Synopsis 2Chron 18:34-19:10 4/2/2020
At the failed battle for Ramoth-gilead, King Ahab died of his wounds. But King Jehoshaphat escaped injury and returned to Jerusalem.
Once there, Jehu the prophet came to him. The prophet rebuked him for helping King Ahab’s plan.
For his part, Jehoshaphat accepted the prophet’s rebuke. And then he continued in his previous work. Specifically, he introduced a new justice system to the kingdom of Judah. By appointing judges throughout the kingdom, he assured that the law of Moses would be the legal standard for judging throughout the land for years to come.
Jehoshaphat established a new system of judges throughout his kingdom. And, as he appointed the judges, he reminded them that justice was more than human decision-making. For him, justice was a divine intervention.
And for this reason, he challenged the judges to walk continuously in the fear of the Lord. Of course, a basic part of that fear was to avoid any perversion like partiality or bribe-taking.
God has created me in the context of community. It follows that my existence is essentially moral. For me, not relating to others is not possible. And so, there is no avoiding the mandate of justice.
Now, every individual thing that God has created has some intrinsic value. Otherwise, He would not have created it. And yet, it is possible for me to not perceive God’s intrinsic value in creation.
So, maybe my challenge isn’t simply a matter of “being just”. Maybe the challenge is to learn to recognize intrinsic value in the people I meet. Maybe this is what it really means for me to “fear the Lord”.
“You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Synopsis 2Chron 18:22-33 4/1/2020
Ahab’s chief prophet was Zadok. But the prophet Micaiah contradicted Zadok. And so, Zadok reproved Micaiah and struck him. On top of that, Ahab imprisoned Micaiah.
Despite Micaiah’s doom prophecy, both Ahab and Jehoshaphat went ahead to Ramoth-gilead to fight. Unfortunately, the king of Aram was ready for them. And, as he led his men out, he specifically directed his charioteers to engage only with the king of Israel.
Meanwhile, Ahab somehow convinced Jehoshaphat to remain in his royal clothing for the battle while he disguised himself as an ordinary chariot soldier. As a result, the Aramean soldiers immediately engaged with Jehoshaphat. And they pursued him with such determination that he quickly turned and fled. In the end, he barely escaped capture.
However, even though the enemy didn’t recognize Ahab in his disguise, he ended up mortally wounded by a chance arrow.
Ahab knew that Micaiah had prophesied his doom. But he couldn’t ignore the prophecy of his own prophets in favor of a prophet of the Lord. For if he did, then everyone would conclude that Baal was a worthless idol and his prophets were senseless fools.
Accordingly, Ahab could not easily accept Micaiah’s prophecy – even if he wanted to. But, knowing what Micaiah had prophesied, he convinced Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes while he disguised his own appearance. This, he believed, greatly reduced the chances of his death or injury.
However, despite the effort to hedge his chances because of Micaiah’s prophecy, an arrow that was not particularly well aimed, found its mark in the space between his armor plates. And he was killed.
The Hedge Is God
The only certain hedge in life is found in a faith-filled relationship with Jesus. For that reason, true faith will always be more than the indistinct concern that there might actually be a hell.
“Into the bag the lot is cast, but from the LORD comes every decision.” Prob 16:33
Synopsis 2Chron 18:11-21 3/31/2020
Ahab’s prophets prophecied victory for the battle at Ramoth-gilead.
But Jehoshaphat wanted to hear from a prophet of the Lord.
So, Ahab brought Micaiah. Ahab’s messenger told Micaiah to prophesy good. So, Micaiah prophesied what he was told.
But, Ahab didn’t believe him. And so, he commanded Micaiah to deliver a true prophecy. At this point, Micaiah famously prophesied doom for Ahab.
God Didn’t Stop Ahab
There’s a strange double-entendre in Micaiah’s prophesy. One the one hand, the prophet told Ahab the truth. But on the other, he told Ahab that he would not be able to hear the truth because the king had been willingly deceived by a lying spirit.
Ultimately, Micaiah told Ahab the truth with the full knowledge that Ahab wouldn’t’ believe him. And God was okay with all this.
