Script for the June 2nd episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 2nd episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 17-18 and John 13. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Chronicles 17

In this chapter, we are introduced to the next king of Judah. And, as a side note, realize that the writer of Chronicles was primarily interested in the kings of Judah, not Israel. Whereas the writer of Kings made us feel like we were watching a tennis match as he went back and forth from Israel to Judah as he told us about each of their kings, the writer of Chronicles will keep our attention on the southern nation of Judah. Any reference in this book to a king in Israel is only incidental.

As we are introduced to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, we observe that he is greatly interested in creating a buffer zone. He fortifies cities in the region of Ephraim that his father had captured to protect Judah from any attacks by the northern nation of Israel.

Regarding his spiritual life, we are impressed. He is a man that is serious about obeying the Lord.

2 Chronicles 17:3-6 (CSB): “Now the LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the former ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals but sought the God of his father and walked by his commands, not according to the practices of Israel. So the LORD established the kingdom in his hand. Then all Judah brought him tribute, and he had riches and honor in abundance. He took great pride in the LORD’s ways, and he again removed the high places and Asherah poles from Judah.”

But as with any good spiritual leader, Jehoshaphat wasn’t merely interested in keeping his resolve to serve the Lord to himself. He wanted the people of Judah to also hear what the Lord required of them and to comply.

We read in verses 7-8 that he sent some of his officials and Levites to teach the people. We read familiar names like Obadiah and Zechariah and are tempted to say that they were the men who wrote the Old Testament prophetical books that bear their names. But we would be wrong. Those were very popular names in the Old Testament.

2 Chronicles 17:9 (CSB): “They taught throughout Judah, having the book of the LORD’s instruction with them. They went throughout the towns of Judah and taught the people.”

Because of this, the Lord blessed the nation of Judah under King Jehoshaphat’s reign. How so?

2 Chronicles 17:10-11 (CSB): “The terror of the LORD was on all the kingdoms of the lands that surrounded Judah, so they didn’t fight against Jehoshaphat. Some of the Philistines also brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat, and the Arabs brought him flocks: 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats.”

I want to add a point of clarification here. As we read the books of Kings and Chronicles, we come to the very clear conclusion that when the people of God obeyed Him, He blessed their nation in very tangible ways. When they disobeyed, He punished them in very tangible ways. The point I want you to consider is that no other nation, including America, has ever had this sort of relationship with the Lord. The Jews were God’s chosen people, a people like no other. So, while the principle of God’s blessings and punishments are generally the same today, it isn’t as clear-cut as it was with God’s people.

Why do I feel the need to make this point? Because there is a branch of Christianity that believes that America is God’s chosen people, just like Israel was. I love my country, and at present, two of my sons are serving in our nation’s military. But the belief that America is like the Old Testament nation of Israel causes people to force the Bible to say things it doesn’t say. Further, it would cause some to justify the mistreatment and killing of peoples like the Native Americans simply because the Israelites of old also wiped out those who lived in the land they were to inhabit.

The rest of this chapter focuses on King Jehoshaphat’s growing military power. While it resulted from God’s blessings upon His obedience, it often creates its own hazards when people come into greater degrees of power. Usually, it leads to bad things.

Why? Because when things go well for us, we tend to trust in the Lord less. We may be tempted to feel as if we don’t need to rely upon Him as much. And as we become more self-sufficient, greater degrees of sin are waiting at the door.

2 Chronicles 18

This chapter begins with a verse that speaks of God’s blessings upon Jehoshaphat. Yet, if we aren’t careful, our sinful hearts can take God’s blessings and then stumble into sin. Just listen.

2 Chronicles 18:1 (CSB): “Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and he made an alliance with Ahab through marriage.”

What!? The nation of Israel was steeped in idolatry and paganism. King Jehoshaphat had no business marrying into King Ahab’s family! By the way, how would you like to have Jezebel as a mother-in-law? What was Jehoshaphat thinking?

