Today’s Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 4-6:11; Romans 7:1-13; Psalm 17:1-15; Proverbs 19:22-23
The next king after Asa was his son, Jehoshaphat. God was with Jehoshaphat because he did not worship false gods and instead sought God and obeyed His commands (2 Chronicles 17:3). The principle is clear – and is one we’ve already read dozens of times thus far this year – if we stay with God He will stay with us. If we abandon God He will abandon us. God gives us what we want.
As we read through the Bible it sometimes sounds like God is a broken record – saying the same thing over and over. But that is because we are slow to understand. We need to be told what to do repeatedly before we do it, if we do it at all.
Can you imagine the President of the United States sending people throughout the country to teach the Bible? That is exactly what Jehoshaphat does in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9. There is no separation of church and state according to God. There are only believers and non-believers. And the believer’s job is to tell the non-believers about Him.
This includes leaders who will be held accountable for the people they lead. Recent U.S. presidents will have to answer for the spiritual well-being of the 300+ million people they lead. I wouldn’t want to come face-to-face with God having to explain that I, as president of a large nation, lead all those people away from Him.
Jehoshaphat makes a mistake in 2 Chronicles 18:1 when he marries Ahab’s daughter. Creating political alliances through marriage to keep peace was not unusual back then, but Jehoshaphat should have relied on God, not politics to protect Judah.
Before going into battle Jehoshaphat rightly inquires of God (2 Chronicles 17:4) but not before he already committed himself to go (2 Chronicles 17:3). He should have done this the other way around. As we’ve already read, breaking a promise, even a foolish one, is a sin. So no matter what the prophets said, Jehoshaphat was obligated to go to war.
King Ahab summon’s his “yes” men (400 of them!) who tell him that God is on his side (2 Chronicles 18:5) but Jehoshaphat recognizes them for what they are and requests a real prophet (2 Chronicles 18:6). One of the blessings that God gives us when we are walking closely with Him is discernment. Jehoshaphat had a good relationship with God and was therefore able to see that these 400 so-called prophets were not speaking for God.
Ahab reacts to Micaiah’s prophecy the way many people react to God’s truth: with a violent outburst (2 Chronicles 18:25). Many people think that if they can dismiss the truth from their lives they can replace it with their own truth that will miraculously become reality. But life doesn’t work that way.
Paul proves that God’s plan was always to save Gentiles as well as Jews by quoting the Old Testament prophet Hosea in Romans 9:25-26. God also never promised that all of Israel would be saved, but only a remnant (Romans 9:27 quoting Isaiah 10:22). Salvation does not come to someone because of their ancestry, as the Jews thought and, in fact, still think today.
While the Gentiles got right with God through faith (Romans 9:30) the Jews tried to get right with God by following the law (Romans 9:31-32). They tried to be good enough through their actions. And that was their big mistake.
Israel had great zeal for God, but that zeal was misdirected (Romans 10:2). Here we see that God will not reward people who earnestly and sincerely believe the wrong thing.
It is not enough to be on fire for God. We have to be on fire for the right God. It is not enough to deeply believe wonderful things. We have to deeply believe the right things. We cannot make our own way to heaven. The only way there is to follow the way that God has laid out. And that way is through Jesus the Christ (Romans 9:3-4).
Unless, of course, someone is able to follow all of God’s commands from birth to death (Romans 10:5). But no one can do that. The only way to heaven is by believing that Jesus is God and that He died and went to hell in our place and then was raised from the dead as proof that our sins had been paid for (Romans 10:9-10).
Psalm 20 reminds us that victory comes not from human ingenuity or military strength, but from God (Psalm 20:7). Israel was almost always at a military disadvantage against her enemies who had better technology. Yet God gave Israel victory after victory. We cannot place our trust in how many bombs we have or how big our army is. We need to trust God. Likewise, we need not be afraid of our enemy’s military strength. It will not be Iran’s nuclear bombs that destroy us. It will be God who will destroy us through Iran’s nuclear bombs because of our unfaithfulness to Him.
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