Today’s OT18 readings are 2 Chronicles 17 and Zechariah 2.
This devotional is about 2 Chronicles 17.
The kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were all evil in God’s sight. The kings of Judah were a mixed bag. After the kingdom divided, Judah had twenty kings; eight of them were described as men who were righteous in the sight of God. Today we read about one of the most faithful of the godly kings in Judah; namely, Jehoshaphat. It would be hard to get a better description of your life than:
• “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him” (v. 3a).
• He “sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” (v. 4).
• “His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord” (v. 6a).
So, clearly, Jehoshaphat was an exemplary man.
But this chapter goes beyond these general descriptions of his godliness and gives us some specifics. One specific demonstration of Jehoshaphat’s godliness was his separation from idolatry
• Verse 3 said, “He did not consult the Baals….” This shows that he was personally free from idolatry.
• Verse 6 said, “…he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.” He not only abstained from idolatry personally but he did not tolerate the practice of idolatry in his kingdom.
When we read that a king of Judah did right in the eyes of the Lord, it means that king, at the bare minimum, had some kind of separation from idolatry.
Jehoshaphat, though, went so much further than that. Verses 7-9 say that Jehoshaphat sent government leaders “to teach the towns of Judah” (v. 7). With those government officials he sent Levites who “taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people” (v. 9). So he both removed idols from Judah and replaced those idols with the teaching of truth.
Systematic instruction from God’s word is essential to the growth of godliness in a person or group of people’s lives. It is, of course, possible to teach God’s word in a way that is dry and lacking spiritual life. It is also possible to learn God’s word academically without receiving it spiritually.
But people who are growing spiritually are people who want to know God’s word. There is a hunger for truth in a godly person’s heart that can only be filled by the teaching of God’s word. Godly leaders and godly people do what is right but they also desire to know more of God’s truth. The better we know God’s truth, the more clearly and powerfully we encounter God himself.
Jesus created the church, in part, to provide the kind of instruction to us Christians that Jehoshaphat starting giving the people of Judah in this chapter. Are you showing up to receive the teaching our church offers? Do you come hungry, ready to learn what God has spoken?