Yet, this is often true. When God blesses us, we tend to rely less upon Him. We become more self-sufficient. And that leads to sin. So as much as it may sound counter-intuitive, we can pray for God to bless us – just not too much.

After some years had passed, King Jehoshaphat traveled north to Israel. King Ahab asked if the king would join him in a battle against Ramath-gilead.

Ramath-gilead was located about 25 miles east of the Jordan River and south of the Sea of Galilee. It was originally within the territory of Gad and near the territory of Manasseh, the tribes that wanted to claim land on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Eventually, we are told in the book of Joshua that it was one of the Cities of Refuge, where someone who had accidentally killed someone could run and find protection. But, sometime soon after the kingdom of Israel split under Rehoboam, Ramath-gilead was captured by the Syrians.

So King Ahab of Israel wanted to venture out of his territory and attack a city, probably desiring to create a buffer around his nation. He asked King Jehoshaphat if he wanted to join him.

2 Chronicles 18:3-4 (CSB): “… He replied to him, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people; we will be with you in the battle.’ But Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘First, please ask what the LORD’s will is.’”

Ahab was glad to comply. He had a large number of “yes men” prophets who affirmed his every desire. So, it was not surprising when those false prophets told Ahab and Jehoshaphat to go against Ramath-gilead. They would be victorious.

Apparently, those false prophets did something that caused King Jehoshaphat not to take them seriously. Maybe they didn’t pray, or they didn’t sacrifice, or they didn’t refer to the Lord at all. But something made King Jehoshaphat think that their words were worthless.

2 Chronicles 18:6 (CSB): “But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Isn’t there a prophet of the LORD here anymore? Let’s ask him.’”

Ahab sent for a prophet named Micaiah but not after telling Jehoshaphat that he despised the man. He did nothing but prophecy bad things about him.

Now, we shouldn’t think that someone who speaks for the Lord always has bad news. We shouldn’t think they delight in always saying bad things to people. Instead, they should generally be characterized by good news and hope. But they aren’t afraid to speak the hard truth to people who are in direct disobedience to the Lord.

When the messenger went to get Micaiah, he highly encouraged him to say only what was consistent with what the false prophets had already said. But I love Micaiah’s response.

2 Chronicles 18:13 (CSB): “But Micaiah said, ‘As the LORD lives, I will say whatever my God says.’”

When Micaiah showed up, he initially seemed to have made a mockery of the situation. It is possible that sarcasm was dripping from his lips when he said, “March up and succeed, for they will be handed over to you.” I suspect that he knew Ahab never wanted to hear what the Lord had spoken to him, so he made a mockery of the moment.

When King Ahab publicly reprimanded him, Micaiah sobered up and, with a serious face, said:

2 Chronicles 18:16 (CSB): “So Micaiah said: I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘They have no master; let each return home in peace.’”

Micaiah’s words made it clear that Israel would be defeated in battle, and Ahab would die.

Ahab grew angry, and Micaiah grew even bolder. Micaiah told of a heavenly scene in which the Lord was determining how to bring about Israel’s military defeat and Ahab’s death. A demonic lying spirit volunteered and said that he would entice the prophets of Ahab to lie and encourage him to go into battle.

This heavenly scene describes God’s sovereignty. It also invites us into how God never initiates evil but periodically allows it to accomplish His divine purposes.

You can imagine that the false prophets became incensed when they heard Micaiah say that a lying, demonic spirit had influenced them. One of the false prophets came up and hit Micaiah on the cheek. Further, King Ahab ordered that Micaiah be kept in confinement and on meager rations.

This points out that sometimes when we obey the Lord and speak truth to a culture that doesn’t obey the Lord nor desires truth, we will suffer the consequences. Sometimes, the most unsafe place to be is in the will of God. Yet, our motivation should never be to have a life of ease and safety. Instead, while we desire safety, an even more powerful motivation is that we want to do what is pleasing to the Lord.

