2 Chronicles 17:1-19
The Lord God has given people desires or longings. As we live in this world, we develop other desires according to our circumstances, abilities, etc. These desires can be either holy or wicked. In this article, we think again about the good desires that Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had.
Jehoshaphat had a desire to seek the Lord (17:3-6). Notice how this godly desire worked out in his life.
- He followed the good example of David. It is not clear if the text should be translated like the NIV does to refer to Jehoshaphat, or as the ESV does to refer to David (“because he walked in the earlier ways of David”). Regardless, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord like David did (cf. Psalm 27:8; etc.), and so he rejected the Baals. There were many false gods worshiped in Palestine with the title of Baal (“Master”). Each one was believed to be in control of some part of nature or some place. Baal worship was the attempt to gain the favor of these so-called gods, so that a person could have a happy, prosperous life. (Hopefully, that does not describe your motivation for worshiping the living God!) Worship of the Lord emphasizes his glory and goodness in redeeming his people from sin to eternal salvation. In true worship, we are not trying to buy something from God, but we are celebrating what he freely does. We need to remember Jehoshaphat’s rejection of Baal worship when we come to the next chapter.
- His heart was devoted or “lifted up” to the Lord. In contrast, others might lift their hearts up to other gods, human wisdom or selfish ambition. But Jehoshaphat gave his heart or inner person to the Lord and his ways. (You simply can’t give your heart to the Lord and not to the Lord’s ways. True spirituality is according to God’s word.) The principle of the first great command was operating in his heart (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). When he realized that God was his covenant Lord, he gave himself to the Lord’s lordship over him. For Jehoshaphat, this required him to structure his life around the reality of God and his relationship to him, as mediated through the law covenant (Deuteronomy 4:23-24). For us, it means confessing that “Jesus is Lord”. Christ is the ultimate loyalty for the Christian, because God the Father has made him the ultimate Lord over everything. By his death and resurrection, Christ earned absolute lordship, and he exercises it (Romans 14:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:19b-23). Sip on that strong coffee for a while! Yes, that is spiritual caffeine that will really wake you up!
Comment: Some people might say that evangelical Christians are professional liars, because we say, “Jesus is Lord,” while we live contradictory to our confession. My friends, we should not try to answer that accusation with words but with lives that are devoted to Christ’s lordship. How are our lives saying that Jesus has set us free to live for God? But first, do you confess that “Jesus is Lord”? Listen to Romans 10:8-13. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- His devoted heart produced godly action. He worshiped according to the law covenant, and not according to the ways of false religion, like the practices of Israel invented by Jeroboam I (cf. 1 Ki 12), or the polytheistic practices of the Canaanites. He did his best to remove the religious perversions of Asherah (the goddess associated with Baal or even with God in false religious practice). The high places had sacred stones that were supposed to contain the Baals. We must worship the Lord in his way, which he has clearly revealed in the Bible.
This weekend, think about the way you worshiped. First, did you gather with other believers? Second, did your worship conform to the pattern set forth in the New Testament Scriptures? How do you know that it did? Third, what good results came from your worship? Did it transform you and others?
Grace and peace, David