Bible: What Does 2 Chronicles 17-24 Teach Us About Compromise and Full Faith?
"Good" King Jehoshaphat
Jehoshaphat, Asa's son, strengthens Judah's defenses (vv. 1-2) and walks in God's ways, ridding the land of false worship (vv. 3-4, 6); consequently, he receives great honor and wealth (v. 5).
The king also institutes nationwide Torah instruction, going city by city, sending teachers and Levites throughout Judah (vv. 7-9).
As a result, not only does the fear of God discourage surrounding heathen nations from making war against Judah, but it also moves Philistines and Arabians to send tribute to Jehoshaphat (vv. 10-11).
The king's wealth and power grow, so he builds more fortresses and storage cities (vv. 12-13), as well as assembles a mighty armed force (vv. 14-19).
[Interesting! The government uses a budget surplus to strengthen the military].
The Reforms of Jehoshaphat
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2 Chronicles 19
When Jehoshaphat returns from battle, Jehu the son of Hanani greets him with a well-deserved rebuke, reasoning that the king's compromise almost cost him his life (vv. 1-2).
Yet to temper his remarks, Jehu also adds a true word about Jehoshaphat's good points (v. 3).
Jehoshaphat’s righteous reign institutes judicial reform throughout Judah, stressing among his appointees the importance of maintaining the fear of the LORD (vv. 4-7).
[Perhaps his experience with Ahab taught him a lesson about right judgment].
In Jerusalem the king instructs his "Supreme Court" in the same principle, and chooses certain "chief justices" to rule in legal matters of theology and government (vv. 8-11).
Seeking the LORD Fully
2 Chronicles 20
God assays Jehoshaphat's faith with a purifying test in the form of a great army of Moabites, Ammonites, and other heathen peoples (vv. 1-2).
Though greatly frightened, the king gathers together many in Judah to fast and seek the LORD (vv. 3-4).
From the new court of the temple Jehoshaphat addresses Yahweh, acknowledging first His sovereign power over the nations throughout Israel's conquest of Canaan (vv. 5-7).
Implementing the national determination to seek a saving God when in trouble, he directs the LORD's attention to the current situation and asks Him to judge the enemy.
Jehoshaphat admits Judah's weakness, yet manifests a humble faith in his God (vv. 8-13).
Praise Wins the Battle!
A Spirit-energized Levite reveals God's word to all Judah and Jehoshaphat, giving them specific "battle" plans for the following day and promising them a glorious victory (vv. 14-17).
Responding to this message by faith, both Jehoshaphat and Judah worship the LORD, and the Levites lead a praise service (vv. 18-19).
The next morning Judah travels obediently into the wilderness; a choir of hand-picked worshipers lead the way after Jehoshaphat had exhorted them all to believe God and His prophet (vv. 20-21).
Working mightily through faithful praise, the LORD causes Judah's enemies to ambush and destroy each other (vv. 22-23).
When Judah arrives on the scene, they see only the corpses of their enemy on the earth (v. 24).
For three days they gather the spoil of jewelry and other valuable items (v. 25); on the fourth they sing praise to the LORD, and later return to Jerusalem with great joy (vv. 26-28).
No heathen nation seeks to attack Judah for a long time for fear of Yahweh; peace reigns in the realm of Jehoshaphat (vv. 29-30).
The chronicler completes his account of Jehoshaphat's service to Judah with high praise for his personal walk, though his people do not follow him fully (vv. 31-33).
More information about this king also appears in Kings (v. 34; cf. 1 Kings 22:41-50).
Finally, and strangely, Jehoshaphat falls into a trap similar to an earlier one, this time allying himself with evil King Ahaziah of Israel.
The LORD again must chasten him by destroying his ships (vv. 35-37).
2 Chronicles 21
Wicked king Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, murders all of his brothers (v. 4), instigates Edomite and Libnite rebellions by his unfaithfulness (vv. 8-10), and causes Judah to "play the harlot" (v. 13).
[What does it mean to "play the harlot"]?
[Libnite= descendant of Libni, the Levite]
The prophet Elijah announces beforehand the consequences of the king's sin: Jehoram will see Philistines and Arabians carry away his sons, wives, and possessions (vv. 16-17), and he himself will suffer a painful death from a divinely-caused intestinal disease (vv. 18, 19).
God, however, keeps His promise to David by allowing a "lamp" to remain in his house: Jehoahaz (Ahaziah) [v. 7; see Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7].
A Notoriously Bad Influence
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2 Chronicles 22
After the formulaic depiction of Ahaziah's reign and character (vv. 1-5), the chronicler presents the student with a textual difficulty in verse six: he calls Ahaziah Azariah.
[Notice also two Jehoram's and one Jehoram named Joram (v. 5)].
(Resolving these apparent discrepancies deserves more attention).
The house of Ahab then appoints Jehu as executioner (vv. 7-9), while Ahaziah's mother Athaliah kills all her sons except Joash, whom Jehoram's daughter rescues and hides for six years (vv. 10-12).
[This period in Judah's history, except perhaps Manasseh’s, reflects better than any other the spiritual climate endemic among the northern tribes].
2 Chronicles 23
Jehoiada, the priest on the side of the righteous, conspires with captains, Levites and fathers to remove Athaliah from power in the seventh year (vv. 1-11).
[Interesting note: Joash was given a copy of the Law on the day Jehoiada appointed him king (v. 11)].
When Joash turns seven, Athaliah is killed (vv. 12-15), and Jehoiada directs the people to follow the LORD (vv. 16-21).
[Peace by means of the sword: Does this episode provide a model for modern governmental succession]?
Consequence of Falling Away From the True Faith
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2 Chronicles 24
Joash depends upon Jehoiada for spiritual guidance, yet the priest arranges for him to have two wives (v. 3)!
A hint of insubordination surfaces among the priests and Levites; they neglect to obey Joash's order to gather money to repair the temple (v. 5; contrast procrastination here with Israel's enthusiastic response in Exodus 36:1-7).
After the king rebukes Jehoiada for management deficiencies (v. 6), the money flows in (vv. 7-14).
Years later, the old chief priest dies and is buried (vv. 15-16), and Zechariah, his son, confronts the leaders of Judah and rebukes them for their idolatry (v. 20).
Joash, who had quickly deserted Jehoiada's counsel, ruthlessly orders the death of his mentor's son (vv. 21-22).
As the result of Joash's apostasy, God sends Syrians to rout Judah and Jerusalem (vv. 23-24); later, two foreigners kill the king (vv. 25-26).
[Discounting Jehoiada's advice regarding marriage and his management problem, we see that his influence over the king and kingdom suffices to keep Judah on track with the LORD.
After he dies, however, the leaders and Joash quickly apostatize.
Alas, another government official uses religious authority to gain political power, and then surrenders to corrupt influences once he acquires full control]!
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