Why King Jehoshaphat went off to battle after hearing Micaiah’s prophecy of Israel’s defeat and Ahab’s death is beyond us. He wanted to hear from the Lord. Yet, when the Lord spoke through His man, Jehoshaphat didn’t take it seriously.

The battle played out just as Micaiah had said. The Arameans routed the Israelite army.

But what about King Ahab? Micaiah said that he would die in the battle. God used an unnamed man and an unaimed arrow to accomplish the deed.

2 Chronicles 18:33-34 (CSB): “But a man drew his bow without taking special aim and struck the king of Israel through the joints of his armor. So he said to the charioteer, ‘Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am badly wounded!’ The battle raged throughout that day, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then he died at sunset.”

Friend, our God reigns sovereignly in the Heavens. He does whatever He pleases. And nothing can stop Him from doing what He desires to do. When He determines that a massive army, intent on killing Elijah, will not succeed, then it won’t. But if He determines that King Ahab will die in a battle, then nothing anyone does can stop the inevitable.

If Christians truly believed in this principle, that nothing can happen except what God has willed to happen or allows to happen, then all people would be equally brave.

John 13

This chapter begins with some powerful words. The Passover Festival is only a few days away, and Jesus knew that the time of His sacrificial death had come. He would die as the final and ultimate Passover Lamb. Like the death of the lamb at the time of the Israelite exodus, Jesus’ death would provide the blood which protected those who hid behind it. God’s judgment and wrath were not theirs to experience because He said: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”

John 13:1 (CSB): “Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

The events in John 13 occurred in the upper room. This was the place where Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples and then went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Judas betrayed him. While He was in this second story room, He did something that created such an emotional response that His disciples never forgot it. He washed their feet.

John 13:4-5 (CSB): “So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him.”

Washing feet was a job for only the most menial of slaves. Jews in the first century wore sandals with nothing else on their feet. So, as they walked outside, their feet would grow dirty and stink. Even worse, if they weren’t paying attention, they might even step into what an animal had left behind. They couldn’t simply walk into someone’s house like that. So, many households would have a slave who would wash people’s feet as they entered.

When we think about the house they were presently in, we realize that observing the Passover in that location was a last-minute decision. Jesus had sent Peter and John into town to prepare for the rest of them to show up later that afternoon. So, it is quite possible that no one took the initiative to wash anyone’s feet. And the disciples were so consumed with self-exaltation that they weren’t going to wash each other’s feet.

So, it is quite possible that no one had washed anyone’s feet in that upper room. They all had stinky, dirty feet.

That’s when Jesus saw an opportunity for a teaching moment. In one powerful act, He illustrated what His ministry had been about and what His disciples were to do after He was gone. It wasn’t about proud self-exaltation. It was all about humble service.

Well, Peter was horribly offended that Jesus was doing this. Peter understood his role as a willing servant to Jesus. But when a master, someone who was in an exalted position, humbled himself to the point of washing feet, Peter wasn’t at all pleased with that kind of servant leadership. That’s why Peter resisted Jesus’ desire to wash his feet and then made a joke out of it.

John 13:6-9 (CSB): “He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.’ ‘You will never wash my feet,’ Peter said. Jesus replied, ‘If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.’”

Jesus responded to Peter’s words with the spiritual principle His act of foot-washing was demonstrating. Someone who has taken a bath is clean, or spiritually speaking, is saved. But even people who are saved get their feet dirty with sin that Jesus needs to wash off. If they aren’t willing to repent and let Him cleanse them of sin, then they demonstrate that they really don’t belong to Him – like Judas.

John 13:10-11 (CSB): “‘One who has bathed,’ Jesus told him, ‘doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.’ For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’”

When Jesus finished washing their feet, He put his outer clothing back on, reclined at the table, and oversaw a debriefing session.

John 13:12 (CSB): “When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done for you?’”