Ahab had become so focused on his own ambitions that he had become blind to the truth. Accordingly, he could not rightly see his own circumstances.
God Doesn’t Stop Me
This is part of the terms of life. God doesn’t force me to seek or accept the truth. And this, no matter how obvious the truth might be to the casual observer.
In effect, I have the power to believe a lie if I’m intent on doing so. Of course, I have this ability as a collateral effect of the liberty to choose. And I have this liberty because, without this kind of liberty, I could experience neither faith nor love.
So, may God protect me from my own ambition. At least until the day when I can see the truth plainly.
“Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.” 2Thes 2:11-12
Synopsis 2Chron 17:19-18:10 3/30/2020
Because of his faithfulness, God blessed King Jehoshaphat with great wealth and security. But, Jehoshaphat had one great weakness. And this was an inappropriate relationship.
The problem was; he had arranged a marriage between his son and the daughter of King Ahab. His goal was a closer alliance between the divided kingdom. For that matter, he may have even hoped to reunify the nation through the marriage.
Now, Ahab was the king of the northern part of Israel. And he was married to a notoriously evil woman named Jezebel. And they both worshiped Baal as their chosen god.
Because of their close relationship as in-laws, King Ahab thought to bring King Jehoshaphat for a visit. And so, Ahab invited Jehoshaphat to visit him at his residence in Samaria. Accordingly, Jehoshaphat went.
While there, King Ahab brought up the fact that the King of Aram had taken the city of Ramoth-gilead. And he pointed out the fact that the city had formally been part of the unified kingdom. So, Ahab suggested that the two kings should join forces to return the city to Israelite control.
Ahab had assembled a great multitude of so-called prophets who worshipped his god. And, to a man, they all prophesied a great victory.
For his part, Ahab influenced Jehoshaphat to agree in principle to the plan. Yet, Jehoshaphat demanded to hear from a prophet of the Lord before committing.
Ahab Influences Jehoshaphat
King Ahab influenced Jehoshaphat to enter into a misguided military adventure.
Bad Company and Good Morals
When my goal is anything other than seeking God’s perfect will, then I am vulnerable. Of course, the vulnerability starts long before I encounter someone, or something, that is intent on leading me astray.
But the answer to the problem of “bad company’ isn’t in attempting to isolate myself from every imperfect person that I might meet. Instead, I make myself vulnerable by having an agenda apart from God’s will. This alone is the real danger. As is usually the case, my problem is inside of me.
So, it is not a question of whether or not I should relate to people with bad character. The real question is: why am I seeking their company?
“Do not be led astray: ’Bad company corrupts good morals.’” 1Cor 15:33
Synopsis 2Chron 17:3-18 3/25/2020
After King Asa died, Jehoshaphat, his son, ascended the throne.
King Jehoshaphat was compared favorably to his ancestor King David. Because of his devotion to the Lord, God made the kingdom of Judah secure. And the people so revered Jehoshapaht that they voluntarily gave him gifts.
One of Jehoshaphat’s most remarkable initiatives involved assembling a group of Levites and priest. Once assembled, he sent this hand-picked group of men from city to city. As they traveled throughout the country, the stopped in the cities to teach the people about the law of Moses.
King Jehoshaphat led the people in the fear of the Lord. And he devoted himself to protecting the people from the surrounding nations. So, he built a large, skilled standing army. As a result, all of the nations around Judah feared them. Some even sent tribute gifts. But none pursued war.
Protection of the Lord
Jehoshaphat believed that God would protect the Israelites as long as they were faithful to God. Like David his forefather, he understood that faith in God was the foundation of every good thing that might come to the nation.
Faith of Our Fathers
The faith of our fathers was like that of Jehoshaphat. And it was like that of his fathers. It was like that of David, and Ruth, and Judah, and Abraham.
And the crux of it was that God is the one doing the work. So, He is the one who causes peace and war. And, He is the one who gives and takes away.
He, alone, does the work. But He does these things in accordance with a true and ultimate movement towards the good. And when he moves, the movement is irresistible.
