Morning Light – December 7th, 2015

MLx250Today: [2 Chronicles Seventeen] Becoming a King God will Favor. In this chapter we meet Jehoshaphat the son of Asa. Jehoshaphat was a reformer and a person of devout commitment to the writings of Moses and to God Himself. In all of his challenges Jehoshaphat sought the mind of God before he sought the opinion of men. Today leaders don’t do anything without consulting the polls. Jehoshaphat could never have been elected in a modern nation because he was only interested in knowing the way that God would have him take regardless what others thought. As a result Jehoshaphat was blessed and God established him greatly.
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[2Ch 17:1-19 KJV] 1 And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel. 2 And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken. 3 And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; 4 But sought to the [LORD] God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. 5 Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance. 6 And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
After king Asa dies his son Jehoshaphat rules in his place. Jehoshaphat’s reign lasted for 25 years and was one of the most prosperous in Judah’s history. He was a congenial king and a good administrator. He put God first and leaned heavily on the priest class to inform the people and reform Judean society according to the dictates of the law of Moses. Unlike some of the failures of Rehoboam, Abijah and Asa he completely and totally rejected Baalim and was more like his ancestor David than any of his immediate predescessors. He is spoken of as one that sought the Lord and did not follow after the cultural practices of the day.
In modern statescraft it is considered of utmost importance to follow the polls and govern according to popular opinion. A leader who is tone deaf toward his constituency is rejected and will seldom remain long in office. Jehoshaphat would never have been reelected in a modern election. He did not walk after the “doings of Israel”. He wasn’t motivated to demonstrate commonality with other nations or with the cosmopolitan lifestyles of his own subjects. Rather he sought to the Lord. The word “sought” here means to “resort to; inquire after; to pray”. The root word means to “tread or to frequent”. The presence of God was Jehoshaphat’s familiar resort. He walked in God’s ways as he understood them and was teachable and obedient to walk in the light that he received from the word of God.
As a result God established Jehoshaphat’s rule in riches, honor and abundance. If this is not our experience we must ask ourselves have we done what Jehoshaphat did? Christian theology suggests that in the New Testament God delights in poverty of spirit and humility of character rather than riches and honor. Are these two thing mutually exclusive one of another? Is it possible to be blessed in the things of the world and still be humble toward God? Paul said this:
2 Cor. 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
This tells us that the poverty of Jesus was not an exemplery condition we are to seek to emulate. Rather it was a substitutionary suffering so that we could in fact be supplied with the blessings of this life in such a way that our relationship with God remains intact. It is no more acceptable to see yourself as poor like Jesus than to see yourself participating in the passion rituals of primitive Andean cultures who nail themselves to crosses and parade through the streets hoping to please God by their self imposed suffering. John 10:10 tells us Jesus came that we might have life and life more abundantly. Jehoshaphat’s example tells us that part of seeing that happen is to cut across the grain of popular culture and seek God rather than popular opinion or the trends of the day.
7 Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, [even] to Benhail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. 8 And with them [he sent] Levites, [even] Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests. 9 And they taught in Judah, and [had] the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people. 10 And 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. 11 Also [some] of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. 12 And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store. 13 And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, [were] in Jerusalem.
Jehoshaphat sent teaching priests throughout Judah to instruct the people. Each one of them took the book of the law or the first five books of Moses with them. Centuries later Constantine did the same thing when he commissioned 50 copies of the bible to be distributed throughout his empire to establish continuity of worship in the 4th century Roman empire. Out of that process of copying and establishing the distribution of Holy Writ came the understanding of the canon of scripture or that the scripture is a closed rather than an open ended collection of writings. This is a historical development rather than a set time that God spoke through a prophet saying “these are the books you call the bible”.
As the priests went through all the land teaching at the same time Jehoshaphat was seeking out the hidden groves and pagan temples in the high places to destroy them. How is it that pagan worship continued pretty much unabated from Solomon’s day down to the captivity? The answer lies in the rituals that were practiced there. In ancient times pagan temples were connected to the food supply. There was never a grain harvest gathered or an animal slaughtered that it was not done so as an act of worship toward a pagan god. Ancient temples were also houses of prostitution. In our culture society is sexualized through the media. In ancient times soceity was sexualized through pagan worship. Therefore because of these deeply engrained practices idolatry was never fully stamped out in Israel or in Judah.
14 And these [are] the numbers of them according to the house of their fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand. 15 And next to him [was] Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand. 16 And next him [was] Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour. 17 And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand. 18 And next him [was] Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war. 19 These waited on the king, beside [those] whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.
During Jehoshaphat’s reign even former enemies willingly offered him tribute. Solomon made this statement in Proverbs:
Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
There are going to be people in your life that will not rejoice to see you prosper. They will jealously covet the good things that God does in your life. They will press in to all of your activities to see what your secret is or how to take advantage by copying your example. Yet for all their envy they will show favor toward you. That doesn’t mean they are your new best friends. That simply means that God is working in their lives to make them a benefit to you in spite of themselves. Jehoshaphat often entertained such activity around him yet at the same time there were godly men and leaders who connected with him because they willingly offered themselves to the Lord.
So you will see that there are two classes of people that will gravitate toward you when the blessing of God rests upon your life. There will be those who come for contaminated motives and those who understand that in connection to you in some way there is an opportunity to serve the God they know and love. It is up to you to know the difference and act accordingly.

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