Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, September 2 ~ tammi

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 19-20; 2 Corinthians 7.

Man, as much as I hate that summer is [this] close to being over, I am looking forward to having more distraction-free time to put into these posts!  It has been a real challenge over the last two months to find a good time to sit down to really think about what I'm writing!!  Usually it's far too late at night already and my mind isn't quite at its prime...

Anywhoo, today I want to highlight a few things I noticed in 2 Chronicles about king Jehoshaphat.  In 2 Kings, we really don't learn much about him, other than that he was a good king.  His life story there is largely overshadowed by Elijah and Elisha and all the signs and wonders that accompanied them.  It seems only the story of his alliance with Ahab in battle is recorded in both books, and that's really the only specific given of his life in 1&2 Kings.  For the life of me, I will never be able to understand why he agreed to go into battle dressed as a king while Ahab went in disguise!  Maybe it was a sign of his great faith in God.  But anyway, that's not in today's readings...

Here in 2 Chronicles, written several hundred years after the fact, we find out a lot more about what kind of king Jehoshapat really was.  He wasn't just a good king, he was a great spiritual leader as well.  Back in chapter 17 when he first becomes king, we see him destroying all the places of idol worship and specifically sending out teachers into all the land to educate the Judahites about the Law of God.  What happens then, in modern terms, is REVIVAL IN THE LAND!

But then, at some point "some years later" around the time he allies himself with Ahab, king of Israel, in battle (he had already allied himself politically by marrying one of Ahab's daughters), he seems to have become a little cocky and self-reliant.  He still seeks the advice of a true prophet of God before going into battle with Ahab, but when he returns after the victory (in which Ahab dies, despite his clever disguise), another prophet rebukes him, accusing the king of helping a wicked, godless, rebellious king.

Once again, Jehoshaphat leads the nation in repentance and revival.  The repentance is only assumed, since it's not mentioned, but after the prophet's rebuke, he makes some major changes, indicating a change of heart.  This time, he delegates responsibility for governing the people to appointed judges and charges them very specifically to judge according to the Law of God.  He's very clear in his instructions to them, reminding them that they stand in God's place and represent Him in settling disputes.  (no pressure, or anything!)  He also seems to reinstate the priestly system, which indicates that may have been in a state of disarray as well.

Some time later, the Moabites revolt again, and this time they bring the Ammonites and some Meunites with them.  I love Jehoshaphat's response:  he RESOLVED to inquire of the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.  I think I love it more than when he called for a true prophet previously, because here he's clearly in a panic.  Most of the time, when we panic, God is the LAST place we turn; here, it seems to almost be his gut reaction.  I think that's an incredible inspiration.  And what's really beautiful is the entire kingdom, right down to the last infant stood with him before God, fasting, praying, and requesting His presence, power and protection over them.  Can you imagine that many people being united in purpose and prayer??  What if the Body of Christ could come together like that?  Don't you think we'd be rewarded the way God rewarded the kingdom of Judah here?

The writer of 2 Chronicles is about to wrap up his narrative about the life of king Jehoshaphat, but then he throws in two sad little hints that this great spiritual leader didn't end his life on such a great note.  When he began his reign, he destroyed "the high places" of idol worship, but obviously, over time, they'd reappeared.  And he'd left them undisturbed.  The revivals seem to have been more emotional than spiritual because the text says "the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their fathers."  It sure looked like they had.  Of course, we don't really know how much time passed in between each of these events ~ Jehoshaphat was king for 25 years and his allied battle with Ahab against the Moabites was in the third year of his reign.  We don't know exactly when the second battle with the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites occurred, but it appears there was sufficient time between that battle and the end of his life for the old proud, self-reliant man to resurface.  It seems he didn't actually learn a lesson from the prophet's rebuke after going to war with Ahab because he allies himself once again with the godless king of Israel and this time, the enterprise fails miserably.

I wish so much that Jehoshaphat's story ended with verse 31 & 32!!  I love that he DESIRED with all his heart to serve God and I love that he was such an inspiration to his people, but oh, how I wish he hadn't messed it all up again in the end!  I guess that's the way it is with real life though.  Even heroes are human and make mistakes.  And really, what hope would there be for us if all our examples in the Bible were perfect??

image from Green Bean Chronicles

Tomorrow's passages: 2 Chronicles 21; Obadiah; 2 Corinthians 8


Miriam said...

Thanks, Tammi. Great post. I had some of the same thoughts as I read, but didn't think them through as fully as you did here.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I, too, was sorry his life didn't end on a high note. Once again, a reminder to never think we've "arrived" in our Christian walk, to never become complacent.

I loved how he desired to teach the people - not just command them as King to say they worshiped God, but to actually understand it themselves.