An Evil Alliance
Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor, and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab.
1 Chronicles 18:1
On the heels of describing the enormous accomplishments and prosperity Jehoshaphat enjoyed because of God’s blessings, this godly King makes an alliance with Ahab, the evil king of Israel. Yes, this is the same Ahab whose wife was Jezebel. Political alliances in that age were common, but God called His people to live uncommon lives. (At first, this alliance seemed to work. Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah married Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, sealing the alliance. Years later, Athaliah tried to wipe out the Davidic line. For more, read 2 Chronicles 22:10-23:21.)
Though protected and blessed by God, respected and honored by former enemies, King Jehoshaphat buys into the cultural and political strategy of human protection. We cannot understand the full spiritual implications of this sinful alliance without reviewing a similar story about the father of Jehoshaphat, King Asa.
In 2 Chronicles 16 is a record of how King Asa entered into a treaty with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram:
In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king's house and sent them to Ben-Hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, “There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” And Ben-Hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah and let his work cease. Then King Asa took all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them he built Geba and Mizpah.
1 Chronicles 16:1-6 ESV
At first glance, it appears that King Asa’s alliance with Ben-Hadad resulted in victories that benefitted Judah. But isn’t that the way it is with sin?
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
James 1:14-15 ESV
While King Asa celebrates this additional prosperity, the seer Hanani tells him:
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
1 Chronicles 16:7-9 ESV
The seer Hanani reminds King Asa that he did not need evil alliances outside to win battles. Had not God protected him in the past without such relationships? Would not God “do it again?” He promises that though the victory seems sweet in the moment, Asa will experience wars throughout his life.
Instead of learning from his father’s sinful choice to rely on himself and alliances with God’s enemies, Jehoshaphat follows his father’s example by entering into a marriage alliance with King Ahab. Soon he will see the enormous mistake he has made.
The alliance with Ahab takes Jehoshaphat into war without God’s blessings. But this place of brokenness becomes a teaching moment for King Jehoshaphat that will prepare him for the battle of his life. None of us know what is around the corner. King Jehoshaphat did not know that a great horde of enemies would one day threaten to destroy everything about Judah and take God’s people into captivity, but God did. With each bad choice, Jehoshaphat faced a crossroads. He could respond with pride and arrogance to the rebukes of God’s messengers, or he could repent of his independence and surrender to a place of complete humility and dependence on Jehovah.
You may be in one of those broken places yourself. You made decisions thinking they were right, but looking back you recognize that God was leading you in a different direction, if you had only listened. There may be unchangeable consequences resulting from your sinful choice, just as there were for Jehoshaphat. As we will see, there is also forgiveness and grace designed to help turn your heart toward Jesus. When confronted with his sin, Jehoshaphat doesn’t waste the messes. He humbles himself and takes practical steps to correct the course of his nation.
Ask the Lord to fill you with similar humility and repentance and a renewed desire to learn from these broken places. You never know how God might be using this hard time to prepare you to respond to an even harder place with confidence in Him.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview "Sex Trafficking: I Am Not For Sale! A Conversation with Edie Rhea" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Edie’s father died when she was four years old so when her mother brought a new man into her home, she welcomed him as her father. When she was nine years old, this man began regularly raping her in her home. By the time she was twelve, he was taking her to hotel rooms where he trafficked her to men and women for the purpose of sex until she was seventeen. How does a child recover from such monstrous treatment? Edie’s story offers help and hope to anyone who has been sexually abused and shines a light on the spreading horror of sex trafficking in the United States. She offers people who work with children suggestions on how to spot a child who is being abused and how to help them. This compelling story uncovers a devastating dark side of humanity but also is a message of help and hope for hurting people.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.