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FRAMEWORKS: 2 Chronicles

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FRAMEWORKS: 2 Chronicles 18: Jehoshaphat with Ahab

 

[Introductory Notes: We have said that 2 Chronicles is mostly about the kings of Judah but here Ahab, a particularly bad king of Israel, is included, but only because Jehoshaphat of Judah has allowed himself to be linked to him by marriage. Perhaps the best we can say about Jehoshaphat is that he has good will towards Ahab, even if he fails to realise how opposed to God Ahab is. For this reason, Jehoshaphat [father of Jehoram who married Athaliah, thought to be the daughter of Ahab – see 21:6] went to visit his son's father-in-law, and finds himself drawn into a potential battle to regain for Ahab the renegade city of Ramoth Gilead. In the encounter between the two kings, we see the apostasy of Ahab who has a large number of prophets of Baal, and the godliness of Jehoshaphat who wants to hear from a prophet of Jehovah. We will leave further comment to the end of the chapter.]

 

  

Part 1: v.1-27: Micaiah prophesies against Ahab

 

v.1 An unwise alliance

v.1  Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honour, and he allied himself with Ahab [7th kings of Israel] by marriage.

 

v.2 Jehoshaphat visits Ahab in Samaria

v.2  Some years later he went down to see Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged him to attack Ramoth Gilead.

 

v.3 Ahab asks Jehoshaphat for help against this breakaway city

v.3  Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, ‘Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?' [a city east of the Jordan that had broken away from Israel]

Jehoshaphat replied, ‘I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war.'

 

v.4 Jehoshaphat wisely suggests seeking God's counsel

v.4  But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the Lord .'

 

v.5 Ahab turns to his false prophets

v.So the king of Israel brought together the prophets – four hundred men – and asked them, ‘Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?'

‘Go,' they answered, ‘for God will give it into the king's hand.'

 

v.6 Jehoshaphat is unhappy about this and asks for a prophet from God

v.6  But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?'

 

v.7 Ahab begrudgingly speaks of Micaiah

v.7  The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet through whom we can enquire of the Lord , but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.'

‘The king should not say such a thing,' Jehoshaphat replied.

 

v.8,9 Micaiah is brought before the two kings

v.8  So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, ‘Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.'

v.9  Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing-floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.

 

v.10,11 The false prophets had prophesied victory

v.10  Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns, and he declared, ‘This is what the Lord says: “With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.”'

v.11  All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. ‘Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,' they said, ‘for the Lord will give it into the king's hand.'

 

v.12,13 The false prophets tell Micaiah to agree with them

v.12  The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favourably.'

v.13  But Micaiah said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says.'

 

v.14,15 Micaiah clearly derides Ahab with his answer

v.14  When he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I not?'

‘Attack and be victorious,' he answered, ‘for they will be given into your hand.'

v.15  The king said to him, ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord ?'

 

v.16,17 Micaiah speaks the truth; Ahab is upset

v.16  Then Micaiah answered, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, “These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.”'

v.17  The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn't I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?'

 

v.18-22 The prophet speaks of a vision of a lying spirit being sent

v.18  Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the Lord : I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing on his right and on his left.

v.19  And the Lord said, “Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”

‘One suggested this, and another that.

v.20  Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will entice him.”

‘“By what means?” the Lord asked.

v.21  ‘“I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.

‘“You will succeed in enticing him,” said the Lord . “Go and do it.”

v.22  ‘So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.'

 

v.23-27 The prophet is abused and sent to prison, but he sticks to his message

v.23  Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. ‘Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?' he asked.

v.24  Micaiah replied, ‘You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.'

v.25  The king of Israel then ordered, ‘Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king's son,

v.26  and say, “This is what the king says: put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”'

v.27  Micaiah declared, ‘If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.' Then he added, ‘Mark my words, all you people!'

 

Part 2: v.28-34: Ahab is killed at Ramoth Gilead

 

v.28,29 When the two kings go to battle, Ahab goes in disguise

v.28  So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.

v.29  The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.' So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

 

v.30-32 Aram's intention had been to kill Ahab and mistook Jehoshaphat for him

v.30  Now the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders, ‘Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.'

v.31  When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, ‘This is the king of Israel.' So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him,

v.32  for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him.

 

v.33,34 Despite all this, Ahab is mortally wounded by a stray arrow

v.33  But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the breastplate and the scale armour. The king told the chariot driver, ‘Wheel round and get me out of the fighting. I've been wounded.'

v.34  All day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset he died.

   

[Concluding Notes: The incident above, raises a number of issues. God's prophet declares the will of God – that Ahab will die in the battle, for his rebellion against God. Ahab's false prophets of Baal ‘prophesied' victory which was a lie and Ahab either chooses to believe this lie, or feels he cannot lose face before his prophets, and so goes into battle despite the warning. Just in case Micaiah's word is right, Ahab seeks to hide himself to avoid being killed [which for a while puts Jehoshaphat at risk] but nevertheless a ‘random' arrow hits him, eventually killing him. God's will is fulfilled despite Ahab's attempts to thwart Him.

A challenge to our understanding comes in the vision that Micaiah has of heaven [somewhat similar to that found in Job 1 & 2] where fallen angels [spirits v.20] in God's presence are allowed a role in the court of heaven. One offers to act in a lying capacity to deceive the prophets of Baal – and thus they are deceived and declare lies to Ahab. What we see is God allowing such spirits to deceive those who are already in rebellion against God – even in the face of Him having the truth declared by His prophet. The reader needs to pray for understanding to see the complexity and reality of such a situation. There are other indicators in scripture that God uses Satan and his minions to fulfil His will, even as we see He allowed deception to lead astray the religious authorities to crucify His Son [see Acts 2:23] to fulfil the bigger plan of redemption.]

    

     

Continue to Ch.19