Blessings and Curses and the Reign of Jehoshaphat
King Asa dies and is succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat who, like his father, does right by walking in the ways of King David (2 Chronicles 17:3). Jehoshaphat’s heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD. He didn’t serve the Baals “but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel” (2 Chronicles 17:3-4).
Here, I’ll highlight the word “therefore” in 2 Chronicles 17:5. Jehoshaphat obeyed God, therefore, God established his kingship. The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he walked with Him. But this shouldn't surprise us. A young King Solomon was told in 1 Kings 9:1-9, that God would establish the thrones of his sons if they walked before God in faithfulness. On the other hand, if those sons turned aside to other gods, God would visit them with affliction. This same message was given to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-14 and it was the word that rang in the nation’s ear as Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 28--there would be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. This word proves true in the life of Israel.
As if eager to demonstrate the reliability of God’s Word, the Chronicler follows 2 Chronicles 17 with two divergent events in Jehoshaphat’s life. The first shows the king’s disobedience and God’s consequent wrath; and the second tells of Jehoshaphat’s obedience and God’s blessings. In the first account, Jehoshaphat--wealthy and honored by God’s hand--goes off and makes a marriage alliance with Ahab, the head of apostasy in the northern kingdom of Israel. The entire chapter, 2 Chronicles 18, shows Ahab leading and Jehoshaphat following. Ahab induces him to join a war against Syria and Judah’s king trades his God-given peace for conflict. Jehoshaphat does request God’s counsel in the matter, but even so, he disregards the warnings of the prophet Micaiah and instead, follows Ahab’s direction into battle (2 Chronicles 18:29). Jehoshaphat disobeys and is met by God’s wrath (2 Chronicles 19:2).
Having forfeited peace for trouble, Jehoshaphat faces more war in 2 Chronicles 20. He wakes up one day to the news of a great multitude advancing toward him from Edom. Like his father Asa, the king turns to the LORD in prayer. Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 echos God’s promises to his forefathers--he pleas for God to remember His word to Abraham and brings to bear Solomon’s temple dedication prayers (2 Chronicles 20:7-9). Years ago, Solomon had prayed for God’s gracious rescue of a humbled Israel in the face of a besieging enemy (2 Chronicles 6:28-30). The covenant keeping God of Israel hears and saves Jehoshaphat and his people; He fights on behalf of a helpless and prayerful nation, and their salvation comes by His hand alone (2 Chronicles 20:12-17).
God’s Word proves true! So how should believers today understand this correlation between behavior and blessings/curses? Do faithful believers encounter hardships? Absolutely (2 Corinthians 11:24-29). Does God discipline and reprove His children? He does indeed (Hebrews 12:5-6). Yet in all that, know for certain that the active obedience of Christ has secured for the believer the unfailing and never-ending blessings of the Father. "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them. [Praises to the Christ who] redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:10-14)!
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