II Chronicles 17-23
We are in the Nation Stream reading from the Easy-to-Read Version.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Lord, we read of all the tumult today, the good and bad that come and go and we want to simply pause and escape the chaos that accompanies the evil people. Lord, keep US in your will, your hand, and in your sight. Amen.
17 – Jehoshaphat becomes the new king. He was for the most part good. He resembled his father Asa, who was good for 39 of his 41 years. Remembered his refusal to “take things to God” the last two years of his life? Notice the same motif in verse three in this chapter, “…in his young life he did the good things…” Jehoshaphat obeyed and sought our the Lord’s advice most of the time. Let’s learn what we can from him and not gloss over the things Jehoshaphat erred in. Remember, is it ok for a boat builder to fix ‘most’ of the leaks?! Yeah, you get what we’re saying
Jehoshaphat sent teachers across Judah to teach the Law of The Lord. This is good. The people are strengthened as is the nation because of it. The neighbors start bringing gifts to stay on Judah’s good side. The army is trained and tallied at 1,160,000 battle-ready soldiers who were smartly stationed across the kingdom. Do we realize that their army in a kingdom that was far smaller than the US State of Rhode Island was larger than the US Army is as of 2016? Judah was a country that was stocked, fortified, fed and ready to defend itself.
18 – The first thing that ought strike at our hearts is “why is Jehoshaphat dabbling with darkness?” He conspired with Ahab&Jezebel to have their daughter and his son marry. Gee what kind of gem might that young lady be?! So Jehoshaphat and Ahab are side by side and conversing. Not only are their children married. He later goes into battle with him. It’s foolish! Hint: Ahab and Jezebel are utterly dark souls. Don’t do deals with the Devil, ditch him. Later Ahab needs a word from a prophet regarding war with the Arameans, but he wants to hear what he wants to hear; not the truth. It’s like the Neil Diamond lyric, “pour me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies.” Ahab prefers ‘go ahead, lie to me’. And he likes it that way! Jehoshaphat has had plenty warning but he doesn’t cut these ties with Ahab. Micaiah is a truthful prophet and he has enough presence of mind to toy with Ahab and obviously/openly reveal to Ahab that Ahab prefers to be lied to v.s. told the truth. As Micaiah prophesies the drama is intense, and he pays for telling the truth – but lying would have been far more costly. We just read it so it doesn’t need to described again. Ahab proceeds into war, gets drilled, and dies.
19 – Though Ahab dies, Jehoshaphat returns from battle. Consequently the scolding he receives from Jehu is warranted. Next Jehoshaphat places judges around the country. This is reminiscent of Moses getting Jethro’s advice in Exodus 18 to appoint judges to spread the work around v.s bottle-necking everything through him like control-freaks tend to do.
20 – The encounter here is a very famous one. Enemies are coming to eliminate Judah. The Lord’s help is needed immediately. They cannot afford to lose this battle to Ammon and Moab. It’s basically D-Day and Judah, led by Jehoshaphat, had to win. They consult the Lord – something Jehoshaphat did not do enough – but he did so here. His prayer in the open meeting is legendary. The reply from God comes via Jahaziel. The plan of marching to battle with the worship singers leading the pack was Jehoshaphat’s orders. Memo to all of us: worship first and God can work His plan on our behalf. The enemy turns on itself and completely obliterates the threat (not one survived!). It is a victory for Judah AND a payday. How long does it take you to rake up your autumn leaves? Well imagine having so much cash bills dropped on your lawn that it takes three days to rake it all up and put it in bags. That is what Judah and Jehoshaphat are dealing with here. This time they listened to God and worshipped first instead of negotiating with evil people. The rewards were staggering. To summarize Jehoshaphat’s reign, he did well a lot of the time but could have done it God’s way all the time and everywhere but he didn’t. His attempt at partnering in a shipping company was a disaster. Yes his faith in God was admirable but his concurrent dabbling with dark people marked his life as well.
21 – Jehoshaphat’s dubious commitments end up plaguing his children as well. His son Jehoram, whom Jehoshaphat arranged to marry Athaliah – daughter of Ahab/Jezebel – was as wretched as can be. He removes his brothers from the scene [murder], so to eliminate any threat to his power- so all is well… right?! Tell me about it! This is put in there at the opening of Jehoram’s reign to tell us what kind of man he was. The fights of his entire rule begin in his own heart. He is against God and his own family. So God turns on him. Soon all his neighbors turn on him (he unwittingly asked for it!). And at the end of his life the fight comes right home to him and into his own guts. Did you catch the misery he was in at the end of his days. It was revolting. Even his own people got rid of him as quickly and quietly as possible. Everyone was relieved to have him gone.
22 – Ahaziah is chosen king. He is grandson of Jehoshaphat on his father’s side and Jezebel on his mother’s side. So he is from a partly good family …and v.v. Well, how does a car roll when half it’s tires are inflated and half are flat? You get the message. But Ahaziah’s parents were both bad though his father Jehoram was raised right, sort of.
He allies with Joram; the King of Israel (his ancestors were equally mistaken to do this). This has him encounter Jehu who kills them both since Jehu was on a blitz to wipe out Ahab’s entire family. This enrages Athaliah; Ahaziah’s mother. She retaliates by killing all the king’s children in her scheme to assume power. Athaliah was raised by Jezebel, remember? The next in line for the throne, Joash, is hidden in the Temple for six years while Athaliah ran Judah illegitimately for those six years.
23 – This is a house-cleaning chapter. It is a comprehensive plan to rid the country of Athaliah and the residue of Baal she brought in since being a daughter of Jezebel who was raised a Sidonian pagan. Jehoiada took leadership in bringing the priests together, arming them all and arranging for the elimination of Athaliah. The Temple rule is played perfectly, which drew Athaliah past her boundary. The king-in-hiding had been carefully brought into place and we just read the illicit accusation of “treason” and consequently evil Athaliah is taken out and disposed of. With an evil queen gone, with a priest coordinating matters, with a good [though young] king newly enthroned, Judah was set to have some good years. All Joash had to do was stay on the path that the Priest Jehoiada had brought them down so far? Would he stay on this right path?