Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Daily reading assignment – 2 Chronicles 16-20
I pick up our reading of 2 Chronicles, reminding you Israel is a divided nation. The northern ten tribes, known as Israel, rebelled against king Rehoboam, following the usurper Jeroboam who had been an adversary of king Solomon. The southern nation, consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, was known as Judah and aligned themselves with heirs of David’s throne and maintained a semblance of worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.
As we come to 2 Chronicles 16 we find Asa, the great-grandson of Solomon reigning in Judah. Asa ruled forty-one years and led the nation in revival, purging Judah of idols (2 Chronicles 14:2-5), strengthening the defense of the nation (14:6-8) and most importantly, setting his heart to serve the LORD (14:7).
Asa’s reign was one of success, peace and prosperity, until the closing years of his life. In the thirty-sixth year of his reign, when Baasha, king of Israel led an invasion against Judah, Asa failed to call upon the LORD and made a covenant with Benhadad king of Syria (16:1-6).
Asa’s decision, successful in the immediate, nevertheless proved foolish when he learned from a prophet named Hanani, the LORD would have given him victory not only over Israel, but also Syria if he had turned to the LORD. Hanani declared Asa’s failure foolish, warning him it would haunt him the rest of his life for “henceforth thou shalt have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Rather than repent, Asa was enraged and placed Hanani in prison (16:10). Three years later, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign in Judah, God afflicted Asa with a disease in his feet (16:12). The disease is not identified. Some scholars suggest his affliction was gout. I wonder if it was gangrene. Whatever it was, the affliction proved terminal when Asa turned to his physicians rather than to the LORD. A great memorial was held upon Asa’s death, however, his lifetime of serving the LORD was marred by his faithlessness and rebellion in his later years (2 Chronicles 16:13-14).
Perhaps learning from the tragic failures of his father, Jehoshaphat son of Asa, “walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; 4 But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel” (2 Chronicles 17:3-4).
Jehoshaphat foolishly made a league with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel in 2 Chronicles 18, and allied himself to go to war against Ramothgilead. The story of Ahab’s inquiry with the prophet Micaiah is humorous, but also tragic. Jehoshaphat recognized Ahab’s prophets were not of the LORD and asked Ahab, “Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?” (18:6)
There was one faithful prophet; however, Ahab was disinclined to seek his counsel for, in the king’s words, “I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla…” (18:7).
Adorned in their royal robes, each sitting upon his own throne, Jehoshaphat and Ahab must have been an impressive sight (18:8-14); however, the prophet Micaiah was not intimidated and even trifled with king Ahab, telling the king what the king wanted to hear (18:14-15). Ahab became incensed and demanded Micaiah prophesy what the LORD revealed to him (18:15-16).
Micaiah prophesied the scattering of Israel and Ahab’s imminent death in battle (18:16-22). In spite of an attempt to disguise himself by removing his royal robes (18:28-33), Ahab was struck by an arrow and perished as the sun was setting on the battlefield (18:34).
When Jehoshaphat returned from the battle, Jehu, the son of Hanani whom his father Asa had imprisoned, confronted the king (19:1-2). Evidencing the boldness of a prophet of God, Jehu condemned the king’s alliance with Ahab saying, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (19:2).
In spite of Jehoshaphat’s failure, Jehu comforted him with the promise of God’s grace saying, “there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God” (2 Chronicles 19:3). Jehoshaphat set his heart to lead Judah in the way of the LORD and set judges in the land to rule in difficult matters (19:4-11).
Near the latter years of his reign, Jehoshaphat received word a confederacy of enemies was coming to wage war against Judah (20:1-3). We read, “Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” and called upon the LORD before the people in the Temple (20:3-13).
God heard the king’s prayer and sent Jahaziel to prophecy and encourage the king and Judah saying, “Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (20:15).
With God’s assurance, the people went to the battlefield and found their enemies had turned and destroyed one another (20:22-23). Without lifting a sword or spear, the LORD gave Judah victory and it took three days to gather the spoils (20:24-25). Receiving the news of Judah’s victory and how the LORD had fought against their enemies, “the fear of God was on all the kingdoms” (20:29).
We can take many lessons from today’s reading…perhaps the most prominent one is the LORD wants us to call upon Him in times of trouble, trials and sickness. When we are afraid, call upon the LORD. When enemies threaten and we feel overwhelmed, remember, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (16:9), for “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith