2 Chronicles 19-20
King Jehoshaphat’s Religious Reforms
19 King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned safely to his home in Jerusalem. 2 Jehu, son of the seer[a] Hanani, asked King Jehoshaphat, “Why do you help wicked people and love those who hate the Lord? The Lord’s anger is directed toward you because you have done this. 3 However, you’ve done some good things: You’ve burned the Asherah poles in this country, and you’ve wholeheartedly dedicated your life to serving God.”
4 While Jehoshaphat was living in Jerusalem, he regularly went to the people between Beersheba and the mountains of Ephraim. He brought the people back to the Lord God of their ancestors. 5 He appointed judges in the country, in each fortified city of Judah. 6 He told the judges, “Pay attention to what you’re doing. When you judge, you aren’t doing it for a human but for the Lord. He will be with you when you hear a case. 7 May you have the fear of the Lord in you. Be careful about what you do. The Lord our God is never unjust. He is impartial and never takes bribes.”
8 In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat also appointed some Levites, priests, and family heads from Israel to administer the Lord’s laws and decide cases. They lived in Jerusalem. 9 He ordered them, “Do this wholeheartedly—with the fear of the Lord and with faithfulness. 10 Warn your relatives living in other cities about every case they bring to you, even if the case involves bloodshed or commands, rules, or regulations derived from Moses’ Teachings. Then your relatives will not become guilty in front of the Lord. Otherwise, he will become angry with you and your relatives. Do this, and you won’t be guilty of anything. 11 Now, the chief priest Amariah will be in charge of you in every matter involving the Lord. Zebadiah, who is the son of Ishmael and the leader of the tribe of Judah, will be in charge of every matter involving the king. The Levites will serve as officers of the court. Be strong, and do your job. May the Lord be with those who do right.”
King Jehoshaphat Defeats Judah’s Enemies
20 Later the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites[b] came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men reported to Jehoshaphat, “A large crowd is coming against you from the other side of the Dead Sea, from Edom.[c] The crowd is already in Hazazon Tamar” (also called En Gedi).
3 Frightened, Jehoshaphat decided to ask for the Lord’s help. He announced a fast throughout Judah. 4 The people of Judah gathered to seek the Lord’s help. They came from every city in Judah.
5 In the new courtyard at the Lord’s temple, Jehoshaphat stood in front of the people. 6 He said, “Lord God of our ancestors, aren’t you the God in heaven? You rule all the kingdoms of the nations. You possess power and might, and no one can oppose you. 7 Didn’t you, our God, force those who were living in this country out of Israel’s way? Didn’t you give this country to the descendants of your friend Abraham to have permanently? 8 His descendants have lived in it and built a holy temple for your name in it. They said, 9 ‘If evil comes in the form of war, flood,[d] plague, or famine, we will stand in front of this temple and in front of you because your name is in this temple. We will cry out to you in our troubles, and you will hear us and save us.’
10 “The Ammonites, Moabites, and the people of Mount Seir have come here. However, you didn’t let Israel invade them when they came out of Egypt. The Israelites turned away from them and didn’t destroy them. 11 They are now paying us back by coming to force us out of your land that you gave to us. 12 You’re our God. Won’t you judge them? We don’t have the strength to face this large crowd that is attacking us. We don’t know what to do, so we’re looking to you.”
13 All the people from Judah, their infants, wives, and children were standing in front of the Lord. 14 Then the Lord’s Spirit came to Jahaziel. (He was the son of Zechariah, grandson of Benaiah, great-grandson of Jeiel, whose father was Mattaniah, a Levite descended from Asaph.) 15 Jahaziel said, “Pay attention to me, everyone from Judah, everyone living in Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says to you: Don’t be frightened or terrified by this large crowd. The battle isn’t yours. It’s God’s. 16 Tomorrow go into battle against them. They will be coming up the Ziz Pass. You will find them at the end of the valley in front of the Jeruel Desert. 17 You won’t fight this battle. Instead, take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord for you, Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be frightened or terrified. Tomorrow go out to face them. The Lord is with you.”
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face touching the ground. Everyone from Judah and the people who lived in Jerusalem immediately bowed down in front of the Lord. 19 The Levites, descendants of Kohath and Korah, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with very loud songs.
20 They got up early in the morning and went to the desert of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem. Trust the Lord your God, and believe. Believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”
21 After he had advised the people, he appointed people to sing to the Lord and praise him for the beauty of his holiness. As they went in front of the troops, they sang, “Thank the Lord because his mercy endures forever!” 22 As they started to sing praises, the Lord set ambushes against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the people of Mount Seir who had come into Judah. They were defeated. 23 Then the Ammonites and Moabites attacked the people from Mount Seir and annihilated them. After they had finished off the people of Seir, they helped destroy one another.
