Bible Study 10.31.11, 11.3.11, 11.6.11, For Worship 11.13.11Posted: October 24, 2011
Bible Study 10.31.11, 11.3.11, 11.6.11 For Worship 11.13.11
II Chronicles 20:14-30
II Chronicles 20:14 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
15 And he said, “Hearken, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.
16 Tomorrow go down against them; behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz; you will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel.
17 You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Fear not, and be not dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.
19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”
21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy array, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, destroying them utterly, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and behold, they were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.
25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the spoil from them, they found cattle in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much.
26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD; therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day.
27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies.
28 They came to Jerusalem, with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the LORD.
29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.
30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest round about.
Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! We’ve all heard his name at least as a kind of expletive. Who was he? Why remember him? Jehoshaphat was a King of Judah who reigned for twenty-five years from 873 – 849 BC. Jehoshaphat spent the first years of his reign fortifying his kingdom against Israel (2 Chronicles 17:1-2). The Bible lauds the king for overcoming sexual corruption (1 Kings 22:47), and for destroying the cult images or “idols” of Baal in the land. In the third year of his reign Jehoshaphat sent out priests and Levites over the land to instruct the people in the Law (2 Chronicles 17:7-9), and this is why he is remembered as a good King. The author of 2 Chronicles generally praises his reign, stating that the kingdom enjoyed a great measure of peace and prosperity, the blessing of God resting on the people “in their basket and their store.”
Jehoshaphat also pursued alliances with his contemporaries ruling the northern kingdom, the first being with Ahab, which was based on marriage: Jehoshaphat married his son Jehoram to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18). This alliance led to much disgrace, and brought disaster on his kingdom (1 Kings 22:1-33) with the Battle of Ramoth-Gilead. While Jehoshaphat safely returned from this battle, he was confronted by the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, (2 Chronicles 19:1-3) about this alliance. We are told that Jehoshaphat repented, and returned to his former course of opposition to all idolatry, and promoting the worship of God and in the government of his people (2 Chronicles 19:4-11).
He subsequently joined Jehoram, king of Israel, in a war against the Moabites, who were under tribute to Israel. This war was successful. The Moabites were subdued, but seeing Mesha‘s act of offering his own son in a human sacrifice on the walls of Kir-haresheth filled Jehoshaphat with horror, and he withdrew and returned to his own land. We need to remember that human sacrifice was practiced even in Judah down to the time of Josiah. During the reign of Josiah is probably when the story of the sacrifice of Isaac became inserted into the Genesis narrative.
The last notable event of his reign occurred when the Moabites formed a great and powerful confederacy with the surrounding nations, and marched against Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20). The allied forces were encamped at Ein Gedi. The king and his people were filled with alarm, and betook themselves to God in prayer. The king prayed in the court of the temple, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do; but our eyes are upon you.” Amid the silence that followed, the voice of Jahaziel the Levite was heard announcing that the next day all this great host would be overthrown. So it was, for they quarreled among themselves, and slew one another, leaving to the people of Judah only to gather the rich spoils of the slain. This was recognized as a great deliverance wrought for them by God.
The story of Jehoshaphat tells the story of a good King who tried to promote faithfulness to Yahweh in Judah, at the same time Ahab and his house were promoting Baal worship in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. We should note that Jehoshaphat would have been contemporary with the Prophet Elijah. Judah, however, was smaller, less affluent and had less military power than its wealthier neighbor to the North. It should be noted that despite Judah’s aid to the Israelites in the defeat of the Moabites, when push came to shove, and the Moabites were threatening to invade Judah, the Israelites were nowhere to be seen. Our story, however, is a tale of hope. We do need to take precautions when there are enemies around, but sometimes the folks who threaten us most will be their own undoing in the end. So often, when enemies confront us, we get all ginned up and over-react or rush into the conflict half prepared, or half –informed, when God is trying to whisper in our ear: “You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, standstill, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf.”
Sort of like Psalm 37:1 A Psalm of David. Fret not yourself because of the wicked, be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday.
7 Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.
10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look well at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT
1. Who was inspired to prophecy in our story?
2. From what tribe did he come?
3. With whom was Jehoshaphat preparing for battle?
4. Where were the Moabites encamped?
5. What pass did the prophet predict the Moabites would use to approach Jerusalem.
6. What advice for battle did the prophet give to Jehoshaphat.
7. In the Moabite alliance, who ended up fighting whom?
8. What did Jehoshaphat and his army collect on the battle field?
9. What was the consequence of Jehoshaphat’s faithfulness?
LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK QUESTIONS OF US
1. How did the spirit choose someone to speak through?
2. Have you ever prepared for a big confrontation, and then there was no conflict after all?
3. What challenges in your life are you the most anxious about?
4. What is your most persistent spiritual struggle?
5. If you had been Jehoshaphat and a large army was approaching, what would you do?
6. Can you think of anything Jesus said or did, that reminds you of the story of Jehoshaphat?
7. If your enemies do themselves in, have you loved your enemy.
8. Do you ever find yourself fretting over the actions of people who don’t like you?
9. According to Jesus do you think it is always a good thing to avoid a conflict?
How do you relate the example of Jesus to the Story of Jehos