Would you like to be encouraged by a true story that occurred almost 2,900 years ago? Have you ever heard of King Jehoshaphat? Probably not. These Books from the Old Testament are less famous than other parts of the Bible. This story is buried in the Old Testament book Second Chronicles. Where is that you ask? Well, right after First Chronicles, of course.
Background of King Jehoshaphat
Jehoshaphat ruled about the same number of years as Solomon. His reign started about 100 years after the start of Solomon’s reign. By the time Jehoshaphat came along, Israel had split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes was called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of 2 tribes was called Judah. Jehoshaphat was the King of Judah.
During his reign of Judah, Ahab was the King of Israel. You may actually remember his name. He was married to Jezebel. He had over 400 prophets, not one of which had any connection to the God of the Bible. Jehoshaphat had no business being Ahab’s ally. 1 Ki 16:30 says:
“Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.”
Back to Jehoshaphat. His story actually took 4 chapters. FYI, David and Solomon had the most written about them of any Jewish Kings. Many of the later kings had very little written about them, especially the ones “who did evil in the sight of God”. But Jehoshaphat has 4 chapters in 2 Chronicles to tell his story. 2 Chr 17:3 says:
“The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him.”
David was a pretty good guy to follow. God calls him “A man after God’s own heart”. God selected David to be the second King of Israel (before the split). So Jehoshaphat showed some real wisdom. 2 Chron 17:5 continues:
“The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat so that he had great wealth and honor.”
Just like Solomon, God honored faithfulness with great wealth. In 2 Chron 18 is another example of Jehoshaphat’s wisdom and faithfulness, and God’s amazing grace. Jehoshaphat went to visit King Ahab, and Ahab wanted Jehoshaphat to join him in attacking Ramoth Gilead. I could research everything about Ramoth Gilead, and really impress you, but it would be a waste of time. What really matters are the actions of God, Ahab, and Jehoshaphat.
First, Ask The Lord
Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to “first seek an oracle from the Lord”. Ahab tried to satisfy this request by bringing in his “false prophets”. So Ahab brought in his 400 prophets, all of whom said exactly what Ahab wanted them to say. But Jehoshaphat was not impressed. He asked for “a prophet of the Lord”. Ahab’s response is quite humorous. “Yes there is still one man, but I don’t like him. His name is Micah, and he never says anything good about me. He always prophesies disaster!“
Jehoshaphat Insisted on a Prophet of God
Jehoshaphat insisted, so Ahab sent his servants to find the prophet, Micah. (You can find the Book of Micah right after the Book of Jonah). So Micah was summoned. At first, he mocked Ahab by sarcastically repeating what the other prophets said. But when Ahab rebuked him, Micah told them what the Lord had told him. Micah said, “there is a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours, but the Lord has decreed disaster for you”.
Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat to go with him. But in the battle, the enemy only wanted to attack and kill Ahab. An archer shot an arrow randomly into the air, and it struck Ahab in the perfect place, between the plates of his armor, and he died. So Jehoshaphat was spared the disaster, and he returned home to Jerusalem. This brings us to my most favorite story about this faithful leader.
Judah Invaded by an Army from 3 Countries
In 2 Chr 20, a huge army attacked Jehoshaphat. What follows is an amazing story about the faithfulness of the Almighty God to His chosen people and their faithful King. What do you suppose would happen if today, a mighty army attacked the United States? I’m guessing there would be outrageous anger and discord, political infighting, lots of blame, and probably instant retaliation. But I doubt the leader of the free world would stop, admit he was afraid and not sure what to do, call for the people to fast, and loudly and openly pray to God for help.
But that is exactly how Jehoshaphat responded to this crisis. All this while the attack is happening. And after he prayed, Jehoshaphat and all the men of Judah stood and waited for an answer. As I told you, this is an amazing story.
God’s Answer Demonstrated His Power & Glory
When God’s answer came, it was extraordinary. Jehoshaphat and all the people were told to wait and watch because this battle belonged to God. Continuing in 2 Chr 20:15-17:
He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’
Jehoshaphat’s Response to God’s Answer
In 2 Chr 20:18,21-24:
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD.
21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.
Summary and Conclusion
Jehoshaphat’s response was:
- wait for an answer,
- faithfully obey what God said,
- appoint men to sing praises and thanksgiving to God, and
- watch God keep His promise.
After the battle was over, the Bible says Jehoshaphat and his men went to collect the plunder. There was so much plunder that it took them 3 days to collect it.
The story ends in 2 Chron 20:29-30:
29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
Fear came upon all the enemies, and Jehoshaphat was at peace. I mean, what else could all their other enemies do?
Jehoshaphat is only one of many kings of Israel and Judah. His story is just one of the stories given to us in the Bible about our wonderful Creator, Father God, the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We serve a great God! Praise Him for His love, faithfulness, and almighty power!
For reference purposes, here are a few facts about the times of Jehoshaphat in relation to others.
- Jehoshaphat ruled from 873-838 BC, 58 years after the death of Solomon.
- Solomon ruled from 971-931 BC
- Moses led Israel from 1445-1405 BC
Thank you for your attention. Please leave a comment or question.