Bible Commentary: 2 Chronicles 20:34-37 and Related

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2 Chronicles 20:34-37 and Related

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Jehoshaphat Allies With Ahaziah 

Generally speaking, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, walked in the way of God. But he did not do all that he should have, as he did not remove all the high places from Judah (2 Chronicles 20:33 2 Chronicles 20:33However, the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts to the God of their fathers.
American King James Version×
). Yet it should be noted, as mentioned previously in the Beyond Today Bible Commentary, that this was a common oversight attributed to most of Judah’s righteous kings, and is perhaps equally if not more due to a lack of wholeheartedness in obeying God on the part of the nation. A more apparent weakness of Jehoshaphat can be seen in the compromising nature of his allying himself with evil rulers, a fault that became evident again near the end of his life when he allied himself with Israel’s wicked King Ahaziah, son of Ahab (1 Kings 22:51-53 1 Kings 22:51-53 [51] Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. [52] And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: [53] For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.
American King James Version×
). But their joint ventures would not prosper, since God does not generally bless such dealings (compare 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 [35] And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: [36] And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber. [37] Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has broken your works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
American King James Version×
).

Though God will sometimes intervene for the sake of a righteous person in such circumstances (compare 2 Kings 3:14 2 Kings 3:14And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward you, nor see you.
American King James Version×
), we shouldn’t count on it—particularly when we know better. God does not want us to enter into binding partnerships with the wicked that could conflict with our commitment to Him and His ways. His warnings are still the same today: How can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3 Amos 3:3Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
American King James Version×
.) In general, Christians can’t work effectively in close relationships with unbelievers—in godly peace and harmony—any more than mismatched animals can make a useful plowing team for a farmer. The way people who live righteously think is as different from those who disregard God’s laws as day is from night (compare 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 [14] Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? [15] And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? [16] And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
). Ungodly partners can lead to spiritual compromise (see 1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
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). Of course, there may be some business arrangements where such matters would never be at issue. But any that are considered must be given close scrutiny without glossing over potential difficulties. Despite Jehoshaphat’s errors in this regard, it appears that he later recognized that he should not have allied himself with Ahaziah (compare 1 Kings 22:49 1 Kings 22:49Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab to Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with your servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.
American King James Version×
).

Ahaziah became sick, and rather than establishing a relationship with the true God and placing his trust in Him, he attempted to inquire of the pagan god Baal-Zebub whether he would live or die. As a consequence, God sent the prophet Elijah to the king and informed him that he would not be healed (2 Kings 1:1-6 2 Kings 1:1-6 [1] Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. [2] And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said to them, Go, inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. [3] But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? [4] Now therefore thus said the LORD, You shall not come down from that bed on which you are gone up, but shall surely die. And Elijah departed. [5] And when the messengers turned back to him, he said to them, Why are you now turned back? [6] And they said to him, There came a man up to meet us, and said to us, Go, turn again to the king that sent you, and say to him, Thus said the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you send to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore you shall not come down from that bed on which you are gone up, but shall surely die.
American King James Version×
, 2 Kings 1:15-16 2 Kings 1:15-16 [15] And the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him to the king. [16] And he said to him, Thus said the LORD, For as much as you have sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore you shall not come down off that bed on which you are gone up, but shall surely die.
American King James Version×
). Even then, King Ahaziah did not humble himself and repent, as his father Ahab had done at least temporarily (1 Kings 21:17-29 1 Kings 21:17-29 [17] And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, [18] Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he is gone down to possess it. [19] And you shall speak to him, saying, Thus said the LORD, Have you killed, and also taken possession? And you shall speak to him, saying, Thus said the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood, even yours. [20] And Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? And he answered, I have found you: because you have sold yourself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. [21] Behold, I will bring evil on you, and will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that urinates against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, [22] And will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation with which you have provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. [23] And of Jezebel also spoke the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. [24] Him that dies of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dies in the field shall the fowls of the air eat. [25] But there was none like to Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. [26] And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. [27] And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth on his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. [28] And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, [29] See you how Ahab humbles himself before me? because he humbles himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil on his house.
American King James Version×
). He attempted to have Elijah arrested (2 Kings 1:9 2 Kings 1:9Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spoke to him, You man of God, the king has said, Come down.
American King James Version×
). God, however, made it very clear that He was with Elijah, and that He would protect him from the king’s evil devices (2 Kings 2:10-15 2 Kings 2:10-15 [10] And he said, You have asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so to you; but if not, it shall not be so. [11] And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. [12] And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. [13] He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; [14] And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted here and thither: and Elisha went over. [15] And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah does rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
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).

After King Ahaziah’s death (2 Kings 1:18 2 Kings 1:18Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
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), his brother Jehoram (called Joram in 2 Kings 8:25 2 Kings 8:25In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign.
American King James Version×
), another son of evil King Ahab, became king over Israel since Ahaziah himself had no son (2 Kings 1:17 2 Kings 1:17So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.
American King James Version×
; 2 Kings 3:1 2 Kings 3:1Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.
American King James Version×
). Jehoram did evil in God’s sight, but not to the extent that his father Ahab had, as he did put away his father’s sacred pillar of Baal (verses 2-3).

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