It really is like a wave on the ocean. All I can do is experience what He’s doing. I might get on top of the wave and ride. Or, I might resist it and get smashed to the floor of the sea.
But I’ll never control the wave. Still, as long as I live, He will never stop working through me.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” Eph 2:8-10
Synopsis 2Chron 16:5-17:2 3/27/2020
After King Asa paid the king of Aram to attack the Israelites in the north, King Baasha withdrew from Ramah. Of course, this had been Asa’s plan.
So, Asa’s forces moved into Ramah. Once there, they removed the building materials King Baasha was using to build his fortress. He used these to fortify the nearby cities of Geba and Mizpah. And this allowed him to establish regional dominance.
However, the prophet Hanani quickly rebuked Asa. Specifically, the prophet informed him that bribing the king of Aram was a faithless act. And, he further prophesied, that the southern kingdom would experience wars because of his faithlessness.
Hanani’s prophecy incensed King Asa. So, he had him punished publicly.
A short time later, King Asa contracted disease. Yet, he did not seek help from God for his disease. And a few years later, he died.
King Asa Offended
Hanani was a prophet of God. And when he rebuked King Asa, Asa reacted.
He felt offended by both Hanani and by God. As a result, he cut God off. And ultimately, he refused to seek God through the priests or prophets even when diseased. Instead, he sought a cure only through lay physicians.
Offended by God
The essence of sin isn’t a question of wanting to do evil. My desire or lack of desire to hurt others isn’t really the issue.
Instead, the essence of sin is revealed in my willingness to defer to the will of God – or not. And, from this perspective, it doesn’t matter if the outcomes of my acts produce what most people call good works.
This is a bother if I’m more interested in dictating the terms of the good I might do than simply following what I know God is calling me to do. God is patient. But, eventually He will reject even my ostensive good deeds if they come without faith.
Of course, it’s the rejection that causes the breach. When I feel rejected, I reject in return. I say to myself, “If God doesn’t want my offering, then I’ll have nothing more to do with God.”
It’s not new. Cain offered a sacrifice without faith. Unsurprisingly, God rejected it. And like a small child, Cain rejected God. But he did this to his own destruction.
So, blessed am I when I accept correction. Blessed am I when I let God be God.
“And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” Matt 11:6
Synopsis 2Chron 15:10-16:4 3/24/2020
Coming off a major military victory, King Asa led the people to form a renewed covenant with the Lord. And the Lord gave the southern kingdom peace.
Asa was so determined to do God’s will that he even removed his mother from her position in the court because she had erected an idol. And then, he publically smashed the idol in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem.
However, later in Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel attacked Asa’s forces at Ramah. He took the city from Asa and began fortifying it. Basically, Baasha’s intent was to cut off the road to Jerusalem. In this way, he discouraged Israelites from the north from worshipping in Jerusalem.
So, King Asa took a large sum of money out of his treasury. And he sent it to Ben-hadad who was the king of Damascus. In exchange for the money, he asked Ben-hadad to attack Israel.
Of course, Ben-hadad agreed. And he attacked King Baasha’s forces in Naphtali.
King Asa’s Alliance
King Baasha captured Ramah. This gave him control over the road to Jerusalem.
Naturally, King Asa could not accept this situation. So, he used a clever alliance with the king of Aram to break King Baasha’s control.
No doubt it seemed like a great idea. However, Asa failed to consider the precedent that he had set. Never before had either the northern or the southern kingdom used an outside alliance against other Israelites.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea
It seemed like a good idea. But it wasn’t faith.
How many times have I had to admit this after making a serious mistake?
“But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6
Synopsis 2Chron 14:11-15:9 3/24/2020
With God’s assistance, King Asa’s forces defeated the Ethiopian army and pursued them to the city of Gerar in the south.
Now, the Ethiopian forces were raiders. Their campaign was not to control land. Instead, their purpose was to acquire as much booty as possible. And so, when they were defeated, there was an enormous haul of wealth. As a result, this came to King Asa and the men of the southern kingdom as the spoils of war.
