Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Studies in 2 Chronicles 10-36
"The Kings of Judah" (The Southern Kingdom)
Chapter: 2 Chron 17
Passage: 2 Chron 17:1-19
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jehoshaphat do to start with? v.1,2
2. Why was the Lord with him? v.3,4,6
3. What happened? v.5
4. What did the king do? v.7-9
5. What was the outworking of all this? v.10,11
6. So how did Jehoshaphat develop this? v.12,13
1. What was the king's relationship with the Lord like here?
2. How did that have practical outworkings?
First of all, see the descriptions of a man who pleases the Lord: one who sought the Lord (v.4), who followed His commands (v.4), and whose heart was devoted to the way of the Lord (v.6). Yet note that this description only applied in his early years (v.3). Later it was to change.
Yes, because of this the Lord blessed him. Although the Lord would have known what was yet to come, the Lord blesses the present because in the present this king is all-out for God. In the 20 th and 21 st centuries there have been, sadly, a number of instances of Christian leaders who have fallen after years of wonderful ministry. God blesses present obedience, even though He knows there is coming a later fall.
What follows here is a combination of the king's activity and the Lord's activity. Jehoshaphat takes steps to a) strengthen the land physically (v.1,2,12,13) and b) spiritually (v.6-9). The rest is the hidden activity of the Lord (v.5,10,11). Just as Paul was later to write, “(You) continue to work out your salvation, for it is God who works in you.” It's always a combination of us and the Lord. We are to do what we can and then He adds what only He can do! Jehoshaphat cleans up the land and the Lord then blesses them with peace and a sense of security as His fear falls on the surrounding nations and none dare rise up against Judah . It's a god time! If only the world would respond to God like this king, then peace and security would be worldwide.
1. Our part is to do all we can to be obedient to God.
2. When we do that, He blesses.
Chapter: 2 Chron 18
Passage: 2 Chron 18:1-17
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jehoshaphat do, with what consequence? v.1-3
2. Yet what did he ask and what inadequate response was given? v.4-5
3. So what did he ask with what outcome? v.6-8
4. How did the false prophets try to influence Micaiah? v.9-14
5. How was he challenged and what did he then prophesy? v.15,16
6. How did Ahab respond? v.17
1. How do both kings show some spiritual discernment in this passage?
2. How are Israel and Judah contrasted?
First a brief summary of what occurs in this passage: Jehoshaphat, king of Judah , allies himself with Ahab, king of Israel . As a result he is then drawn in to help Ahab repulse the Syrians in the north. But, wisely, Jehoshaphat suggests they first seek the Lord, for that is what he has always done so far. Ahab calls his prophets – the false prophets of Baal – who tell him to go to war. Jehoshaphat isn't happy with this and wants a prophet of the Lord. Ahab acknowledges there is such a man – Micaiah – but grumbles that he always speaks bad of him (not surprising as Ahab was out of relationship with the Lord!). Nevertheless Micaiah is brought, but in coming he is told in no uncertain terms to agree with the false prophets. He is outnumbered 400 to 1 and so when he comes before the two kings he disdainfully gives the same message. Now what is fascinating is that Ahab realises that this is not God's word and so challenges him. Micaiah responds with a word about defeat. Ahab replies, “There I told you so!”
The spiritual dynamics here are amazing. Jehoshaphat wants to hear from God. Both kings recognise uneasily the sub-standard quality of the prophets of Baal, and Ahab recognises a false prophecy! It's a mixed up situation but these two very different kings both recognise spiritual truths. Whatever the outcome, they will both know the truth of the situation. Amazing!
1. Have a problem? Seek the Lord!
Chapter: 2 Chron 18
Passage: 2 Chron 18:18-34
A. Find Out:
1. What did Micaiah see the Lord asking? v.18,19
2. So what was the heavenly outcome? v.20,21
3. What was the outworking of that? v.22
4. What happened to Micaiah? v.25,26
5. How did Ahab try to counter this prophecy? v.28,29
6. But what happened? v.30-34
1. What do we learn from Micaiah's vision of heaven?
2. What do we learn about Ahab in this passage?
3. What do we learn about Jehoshaphat?
Micaiah has just prophesied that there will be defeat and now he adds to that word. We find he has a remarkable view of heaven where he sees a heavenly counsel discussing Ahab's downfall. The outcome is that the Lord sends a lying spirit. How can this be? A wider reading of Scripture indicates that the Lord uses Satan or evil spirits to bring about judgement or discipline (see Judges 9:22 -24, 1 Cor 5:5). How is He able to do this? Because where there are those who are already deceived and living ungodly and unrighteous lives, He can suggest things to them that will seem right to them but which will cause their downfall. So it was here with the prophets of Baal.
