JEHOSHAPHAT’S COMPROMISE (2 KING 3:1-19) - PART 1: A COMPROMISING KING WHO NEVER LEARNS
Dear Members in Christ,
Jehoshaphat’s compromise (2 King 3:1-19) - Part 1: A compromising King who never learns
What happens when a person is accustomed to compromising? What happens when a person is so insensitive to false doctrines due to constant contact and fellowship with unbelievers who profess to be Christians? The natural consequence is that the person’s judgement and discernment is so clouded that he no longer distinguishes between that which is godly and that which is worldly and ungodly.
In previous articles, we have covered a series of miracles by Elisha the prophet. These miracles authenticate his ministry as the prophet of God and his authority to the people the very words of God. However, in this account of Elisha’s ministry, we see an aspect of his ministry and that is to bring God’s people back on track. That is, if they will listen and obey God’s word. The introduction to this episode speaks of the offspring of the evil king of Israel, Ahab who had passed on.
“Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.” 2 Kings 3:1,2
This was the period of the divided kingdom. King Jehoram, the son of Ahab ruled the Northern kingdom, and Judah was ruled by King Jehoshaphat. The king Jehoshaphat was known from previous alliance with Ahab, the father of Jehoram. The military alliance was formed to drive out the Syrians who had captured Ramoth-Gilead. This expedition ended in a disaster and was described in 1 Kings 22, resulting in the King of Israel, Ahab being killed.
A. Trouble for the apostate King Jehoram
Did the Northern Kingdom Israel turn from their sins after this defeat? The answer to the question is “No!”. The Bible records how the Northern kingdom continued in depravity after the death of king Ahab. It is recorded in 2 Kings 3:3 about Jehoram that, “Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.”
When the people who are of the domain called “Kingdom of Israel” deliberately disobeys the Lord, God will create a situation to punish them. Instead of blessings, God will cause the enemy to afflict them and to awaken them from their spiritual slumber. This situation was forced upon Jehoram when a vassal state Moab rebelled against them. So we read in 2 kings 3:4 and 5, “And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”
The idolatrous King Jehoram responded by mobilizing his army. And of course, he remembers his late father’s alliance with Jehoshaphat, and why not invite Jehoshaphat to form joint military expedition? After all there’s safety in numbers, and besides, they were all good fellows.
Brothers and sisters, let us learn a lesson from the testimony of God’s word. Firstly, those whose mind are set to depart from God’s word will be unlikely to heed the punitive hand of God. Some will, indeed submit to God and repent of their sins, and such is a desirable outcome. But most will continue in their sinful ways until the Almighty hand forces a situation upon them. If we happen to know someone like this, all we can do is to pray for God’s mercy upon them, and pray that God will graciously turn them back to the good paths.
B. A compromiser who never learns from his mistakes
Did the king of Judah, King Jehoshaphat learn from his previous compromising position with the idolatrous Northern Kingdom? Sadly, the answer is, you guessed it, no! He was going to give the very same answer when Ahab invited him to an alliance. In 1 King 22:4, it is recorded, “And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.”
Notice how similar King Jehoshaphat’s answer was to Jehoram. In fact, despite the intervening years, both the answers were verbatim. Compare how the identical words were used in response to King Jehoram,
“And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses.” 2 Kings 3:7
It is quite apparent that King Jehoshaphat had not learned the lesson, that compromise with the ungodly king Ahab can only lead to disaster. God cannot bless such a union. To Jehoshaphat, what he sees is the physical relationship. Their close kinship binds the two kings. The Bible in 2 Kings 8:16-18 reveals that Ahab’s daughter Athaliah was married to Jehoshaphat’s son by the name of Joram. So that is it! The two royal families, Ahab’s and Jehoshaphat’s were closely intertwined in marriage!
Why did Jehoshaphat not learn from the previous disastrous alliance with the apostate Northern kingdom? The answer is the close marital ties between the two royal families. This is a lesson for all believers, let us beware of close association with those the ungodly. A compromised association with unbelievers, however good the intention can never receive a blessing from God. Beloved, let us remember God’s word, “be ye not unequally yoked.” May God’s name be praised.
In His Service,
Rev. Lim Seh Beng, Pastor