After the battle, a prophet came to King Asa and encouraged him to continue in doing well. In response, Asa continued to destroy the idols that were in the land. And, he worked to bring the Israelites back to authentic temple worship.
Asa After Victory
Asa received a word through the prophet Azariah. Although he had enjoyed an extraordinary victory over the Ethiopians invaders, he remained humble. And he renewed his commitment to serving God.
After the Victory
As strange as it sounds, sometimes the real test in life comes after victory. When everything is going well and right, will I remember the God who has saved me?
“Examine me, Lord, and test me; search my heart and mind.” Psa 26:2
Synopsis 2Chron 13:19-14:10 3/23/2020
Abijah was the zealous, new king over the kingdom of Judah. So, he immediately went to war against the northern kingdom of Israel. As a result of the battle, Abijah regained control over a portion of the tribal lands of Ephraim. Afterward, King Jeroboam died.
Sometime later, Abijah also died. And then, his son Asa became king over Judah.
King Asa was also zealous for God. In particular, he worked to remove the idols from the land. And he fortified the cities of Judah with walls. And, for the most part, there was peace in the land.
However, after several years, an army came up from Ethiopia and invaded southern parts of Judah. So, King Asa led his army out to meet them. When the armies met, the Ethiopians outnumbered the Israelites almost two to one. So, King Asa cried out to the Lord. In the face of the overwhelming adversary, he asked God to give victory.
Asa Cried Out to the Lord
As he contemplated the size of the Ethiopian army, Asa cried out to the Lord. But he didn’t cry out in desperate ignorance. For, Asa knew God and his intention was to please God.
So, instead, he cried out to God in the way that a military general calls for reinforcements. He was specific and expectant.
Cry Out to the Lord
You are a powerful and effective person. You’ve known both successes and failures. And so, you generally know your needs.
And then suddenly, you realize that your situation is beyond your ability to control. You need help.
So then, go before God for reinforcements and with an expectation of God’s goodness in answered prayer.
I cry aloud to God, I cry to God to hear me. On the day of my distress I seek the Lord; by night my hands are stretched out unceasingly; I refuse to be consoled.” Psa 77:2-3
Synopsis 2Chron 13:7-18 3/19/2020
King Abijah was the son of Rehoboam and the grandson of Solomon. And he was aggressive.
So, not long after his coronation, he invaded the northern kingdom. Specifically, he brought his army into Ephraim. Once there, he positioned his forces on Mount Zemaraim.
On the mount, Abijah found an elevated location above Jeroboam’s forces below. Then, he took advantage of the situation to make a long address to the northern Israelites. Accordingly, he extolled them quite the fight. And he encouraged them to reunite the nation and worship the one true God at the temple in Jerusalem.
However, as he spoke, King Jeroboam sent troops behind his forces for ambush.
Once the battle commenced, Abijah quickly realized his situation. The Israelites were attacking his forces from two directions. So, he cried out to God in prayer. And God had mercy the forces from Judah. As a result, there was a great route. And, Jeroboam’s forces suffered great losses.
King Abijah’s Truth
King Abijah spoke the truth to an unwillingly audience. They used the opportunity to plot an ambush. Even so, God preserved the young king and gave him victory.
Truth and Danger
There is always danger in speaking the truth. Every authentic preacher knows this. Still, though the dangers are real, they are often hard to discern.
You see, I am a sinner. So, I know how it works.
If you speak against my self-justifications, then I can become almost unnaturally clever. And, without much thought, I will go behind you. Like Jeroboam, I will ambush you – only not with soldiers, but with gossip and innuendo. And I will work to destroy you.
I don’t do these things because of personal hatred. I do them because, when I sin, I hate the light of truth. And so, I willingly kill the lamp bearer not because of who he is, but because he holds the light.
This is a terrible truth that is eclipsed only by this holy irony: Those whom I have fought most determinedly against are the very same people who have saved my life.
Therefore, if you are called to speak, be fearless in proclaiming the truth.
“proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” 2Tim 4:2