We also see the stubbornness and foolishness of sin revealed so clearly in Ahab. He knows Micaiah is a true prophet but he thinks he can outsmart God. Thus he goes into battle in disguise and Jehoshaphat goes into battle openly in royal robes. But the scheme doesn't work and Jehoshaphat is saved by the Lord and Ahab is killed by a ‘random' enemy arrow. When God declares it, it will happen. But now comes a time of accountability because Jehoshaphat shouldn't have allied himself with Ahab in the first place. People who try to out-guess the Lord only show their folly!
2. Seek at all times to be as obedient as you can be to the Lord.
Chapter: 2 Chron 19
Passage: 2 Chron 19:1-11
A. Find Out:
1. Who met Jehoshaphat on his return? v.1,2
2. What was he told? v.2,3
3. What did Jehoshaphat do? v.4
4. What did he do in the land? v.5-7
5. What did he do in Jerusalem ? v.8-11
6. What were his commands in respect of the Lord? v.7,9,10
1. Why was the king rebuked? Yet was good about it?
2. How does the king show his godliness in these verses?
This chapter shows us the nature of king Jehoshaphat very clearly. He is, first of all in the chapter, seen as a human fallible king who has stepped out without consulting the Lord and allied himself temporarily with an ungodly king, Ahab, and for this he is rebuked.
But then we see the good side of this king. Even Jehu the seer (prophet) had to acknowledge that Jehoshaphat had set his heart on seeking the Lord, and that is the crucial issue in all that follows.
We then see Jehoshaphat's godly activity. First of all he goes out into the country and appoints judges whose role is to serve God and the people to bring the nation to the standard of God's people. All is done with the Lord in mind.
Then, when he returns to Jerusalem , he similarly sets up judges. His instructions are even more specific: “warn them not to sin against the Lord” (v.10). Finally he sets up top officials to oversee everything: a chief priest to administer the spiritual, a tribal head to oversee secular matters, and Levites to act as sub-officials to support them. The purpose of all of this activity is to turn the people back to the Lord.
We thus see a king whose intent is to establish the southern kingdom under God, yet the reality is that it is an organisational restoration that perhaps lacks heart and the sad result is that “the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their fathers” (20:33).
1. Restoration involves more than organisational change.
2. Restoration needs to include a totally committed heart.
Chapter: 2 Chron 20
Passage: 2 Chron 20:1-19
A. Find Out:
1. What crisis occurred and how did Jehoshaphat respond? v.1-4
2. What point did he first make in prayer? v.5,6
3. What point did he then make to the Lord? v.7,8,10,11
4. What did he say he would do & what did he ask the Lord? v.9,12
5. How did the Lord respond and what did He say? v.14-17
6. How did Jehoshaphat respond? v.18
1. How is Jehoshaphat's initial action an example to us?
2. What do we learn from his approach in prayer?
3. Be clear, what did the Lord say about the coming battle?
This is a glorious chapter and Jehoshaphat excels in his responses. First, there is his response to the coming invasion: he simply seeks the Lord. He doesn't make massive preparations, he simply calls a fast. Humanly crazy, spiritually wisdom! The people respond and gather at the Temple in Jerusalem . His faith is rewarded.
Second, there is his response in prayer. He first of all declares the greatness of the Lord. It is good to remind ourselves, especially in the face of crisis, that the Lord is all-powerful. He then speaks out history, ‘reminding' the Lord that He gave His people this land. Finally he entreats the Lord to intervene on their behalf against this invading force that threatens this land.
We then see the Lord's response as, by His Spirit, He comes upon one of the Levites who prophesies triumph. But it is more than this, he prophesies that the Lord Himself will fight this battle and so Judah will not have to actually fight. That is amazing! So, third, we see the king's response to this word which is clearly acceptance as he bows down and worships the Lord. This is real worship, a heart response to the wonder of God's goodness, an instinctive bowing down. There is nothing routine about this (like our so-called ‘worship services'), it is a heart response in awareness of God's wonder.
