The Faith of Jehoshaphat

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, April 29, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and even the inland parts of multiple southern states. Many of those places were hit hard again several weeks later when Hurricane Rita made an appearance. As many know, the biggest city that was impacted to the point it was almost completely under water during these events was New Orleans, Louisiana. As a response to the devastation that was occurring in her state, then-Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco made a statement where she called on Louisianians and all people everywhere to pray for those affected and for their state. At the time, I often listened to sports talk radio as I drove around in my work vehicle all day and one host in particular was Colin Cowherd. He is still someone I enjoy listening to today, but he decided one day to comment on Governor Blanco’s plea for prayers in a way that showed his ignorance toward the things of God. His response was something to the effect of saying that the people of Louisiana elected her to come up with something better than prayer. He was dumbfounded that asking for prayer was the best solution she could come up with and declared that she was not fit to lead and handle this crisis.

While I can understand that many use prayer as a substitute for action and that doing so is not necessarily the point of faith in God, Colin Cowherd simply failed to see any power in seeking the Lord during a crisis. As we continue to look at the heroes of our faith in this series, we find out that most of these people were eyewitnesses to the power of God long after they had run out of human options and plans to save them from their crises. King (don’t call him “Jumpin”) Jehoshaphat was no different.

In Hebrews 11:34, we’re told that some of the faithful heroes “became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” through their trust in the Lord. This achievement could be applied to many of the heroes, but Jehoshaphat is certainly near the top of that list. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 17-20 after he succeeds his father Asa as king of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 17:3-6, we see that Jehoshaphat followed the Lord and the ways of his ancestor, David, and that he did away with idols and their symbols and refused to consult them. The Lord chose to establish his kingdom and he gave great wealth and honor to Jehoshaphat. Verse 9 tells us that he also appointed teachers to go throughout Judah teaching the Book of the Law of the Lord. In other words, he didn’t just do away with idol worship, but also replaced it with a renewed national focus on the Lord. As Jehoshaphat made good choices and kept his focus on the things of God, he grew more and more powerful, and other kings surrounding Judah were afraid of him to the point that they brought gifts, likely to get on his good side.

In 2 Chronicles 18, Jehoshaphat almost falls into a trap set by the evil King Ahab of Israel. He does make the mistake of allying himself with Ahab by marriage first, but then agrees to join him in war (vv. 1-3). However, he urges Ahab to seek the counsel of the Lord first (v. 4). Ahab, probably somewhat begrudgingly, calls on all the prophets at his disposal and asks them if he should go to war specifically against Ramoth Gilead. They all tell him how awesome he is and that he should do it and will have victory. I say he probably consulted them begrudgingly for several reasons. First, he has shown little to no regard for the word of the Lord at any time during his reign up to this point. Second, his actions in the rest of the chapter show that he didn’t care much for it at this point either! Peer pressure can be a good thing in the Church, and it seems to me that Jehoshaphat put the pressure on Ahab to seek the Lord if he truly wanted Jehoshaphat’s help.

Ahab had 400 prophets who just told him the good news he wanted to hear and didn’t speak the Lord’s true word if it meant bad news for Ahab. Jehoshaphat caught onto this and asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (v. 6) Ahab responds that there is still Micaiah, but he hates him because everything Micaiah usually prophesies is bad news for him. Both Jehoshaphat’s question and Ahab’s response reveal that BOTH men recognized that the 400 “yes-men” were not true prophets but only gave lip service. The difference is that the Lord’s word truly mattered to Jehoshaphat, while Ahab was content to, as Paul later says in 2 Timothy 4:3, surround himself with those who said what his “itching ears wanted to hear."

They talk to Micaiah and true to form, Micaiah prophesies the bad news that Ahab predicted. Ahab would be deceived into thinking he could win the battle, but instead would be killed. Hearing all this, Ahab continues to get further away from the Lord spiritually and tries to use all the resources available to him to save himself. He puts Micaiah in prison until he returns safely, as if Micaiah is the one who had the power to doom him. He then tries to get Jehoshaphat to stand out in battle so he would be killed while Ahab disguised himself. Jehoshaphat realizes he has been duped after it’s too late and he’s about to be killed, but 2 Chronicles 18:31 tells us he cries out to the Lord in that moment of crisis and God rescues him. Ahab would later be killed “at random” (v. 33) and the prophecy was fulfilled.

In 2 Chronicles 19, Jehoshaphat returns from battle, is held accountable by a seer named Jehu for joining forces with the wicked Ahab, then returns to seeking the Lord completely. He appoints judges throughout Judah and urges them to judge carefully because they are judging for the Lord and not for mere mortals (vv. 5-7). In 2 Chronicles 20, we see the climax of Jehoshaphat’s story. He is told that a vast army made up of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites is coming to wage war against him and God’s people (v. 1). Any one of these groups alone would have been a tall task to defeat. This would be like the three best NFL teams all coming together to take on the Cleveland Browns! Jehoshaphat doesn’t panic and he doesn’t spend a lot of time coming up with a “plan” to win like Ahab did. Instead, he stands up before all the people of Judah and begins to pray to God, reminding him of his awesomeness and power, reminding him of what he’s promised and what he’s done in the past, and acknowledging that they are in trouble and need the Lord to show up (vv. 5-11). He finishes with these great words in verse 12: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you."

Friends, that’s the essence of humility before the Lord and admitting you need him during a crisis. It could be an army attacking your nation, a natural disaster destroying your home and everything you’ve worked for, or something that hits even closer to home like battling addiction or losing your job. Whatever crisis is facing you, there is power in prayer and in sincerely giving it all over to God. He has the power to win the battle FOR you, so that all you need to do is whatever little bit he tells you. Read the rest of 2 Chronicles 20 on your own and see how the Lord delivered Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah without them having to lift a single sword or kill a single soul. All they had to do was trust the Lord, put their faith in action by marching against their enemies while praising God with a song we still sing today - “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever” (v. 21) - and then gather the plunder the Lord had given them after he used the pagan armies to literally destroy each other. God almost always calls us to ACT out of our faith and trust in him, but even then the battle belongs to HIM. Stop trusting in your plans and efforts today and seek the Lord with all your heart!

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