TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 17:1-18:34.
As we read about the reign of Jehoshaphat we learn of his successes and failures as King of Judah.
He defended well the cities his father, King Asa, had conquered. “In his early years” he walked in the ways of David his father (v.3), he sought the Lord (v.4a), and followed the commands of the Lord (v.4b). His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord (v.6). He removed the altars to false gods on the high places. He deployed officials and Levites to teach throughout the land, furnishing them with copies of the written Law of God (v.7-9).
The Lord showed His favor to Jehoshaphat by establishing his kingdom and providing peaceable relationships with neighboring kingdoms. As a result of this testimony, all Judah honored Jehoshaphat as king, bringing him gifts, and the fear of the Lord fell, not just on Judah, but the surrounding lands as well.
However, in Chapter 20, we see how an era of peace and prosperity can breed spiritual carelessness. An 18th century Christian writer, Samuel Wilkes, observed, ‘A Christian never falls asleep in the fire or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine’.
Jehoshaphat made an unholy alliance with the wicked, opportunistic King Ahab of Israel. Jehoshaphat allowed his son, Jehoram, to marry Athaliah, Ahab’s daughter. This created family pressure to establish a military alliance between Israel and Judah that incurred God’s wrath (2 Chronicles 19:2).
This alliance would eventually enable Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, to seize the throne after Jehoshaphat’s death and almost destroy all of David’s descendants!
2 Chronicles 22:10-12 10 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring of the house of Judah. 11 But Jehoshabeath the king’s daughter took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she would not put him to death. 12 He was hidden with them in the house of God six years while Athaliah reigned over the land.
Athaliah was the only Queen of Judah and she actively revolted against God’s revealed purpose. She brought the evil practices of Israel to Judah. This would speed the way of the nation’s downfall.
King Ahab asks King Jehoshaphat to join him in attacking Ramoth-Gilead, territory once belonging to the Israelite tribe of Gad, but had been taken over by the Syrians (Aram-Damascus). Jehoshaphat probably felt a family obligation to support Ahab, due to his son’s marriage to Ahab’s daughter. He first asks Ahab to seek God’s will and inquire of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 18:3-4 3 Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “Will you go with me against Ramoth-gilead?” And he said to him, “I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle.” 4 Moreover, Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire first for the word of the LORD.”
What happens is quite revealing. Ahab has 400 false prophets telling him what he wants to hear- that he would be victorious in battle. Jehoshaphat has enough spiritual discernment to ask: “Is there not one prophet of the LORD (Yahweh) with whom we can inquire?” Ahab admits that there is one prophet named Micaiah, but he never prophecies anything good about him.
Jehoshaphat challenges Ahab to bring forth the prophet Micaiah. Micaiah makes it clear that he does not go along with the majority report. When Ahab’s messenger says, “Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably,” Micaiah plays along with Ahab, only to have Ahab recognize that Micaiah was not speaking the truth. But Micaiah knew that Ahab was not interested in hearing the truth. He then discloses that he saw the Lord sitting on his throne looking for an instrument to lure Ahab to attack Ramoth-Gilead in order to go to his death there. A demon, known as a lying spirit, volunteers. The Lord God does not tell the spirit to lie, but allows the lying spirit to perform according to his nature in relationship to Ahab. Ahab submits to the lie and attacks Ramoth-Gilead and is killed. Thus, these events accomplish God’s purpose of bringing final judgment upon Ahab.
This once again illustrates God’s sovereignty over all, including principalities and powers and the designs of wicked people (Psalm 76:10). It also illustrates that the human heart is so deceitful that it will choose to submit to a lying spirit, false prophesies, rather than God’s Word, even when it is told the truth.
We see the same wickedness in the heart of Pontius Pilate who is told the truth yet will not submit to it.
John 18:36-37 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Do you have a heart to know the truth? Hear God’s Word and obey it.
This world has its false teachers and false prophets. True believers do not love the world system and are not looking to have their ears tickled with promises that would establish their own kingdoms in this world.
The false prophet Zedekiah slaps Micaiah’s face and taunts him. King Ahab orders to have Micaiah imprisoned until he returns safely from the battle at Ramoth- Gilead. Micaiah tells Ahab to hear the truth- Ahab will not return (18:27).
The rest is history. Ahab, despite his efforts to disclose his identity in battle, is killed by an anonymous archer whose well-placed arrow finds its pinpoint destination between the sections of Ahab’s armor.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 9:22-10:31
Paul has been writing to the church at Rome and reminding the Gentiles of their indebtedness to their Jewish brothers, yet affirming that salvation is equally a gift of God for Jew and Gentile, and not the result of Law-keeping. The Jews that pursue righteousness by works fail to ever be declared righteous in God’s eyes. This is because the only righteousness that can justify anyone before God- is absolute righteousness; the ‘gift-righteousness’ that is offered through faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul’s intention in writing this section is for Jews and Gentiles alike to realize that God is sovereign in salvation. One does not become right with God because of any deservedness based on national pedigree, religious affiliation, or meritorious achievement on their part. Salvation is based on the perfect redeeming work of Christ on behalf of the sinner. The resurrection affirms the truth about who Jesus is -His true identity as God Incarnate, the Promised Lamb to take away sin, and the truth that His payment for our sins is effectual.
Romans 10:9 9 .. if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (kurios- the Greek word for Lord-God), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
The confessing with your mouth refers to the need to recognize the truth of Jesus’ identity- He is who He says He is- God. We are not saved by confessing Christ- but confessing Christ will be the expression of our believing in our hearts the truth.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- Psalms 20:1-9
Verses 1-5 are A BENEDICTION
May the Lord answer you, protect you, help you, support you, and remember that you have offered the sacrifices He required.
Psalm 20:4 4 May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!
May the Lord grant all of your requests. (v.5b)
Verses 5a, 6- 8 are A CONFESSION OF FAITH
The Psalmist is fully expecting to be victorious because of the Lord’s faithfulness.
Psalm 20:7 7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
Verse 9 is OUR COMMON PRAYER
Psalm 20:9 9 Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS-; Proverbs 20:2-3
Proverbs 20:2-3 2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; He who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life. 3 Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- JAPAN
Japan (from Operation World Prayer Guide p. 488-494)
Japan has the world’s lowest birth rates and highest life expectancies, so the population rapidly ages. The social and economic challenge this creates is enormous. By 2055, half of Japanese will be retired and collect a pension. No other country has faced this before. Pray for more Christian nursing homes and hospices. Japan will need many care workers, and this will create a mission opportunity for believers from other nations. Japan’s low birth rate results in a small younger generation with their own challenges and issues. Those aged 18-23 are the most open to the gospel, but few actually become active believers. The bonds that once held Japanese society together have lost much of their strength.
PRAYER: Lord, keep us humble, contrite, and trembling at Your Word. Do not let us succumb to the deceptive desires of our hearts, the lure of lying spirits with their false prophets and false teachings. Give us wisdom to obey revealed truth and trust You for the results. We thank You for the mercy of our salvation. Our redemption is to the praise and glory of Your Name alone. We come before You with confidence in the merits of Your Son and the promise that if we ask anything according to Your will, You hear us. We trust that You will guide us in our daily battles and provide victory over temptation and every work of the world, the flesh and the devil, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.