Today: [2 Chronicles Nineteen] Judging Righteous Judgment. In this chapter Jehoshaphat is reproved by a young prophet for his involvement with Ahab. Rather than condemn the young prophet Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem and continues his walk with God. He made an error but he doesn’t wallow in it. He doesn’t convene counsels of leaders and princes to review just how wrong he was. Instead he sets about on a personal campaign of bringing the nation to reform and godliness.
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[2Ch 19:1-11 KJV] 1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore [is] wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
In the previous chapter we see Ahab meet his death as prophesied by Maiciah the prophet. Jehoshaphat was mistaken by the Syrians to be Ahab on the battlefield yet he escapes with his life and returns to Jerusalem. He should have been killed in battle because of the deception and manipulation of Ahab but he survived because God was with him. There are times you will suffer and be threatened because of your unwise connection to ungodly people – however God will not withdraw Himself from you because of a lack of wisdom. This is important to know because Jehoshaphat had to know that God was moving around him to keep him alive in the battle. He could have concluded “I must be doing the right thing because God is defending me…” We do this in life’s circumstances at times – assuming that we are right or are making right decisions because we see the hand of God at work. Let Jehoshaphat be your example. Just because the Spirit of God is shielding and surrounding you doesn’t mean you haven’t done something in error. It doesn’t mean you are right in your decisions. It simply means that God’s love for you is not based on you being perfect. You are imperfect and you make mistakes and outright errors but God will not remove His hand of protection from your life.
When Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem he is met by Jehu the son of the prophet Hanani who is also a prophet. Jehu was a bold prophet who not only prophesied from the relative safety of Jehoshaphat’s court but also against Baasha the king of Israel in the north. Jehu reproves Jehoshaphat for allowing himself to be manipulated and flattered by king Ahab. Jehoshaphat had declared to Ahab “I am as you are and my people are your people…” then promptly went into battle without consulting the Lord as to whether this is the course of action he was to take. The fact of the matter was that Jehoshaphat was nothing like Ahab but Ahab’s charisma and flatteries weakend Jehoshaphat’s judgment. Jehu is reproving the king for this error that almost cost his life.
Jehu did not seek to crush Jehoshaphat with his rebuke. He acknowledges by the word of the Lord that Jehoshaphat was a godly king and that he had prepared his heart to seek the Lord in his rule over Jerusalem and Judea. There was good found in Jehoshaphat even though he made a rash decision that hampered his testimony and his rule by a foolish league with Ahab and Jezebel in the north.
4 And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the LORD God of their fathers. 5 And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6 And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who [is] with you in the judgment. 7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do [it]: for [there is] no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
How did Jehoshaphat respond to Jehu’s rebuke? Remember that Jehu was a young man reproving an older king. He did so in public in a way that may have provoked Jehoshaphat to imprison Jehu as Ahab had imprisoned Maiaciah in the previous chapter. Jehoshaphat had an example of rejecting the prophetic and saw that Ahab had died the very same day he ordered that Maiaciah be returned to Samaria and fed the bread of affliction. So he is silent and simply returns to his court and begins to set reforms in order to strength the southern kingdom in the ways of the Lord.
In verse 4 we see Jehoshaphat doing something that has no real equivalent in the Old Testament. As a king he personal sets out in an itinerant campaign to bring the people back to the Lord God of their fathers. The nearest parallel to this in scripture is the itinerant ministry of Jesus Himself. Asa before Jehoshaphat had established teaching priests throughout his territories and Jehoshaphat had done this as well. Jehoshaphat goes beyond even this in performing the word of teaching, preaching, training and instructing the people himself in traveling campaigns of revival and restoration of the people back to the ways of God.
Jehoshaphat also instituted much needed judicial reform. He sets up righteous judges and warns them not to decide with bribes or capricious personal opinions but with the word of God which they were expected to be conversant with. How can you judge righteous judgment if you don’t know what the bible says? Many times we see people rise up in religious indignation in matters that are completely out of character with respect to what the bible actually teaches. There is a responsibility of believers to judge righteous judgement. Paul spoke of this:
[1Co 6:1-8 KJV] 1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather [suffer yourselves to] be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that [your] brethren.
Some people read in this as suggesting that Christians should not resort to the courts of the land. This would be commendable IF the church and believers would follow Paul’s admonition and be willing to allow other believers – even those without esteem in their midst to arbitrate such matters. However this is completely unknown in Christian culture that one believer would allow himself or herself to be bound by the arbitration of another in a legal matter involving a brother or sister in Christ. This is how it should be. This is what should be encouraged but unfortunately is just another example of the wide disparity between spiritual community as God wishes it and spiritual community as it actually is and is allowed to be in continuance.
8 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and [of] the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. 10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the LORD, and [so] wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass. 11 And, behold, Amariah the chief priest [is] over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters: also the Levites [shall be] officers before you. Deal courageously, and the LORD shall be with the good.
Many times when we make judgments we do so simply consulting the treasuries of our own opinion. Johoshaphat warns those judges he sets up that God would be “with them in the judgment…” He further warns that if they pervert judgment and oppress one another that wrath would come upon them in such a trespass. When we fail to judge righteous judgment we set ourselves up to walk through the life’s experience of the very person we have condemned in the courts of our personal opinion. Does that mean that we do not judge at all? This is an important issue because it is human nature to judge all matters great and small in a running diatribe of our own viewpoints and thoughts.
Jesus spoke of this in Matt. 7:1:
[Mat 7:1-2 KJV] 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
We have to weigh the words of Jesus saying we should not judge with the words of Paul saying that we should judge within our own ranks matters of arbitration and fair dealing. I believe the balance is found in the meaning of the word judge in Matthew 7:1. If we actually set ourselves not to judge at all then that is choosing not to get involved in situations around us that we might be of assistance. That would be indifference and I don’t think the words of Jesus are meant for us to choose the path of indifference. One writer who endured Hitler’s holocaust said the opposite of love is not hate it is indifference. How are we to proceed then?
The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 means to “have or to hand down an opinion…” There is man’s opinion and then there is God’s truth. Many times I have heard people judge others harshly because a person chose a path or made a decision they didn’t like. They often loudly and obnoxiously how ungodly the offender was and how “that wasn’t God” that someone did something they disagreed with. In my mind when I hear this my mind strays to the scripture and I ask myself is there any scriptural example of someone doing such a thing and God was in it?
Many times I find that it is true. In other words judgmental people often refuse to give others the liberty to do things that are clearly supported by scriptural example. Those in the bible can do thus and so but the judgmental person dissallows the same conduct in someone they choose to condemn. How does this fit with “judge not”. God doesn’t have opinions. Everything God thinks becomes mandated truth because He is God. We cannot always presume to know the mind of God unless we know the scriptures and beyond that walk in intimacy with God and fulness of His Spirit. Having done this then we can be prepared to refrain to judge and hand down sentances of social ostracization against those we find obnoxious or those who make decisions we choose not to approve. Better to refrain and continue to walk in love rather than mete out our harsh opinions only to reap their bitter dregs in our own immediate future.
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