2 CHRONICLES 19:1 – 21:20 and ACTS 11:1–30
2 Chr 19
Jehu comes out to meet Jehoshaphat to rebuke him in the alliance he had with Ahab. It still is hard to fathom why he would have affinity with such a wicked king especially after beginning his reign on such a solid foundation. Jehu does make mention that there are good things that are found in him particularly in the area of taking away the high places out of the land in addition in preparing his heart to seek the Lord. There must have been a blind spot in him that would go to the lengths of making a connection with Ahab. Jehoshaphat looks to be returning to the kind of rule that characterized his earlier years as seen in verse 4 through the end of the chapter. He appoints righteous judges to appropriate posts (vs 6). He exhorts them to walk in the Fear of the Lord and to make sure that all judgements are done in equity amongst the people. In Jerusalem he set up the priests and Levites, who were fathers in Israel. In like manner he gave them clear instructions to walk and minister in the Fear of the Lord and to serve Him with a perfect heart. He set Amariah to be the chief priest over the matters of the Lord for the kingdom.
King Jehoshaphat is an enigma. His rule over Judah starts so very well. For some reason he makes an unholy alliance with the wicked King Ahab from the north. He seems to be able to discern the dynamics of the prophet Micaiah yet still chooses to go along with Ahab to Ramoth-Gilead. The battle turns against both Ahab and Jehoshaphat resulting in Ahab losing his life while he (Jehoshaphat) is mercifully spared. He is rebuked by Jehu for aligning himself to a man that God despised. Perhaps there is a key in trying to figure out why Jehoshaphat could be so strong in some areas and vulnerable in others. There is a verse in Psa 45:7 that speaks to loving the things that God loves while hating the things that God hates. Do we think about the things that God hates? The word hate is a pretty strong word but it must be understood. Maybe we do not hate those things that God hates enough. It is not our nature to hate people, especially as Christians. There is the familiar term we often hear that says loving the sinner while hating the sin. Is it possible that we go too far in looking to connect with a person who is in sin? What was it about Ahab that caused Jehoshaphat to fail in this area? Is this a tendency seen in modern day Christian leaders? I believe it is but trying to determine the root of what motivated Jehoshaphat down this road is difficult to determine. There is a lot of compromise in the church but it is not something you would pick up in Jehoshaphat based on his early years as a king. There are so many positive qualities to glean from his life. There are also serious concerns of breaches that must be addressed and looked at as well.
After his alliance with Ahab he looks to put things back in a proper order throughout all of Judah. It appears that he has learned his lesson while going about the process of solidifying his rule. Sad to say we will see this this tendency come to life again later in his life.
2 Chr 20
There is a gathering confederacy of nations coming against Jehoshaphat and Judah for battle. It is noteworthy to see nations who were usually enemies of each other uniting against a common foe. In this case it was Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah. It is a picture of what will take shape in the last days. Take for example the new Age movement which has gathered traction around the world. This movement consists of groups that find common ground on many fronts. These groups can be comprised of different religions and nations all joining hands on areas of agreement. Christianity becomes isolated when Christ is elevated as the only begotten Son of God. This isolation will become more acute as the days pass by. In fact, it is already happening. When Jehoshaphat heard that there was this coalition of nations coming against them he immediately went to fasting and prayer (vs 3-4). He was able to gather all of Judah to seek the help of the Lord. He then cried out to God and acknowledged His greatness and ability to defeat any foe by His power and might. He reminded the Lord as to how He instructed them to call upon Him in times of trouble.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer was a public one and it brought all of Judah together. It was an honest appraisal of the situation in the natural. This was an impossible scenario playing out before all of Judah. It is important to note the sequence of events that is leading up to this moment. The enemies of Judah are conspiring together to go up against them in battle. Jehoshaphat correctly assesses the situation and in fear and trembling takes the matter to prayer. He gathers all of Judah together to prayer and fasting and in his public prayer acknowledges the power and might of Almighty God. It is at this time the Spirit of the Lord moves upon a prophet by the name of Jahaziel who was a Levite of the sons of Asaph. It appears that he comes from a musical background when considering his lineage. The prophetic word declares that the battle is not theirs but the Lord’s (vs 15). He goes on with further instruction by telling them where to gather and that it will be a battle where they will not have to fight. The Word of the Lord brought Jehoshaphat and Judah to reverent worship of the Lord for His declared deliverance. This brought about heightened praise and worship even before the battle had been won. It had been won in the spirit. The familiar verse that follows is one that should serve as a template and example for us.
2Ch 20:20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
We do put a lot of emphasis on the prophetic today and rightly so. It is good to take note of the lead-up to the above prophetic declaration. Jehoshaphat had everything in proper order which allowed for a pure prophetic voice to come forth. It was the prophetic voices that encouraged the restorers after coming out of Babylon (Ezra 5:1-2). This is where the power and benefit of the prophetic office is realized. The children of Israel did as instructed which brought about the enemies of Judah destroying one another. The key was the praise and songs of the men of Judah who went forth before the armies. The song of the Lord is what brought forth the victory. There was alignment with heaven and it was God who took on the battle on behalf of Judah. There are verses that show forth the praises of God Himself in the midst of the congregation. Let us consider the following verse:
Zep 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
What a glorious scene it is when the people of God align with heaven at such times. Once again we see such leadership qualities in Jehoshaphat as he properly prepared the people and nation for battle against an enemy that joined forces for the purpose of destroying Judah. It is happening today and we must discern and be wise as well as being vigilant.