1. Is my response in a crisis to seek the Lord?
2. Is my worship a heart response to God's goodness?
Chapter: 2 Chron 20
Passage: 2 Chron 20:20-30
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jehoshaphat say and do? v.20,21
2. What did the Lord do? v.22,23
3. What was it only left for Judah to do? v.24-26
4. What did they do when they returned? v.27,28
5. What happened as a result? v.29
6. With what further result? v.30
1. What do you see was Judah 's part before the impending battle?
2. What was their role after what happened?
3. How do you think the Lord brought about the defeat of the enemy?
A vast army has come against Judah (v.2), the king has called the people to seek the Lord (v.3,4), and the Lord has said that He will fight the battle (v.15). Now supposing that had been your situation: you had a crisis and people were planning to come and get you, you sought the Lord and a prophetic person came and told you that the Lord was going to deal with them? What is now the issue? It is whether you will believe God or run away!
Jehoshaphat declares belief in God (v.20) and, as a means of strengthening that belief, appoints singers to praise the Lord as they get ready. They DO trust the Lord!
So what does the Lord do? Well, we aren't told how He actually did it, only that He ambushed the enemy. What is an ambush? It is when you attack with surprise. The result of this ambush is that the various tribal groups who have banded together turn on one another and fight one another so that there is wholesale slaughter. How did He do it? Well we've seen previously how He used a lying spirit to bring down the ungodly ( 18:19 -22), so perhaps He spoke words of upset to these groups in the same way. They are ungodly and receive God's judgement and so perhaps He simply turns their mistrust of one another back on them so it breaks out and they kill each other. Amazing!
1. God speaks words of encouragement. Do I believe Him?
2. An ungodly heart is open to deception – and self destruction.
A. Find Out:
1. How was Jehoshaphat summarised? v.32
2. Read 1 Kings22:45,46. What else did he do?
3. Yet what was still the state of Judah ? v.33
4. What did Jehoshaphat go on to do? v.35,36
5. What did the Lord say about that and what happened? v.37
1. What good had Jehoshaphat done?
2. Yet what had he failed to do?
3. What seems to have been his vulnerability?
So we come to the end of Jehoshaphat's life. Kings only records a little about him but, as we've seen, Chronicles records him as one of the great kings. His summary is good: “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”. If we had that on our tombstone that would be good wouldn't it! Yet that summary isn't everything. It says that in general his heart was set on the Lord but, as the Bible always does, we are also shown his weaknesses.
The first thing perhaps, is simply that he didn't go all out to bring the people back to God. He cleared out the shrine prostitutes that his father Asa hadn't managed to deal to deal with, but yet some of the ‘high places' the places where the people still worshipped idols still remained. With this idolatry still going on, the people had still not set their hearts on the Lord. That is a sad condemnation.
The second thing, which is a specific spiritual vulnerability, is that he didn't seem to see the awfulness of ungodliness in other kings. Thus he aligned himself with Ahab and got into difficulties and aligned himself with Ahaziah and got into difficulties. In both cases he was rebuked by the Lord. In his own relationship with the Lord he generally did what was right, but in respect of Israel he didn't seem to be able to see their wrong. Thus in many ways he was a good king but still showed his inadequacies in these particular ways.
1. What could be my epitaph?
2. Do I think too lightly of those who are ungodly and unrighteous?
RECAP - "Jehoshaphat" - 2 Chronicles 17-20
In this second group of 8 studies we have seen Jehoshaphat :
- strengthen himself and the land in the Lord (17:1-13)
- go and visit Ahab and be drawn into a war (18:1-3)
- suggest seeking the Lord (18:4-15)
- with Micaiah prophesying Ahab's death (18:16 -27)
- going to battle and Ahab being killed (18:28 -34)
- being rebuked for being part of all this (19:1-3)
- setting up godly judges (19:4-11)
- being attacked from the south (20:1,2)
- seeking the Lord and triumphing (20:3-30)
- making an alliance with Ahaziah (20:31 -36)
- being rebuked for it (20:37)
If we try to overview what we are shown about this king, we note that basically the bulk of it is taken up with two accounts of war. In the first one, he aligns himself with Ahab, gets in difficulties and is rebuked by the Lord. In the second one he is confronted by a large invading army and seeks the Lord and receives the Lord's encouragement and then the Lord destroys the enemy. The former was an example of how not to do it and the latter a good example of how to deal with enemy crises.
1. We do well not to align ourselves with unrighteous people.
2. Doing that only gets us into trouble.
3. When faced by a crisis, seek the Lord.
4. Let the Lord show you how to deal with opposition.
5. Don't compromise your faith in any way.
Ask the Lord to help you have the testimony: “they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”. Ask for wisdom to achieve that.
PART 3 : "The Middle Kings"
In this next Part we see the next eight kings of Judah before the writer stops and reviews Hezekiah.