From 2 Chronicles 18-20
2 Chr 18.1-27; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat Allies with Ahab
2 Chr 18.28-34; Jehoshaphat; The Defeat and Death of Ahab
2 Chr 19.1-11; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat’s Reforms
2 Chr 20.1-23; Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat’s Prayer
2 Chr 20.24-34; Jehoshaphat; The LORD Delivers Judah
2 Chr 20.35-37; Jehoshaphat; The End of Jehoshaphat’s Reign
Passage and Comments
Jehoshaphat joins forces with Ahab to defeat the king of Ramoth-gilead. The plan backfires for Ahab though because he gets shot by a random arrow and bleeds to death. Jehoshaphat draws criticism though for allying himself with Ahab.
2 But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord. 3 Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.” (2 Chr 19.2-3)
You may remember the scriptures generally denote those reject the LORD and do not make a practice of the Jewish law as 'wicked'. Ahab did evil in the sight of the LORD and encouraged the worship of false gods in his kingdom. Jehoshaphat by way of comparison is described as having some good and seeks the LORD.
Some time after this a large army from Edom invades Judah and besieges Judah. Jehoshaphat is afraid and seeks the LORD in prayer (2 Chr 20.6-12). This is where our passage starts.
13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” (2 Chr 20.13-17)
They will not need to fight, only trust in the LORD. The LORD requires a little demonstration that they do trust him. They have to go out and watch what the LORD will do.
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. (2 Chr 20.18-19)
They believe and worship. The LORD is good.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chr 20.20-21)
Jehoshaphat goes out and tells more people about the LORD's faithfulness. The LORD's steadfast love is his covenant love which he bestows upon this covenant people. In this case he will save Judah from her enemies.
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. (2 Chr 20.22-23)
So the Edomites attack Judah's other enemies the Ammonites and the Moabites. In the end Judah's enemies destroy one another. Note how the LORD is perceived to act through human movements.
The passage today brings together three celebrated concepts. These are covenant, salvation and belief.
Story of Israel
These three are repeatedly tied together through the Psalms. The LORD and Israel are in covenant relationship. Trusting in the LORD and taking refuge in him is commonly associated with those who are called righteous. The LORD fulfilling his covenant obligations looks after and saves the righteous.
5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is his refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. (Ps 14:5–7)
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God. (Ps 98.1-3)
However Israel does not always prove to be righteous. They do not always rely on the LORD and keep his commands. This presents a problem for the LORD. He must remain faithful to his promises, but Israel will not keep her end of the agreement. Israel herself needs saving. The LORD will sent another Israelite, to accomplish this.
Story of Jesus
It happens of course in the gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus as reflected in the story of Jesus have fulfilled God’s covenant promises (Acts 13.32-33; 2 Cor 1.20).
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16–17)Thus God is righteous because he has fulfilled his covenant promises in the gospel by saving all those who believe Jesus who was crucified has risen from the dead and is the Christ (Acts 17.2-3).