Script for the June 3rd episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the June 3rd 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 in 2 Chronicles 19-20. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.
2 Chronicles 19
Yesterday, we read that Jehoshaphat had married Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter. He also had gone up to engage in a battle alongside Israel’s army against the Arameans. He participated in that battle in spite of the fact that a prophet of the Lord had said Israel would be defeated and Ahab would be killed. Yet, he went anyway.
Jehoshaphat is one of those kinds of people that leave us scratching our heads in bewilderment. He desired to obey the Lord and lead his people to do so. Yet, he had no problem with befriending wicked people. He didn’t encourage them to abandon their wickedness in order to follow the Lord. He just built a friendship with them that seemed to say, “I’m OK with your sinful lifestyle and your disdain for the Lord.”
So he had to be confronted.
2 Chronicles 19:1-3 (CSB): “King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned to his home in Jerusalem in peace. Then Jehu son of the seer Hanani went out to confront him and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Do you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the LORD’s wrath is on you. However, some good is found in you, for you have eradicated the Asherah poles from the land and have determined in your heart to seek God.’”
Essentially, Jehu told Jehoshaphat that his actions didn’t make any sense. He had “helped the wicked and loved those who hate the Lord.” Yet, Jehoshaphat was also told that he had done some really good things in the early years of his reign.
The rest of this chapter lets us know that Jehoshaphat repented, even though that word isn’t used in the text. Repentance seems to be the only explanation because the rest of the chapter recounts how he worked to lead in a time of spiritual renewal among the people of his kingdom.
2 Chronicles 19:4 (CSB): “Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and once again he went out among the people from Beer-sheba to the hill country of Ephraim and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their ancestors.”
Beer-sheba was in the south, and Ephraim was in the north. So this verse tells us that King Jehoshaphat went throughout his whole kingdom calling people back to the Lord.
In verses 5-7, King Jehoshaphat appointed judges over the people. He made it clear that they were to serve the Lord while providing justice for the people.
2 Chronicles 19:8 (CSB): “Jehoshaphat also appointed in Jerusalem some of the Levites and priests and some of the Israelite family heads for deciding the LORD’s will and for settling disputes of the residents of Jerusalem.”
King Jehoshaphat instructed these Levites and priests to perform their tasks with the utmost integrity. They were also to teach the people that they needed to live for the Lord or they would bring the Lord’s wrath upon the nation.
Then, we have the final word of instruction from King Jehoshaphat. Obviously, he is serious about following the Lord and leading his people to do so.
2 Chronicles 19:11 (CSB): “Note that Amariah, the chief priest, is over you in all matters related to the LORD, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, in all matters related to the king, and the Levites are officers in your presence. Be strong; may the LORD be with those who do what is good.”
2 Chronicles 20
So, is King Jehoshaphat’s resolve to serve the Lord fleeting, or is it something that is a complete change of heart?
To answer that question, we merely need to look at what Jehoshaphat’s response was when trouble came. A former pastor of mine jokingly called it the doctrine of the tube of toothpaste. He said that you could tell what’s inside of you when life gets tough because what is truly inside of you comes out when you get squeezed.
This chapter opens with three nations conspiring together against Judah and King Jehoshaphat. We are told that it was a “vast number,” and this army was at En-gedi. En-gedi is on the western shore of the Dead Sea, around the middle point from north to south. So, depending on which route the army took, it was about a 30-40 mile trek to Jerusalem.
What did King Jehoshaphat do when he felt the squeeze? Did he fall into self-reliance and try to work the problem himself? Or did he demonstrate true spiritual maturity by crying out to the Lord?
2 Chronicles 20:3-4 (CSB): “Jehoshaphat was afraid, and he resolved to seek the LORD. Then he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, who gathered to seek the LORD. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek him.”
Jehoshaphat knew how to fight. He had an army. But they were in a position where they were unprepared for what was coming their way. They would surely lose the battle. So Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord.
There are certainly times when we must do our part. The farmer cannot plead with the Lord for a wonderful harvest if he hasn’t bothered to plant his field. God has His part, and we have our part.
But, spiritual maturity is demonstrated when we consciously rely upon the Lord even as we take responsibility for doing what we should do. But in those instances where we have done all that we can do, and it isn’t enough, then we call upon the Lord and plead for His provision.
So, at this moment, when despair and hopelessness could overwhelm them, Jehoshaphat led his people in hopeful prayer. He gathered them together in the Temple area and offered a prayer to the Lord.
As I read the first part of his prayer, listen carefully to what he is saying. What does he say about God, and why is He saying it? What is he saying about what God has promised, and why is he saying it?
2 Chronicles 20:6-9 (CSB): “… LORD, God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand, and no one can stand against you. Are you not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in the land and have built you a sanctuary in it for your name and have said, ‘If disaster comes on us—sword or judgment, pestilence or famine—we will stand before this temple and before you, for your name is in this temple. We will cry out to you because of our distress, and you will hear and deliver.’”
The first part of this prayer focuses on God’s infinite power, and how He used His divine power to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan. It also points to the friendship with Abraham and the promise He gave to inhabit the land of Canaan. Then, he points to how the people of Israel constructed a Temple for God, and the Lord had promised that if they ever experienced trouble, then they were to pray to the Him toward the Temple and he would “hear and deliver.”
Essentially, Jehoshaphat said: “God, you are infinitely powerful and have used Your power to bless us, your people. You have also given some precious promises to us, particularly a promise to inhabit this land and a promise to save us when we pray toward the Temple. So, Lord, we’re calling in those promises.”