It with sadness to see that Jehoshaphat once again made an alliance that wreaked havoc upon Judah. He made an alliance with Ahaziah, king of Israel in a similar way he did with Ahab. These alliances have very serious consequences and it does tarnish the reputation of Jehoshaphat. We absolutely must take time to examine this weakness and seek to not allow it to happen to us. The tremendous damage of these alliances will be shortly seen.
2 Chr 21
Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat now comes to the throne. There were many offspring of Jehoshaphat but with Jehoram being the eldest he was given the opportunity to reign. His father left him and his offspring much gold, silver and precious things. As Jehoram grew older he slew his siblings with the sword as well as some prominent people from Israel. This would not be so surprising seeing that he was married to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. This is the fruit of the alliance made between his father and Ahab. This was the door that was opened up that allowed the enemy access into the godly line. What a contrast from the beginning of Jehoshaphat’s reign as king. From the very beginning we see Satan’s tactics of his seeking to gain an inroad into man. He introduced sin by bringing Adam and Eve into disobedience. He gained an inroad into Nimrod through the sin of Ham when he exploited the nakedness of his father. He now has gained a significant platform into the lineage of Judah, the royal line through the foolish affinity struck between Jehoshaphat and Ahab. We can also add that the fruit of Ahab and Jezebel’s wickedness is a direct result of the seeds sown through the prophetic ministry of Balaam when he gave counsel to Balak in how to corrupt the men of Israel by introducing the men of Israel to the Moabite women.
The Lord remembered the covenant He made with David and because of it would not destroy the house of Judah, in spite of the prevailing wickedness of Jehoram who is now upon the throne. The Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah and made themselves a king. Jehoram and Judah went forth against this revolt and smote them. He then made idols and false gods for Judah to worship which brought about fornication and other forms of wickedness. He was leading Judah into the kind of worship seen in Israel under Jezebel. He put up the very things that Asa and Jehoshaphat had torn down. Remember, he is now married to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. You also see the seed form of Baal worship that Balaam introduced into Israel several hundred years earlier. That act of corruption on Balaam’s part many years before is now playing out in full blown idolatry that is affecting both Israel and Judah. The southern kingdom of Judah was insulated from this cancer up until the times of the alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab. I know it sounds like a broken record but that alliance was not only foolish but deadly. It had the potential to totally bring about the eradication of the royal line of Judah which we shall later see. This is also covered in the summary from 2 Kings 11.
The prophet Elijah sent Jehoram a Word from God. It is a very strong rebuke. Since he did not walk in the ways of his father and grandfather and went about causing Judah to walk in the ways of the kings of Israel as well as slaying the entirety of his father’s house a great judgment would come upon him and his family. (wives and children included) The Lord also stirred up an enemy to come against Jehoram by way of the Philistines, Arabians and Ethiopians. They stripped away the substance in the king’s house and carried away sons and wives. Finally, he was smitten with an incurable disease in his bowels. He came to the throne at the age of 32 and reigned for 8 years. He departed without being desired. What a horrible testimony to have but it is a fitting one seeing in the manner of how he lived. One can only wonder how different it could have been if there was no alliance between Ahab and his father Jehoshaphat. This in no wise excuses Jehoram but one still wonders how different it might have been. Lord, please help us to learn the lessons of improper alliances.
The word had gone out to the other apostles and leaders about the Gentiles receiving the Word of God and they contended with Peter on this matter as he returned to Jerusalem. One could understand their concern seeing that this was so new and foreign to them. It is evidence of what Jesus spoke to them of the need to become new wineskins because this Gospel to the Gentiles was figuratively new wine (Math 9:17). In verses 4-18 Peter was able to convince them that this was of God as he rehearsed the whole account of his experience with the visit from the men of Caesarea who were sent by Cornelius. The matter of how the Spirit worked through both Cornelius and Peter convinced all that this was of God. Peter concluded with the thought of Who am I to try and withstand God?
We hear of other leaders and believers who were scattered to various places such as Phenice, Cyprus as well as other places near Syria. They were forced to scatter as a result of the persecution and death of Stephen (vs 19-20). They too were seeing great success as the hand of the Lord was upon them with many people turning to the Lord. This is one of the fruits of persecution; the ability for the church to grow and expand as it seeks to counter the assaults that come against it. The church is increasing while the opposition to it is intensifying. It can be likened to the contrast of great glory and gross darkness taking place simultaneously as seen in Isa 60:2. This is what is beginning to take shape in our day. We certainly see the ominous clouds of opposition and persecution coming upon the church but we wait for an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit to come forth as well. There are so many parallels that can be made between the days of the early church and our own.
In verse 22 Barnabus was sent forth from Jerusalem to Antioch to encourage the believers there. He was greatly impressed in seeing how the grace of God was working in their lives. We also see a picture of the generous and gracious nature of Barnabus. He was one who contributed to the work of the Lord (Acts 4:36-37) and one who was full of faith and graces of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). His nature and manner of life was instrumental in reaching many people for the Lord (vs 24). He had a nature and ministry that brought great encouragement and strength to others. This is a vital church ministry function that is often overlooked. There are times when all a person may need is a gentle word of encouragement to keep pressing onwards. I feel it to be one of the primary attributes of the Holy Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit does empower and enable but He also is an advocate, comforter and encourager.
Barnabus then went out seeking for Saul (Paul) at Tarsus. He brought him to Antioch and it was there where Paul taught and assembled many people and disciples for one year. It was here where the disciples were first called Christians (vs 26). In verse 27 one of the prophets from Jerusalem named Agabus prophesied by the Spirit of a coming dearth and famine that would consume the land. The disciples responded by preparing relief for the affected areas to make sure that the needs of people would be met. They employed Saul and Barnabus to be employed in this matter. We see the connection and bond that is now developing between both Saul and Barnabus.