Jehoshaphat, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 15, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Asa served as king of Judah for 41 years, and overall he did what was right in God’s eyes. While the northern kingdom of Israel had multiple evil kings during his reign, the southern kingdom of Judah remained mostly following God. When Asa died, his son Jehoshaphat took over, and that’s who we’ll look at today.

Jehoshaphat began his reign by making sure that his father Asa’s accomplishments remained – namely, he fortified key cities that Asa had captured. This was key since the evil King Ahab was reigning in Israel, and Judah needed to protect itself from him. In addition, Jehoshaphat followed the ways of King David (his great-great-great-grandfather). He worshiped the one true God, not turning to Baal as Israel did (2 Chronicles 17:1-6).

Not only did King Jehoshaphat personally worship God, but it was his mission to make sure the people knew God’s Word. In 2 Chronicles 17:9 we read, “They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.” This teaching was not just reserved for the Levites or other temple workers, but it was for everyone! The regular people in all the towns needed to know God’s law in order to know how to worship and follow Him in their lives. Because of that, the whole nation of Judah feared the Lord, and they honored King Jehoshaphat as well.

Jehoshaphat equipped the people spiritually by teaching them God’s Word, but he also equipped them physically by fortifying key cities and keeping skilled troops throughout the land. He had multiple skilled commanders stationed in various places with thousands of troops ready for battle, ready in case Ahab or another nation would attack (2 Chronicles 17:12-19).

But, just when it seemed like everything was going so well for Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah, Jehoshaphat made a terrible mistake – “he allied himself with Ahab by marriage” (2 Chronicles 18:1). Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah, which led to an alliance between the two nations. That may sound great, right? The divided kingdom of the nation of Israel is uniting once again! But remember that “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him” (1 Kings 16:30). Would all the good that Jehoshaphat was doing be able to stand up in an alliance with the evil that was King Ahab?

In last week’s post about Ahab, we saw the account of Ahab and Jehoshaphat joining forces to conquer Ramoth-Gilead in 1 Kings 22. That same situation is recounted in 2 Chronicles 18 with more detail on Micaiah’s prophecies. Micaiah was a true prophet and spoke only what God gave him to speak. Jehoshaphat desired to listen to Micaiah, but Ahab got mad when Micaiah’s prophecies did not look favorable for Israel.

After that confrontation between Ahab, Jehoshaphat, and the prophet Micaiah, Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem and sought advice from Jehu, his seer (another prophet). Jehu tells him, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is on you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God” (2 Chronicles 19:2-3). God was not pleased with this alliance between Jehoshaphat and the wicked Ahab, though God still recognized the good that Jehoshaphat was doing to bring Judah toward worshiping God rather than false gods.

This turned Jehoshaphat to focus on worshiping God once again: “Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the LORD, the God of their ancestors” (2 Chronicles 19:4). Jehoshaphat appointed judges throughout Judah to settle disputes among the people and help them know and understand God’s laws. These judges were responsible for warning the people when they were heading toward sinning against God. They were not only civil leaders but also spiritual leaders for the people.

In 2 Chronicles 20, there was a surprise attack against Judah by the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites. They used a route that was not often traveled to sneak up on Judah. Remember how Jehoshaphat had soldiers ready in various fortified cities, ready to attack if needed? That seems like the easy answer to how Jehoshaphat would respond in this situation, but that’s not what he did. Instead, read about his first action: “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him” (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). Rather than immediately striking out with his armies, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah first turned to God to seek His will.

Jehoshaphat prayed to God about this in front of all the people (2 Chronicles 20:5-12). God answered that prayer right then and there by speaking through Jahaziel son of Zechariah (2 Chronicles 20:15-17). God instructed them to fight the invading armies, and they would be victorious. Jehoshaphat and all the people worshiped God, and the next day the armies set out to fight the invaders.

Jehoshaphat commanded the armies to sing praises to God as they were marching into battle. Because of this focus on God rather than their own strength, God destroyed all three of the invading armies, even using them to destroy one another! When the armies of Judah finally got to the place where the invaders were, all they found were dead bodies. Not one person was left alive even to escape.

Because of this miraculous victory in battle due to the people’s faith in God, not only did Judah continue to worship God but word traveled to the other nations around them. “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side” (2 Chronicles 20:29-30).

Jehoshaphat reigned as king of Judah for 25 years. Overall, he did a lot to focus the people on God and to teach them God’s laws so they could follow them. He was a great example to the people by praying in front of them before rushing into battle and focusing on God as the deliverer rather than on their own strength. But, he did have his downfalls. He made that alliance with evil King Ahab of Israel, and at the end of his reign, he also made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, another evil king. Because of that alliance with Ahaziah, God destroyed some of Judah’s ships so they could not trade.

Even people who appear to be doing great things for God’s kingdom still have their downfalls. We all sin in some way; no one is perfect except Jesus Christ. But as Jehoshaphat did, we should still strive to live for God as much as we can, living our lives as examples to those around us of what a life following God looks like. Teach others God’s Word, both directly and indirectly through how you live your life.

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