2 Chronicles 17 (NLT)
Jehoshaphat Rules in Judah
Chronologically, when we read about the reign of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 17, we have reached the point in history where the book of 1 Kings began to spend a significant amount of time discussing the prophetic ministries of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, two of the greatest prophets in the history of Israel. So, we met Elijah in 1 Kings 16 and read of his ministry—and especially of his confrontations with the wicked King Ahab—for several chapters before meeting Jehoshaphat at all. Then, we only read two brief passages about Jehoshaphat: one in 1 Kings 22 and another in 2 Kings 3.
The Chronicler, however, takes the exact opposite approach, skipping Elijah and Elisha altogether and devoting four lengthy chapters to Jehoshaphat. Part of the reason for this is that the books of Chronicles are written to the people of the tribe of Judah who returned from exile in Babylon, and part of the reason has to do with the fact that Jehoshaphat is a son of David who, like the other godly kings of Judah, anticipates the greater Son of David, Jesus Christ. Jehoshaphat is not perfect, but in the account we find in this chapter, Jehoshaphat reforms the worship in Judah like other godly kings who come before him and after him.
And Jehoshaphat does something additional that we do not find with any other king: he appoints Levites, priests, and even his own court officials to teach the law. Other than this point, the only explicit examples in Scripture of teaching the law come after the people of Judah return from their captivity.
–Jacob D. Gerber
1 Then Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became the next king. He strengthened Judah to stand against any attack from Israel. 2He stationed troops in all the fortified towns of Judah, and he assigned additional garrisons to the land of Judah and to the towns of Ephraim that his father, Asa, had captured.
3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father’s early years and did not worship the images of Baal. 4 He sought his father’s God and obeyed his commands instead of following the evil practices of the kingdom of Israel. 5 So the Lord established Jehoshaphat’s control over the kingdom of Judah. All the people of Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so he became very wealthy and highly esteemed. 6 He was deeply committed to the ways of the Lord. He removed the pagan shrines and Asherah poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent his officials to teach in all the towns of Judah. These officials included Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah. 8 He sent Levites along with them, including Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah. He also sent out the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They took copies of the Book of the Law of the Lord and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people.
These priests and Levites sent out by good King Jehoshaphat were nothing other than traveling evangelists! They led the way as they traveled and taught the Word of God, and the Lord has raised up many, over the centuries, to follow them. Three who have touched my life in some way are described below (with thanks to Wikipedia).
John Wesley’s famous “Aldersgate experience” of 24 May 1738, at a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, in which he heard a reading of Martin Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, and penned the now famous lines “I felt my heart strangely warmed,” revolutionized the character and method of his ministry. A few weeks later, Wesley preached a remarkable sermon on the doctrine of personal salvation by faith, which was followed by another, on God’s grace “free in all, and free for all.” Wesley never stopped preaching the importance of faith for salvation and the witness of God’s Spirit with the belief that one was, indeed, a child of God. Wesley allied himself with the Moravian society. In 1738 he went to Herrnhut, the Moravian headquarters in Germany, to study.
He returned to England and then one day he preached a sermon not in a church, but in the open air. Wesley recognized the open-air services were successful in reaching men and women who would not enter most churches. From then on he took the opportunities to preach wherever an assembly could be brought together, more than once using his father’s tombstone at Epworth as a pulpit. Wesley continued for fifty years – entering churches when he was invited, and taking his stand in the fields, in halls, cottages, and chapels, when the churches would not receive him.
(John Wesley’s last words were, “The best of all is, God is with us.”)
Hauge had a poor and otherwise ordinary youth until April 5, 1796, when he received his “spiritual baptism” in a field near his farm. Within two months, he had founded a revival movement in his own community, written a book, and decided to take his mission on the road. In the next several years, Hauge traveled — mostly by foot — throughout most of Norway, from Tromso in the north to Denmark in the south. He held countless revival meetings, preaching about “the living faith” often after church services. Hague taught that Jesus was Lord over all of life and that Christians were to view their work as an act of worship to God. He and his followers were persecuted, though their teachings were in keeping with Lutheran doctrine. At the time, itinerant preaching and religious gatherings held without the supervision of a pastor were illegal, and Hauge was arrested and imprisoned several times. In the end, Hauge revived the faith in Norway, making religion a personal responsibility.
(My parents’ Lutheran roots were Haugean. Consequently they taught me a personal faith in Jesus Christ and a love of Christian missions around the world.)
It is said that Graham has preached the Gospel in person to more people than any other person in history. According to his staff, as of 1993 more than 2.5 million people around the world have “stepped forward at his crusades to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior,” many to the altar call song “Just As I Am.” As of 2008, Graham’s lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion.
(I remember watching the Billy Graham crusades on television as a child, and every time he gave the invitation I said “Yes” in my heart to Jesus. It is a decision I make again every day — to be cheerfully obedient, to be lovingly faithful, to be boldly hopeful in God’s all-sufficient grace.)
HERE is “Word of God, Speak” by MercyMe.
10 Then the fear of the Lord fell over all the surrounding kingdoms so that none of them wanted to declare war on Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines brought him gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats.
12 So Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful and built fortresses and storage cities throughout Judah. 13 He stored numerous supplies in Judah’s towns and stationed an army of seasoned troops at Jerusalem. 14 His army was enrolled according to ancestral clans.
From Judah there were 300,000 troops organized in units of 1,000, under the command of Adnah. 15 Next in command was Jehohanan, who commanded 280,000 troops. 16 Next was Amasiah son of Zicri, who volunteered for the Lord’s service, with 200,000 troops under his command.
17 From Benjamin there were 200,000 troops equipped with bows and shields. They were under the command of Eliada, a veteran soldier. 18 Next in command was Jehozabad, who commanded 180,000 armed men.
19 These were the troops stationed in Jerusalem to serve the king, besides those Jehoshaphat stationed in the fortified towns throughout Judah.
The true treasure of Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was not numbered only in security or material things, but also in the dedicated and courageous men he had surrounding him, these mighty men of valor.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.