Jehoshaphat and Ahab 2 Chronicles 18
2 Chronicles 18:1-4 NLTse (1) Jehoshaphat enjoyed great riches and high esteem, and he made an alliance with Ahab of Israel by having his son marry Ahab’s daughter. (2) A few years later he went to Samaria to visit Ahab, who prepared a great banquet for him and his officials. They butchered great numbers of sheep, goats, and cattle for the feast. Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead. (3) “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” (4) Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the LORD says.”
After seeing numerous blessings from God and building up his military strength, Jehoshaphat received an invitation from Ahab, king of Israel, the ten northern tribes. They’ve been enemies for generations. Jehoshaphat may have seen the invitation as a way of meeting an accord between the two countries who shared so much history.
This shows how kings paid attention to other nations, and how some people find something in common with their worst enemies, as soon as they see how developing alliances can work to their advantage. That is another human trait we should know about and come to expect.
People seem to have a lot of friends as soon as they have money. The wealthier you are, the more friends you seem to have. Win the lottery and you’ll receive letters from people you never knew, asking for favors. There is another human trait people have. When they see successful people, they tend to convince themselves, those people somehow owe them something. We see it in society today. Here we see how that attitude existed long before any of us had to deal with it.
There were certain draw backs to being a light to the world. Somehow Solomon was able to lead a somewhat peaceful kingdom with all the success and wealth he had. More people came to him to bring gifts than ask for favors. That is an unusual situation. It must have been the wisdom he shared with people, or gave in return for their gifts. Important people had this idea, they had to bring a gift to receive blessings in return.
Ahab didn’t offer Jehoshaphat any gifts other than to be seen with him. Ahab didn’t waste any time asking for a favor, “join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.” Of course Ahab offered a banquet. Imagine putting your troops in harms way for a meal. That exchange didn’t seem fair. Jehoshaphat wasn’t the type of guy to give in so easily. After agreeing to go to war with Ahab, Jehoshaphat asked, “But first let’s find out what the LORD says.”
It may only seem natural for a man blessed by God to seek His advise before risking the lives of the men serving him. But why didn’t Jehoshaphat seek God’s advise before he went to visit Ahab? Did Jehoshaphat think he could mend years of rivalry and bloodshed on his own?
It always seems to happen. God blesses people, they get a little over confident, then begin making decisions on their own. Since much of this series of books dwelt with training priests, lets look at that from the aspect of a priest.
God gave Aaron and his sons explicit instructions. Moses gave detailed instructions on how priests dressed, where they ministered, every instrument they used, how and when they were to minister. The sacrificial system was at the center of those instructions. Included in those instructions was a list of how priests would be compensated for their services. What would happen if Aaron or his sons looked at how much God gave them, felt blessed, then began initiating a few changes to the system God gave them? Would that be acceptable?
Kings took over for lessons on the priesthood. The main difference being, many of the lessons kings taught were contrasts to lessons Moses and Joshua taught about the priesthood. Kings got the idea to sacrifice animals beyond what God instructed. The trouble with that is, people look at that as perfectly acceptable, because a king made the decision. God chose the first priests, but kings took over that responsibility for God. Once again, people look at that as perfectly acceptable because a king is doing it. Then people take that bad example one step further. Because we don’t have a king, we have to come up with another system to choose priests. The responsibility that should have always belonged to God took another step further away.
Is There a Prophet of God
2 Chronicles 18:5-8 NLTse (5) So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.” (6) But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the LORD here? We should ask him the same question.” (7) The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the LORD for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.” (8) So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Here we see how so called prophets agreed with the king, no matter what his plans were. They were more like cheerleaders than consultants. In the business world we would call them, yes men. People who stand around and are paid to agree with whatever ideas and plans the boss has. One illustration of money is power in this world.
But one man stood up. Jehoshaphat knew God. He met God and saw Him preform on the battlefield. Jehoshaphat knew he would hear God’s voice one way or another before making such a rash decision. Having heard God’s voice, Jehoshaphat knew those prophets in front of him had nothing to do with God.
A Prophet is Called
2 Chronicles 18:9-13 NLTse (9) King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. (10) One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the LORD says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!” (11) All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the LORD will give the king victory!” (12) Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.” (13) But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the LORD lives, I will say only what my God says.”
Why did Ahab listen to the other prophets inside the palace, but move the thrones outside to meet Micaiah at the city gate? Was Ahab afraid of Micaiah, or was he afraid to meet God, and let God into his home?
The fact Ahab changed the scene should tell us something about people, at least the way Ahab thought, and how he viewed God. Ahab didn’t want God to see how he was living. Ahab didn’t want God to see how his wife decorated the palace with all kinds of idols. Ahab had such a low view of God, he thought if he kept Micaiah out of the palace, God would never see what he was trying to hide. This is evidence showing how Ahab thought he could hid from God. But it didn’t work. Ahab should have known God as well as Jehoshaphat did. God saved Ahab the same way Jehoshaphat was saved. That showed how two people can receive the same answer, but look at it two different ways.
But Ahab’s provincial commanders and the entire army had now come out to fight. Each Israelite soldier killed his Aramean opponent, and suddenly the entire Aramean army panicked and fled. The Israelites chased them, but King Ben-hadad and a few of his charioteers escaped on horses. However, the king of Israel destroyed the other horses and chariots and slaughtered the Arameans. Afterward the prophet said to King Ahab, “Get ready for another attack. Begin making plans now, for the king of Aram will come back next spring.” (1 Kings 20:19-22 NLTse).
It was okay for Ahab to listen to God when he needed help, and receive that help when it benefited him, but Ahab seemed to have little use for God when the problems were solved. If Ahab had Jehoshaphat’s help, why would he need God again?
We also see how self made prophets create their own symbols, and interpretations to go along with them. Do we see the same problems with prophets today? We can see how the symbol was designed to represent the answer Ahab wanted to hear. In other words, the prophet had one answer in mind, then looked for a symbol that agreed with his answer.
We also see how the king’s guard tried to tell Micaiah how to answer for God. But Micaiah wouldn’t stand for that type of approach. Micaiah’s answer may not be popular, and may not agree with what others were saying, or thinking, but it was an answer directly from God, if and when God chose to provide an answer.
The Prophet’s Message
2 Chronicles 18:14-22 NLTse (14) When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for you will have victory over them!” (15) But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the LORD?” (16) Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.'” (17) “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.” (18) Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. (19) And the LORD said, ‘Who can entice King Ahab of Israel to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’ “There were many suggestions, (20) and finally a spirit approached the LORD and said, ‘I can do it!’ “‘How will you do this?’ the LORD asked. (21) “And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’ “‘You will succeed,’ said the LORD. ‘Go ahead and do it.’ (22) “So you see, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of your prophets. For the LORD has pronounced your doom.”
Why would a prophet lie to a king of all people? We see the answer in the next sentence. Micaiah had to explain something to the king and needed to get his attention. Micaiah delivered two messages. The first was of course a false message. The second message followed the laws of the prophets by explaining how God delivered the message. The second part of the message from God included details we should pay attention to. This world is filled with lying spirits. How do we watch out for them, and how do we identify people misled by those spirits. Micaiah identified the answer. Prophets from God are able to explain how they received the message from God. They will tell people if they received the information from a vision, dream or if God spoke to them. The basic concept is explained in Jeremiah chapter 23.