KING JEHOSHAPHAT’S EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN GOD’S PEOPLE
Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, was the fourth king in the history of Judah. Like everyone that has lived on the earth except Jesus the Messiah, he was not faultless. Yet, as we read about his life and reign in 2 Chronicles 17-20, we cannot help but notice his attempts to influence the Lord’s people to serve Him faithfully. What do we see in Jehoshaphat’s life?
Here is Jehovah’s general assessment of the kind of person that Jehoshaphat was: “Now the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel” (2 Chronicles 17:3,4). A person’s character is determined by his heart. What kind of heart did Jehoshaphat possess? “And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD,” as he had prepared his heart “to seek God” (2 Chronicles 17:6; 19:3). If Jehoshaphat was going to be able to influence Judah in a positive, helpful way, then he must begin by being the right type of example – one that strove to please God.
What specific actions did King Jehoshaphat take in order to help the nation of Judah be on the right spiritual path? Early in his reign “He removed the high places and wooden images from Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:6). There was no room among God’s people for idolatry. Hearts that are divided between the one, true God and anything or anyone else will never produce the spiritual fruit that the Lord wants to see from His people. Jehoshaphat understood that.
God’s people will never do what is right until they know what is right. Jehoshaphat put in place a nationwide teaching program that was intended to provide the proper spiritual education that the people of Judah needed so badly. “Also in the third year of his reign he sent his leaders . . . to teach in the cities of Judah. And with them he sent Levites . . . and with them . . . the priests. So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people” (2 Chronicles 17:7-9). What an exciting undertaking! Give Jehoshaphat credit. He saw what needed to be done, he organized the teachers, and he put the teachers to work teaching the right message throughout the whole nation. Good things happen when God’s people make a serious effort to learn and teach the Book!
We further read that Jehoshaphat “went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 19:4). Church leaders, are you paying attention to what the king did? He went out and worked among the people! And what was his intent? To bring them back to Jehovah. He obviously saw that they had gone astray, leaving them in spiritual peril. What could be done? He got personally involved! He did what he could to bring them back to where they needed to be, which was fully devoted to the Lord. Restoring the erring is a work that deserves our greatest efforts today, too (Galatians 6:1,2; James 5:19,20).
Jehoshaphat charged those men that were involved in carrying out judgment in the land to do so “in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 19:9). He warned them to do their jobs the right way and exhorted them, “Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good” (2 Chronicles 19:10,11). So, in that process the king delegated authority, he held people accountable for their conduct, and he used proper mental motivation to encourage them to do what needed to be done. Jehoshaphat realized that getting the nation to buy into the notion of doing things God’s way at all times was not a one-man job. He got others involved, and he made sure that they knew that it had to be done the right way each time. Church leaders, are we listening?
Later during Jehoshaphat’s rule, when foreign nations came up to battle against Judah, Jehoshaphat had a potential crisis on his hands. He was afraid. The Bible says so. Despite that fear, he “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3). Then, after God’s messenger told Jehoshaphat and the people not to fear their adversaries, “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:18). God’s people are blessed when their leaders humbly lead them in praising and honoring Him!
But what could Judah do to prepare for the armies that were bearing down on their land? Here is what Jehoshaphat told them to do: “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20). In short, stick with God and His word. Trust in the Lord and He will get you through this. Brothers and sisters, regardless of the challenges that we face in life, trusting in the Lord with all of our heart must be our approach (Proverbs 3:5). How wonderful that Jehoshaphat understood that salvation was not in him, but in the Lord God. How blessed the people of God were to hear him affirm that truth and demonstrate it in his life.
We are perplexed when we read that Jehoshaphat more than once made the horrible choice to support and help ungodly kings from the Northern Kingdom. But, overall he had a heart that delighted in God’s ways, and he set his heart to doing his best to help strengthen God’s people. Let us learn from him.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.