24 The people of Judah went to the watchtower in the desert and looked for the crowd. Corpses were lying on the ground. No one had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his troops came to take the loot, they found among them a lot of goods, clothes,[e] and valuables. They found more than they could carry. They spent three days collecting the loot. 26 On the fourth day they gathered in the valley of Beracah. Because they thanked the Lord there, that place is still called the valley of Beracah [Thanks] today.
27 All the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned to Jerusalem. They rejoiced while Jehoshaphat led them. The Lord gave them a reason to rejoice about what had happened to their enemies. 28 So they brought harps, lyres, and trumpets to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem.
29 The fear of the Lord came over the kingdoms in that area when they heard how the Lord waged war against Israel’s enemies. 30 Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was peaceful, since his God surrounded him with peace.
Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign(A)
31 Jehoshaphat ruled as king of Judah. He was 35 years old when he began to rule, and he ruled for 25 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah, daughter of Shilhi. 32 Jehoshaphat carefully followed the example his father Asa had set and did what the Lord considered right. 33 But the illegal worship sites on the hills were not torn down. The people still didn’t have their hearts set on the God of their ancestors.
34 Everything else about Jehoshaphat from first to last is written in the records of Jehu, son of Hanani, which is included in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
35 After this, King Jehoshaphat of Judah allied himself with King Ahaziah of Israel, who led him to do evil. 36 Jehoshaphat joined him in making ships to go to Tarshish. They made the ships in Ezion Geber. 37 Then Eliezer, son of Dodavahu from Mareshah, prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “The Lord will destroy your work because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah.” So the ships were wrecked and couldn’t go to Tarshish.
14 But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News? 15 How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News.” 16 But not everyone has believed the Good News.
Isaiah asks, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.
18 But I ask, “Didn’t they hear that message?” Certainly they did! “The voice of the messengers has gone out into the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth.”
19 Again I ask, “Didn’t Israel understand that message?” Moses was the first to say, “I will make you jealous of people who are not a nation. I will make you angry about a nation that doesn’t understand.” 20 Isaiah said very boldly, “I was found by those who weren’t looking for me. I was revealed to those who weren’t asking for me.” 21 Then Isaiah said about Israel, “All day long I have stretched out my hands to disobedient and rebellious people.”
God’s Continuing Love for Jewish People
11 So I ask, “Has God rejected his people Israel?” That’s unthinkable! Consider this. I’m an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he knew long ago. Don’t you know what Elijah says in the Scripture passage when he complains to God about Israel? He says, 3 “Lord, they’ve killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to take my life.” 4 But what was God’s reply? God said, “I’ve kept 7,000 people for myself who have not knelt to worship Baal.” 5 So, as there were then, there are now a few left that God has chosen by his kindness. [a] 6 If they were chosen by God’s kindness, they weren’t chosen because of anything they did. Otherwise, God’s kindness wouldn’t be kindness.
7 So what does all this mean? It means that Israel has never achieved what it has been striving for. However, those whom God has chosen have achieved it. The minds of the rest of Israel were closed, 8 as Scripture says,
“To this day God has given them a spirit of deep sleep.
Their eyes don’t see,
and their ears don’t hear!”
9 And David says,
“Let the table set for them become a trap and a net,
a snare and a punishment for them.
10 Let their vision become clouded so that they cannot see.
Let them carry back-breaking burdens forever.”
11 So I ask, “Has Israel stumbled so badly that it can’t get up again?” That’s unthinkable! By Israel’s failure, salvation has come to people who are not Jewish to make the Jewish people jealous. 12 The fall of the Jewish people made the world spiritually rich. Their failure made people who are not Jewish spiritually rich. So the inclusion of Jewish people will make the world even richer.
- Romans 11:6 Or “grace.”
For the choir director; a psalm by David.
1 The king finds joy in your strength, O Lord.
What great joy he has in your victory!
2 You gave him his heart’s desire.
You did not refuse the prayer from his lips. Selah
3 You welcomed him with the blessings of good things
and set a crown of fine gold on his head.
4 He asked you for life.
You gave him a long life, forever and ever.
5 Because of your victory his glory is great.
You place splendor and majesty on him.
6 Yes, you made him a blessing forever.
You made him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 Indeed, the king trusts the Lord,
and through the mercy of the Most High, he will not be moved.
8 Your hand will discover all your enemies.
Your powerful hand will find all who hate you.
9 When you appear, you will make them burn like a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his anger.
Fire will devour them.
10 You will destroy their children from the earth
and their offspring from among Adam’s descendants.
11 Although they scheme and plan evil against you,
they will not succeed.
12 They turn their backs and flee
because you aim your bow at their faces.[a]
13 Arise, O Lord, in your strength.
We will sing and make music to praise your power.
- Psalm 21:12 Hebrew meaning of this verse uncertain.
4 A lazy person does not plow in the fall.[a]
He looks for something in the harvest but finds nothing.
5 A motive in the human heart is like deep water,
and a person who has understanding draws it out.
6 Many people declare themselves loyal,
but who can find someone who is really trustworthy?
- Proverbs 20:4 Fall was the start of the planting season in Palestine.