King Asa of Judah set his son Jehoshaphat an excellent example of getting right with God. He removed altars and “high places” where foreign gods were worshipped, and cut down Asherah poles dedicated to a goddess of fertility (2 Chronicles 14:2). Asa also commanded his people to seek God. And God blessed him. When Asa cried out to God against a huge attacking army of Cushites, God helped him utterly destroy them, and gave him peace until the 35th year of his reign (15:19).
Asa also set Jehoshaphat a bad example. In his 36th year as king, Israel and Aram blockaded Judah. Did Asa turn to God again? No, Asa relied on his own craftiness. He bribed the king of Aram with treasures from God’s temple, to break his treaty with Israel. God was not pleased and sent his prophet Hanani to say, “When you relied on the Lord, He delivered the Cushites into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the world to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing and from now on you will be at war” (16:8,9). Asa, however, remained unrepentant. He imprisoned Hanani, suppressed his people and did not seek God’s help when his feet became severely diseased. So he died.
Jehoshaphat started well, like his father. He sought God and sent officials, priests and Levites throughout Judah to teach God’s Law. Neighbouring countries sent him tribute, and Jehoshphat became rich and powerful (17:12, 18:1). Nonetheless, he formed an alliance with Israel by marrying his son to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. That caused him trouble. For when he visited Ahab, Ahab persuaded him to join in an attack on Ramoth Gilead. Why should Judah attack a faraway country that was not a threat?
Still, Jehoshaphat had enough sense to seek God’s counsel. Ahab trotted out 400 prophets who worshipped other gods (remember the 400 prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel?). They counselled going to war. At Jehoshaphat’s insistence, one prophet of the Lord was found. He said the 400 were lying, and warned of disaster. Did Jehoshaphat heed God’s prophet? No, he succumbed to the mathematical ratio of 400:1. In this age of science, technology and mathematics, do large numbers easily sway us too? Do we courageously stand by the Word of God against large numbers of “experts” whom we know are wrong?
Before the battle started, Ahab told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes; Ahab disguised himself as an ordinary charioteer. Naďvely Jehoshaphat obeyed, and became the focus of enemy attackers who assumed he was Ahab. How the evil, scheming, Ahab must have laughed – until a stray arrow wounded him. He bled to death and the battle was lost. As Jehoshaphat was about 40 years old, why was he so easily fooled? And why had Jehoshaphat not brought Hanani along with him to Israel?
When Jehoshaphat returned home, Hanani berated him: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this the wrath of the Lord is on you!” (19:2). These words hold important lessons for us today.
In atonement, Jehoshaphat went throughout Judah to turn his people back to God. He appointed many judges and charged them excellently: “You are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord….Judge carefully, for with our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery” (19:6,7). If only every court would display these words opposite where the judge sits.
Despite Jehoshaphat’s good deeds, war came to him, from the vast allied armies of Moab, Ammon and Seir. This time, Jehoshaphat inquired of the Lord. God spoke through Jahaziel, saying, “Do not be afraid….the battle is not yours but God’s” (20:15). True enough, as Jehoshaphat’s troops began to sing and praise God, God set ambushes that made each attacking army think an ally was attacking it. In their retaliatory attacks the three armies destroyed each other, without Jehoshaphat’s men lifting a finger!
Despite this, Jehoshaphat finished badly, like his father. He made another alliance with Israel’s king, “whose ways were wicked” (20:35), and agreed to build a fleet of trading ships. God, however, destroyed the fleet before it could set sail.
As for the alliance with Israel through marriage, Athaliah probably influenced her husband to murder his brothers and to restore Baal worship in Judah ((21:24). Athaliah herself seized the throne when her son was killed, and tried to exterminate the royal family, to entrench her position (22:10). This threatened the God-decreed Davidic line of rulers. An alliance with someone who hated God bred so much trouble and bloodshed.
Our parents’ examples influence us more than we know. If only Jehoshaphat had learnt from his father’s mistakes. But shouldn’t we learn from ours too?
Mickey Chiang: Learning from Good and Bad Example.
16 - 22 June 2008
Issue No. 23
Biblical GRADUATE school of theology
BGST This Week
Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies
Jenny Tao Poh Nar is a Communication & Management Graduate from the University of South Australia and a member of Zion Gospel Mission. She is a Senior Executive with the National University Hospital and has passion for local and foreign missions.
MA in Education for Christian Formation
Miss Chia Choon Yee is a Graduate of the National University of Singapore, Japan-Singapore Institute of Software Technology, the National Institute of Education and Singapore Bible College. She is a Polytechnic Lecturer and worships at Faith Methodist Church. Her ministry experience includes leading a cell-group and youth expedition projects with the National Youth Council.
Faculty in Marketplace Theology
Congratulations to Clive Lim on receiving his Master in Christian Studies degree and the Marketplace Theology Prize from Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. He is pursuing a doctorate in Workplace Leadership and Business Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Chapel Next Week
Our Speaker for next week’s chapel is Dr Aquila Lee. Do come and join us.
Council, Principal, Faculty & Staff
Alumni, Students, Supporters and Friends of BGST to our
Inaugural Chapel Service
for the New Academic Year Dedication
on Wednesday, 9 July 2008
at 7.15 pm
at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church,
235 Telok Ayer Street
You are also invited to a reception following the service
(RSVP by 4 July 2008: 62276815 or firstname.lastname@example.org)