2 Chronicles 18-23 continues the revolving door of kings and leaders in both Israel and Judah. As we found out last week with Asa, Judah primarily had good and faithful kings – yet towards the end of their lives, they revealed their human depravity and left the LORD. However, we find that God is always faithful. He continues to keep His covenant what he made with David. Judah is the benefactor of that covenant; for at times Judah was no better and no worse than Israel who had been led astray into Baalism by Jeroboam. Sometimes I think through the lives of these Old Testament kings and leaders and reflect on their testimony. History and the Bible have captured the good, the bad and the ugly of their lives. It would be easy for us to throw stones and insults their way saying that “we would never have done such evil.” Hum, I think we boast too pridefully about our own thoughts of ourselves. The bible tells us that none seek after God, no not one [Romans 3:10-18]
Jehoshaphat comes on the historical scene for Judah – 2 Chron. 17, the LORD was with him, for he followed after the Lord like David did; and did not follow after Baals like Israel did. Whew! Finally we have someone in leadership that has gotten it right. Great testimony of how God blessed King Jehoshaphat and how God established his kingdom. God blesses faithfulness; but he also abhors disobedience and idolatry. God is both merciful and gracious; but He also is just. We read how God established Jehoshaphat’s kingdom and bestowed on his riches and honor.
We also read how Jehoshaphat led a “discipleship” thrust where the priests and Levites went around teaching the ways of the Lord. He tore down the idols and established the Law as the Law of the Land. We find that the neighboring lands were in dread -fear because it was obvious that the Lord God Jehovah was with Judah and to fight against them would be to fight against God. How many times have we read about how the enemies of Israel and Judah were in fear because of what they witnessed God doing in His people. Victory after victory was given by God over the enemies such as Assyria, Egypt and Philistines. The dread of the nations was so real that God gave peace to Judah, and the nations did not fight against God’s people. Awesome and great is this story. BUT . . .
2 Chronicles 18:1 -“Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab.” What in the world is wrong with Him? Why in the world after tasting of the riches of God would he turn and inter-marry with the devil himself? Ahab was king of Israel; we know him better as the wimpy husband of Jezebel, who caused Israel to sin greatly against God and sought to kill Yahweh’s prophets [Elijah] There was no need for Jehoshaphat to enter into any marriage alliance with Ahab. As we read through the rest of Jehoshaphat’s story, noting good came from his reign.
Ahab paid great honor and reverence to Jehoshaphat, but what is that to the honor and riches that God had already showered? I find in most concerting that we believers are to soon to forget the blessings of God and pursue the praise of the world. Scripture tells us Not to love the world, nor the things in the world – 1 John 2:15-17. This would be a sad story if it ended here.
God has his spokesman in Jehu, just like he did with Nathan and David. It is good to read the whole story and find that Jehoshaphat returned to God and led the people back to God. I am sure that every single one of us have had periods of “prodigalness” in us. The great story of when the prodigal son came to his senses, he knew where to go. Oh, that we too would come to our senses as a people and a nation to return to God of our salvation and have a great revival of serving the LORD!
1 Kings 15-19; this is such a packed passage of reading, it seems almost unfair to only blog once on the passage. In the midst of the revolving door of kings both for Judah and Israel; God brings a mighty prophet to the forefront to deal with a most derogatory person in Ahab and his wife Jezebel. The spiraling down spiritually for Israel has hit an all time low; Jezebel is the real ruler, all one has to do is read about the wimp of a man he is with respect to the belligerent Jezebel. The Northern Tribes have been entrenched in Baal worship, even Jezebel is credited with killing God’s prophets. Enter Elijah – from Tishbite, but no other advanced information is known about him. We do know that he was a powerful prayer warrior [James 5:17], to be able to pray and it not rain for 3 years. The phrase “and the word of the Lord came to him” is repeated in these chapters. At a time when it seems that everything has gone completely paganistic, there is an Elijah.
Elijah confronts Ahab, then disappears into the wilderness. Elijah is feed by ravens – they bring him daily bread and meat and he drinks from a brook. To be sure, ravens are carnage feeding birds – the eat road kill. I’m not sure how many of us actually catch the fact that for a time Elijah had a diet from the LORD of road kill! Soon he is aligned with the widow of Zarephath, and her son. I find the story a bit appalling in that on her way to fix a last meal, Elijah says feed me first. Her obedience as a non-Jew is particularly significant. As a result, the three of them live off a miracle of multiplication from the Lord [see the feeding of five thousand, another place where God multiplies little to feed His people]. Of course there is more to the story, the son dies and Elijah prays over him and lies on him and the “life” is returned. I found it humorous that the widow only after the son is revived that she knows that Elijah is a man of God. How soon she forgot the daily provision from an empty jar! The story of Elijah is a short one, his dealing with the Widow, the thorn in the side of Ahab and Jezebel and the Battle on Mt. Carmel. Just as quickly he comes on the scene, he departs leaving one called Elisha in his place. Before that, the rains come and Elijah hides from Jezebel in a cave, not just any cave, but a cave on Mt. Horeb i.e. Sinai. The story of Obadiah is a significant reminder to all pastors and ministers – we are not alone, we are not all that God has at His disposal. Elijah winds up running from Jezebel after a monumental victory on the Mountain. How often is that true in ministry? When there has been a great victory and blessing from God, we become fearful and faithless in the face of conflict. The conversation between Elijah and Obadiah is sort of funny, but I guess that would only be true if you were Elijah. “Go tell Ahab I am here” – Obadiah “yeah right” just as soon as I say that, you’ll disappear and Ahab will kill me! The Spirit had a habit of whisking Elijah off to various places avoiding being caught – I thought of Phillip in Acts being whisked off to Gaza to meet the Eunuch.
We have the amazing display of God’s fire/power on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18. The confidence Elijah displays is in measure of his fear later with Jezebel. Elijah runs away, hides for 40 days on Mt. Horeb, the same place Moses had audience with God and received the Tablets of stone. In Chapter 19, Elijah is subjected to various natural phenomenon, yet God is not in any of the boisterous displays – it is in the “still small voice, rustling of wind that God is heard. I don’t have any idea how many times this scene has been encountered in reminding mankind that God is in the still small voice, that we must almost strain to hear. Elijah, is as James says a man like unto us. We become fearful in the face of opposition, often forgetting what God has already brought us through. Elijah brings a valid excuse or reason from why he was there, but God doesn’t listen to the excuse and asks Elijah again “What are you doing here?” The same excuse is stated. I mentioned how slow the Widow of Zarephath was – Elijah has a memory problem too. God tells him, “get back to work” – so he returns and sets Hazael as king, Jehu as king and anoints Elisha as his successor. So are the days of Elijah. Huh, that’s it? Yep – Elijah is known for three or so years and then is ushered off the pages of history and scripture. This should remind us that our worth to God is not always in a long tenure, but being in the right place at the right time for the Glory of God! We live in a day where we need to have some Elijah’s to stand against the Ahab’s and Jezebel’s.