Then, Jesus proceeded to give a second meaning to what He had done. The first meaning of foot washing was to show that saved people (who are spiritually clean) need to repent of sin daily and receive Jesus’ cleansing forgiveness. Our salvation is not in question. It’s just the daily spiritual clean-ups that need to happen in order to maintain a meaningful relationship with the Lord.

But Jesus unpacked the second meaning of foot washing as He debriefed His disciples. It was a picture of how their Master had humbled Himself to serve them. By doing this, He set an example for them. Spiritual leadership isn’t about power, prestige, perks, and all the rest. Instead, it is about greater opportunities to serve.

John 13:13-15 (CSB): “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.”

Jesus was teaching and equipping His disciples right up to the point of His betrayal, mock trial, and crucifixion. This is spiritual leadership as well. It always operates for the benefit and blessing of those who follow, not those who lead.

Of course, there will be blessings for the leader. God will reward spiritual leadership, and the people who follow periodically feel compelled to express their gratitude to good leaders. But the leader doesn’t lead because of what he will get out of it. He leads because he loves the Lord, cares about people, and wants to do the right thing.

When we read verses 21-30, we hear what Jesus said about His betrayal and Judas. I find it interesting that as Jesus warned about a betrayer, everyone wondered who it was.

John 13:21-22 (CSB): “When Jesus had said this, he was troubled in his spirit and testified, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples started looking at one another—uncertain which one he was speaking about.”

It’s insightful to realize that the disciples didn’t all immediately point to Judas. None of them said, “I know who it is, Jesus! It’s Judas! He’s a fraud!” Instead, we are told by another Gospel writer that the disciples doubted themselves before they ever would have doubted Judas.

Matthew 26:22 (CSB): “Deeply distressed, each one began to say to him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’”

Friend, this is why the Lord doesn’t focus so much on what we appear to be. Instead, He focuses on what our hearts testify to what we actually are. Judas had them all fooled.

Verses 23-25 tell us that Peter motioned to John to ask Jesus who it was. John asked Jesus.

John 13:26 (CSB): “Jesus replied, ‘He’s the one I give the piece of bread to after I have dipped it.’…”

This was incredibly significant. When a host gave a morsel of bread to someone else at the table, it was a sign of friendship. So, when Jesus gave the morsel of bread to Judas, Jesus was extending one final gesture of friendship to Judas. God had determined that Jesus would be betrayed and killed, but Judas was also making his own choices. So Jesus continued to reach out to him.

We are told in verse 27 that “Satan entered” Judas as he left to betray Jesus. This can mean nothing other than that Judas was now demon-possessed, or even more literally, Satan-possessed.

As Judas left, the clock was now ticking. It was only a matter of time before Judas would find Jesus and turn Him over to be crucified. But in the seriousness of this moment, Jesus gave “a new command.” It wasn’t “new” in that Jesus had never said it before. Instead, it was “new” in that Jesus would give it a deeper, richer meaning.

John 13:34-35 (CSB): “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What a powerful moment to say these words! Jesus had just extended a loving friendship to Judas even as He knew that Judas was only hours away from betraying Him. Even though the rest of the disciples didn’t know this, Jesus had just demonstrated an incredible act of love toward someone who was prepared to kill Him. So, certainly they could love each other. Besides, in sacrificially caring for each other, their lives would point people to Jesus.

Then, after a few more words, Peter spoke up, and boldly said that he would lay down his life for Jesus. Peter’s motives appear to be good, but it seems that he was full of self-reliance.  

I suspect that Peter was expecting Jesus to express His gratitude for such loyalty. Peter may have thought that his intentions would be celebrated by Jesus and provided as an example for the other disciples to follow.

But, when Jesus said His next words, I think you could have blown Peter over with a feather.

John 13:38 (CSB): “Jesus replied, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly I tell you, a rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.’”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I think we are much more like Peter than we may realize. We have good intentions, but we often rely on our own strength rather than humbly acknowledging that we desperately need You. Forgive us for our pride, Lord. Help us realize how much we need You and help us to live consciously with heart-felt confidence in what You can do through us. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!