Things have gone downhill with Judah since its break with Israel. Jehoshaphat means to put a stop to that by teaching the people God’s laws.
Have you ever heard the moral, “When you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. When you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”? This was Jehoshaphat’s belief, whether he knew this moral or not. Jehoshaphat not only told the people to follow the Lord but he set men in place to teach them the precepts more fully and to judge between them. And he instructed these men to do their job as unto the Lord and not to man.
Let me back up just a little bit though. When I was reading ahead, this chapter and the next filled me with joy. The reason for that joy is seeing how Jehoshaphat handled being confronted for his sin. We saw last time that Jehoshaphat tried to reunite the two kingdoms through political alliances in marriage. This is going to be a problem for several generations because it is NOT what God planned. When Israel first began moving towards the Promised Land God told them NOT to unite in marriage with the nations around them for they would be led away from Him. At this point in history Israel is against God as surely as any of those other nations. I know this must have been extremely hard for Jehoshaphat to live with because Israel was still blood relation. But they weren’t spiritual relation any longer.
When Jehoshaphat returned from the battle where Ahab was killed, he was confronted by Jehu son of Hanani. “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” (verse 2b). God judged Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab as sin and He pronounced judgement against Jehoshaphat. “Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord. Nevertheless some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God” (verses 2c-3).
Jehoshaphat could have become bitter like his father Asa did. But he didn’t. He continued to go out to the people and to send them teachers and judges to lead them in the way of the Lord. We don’t see him repent like we did with David but his actions clearly demonstrate that he did. You cannot continue to walk with the Lord without cleaning up the sin He points out. Jehoshaphat LOVED the Lord with all his heart and sought ways to honor Him and ways to help the people do the same. He was NOT perfect but he was forgiven.
I’m excited to go over tomorrow’s reading because it demonstrates Jehoshaphat’s relationship with the Lord. He is a king after David’s heart, in my opinion.
Back to today’s reading. One lesson Jehoshaphat learned from his sin, he passed onto those he appointed. He would run afoul of that lesson later on again, but here is what he learned. “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord. He is with you in judgment” (verse 6). Another way to say this is “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 33:23). I believe this is how Jehoshaphat viewed his role as king of Judah. He served the Lord in whatever way he could.
I wonder if he believed that reuniting the two kingdoms was something God wanted. Is this why he tried so hard to make it happen? He would ally in industry with Israel again, but that is a story for another day. His sin in each of these instances was not asking for God’s input FIRST.
Jehoshaphat’s desire was to make Judah pure in the sight of the Lord. The judges and judgments rendered were to come from a heart listening to the Lord. And the people were to follow those judgments to keep their hearts free of guilt. If only EVERYONE followed this rule there would be a LOT less trouble in the world. Today’s last statement says it ALL; “Deal courageously, and may the Lord be with the upright!” (verse 11b).
This is as important to follow today as it was the day Jehoshaphat uttered this statement. It has also been true since the foundation of the world. We don’t have all the rules and regulations that go along with the Law but we still have the standards of God. The ones Jesus said sum up all the Law; “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37b-40). These words are put into practice and explained for our daily lives in much of the New Testament. One of the most foundational ones we already quoted.
ONE KEY THING TO REMEMBER: Don’t do things ‘for’ the Lord without the relationship ‘with’ Him as its foundation. Remember the parable Jesus gave concerning those who do good works without a relationship with him; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Father God, NEVER let what I do be apart from and without You! I would rather shovel out outhouses with a teaspoon in Your name than to preach to a crowd of millions on my own. Let nothing I do be for my own glory; only Yours. Please ALWAYS be front and center in my life!