Saturday, February 16, 2008

2 Chronicles 19

What is this passage all about?
On returning from war, Jehoshaphat was rebuked by Jehu the seer for helping Ahab, who was wicked and hated the LORD. Jehoshaphat began a second phase of his governmental reforms, appointing judges in the cities to judge not for man but for the LORD.

What can I learn from this passage?
Jehoshaphat returned safely to Jerusalem, but he must have been thinking all the time about what had befallen Ahab. On his return, he was confronted by Jehu, the son of Hanani (who had rebuked king Asa for allying with Ben-Hadad of Aram - 2 Chronicles 16:7). Jehu condemned Jehoshaphat's alliance with Ahab, but also commended him for his religious reforms, saying (v3) " 'There is, however, some good in you, for you have... set your heart on seeking God.' " These words might have been what prompted Jehoshaphat's second wave of reforms.
"Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, and he went out again among the people... and turned them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers." (v4) Apparently, just as Jehoshaphat had sinned in allying himself with Israel, Judah had followed in his footsteps and turned from the ways of God. When he went among his people and was personally involved with them, they were recalled back to the faith of their fathers.
Jehoshaphat appointed judges in each of the fortified cities of Judah, including the capital Jerusalem. He was very specific in his instructions to the judges, commanding them to be careful in how they performed their duties. He made clear that they were acting on behalf of God and so must always behave accordingly. Some of his instructions (vv6-7,9,10b,11b): " 'Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery. ... You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the LORD. ... you are to warn them not to sin against the LORD; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers. Do this, and you will not sin. ... Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well.' " It is clear from these remarks that Jehoshaphat knew he was initiating people into a holy and religious office, not just a political one. Much of this advice would be wisely taken by anyone who is in a position of judgement over another today, not just those who are appointed to the legal judiciary but people like me who must discipline their children and others like employers who have authority over employees.

How does this help me to worship God?
"[W]ith the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery." (v7) God, You do not change Your mind because we whinge and whine, or plead for special favour. Your decisions are far above those of man, yet they are perfectly just and righteous. You do not make mistakes in Your choices. You see into people's hearts and know their motives but You never allow the end to justify the means. LORD, Your ways are perfect and in all things You accord to the holy, perfect and righteous standards that You have made known. You are not like sinful people, who eagerly fall into sin with the temptation of a bribe, or show bias towards those Your favour. LORD, You love me but in Your grace and mercy You will always act according to Your perfect holiness and righteousness to me. I give You praise because You are better than anything I could ever conceive. Amen.

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