We are stepping back and looking at a big picture of Jehoshaphat’s reign. He was a godly king, after the heart of his father.
Jehoshaphat followed in his father Asa’s footsteps. They both followed the Lord. The people of Judah though still did things that displeased the Lord. I’m not certain if it was because it was permitted or if it was because they wouldn’t be persuaded to stop.
“The high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places” (verse 43b). Neither Asa nor Jehoshaphat tore these down so the people went right on using them. I wonder what they were. Were they ‘special places’ commemorating things that happened in the past? Were they supposed to be worshiping God there? He called for His name to be worshiped in ONE place. Were they shrines to other gods? That alone would have made them sin. Whatever they were, God didn’t approve of them. And the kings looked the other way.
One major thing Jehoshaphat ended was the male cult prostitutes. His father had taken a stab at this but didn’t finish the job. Jehoshaphat completed it. He “exterminated” them from the land. I wonder how long it took for the people to reestablish this practice. Notice I didn’t say ‘if’ because man’s depravity pretty much assures that they will go back to their old ways.
Something that Jehoshaphat does that we haven’t seen since Solomon is to make a fleet of ships. He also intended to sail for gold like Solomon did. His ships are scuttled instead. He apparently did this in the later years of his reign because Ahab’s son, Ahaziah wanted to go into business with him using the ships. Jehoshaphat said ‘No’ to that idea. I wonder why that was. Did he see it as folly, climbing into bed with a king who worshiped idols? Was Ahaziah a problem to be around? Or maybe he decided the whole thing was a bad idea and he dropped it. We aren’t told if he tried again or not.
Jehoshaphat did something that no other king had been able to do. He made peace with Israel. Not a reunification peace but they stopped warring against one another. We aren’t told if it lasted his full reign or not but the fact that he was able to accomplish this task is HUGE. I wonder what stipulations this treaty came with. From our last story it looks like a mutual enemy pact was included. When Ahab wanted to go against Syria, Judah came along.
One thing about their alliance was that they were serving different gods/God. Jehoshaphat was serving the true and living God while Ahab was chasing after idols. I was searching for quotes from Proverbs talking about being yoked together with idolaters but I couldn’t find one. This is not saying that one does not exist, just that I didn’t know where to look. What I did find and can point to are verses speaking against being “unequally yoked”. This is when believers and unbelievers unite in some covenant or contract, be it marriage or business. Entering into these relationships is dangerous. Ahab put Jehoshaphat’s life in danger because he refused to listen to God. Because Jehoshaphat was in a covenant with him Ahab’s trouble almost cost Jehoshaphat his life. It is NOT worth the risk! The unbeliever usually drags the believer down with him/her.
So what was the real cost of peace between Israel and Judah? We see some of it with Ahab and we see Jehoshaphat unwilling to ‘pay’ any more with Ahaziah. I wonder if we will see more of the ‘cost’ in Chronicles.
Father God, thank You for protecting me when I made wrong ‘covenants’/’contracts’ in this area. Thank You for drawing me even closer during these times. You even protected me when they came to an end. Thank You for always being my God. NO other could ever take Your place, past, present or future.