Friday, November 24, 2006

Mark my words!

How can a few people change the world? How can the nations stand in awe of God once more? How will God's kingdom come?

Episode I (2 Chronicles 17:1-10)
Jehoshaphat ascends to the throne in the place of his Father Asa. The new king is commended for walking in the ways of King David and setting his heart on the LORD. He gets rid of idolatry in the nation, restoring worship to the temple. Under his rule the nation is established and strengthened. Life is good.

Jehoshaphat then sends people out to teach in the cities of the land. They teach God's law. The effect of this is a bit surprising. We're not told of the effect on God's people but we are told how it effects the nations (2 Chronicles 17:10). This is similar to the response of Canaan to the arrival of Israel on their doorstep at the start of the book of Joshua. They melt in fear as they hear of God's promises and rescue of his peopel from Egypt. The world hears of the awesome power of the LORD as God's people are strengthened by God's word. A people deep rooted in God's word are able to stand and shine. They make God famous! This should be the result as God's people live by the word of God, written on their hearts, dwelling richly in their life and speech.
"I'm gonna be a history maker in this land
I'm gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind"

Martin Smith, 1996
Episode II (2 Chronicles 18:1-19:3)
All seems well, but then we pick up with Jehoshaphat with Ahab king of Israel. They're making an alliance and preparing for war. We've already heard that Israel aren't true to God's word and yet here good king Jehoshaphat is allying with them. They prepare to go to war. Jehoshaphat wont go without consulting the LORD. Ahab presents 400 prophets to endorse his lust for war. Numbers don't sway Jehoshaphat so he asks if there is anyone else.

Ahab replies “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophecies anything good about me, but always bad” (2 Chronicles 18:7). Mark Dever commments on this: “How stupid to reject something regardless of whether it is true, simply because you don't like it! Can you imagine sending back a low bank balance report, or a high credit card bill, or a medical x-ray, just because you don't like what it says?”. This foolish evil king only wants to hear from God if God is going to tell him what he already wants to here. This is not a strategy for faithfulness.

The one true prophet Micaiah is called and initially agrees with the four hundred. Soon he opens up and explains that this is a lying voice designed to entice Ahab to war. Ahab can test what Micaiah says by going to war. His words should be marked and considered. If Ahab comes home alive then Micaiah was wrong. They go to war but Ahab is gutless, he disguises himself to try and stay safe. Jehoshaphat by context cries to God for help and is saved. By "random" Ahab is struck down by an enemy and perished by the end of the day.

Jehoshaphat gets away with it but wrath comes against him for his error. He should not have made an alliance with a man who hated the LORD. How did Ahab hate the LORD? By hating the word of the LORD. The LORD and his word cannot be divided... This isn't about the defence of dry orthodoxy, but rather a concern for who our God is. Jehoshaphat took it lightly, and God was angry. It's enough to make us weep that a godly man would make such compromises.
...those who hate God's word, hate God...
Jehoshaphat is commended for seeking the LORD but he was wrong to stand with Ahab. The King survives but God's people are in need of a King who will be true to God's word, a king who would be The Word Incarnate, doing only what God commands. A King true to the Word of God, and a people with God's word written on their hearts will change the world.
"People whose minds are saturated with God's Word and submissive to His thoughts have a wisdom that in eternity will prove superior to all the secular wisdom in the world."
John Piper

Other posts on 2 Chronicles:
See also Orthodoxy (Reformation Day) - an overview of 2 Chronicles

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