A Warning From Jehoshaphat

 

Jehoshaphat began his 25 year reign as king in Judah about 100 years after the death of his great-great-great grandfather, king David of Israel, around B.C. 914. (1 Kings 2:12; 11:43; 14:31; 15:8; 22:41).  He did not walk in the sins of his grandfather, Abijam, and his great grandfather, Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:31-15:3), but did that which was "right in the eyes of the Lord," like his father, Asa (1 Kings 22:43).  Inspiration declares many good things about Jehoshaphat and his rule:

And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Is­rael.  Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:3-6).

 

Moreover, he sent Levites forth with his princes to be sure that God's word was taught in the land: "And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about through­ out all the cities of Judah, and taught the people" (cf. 2 Chronicles 17:7-9).  God blessed and strengthened Judah during this time (cf. 2 Chronicles 17:10-19). In fact: "... the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jeho­shaphat" (2 Chronicles 17:10).

Nevertheless, the fourth king of Judah made a serious mistake. "Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he allied himself with Ahab" (2 Chronicles 18:1; NKJV). There was really no excuse for giving his son, Jehoram, in marriage to the daughter of Ahab, who was infamous for his great wickedness: "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him ... And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (1 Kings 16:30, 33).  Ahab was "stirred up" to "work wickedness in the sight of the Lord" by his wicked wife, Jezebel (1 Kings 21:25; cf. 16:31).  In like manner, their daughter, Athaliah, would influence her husband and Jehoshaphat's son, Jehoram, to do "evil in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 21:6). After Jehoram succeeded Jehoshaphat to the throne of Judah, he: "killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel" (2 Chronicles 21 :4b).

Later, after Jehoram's death, Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead, and after he died, Athaliah, his mother, "arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah," with the exception of Joash who escaped. Then, she reigned over Judah for six years (cf. 2 Chronicles 22:1, 10-12). Evidently, Jehoshaphat had no idea that the joining of his son to the house of Ahab in marriage would result in the bloodshed of his own sons and grandsons, and the promotion of idolatry and fornication in Judah (cf. 2 Chronicles 21:5-13). Sadly, Jehoshaphat's son and daughter-in-law and grandson, worked to undo all the good that he had done.  In fact, the prophet of God, Elijah, declared to Jehoram, that he had: "made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house, which were better than thyself” (cf. 2 Chronicles 21:13).  No doubt, Jehoshaphat would have cringed at the thought of the marriage of his son into this wicked family, had he been able to forsee the future.

Why today will God's people do so foolishly?  We have example after example in the Scriptures to warn us against the danger of compromise and joining affinity with the wicked.  Jehoshaphat did right in many ways, but was very loose in his fellowship practices.  For example, after he went into battle with Ahab against Syria, Jehu the prophet said to him: "Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD" (2 Chronicles 19:2).  Likewise today, God commands us: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).

It is noteworthy that Jehoshaphat joined affinity with one who practiced that which he condemned.  Likewise, today, we have brethren who extend fellowship to those who practice that which they condemn in their teaching.  This ought not so to be!

Brethren, remember, as in the family of Jeshoshaphat, our precious children and grandchildren may later pay a heavy price for the compromises we make today.  Moreover, let us be warned by Jehoshaphat's example, that the good we have done in the past does not excuse us for compromising with error, and that these very compromises may later undo much of the good that we have done for Christ. [Danny Douglas, The Saluter; September 28, 2008, Dresden church of Christ, Dresden, TN]