lord: After Asa died, his son Jehoshaphat took the throne in his place. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as Asa did at the beginning of his reign. Under his reign, Judah is strengthen and blessed, and the Lord established the kingdom as Jehoshaphat walked in His commandments as David did. We receive here a record of Judah’s growing strength and reform here, noting the religious reforms that Jehoshaphat brought about, his teaching officials and the great army that he built. It is important to see that the book of the Law of the Lord went with his officials everywhere they went to teach, throughout all the cities of Judah. The fear of the Lord came upon the nations surrounding Judah so that they would not fight with them, but rather brought tribute to them. Here we can clearly see the blessing of the Lord when His people follow in His way.
Jehoshaphat and Ahab: For notes on this story, see I Kings 22. The only major difference here is Ahab is mentioned by name as king of Israel.
The reforms of Jehoshaphat: In the beginning of this chapter we get an interesting insight to the other side of the story of Jehoshaphat allying with Ahab. Ahab was a very wicked king, which can be seen even when Jehoshaphat allies with him. Even though Jehoshaphat called for a prophet of the Lord to inquire of the Lord, Jehu (not to be confused with the Jehu that was a king of Israel) is sent to tell Jehoshaphat that he should not have helped those who were wicked and railed against the will of the Lord. However, there was good found in Jehoshaphat, and even after Jehu came to him to tell him this, he continues to follow after the Lord with his heart, even going out to bring back the people of the hill county to the Lord. He appoints judges in the cites and charges them to consider themselves, for they are judging for the Lord and not for man. He places a high emphasis on honor and integrity. He does the same when he appoints Levites and priests, always pointing to the Lord in their line of work. Let us take lesson from this, always putting the Lord in the front of our mind in our activities.
Prayer and answer: Here we are given another story that shows the heart of Jehoshaphat and his willingness to trust in the name of the Lord. The Moabites and Ammonites come up against Judah for battle, and Jehoshaphat is afraid. Note what he does first: calls a fast for all of Judah. Then he assembles the congregation to seek help from the Lord and he openly prays to the Lord. In his prayer, he begins with glory and honor to God, asserting His sovereignty over all the nations. He recalls how God had driven out the inhabitants of the promised land before His people, that they might dwell there. He calls attention to the house of God that was built as a sanctuary, where the people of God come to cry out to Him in their affliction. Then, after stating all this, does he make his request known before God, asking Him to deliver them from the nations that have come against them. The people of Judah all stood before the Lord with their whole families, and the spirit of the Lord comes Jahaziel to tell Jehoshaphat and all of Judah that He has heard their prayer and to not be afraid, for they will not even have to fight the battle in the morning. The battle was not theirs. It was God’s. Jehoshaphat and all of Judah fell down to worship the Lord, and the Kohathites and Korahites praised the Lord with a loud voice. In the morning, they rise to go out, and Jehoshaphat encourages the people to believe in the Lord and they would succeed. They take counsel and praise the Lord in song, giving thanks to His name. Indeed, the Lord had orchestrated the battle in a way where all the people who were there to fight (besides Judah) destroyed one another, so that Judah did not even have to fight the battle to be delivered. When they came out, the battle had already been fought, and bodies and spoil were laying everywhere. They took as much spoil as they could and blessed the Lord, returning with joy. Indeed, the Lord has the power to do great and wonderful things, things that we cannot even imagine Him doing. Jehoshaphat trusted in the power of the Lord. The Lord gave Jehoshaphat peace all around him and he reigned in Jerusalem for 25 years. Unfortunately, it seems that Jehoshaphat did not learn his full lesson from Jehu, for he again allies with a wicked king of Israel, and is rebuked for it. But the record does say that he followed in the way of the Lord and did not turn from it to the left or right. Let us seek to do the same.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 119.
Trust in the Lord.