Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for June 28, 1 Kings 22, 2 Chron 18

Today's readings are 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chron 18. Tomorrow's are 2 Chronicles 19-23.

Combining the narratives from both chapters manages to fill in details either lacks when read separately. It also smooths out a story line that can be a little hard to follow and understand. 

After being defeated by Ahab, Ben-Hadad is flexing his military muscle once again and has captured Ramoth-gilead, a strategically located fort a the entrance to the Valley of Jezreel, the valley that dominates Northern Israel. 
Jehoshaphat of Judah makes peace with Ahab and agrees to go to war with him to take back Ramoth-gilead. Ahab has replaced the 400 prophets killed in the encounter with Elijah, presumably from the same ungodly groups the original 400 came from. They tell Ahab he will win a great victory. Jehoshaphat wants to hear from a prophet of God. Ahab calls Michaiah who has been at odds with Ahab. 

At first, Micaiah gives Ahab a sarcastic reply. Ahab gets the sarcasm and wants the truth. Micaiah relates two visions to Ahab telling him his prophets are wrong and the king will lose the battle and die. Micaiah also reveals that God is behind the error of the king's prophets, sending a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:23) to deceive the king and draw him into battle (think about that one for a bit). So, even though Ahab repented previously, he hasn't really changed his ways and will now suffer the consequences of his actions. It is curious that Jehoshaphat, who seems like a godly man, seems so willing to ally himself with Ahab. 

Zedekiah, one of Ahabs primary prophets accuses Micaiah of trying to co-opt the Spirit of the Lord. Zedekiah's claim is that he's the true prophet and Micaiah the false one. Micaiah prophesies that Zedekiah will have to hide from the enemy before it's all over.

Micaiah is thrown in prison with Ahab condemning him to stay there until he returns peacefully from the battle. Micaiah warns Ahab that he will not return. 

Jehoshaphat joins Ahab in the battle in spite Micaiah's prophecy. Ahab, perhaps taking Micaiah's prophecy seriously, disguises himself, but dies anyway, being struck by a random arrow. Jehoshaphat is protected and preserved by God.

Ahab dies well but his men scatter after he succumbs. The prophecy concerning his death is fulfilled as they prepare his body and his chariot for burial. Dogs lap up his blood and prostitutes bathe in it. 

Jehoshaphat returns to Jerusalem. He is a godly man and is blessed. But he had allowed his son Jehoram to marry Ahab's daughter, Athaliah. This questionable decision is probably the motivation behind his alliance with Ahab. This will have consequences. 

We see, in Ahab, the God is gracious but will tolerate outright rebellion for only so long before consequences occur. We must never mistake God's patience for His acceptance of ungodly behavior. His patience is always an act of grace, giving us time to repent.

In Jehoshaphat, we see that our own willingness to tolerate ungoldy behavior or to compromise our godly behavior can be dangerous. Aligning ourselves too closely with ungoldy people, apart from God's clear leading, can be dangerous as well. Their influence on us can often be far greater than our influence on them. Jehoshaphat asked for a word from a prophet of God, then ignored it. 

Jehoshaphat has three areas of struggle pointed out; He went to battle with Ahab in spite of Mecaiah's warning. He entered into an ill-fated commercial venture with Ahaziah, an apostate. And, later, we will find out he and Jehoram embark on another ill-fated journey into Transjordan. 

Jehoshaphat dies at the end of 1 Kings 22 but we will pick up more detail about his reign in 2 Chronicles. 

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