SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37
17:1 His son Jehoshaphat replaced him as king and solidified his rule over Israel. 2 He placed troops in all Judah’s fortified cities and posted garrisons throughout the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim that his father Asa had seized.
3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps at the beginning of his reign. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but instead sought the God of his ancestors and obeyed his commands, unlike the Israelites. 5 The Lord made his kingdom secure; all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he became very wealthy and greatly respected. 6 He was committed to following the Lord; he even removed the high places and Asherah poles from Judah.
7 In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 They were accompanied by the Levites Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah, and by the priests Elishama and Jehoram. 9 They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the scroll of the law of the Lord. They traveled to all the cities of Judah and taught the people.
10 The Lord put fear into all the kingdoms surrounding Judah; they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat tribute, including a load of silver. The Arabs brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats from their flocks.
12 Jehoshaphat’s power kept increasing. He built fortresses and storage cities throughout Judah. 13 He had many supplies stored in the cities of Judah and an army of skilled warriors stationed in Jerusalem. 14 These were their divisions by families:
There were 1,000 officers from Judah. Adnah the commander led 300,000 skilled warriors, 15 Jehochanan the commander led 280,000, 16 and Amasiah son of Zikri, who volunteered to serve the Lord, led 200,000 skilled warriors.
17 From Benjamin, Eliada, a skilled warrior, led 200,000 men who were equipped with bows and shields, 18 and Jehozabad led 180,000 trained warriors.
19 These were the ones who served the king, besides those whom the king placed in the fortified cities throughout Judah.
18:1 Jehoshaphat was very wealthy and greatly respected. He made an alliance by marriage with Ahab, 2 and after several years went down to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle to honor Jehoshaphat and those who came with him. He persuaded him to join in an attack against Ramoth Gilead. 3 King Ahab of Israel said to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, “Will you go with me to attack Ramoth Gilead?” He replied, “I will support you; my army is at your disposal and will support you in battle.” 4 Then Jehoshaphat said further to the king of Israel, “First, please seek an oracle from the Lord.” 5 So the king of Israel assembled 400 prophets and asked them, “Should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” They said, “Attack! God will hand it over to the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord still here that we may ask him?” 7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can seek the Lord’s will, but I despise him because he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but always disaster—Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat said, “The king should not say such things!” 8 The king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Quickly bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
9 Now the king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were sitting on their respective thrones, dressed in their royal robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria. All the prophets were prophesying before them. 10 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah made iron horns and said, “This is what the Lord says, ‘With these you will gore Syria until they are destroyed.’” 11 All the prophets were prophesying the same, saying, “Attack Ramoth Gilead! You will succeed; the Lord will hand it over to the king.” 12 Now the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the prophets are in complete agreement that the king will succeed. Your words must agree with theirs; you must predict success!” 13 But Micaiah said, “As certainly as the Lord lives, I will say what my God tells me to say!”
14 Micaiah came before the king and the king asked him, “Micaiah, should we attack Ramoth Gilead or not?” He answered him, “Attack! You will succeed; they will be handed over to you.” 15 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you solemnly promise in the name of the Lord to tell me only the truth?” 16 Micaiah replied, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep that have no shepherd. Then the Lord said, ‘They have no master. They should go home in peace.’” 17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you he does not prophesy prosperity for me, but disaster?” 18 Micaiah said, “That being the case, listen to the Lord’s message. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. 19 The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive King Ahab of Israel, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?’ One said this and another that. 20 Then a spirit stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ 21 He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lord said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. Go out and do as you have proposed.’ 22 So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours, but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.” 23 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah approached, hit Micaiah on the jaw, and said, “Which way did the Lord’s Spirit go when he went from me to speak to you?” 24 Micaiah replied, “Look, you will see in the day when you go into an inner room to hide.” 25 Then the king of Israel said, “Take Micaiah and return him to Amon the city official and Joash the king’s son. 26 Say, ‘This is what the king says: “Put this man in prison. Give him only a little bread and water until I return safely.”’” 27 Micaiah said, “If you really do return safely, then the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added, “Take note, all you people.”
28 The king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and then enter the battle, but you wear your royal attire.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and they entered the battle. 30 Now the king of Syria had ordered his chariot commanders, “Do not fight common soldiers or high ranking officers; fight only the king of Israel!” 31 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “He must be the king of Israel!” So they turned and attacked him, but Jehoshaphat cried out. The Lord helped him; God lured them away from him. 32 When the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, they turned away from him. 33 Now an archer shot an arrow at random, and it struck the king of Israel between the plates of his armor. The king ordered his charioteer, “Turn around and take me from the battle line, for I am wounded.” 34 While the battle raged throughout the day, the king of Israel stood propped up in his chariot opposite the Syrians. He died in the evening as the sun was setting.
19:1 When King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned home safely to Jerusalem, 2 the prophet Jehu son of Hanani confronted him; he said to King Jehoshaphat, “Is it right to help the wicked and be an ally of those who oppose the Lord? Because you have done this, the Lord is angry with you! 3 Nevertheless you have done some good things; you removed the Asherah poles from the land, and you were determined to follow God.”