Now listen to the last part of the prayer. Jehoshaphat focused on the Lord’s power and the Lord’s promises. Now, he makes it clear that the Lord has put Himself into a situation where He has an obligation to rescue the Israelites.
2 Chronicles 20:10-12 (CSB): “Now here are the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir. You did not let Israel invade them when Israel came out of the land of Egypt, but Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them. Look how they repay us by coming to drive us out of your possession that you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to you.”
Did you catch what Jehoshaphat was praying? He said that when the people of Israel were making their way to Canaan hundreds of years earlier, the Lord didn’t allow the Israelites to attack the land of the Ammonites, Moabites, and inhabitants of Mount Seir. Yet those very nations were coming to attack Israel now. And the people of Judah were completely unable to defend themselves against such a massive army. This was utterly unjust, and the Lord would surely not stand by and watch such an injustice.
Friend, it is beneficial to listen to the prayers on the pages of Scripture, particularly the prayers that were clearly answered. It’s helpful to observe the line of reasoning in those prayers and then use the same sort of reasonings in our own prayers.
As the people of Judah were gathered together, God’s Holy Spirit came upon a man named Jahaziel and he prophecied. He told the people that they should not be afraid because the battle was not theirs; it was the Lord’s.
Then, he gave them instructions regarding what they were to do the next day.
2 Chronicles 20:16-17 (CSB): “Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
Jehoshaphat had enough spiritual perception that he knew that the Lord was speaking through Jahaziel. Jehoshaphat had previously recognized that the Lord wasn’t speaking through Ahab’s prophets, but something within his spirit testified to the fact that God was speaking through Jahaziel. So he led the people of Judah to bow low before the Lord with a deep sense of gratitude, relief, and worship. Then, we’re told that some of the Levites stood up and started to praise the Lord with loud shouts. The people had heard from the Lord, and they were responding in a way that gave expression to their faith and even increased it.
Jehoshaphat and his people got up early the next morning. They didn’t wait. They had the promise of God that He would give a great victory so they were ready to see Him do it.
But faith sometimes is like a fire, and it needs to be stoked. It needs some extra wood or coal in order for the fire to grow. In regards to faith, sometimes it needs some singing or confident words of encouragement to grow faith into a flame. And that’s exactly what Jehoshaphat did that morning. He encouraged his people to trust in the Lord and in the words of His prophets, even as he appointed some people to sing with all their might: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his faithful love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:22-23 (CSB): “The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped destroy each other.”
We aren’t sure exactly what happened. Were there preexisting tensions between the forces in this army? Did someone, or some group within the army of Mount Seir do something that brought on the attacks of the Ammonites and the Moabites? And what happened to cause the Ammonites and the Moabites to fight each other?
This passage doesn’t tell us. It simply gives credit where credit is due. The Lord brought this about so that He could fulfill His promise of rescuing the people of Judah as they cried out to Him.
What did the people of Judah do? They collected all of the valuables in the wilderness. If they didn’t collect the spoils of the Lord’s war, someone else would have come and taken them. So the Lord gave them a victory and they were the ones to benefit from it.
Friend, I just want to say that following the Lord is always the right thing to do. And, quite often, it is also the most beneficial thing to do. The spoils of war that the Israelites claimed were a financial benefit, but I’ve discovered that the Lord doesn’t often bless us in that way. The blessings often come in a variety of other fashions.
Someone who takes the high road at work and obeys the Lord in the area of integrity might not be blessed financially. But they will be blessed with a clear conscience. They might be blessed with the respect of those who watched them. The blessings could go on and on. But the most important is that we will one day hear the Lord say to us, “Well done! Well done, good and faithful servant!”
One of the greatest blessings that the Lord can give us when we trust and obey Him is a heart filled with happiness.
2 Chronicles 20:27-28 (CSB): “Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem turned back with Jehoshaphat their leader, returning joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD enabled them to rejoice over their enemies. So they came into Jerusalem to the LORD’s temple with harps, lyres, and trumpets.”
Then, we read that God’s blessings kept coming. The nations around Judah didn’t want to mess with them so Jehoshaphat’s kingdom had rest from war.
As we come to the end of the chapter, we read that Jehoshaphat reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. The Lord’s assessment of him, according to verse 32, was that “he did not turn away from it but did what was right in the LORD’s sight.” This is remarkable and demonstrates God’s grace, given that Jehoshaphat tended to form alliances with the kings of Israel freely.
Someone might say, “He only formed one alliance with King Ahab.” Yet, as this chapter closes, we read that he did it again.
2 Chronicles 20:35-37 (CSB): “After this, Judah’s King Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Israel’s King Ahaziah, who was guilty of wrongdoing. Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘Because you formed an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD has broken up what you have made.’ So the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.”
I suppose the one thing we can learn from King Jehoshaphat is that we need to be so careful who we befriend. When we look at Jesus, we realize that we must love unbelievers so much that we mingle with them in order to share the good news of the Gospel with them. But from Jehoshaphat, we learn that we had better not form alliances and essentially affirm their lifestyle. In so doing, we will incur God’s discipline and judgment upon ourselves.
Lord Jesus, help us to obey You with all of our hearts. But, Lord, help us to also realize how serious it is when we mingle with, and are seen to affirm people who are in known, grievous, unrepentant sin. We never want to become like a self-righteous Pharisee. But neither do we desire to affirm the sin of those who are diametrically opposed to You. Help us to love others enough to spend time with the most grievous of sinners but to do so for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with them and pointing to a better way. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I hope today’s episode has helped you 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!