The story of Jehoshaphat can be summarized by Jehu in 19:2-3, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD. Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asherahs out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.” Jehoshaphat did many things that were honorable and exemplary, mainly listed in chapter 17, but it is clear by chapter 19 and at the end of chapter 20:35-37, that God did not desire an alliance between Judah and Israel. At the same time God does not forsake Jehoshaphat, but delivers him from his enemies whenever Jehoshaphat cries out to God for help. How do we understand this complicated relationship between the alliances that Jehoshaphat makes and his intermittent obedience to God? The story of Jehoshaphat illustrates the constant battle of Judah between complete obedience to God and the complete destruction of idols. Neither full obedience nor full idol-destruction occurs in these chapters, but there is a clear lesson given to the reader: God is not a God of half-measures, but God is also gracious and willing to forgive. Jehoshaphat did better than his father Asa, but was still far from perfect. Jehoshaphat did not seek God before saying to Ahab, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in war” (18:3). Jehoshaphat did not seek God when making an alliance with Ahaziah to make ships: “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made” (20:37). Yet there were many times Jehoshaphat did seek God where his father Asa did not, like in the final battle of chapter 20. What does this story teach God’s people?
Reflect: Jesus was a friend of sinners. It’s clear in the Gospels that Jesus spent time with people that were not like himself. He crossed racial, socio-economic, and even religious boundaries in his ministry. How do we understand this New Testament radicalism in light of the Old Testament nationalism? The answer lies in God’s covenant making. God makes a covenant with whom he chooses to make a covenant. The problem in the story of Jehoshaphat was not that God hated other ethnicities and races, but that it is God’s choice with whom he makes a covenant. God wants his people to seek his will, not their own. While Jesus was friends with sinners, he doesn’t become a sinner. While Jesus drank and ate with tax collectors, he did not become a tax collector. While Jesus associated with the sexually immoral, he always acted righteously. There is a constant temptation in the Christian life to turn from God and become like the very people to whom we are called to minister. The Christian must always hold in tension the covenant he shares with God and the call to preach the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation without covenanting with them. Take some time in prayer, asking God to show you where you allow half-measures into your life and heart. Where do you seek the approval or advice of others before seeking God? Are you more tempted to withdraw from the secular world, or attracted by it?
Connect: Matthew 11:16-19
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
- Rev. Joseph Bianco
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.