4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem. He went out among the people from Beer Sheba to the hill country of Ephraim and encouraged them to follow the Lord God of their ancestors. 5 He appointed judges throughout the land and in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told the judges, “Be careful what you do, for you are not judging for men, but for the Lord, who will be with you when you make judicial decisions. 7 Respect the Lord and make careful decisions, for the Lord our God disapproves of injustice, partiality, and bribery.”
8 In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some Levites, priests, and Israelite family leaders to judge on behalf of the Lord and to settle disputes among the residents of Jerusalem. 9 He commanded them: “Carry out your duties with respect for the Lord, with honesty, and with pure motives. 10 Whenever your countrymen who live in the cities bring a case before you (whether it involves a violent crime or other matters related to the law, commandments, rules, and regulations), warn them that they must not sin against the Lord. If you fail to do so, God will be angry with you and your colleagues, but if you obey, you will be free of guilt. 11 Take note, Amariah the chief priest will oversee you in every matter pertaining to the Lord and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the family of Judah, in every matter pertaining to the king. The Levites will serve as officials before you. Act courageously, and may the Lord be with those who do well!”
20:1 Later the Moabites and Ammonites, along with some of the Meunites, attacked Jehoshaphat. 2 Messengers arrived and reported to Jehoshaphat, “A huge army is attacking you from the other side of the Dead Sea, from the direction of Edom. Look, they are in Hazazon Tamar (that is, En Gedi).” 3 Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he decided to seek the Lord’s advice. He decreed that all Judah should observe a fast. 4 The people of Judah assembled to ask for the Lord’s help; they came from all the cities of Judah to ask for the Lord’s help.
5 Jehoshaphat stood before the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the Lord’s temple, in front of the new courtyard. 6 He prayed: “O Lord God of our ancestors, you are the God who lives in heaven and rules over all the kingdoms of the nations. You possess strength and power; no one can stand against you. 7 Our God, you drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and gave it as a permanent possession to the descendants of your friend Abraham. 8 They settled down in it and built in it a temple to honor you, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes on us in the form of military attack, judgment, plague, or famine, we will stand in front of this temple before you, for you are present in this temple. We will cry out to you for help in our distress, so that you will hear and deliver us.’ 10 Now the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir are coming! When Israel came from the land of Egypt, you did not allow them to invade these lands. They bypassed them and did not destroy them. 11 Look how they are repaying us! They come to drive us out of our allotted land which you assigned to us! 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we are powerless against this huge army that attacks us. We don’t know what we should do; we look to you for help.”
13 All the men of Judah were standing before the Lord, along with their infants, wives, and children. 14 Then in the midst of the assembly, the Lord’s Spirit came upon Jachaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph. 15 He said: “Pay attention, all you people of Judah, residents of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of this huge army! For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them as they come up the Ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the ravine in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not fight in this battle. Take your positions, stand, and watch the Lord deliver you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! Tomorrow march out toward them; the Lord is with you!’”
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face toward the ground, and all the people of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord and worshiped him. 19 Then some Levites, from the Kohathites and Korahites, got up and loudly praised the Lord God of Israel.
20 Early the next morning they marched out to the wilderness of Tekoa. When they were ready to march, Jehoshaphat stood up and said: “Listen to me, you people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe! Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.” 21 He met with the people and appointed musicians to play before the Lord and praise his majestic splendor. As they marched ahead of the warriors they said: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his loyal love endures.”
22 When they began to shout and praise, the Lord suddenly attacked the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites attacked the men from Mount Seir and annihilated them. When they had finished off the men of Seir, they attacked and destroyed one another. 24 When the men of Judah arrived at the observation post overlooking the wilderness and looked at the huge army, they saw dead bodies on the ground; there were no survivors. 25 Jehoshaphat and his men went to gather the plunder; they found a huge amount of supplies, clothing, and valuable items. They carried away everything they could. There was so much plunder, it took them three days to haul it off.
26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, where they praised the Lord. So that place is called the Valley of Berachah to this very day. 27 Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat leading them; the Lord had given them reason to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem to the sound of stringed instruments and trumpets and proceeded to the temple of the Lord. 29 All the kingdoms of the surrounding lands were afraid of God when they heard how the Lord had fought against Israel’s enemies. 30 Jehoshaphat’s kingdom enjoyed peace; his God made him secure on every side.
31 Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi. 32 He followed in his father Asa’s footsteps and was careful to do what the Lord approved. 33 However, the high places were not eliminated; the people were still not devoted to the God of their ancestors.
34 The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from start to finish, are recorded in the Annals of Jehu son of Hanani, which are included in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel.
35 Later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who did evil. 36 They agreed to make large seagoing merchant ships; they built the ships in Ezion Geber. 37 Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, “Because you made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will shatter what you have made.” The ships were wrecked and unable to go to sea.