Tuesday 23rd August 2022

2 CHRONICLES 18

“Do not be unequally yoked” is a common phrase or concept in both Old and New Testaments.  It means not to involve yourself in any relationship or enterprise that may risk you compromising your own beliefs and values.  Well, the godly Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was invited to join forces with Ahab, king of Israel, in order to begin a military campaign whose objective was to retake Ramoth Gilead – an Israelite city across the Jordan – from the rule of Aram.  Foolishly, Jehoshaphat agreed, without counting the cost.  Later on, in 2 Chronicles 19:2, we see that God was very displeased with Jehoshaphat for doing this.  However, Jehoshaphat did have the sense to propose that they sought the Lord about the wisdom of fighting at all.  Somewhat grudgingly, Ahab agreed.

Ahab’s method of getting guidance was to ‘ask the audience’ – that being the for hundred or so prophets who had close associations with Baal worship, although they probably also had a nominal allegiance to the Lord too.  Without the Spirit of God in them, their answer was expedient and political – they told Ahab what they thought he wanted to hear.  A prophet whose main motivation is popularity is, by definition, no prophet!  “Go for it – they chorused – because the victory will be yours!” 

“Maybe we could get an independent opinion”, said Jehoshaphat; “perhaps even God’s viewpoint?”  Ahab knew of just such a prophet, but was not happy, since nothing good was ever prophesied about Ahab himself; Jehoshaphat recognised the voice of God in this and persuaded Ahab to send for Micaiah.  When he arrived, either through fear or through sarcasm, he mimicked the false prophets’ message; even Ahab saw through that one!  “OK, tell me the truth” he insisted.

Micaiah had seen the court of heaven, with the Judge on the Throne; he delivered heaven’s verdict on the forthcoming battle: defeat for Israel and death for Ahab.  He also revealed that God had allowed a deceiving spirit to infiltrate the ranks of the false prophets (not hard, that) and put the false message into their mouths.  Despite hearing this prophecy, Ahab and Jehoshaphat went ahead with the campaign, although Ahab disguised himself and left Jehoshaphat the more vulnerable king.

In the battle, God protected Jehoshaphat and a ‘random’ arrow shot hit Ahab in the only part of his armour that was vulnerable.  What we describe as random is actually the will of the Lord; there is no such thing as ‘random’ to Him.  So Ahab died and his son, Ahaziah, succeeded him.  He was a ‘chip off the old block’ as far as character and religion were concerned; he did evil and he worshiped evil.

Jehoshaphat continued his reign in Judah, mainly acting to please the Lord, but sometimes forming unwise alliances for trading or military purposes.  Again, let us be warned that unequal yoking can undermine a godly character and derail a positive lifestyle.

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