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17 Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became king and demonstrated his authority over the Southern Kingdom of Israel by strengthening Judah’s defenses. 2 He stationed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah and built barracks throughout the territory of Judah and the cities of Ephraim, which his father Asa had conquered. 3 The Eternal was with Jehoshaphat because he ruled as David had throughout his reign and as his father Asa had at the beginning of his reign. Jehoshaphat did not seek the lords of foreign religions; 4 instead, he looked for the True God of his father as Azariah told Asa to do, followed His commands, and was faithful to God, unlike the Northern Kingdom of Israel. 5 Because of his virtues, the Eternal gave control of the kingdom to Jehoshaphat. The people living throughout Judah brought gifts to their new king, Jehoshaphat, and he had abundant riches and honor. 6 Jehoshaphat prided himself on supporting the ways of the Eternal by cleansing Judah of foreign cultic symbols: high places and Asherah figures.
7-9 In his third year, Jehoshaphat sent his most worthy officials (Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah), some of the Levites (Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah), and some of the priests (Elishama and Jehoram) to all the people in Judah to teach them from the Eternal’s laws.
Asa began reforms by destroying cults, and Jehoshaphat continues the reforms by building the true religion. His focus is not just on ridding the nation of improper worship; he intends to teach everyone about proper worship. Therefore, Jehoshaphat embarks on a massive project of sending his best officials throughout the nation to teach the people.
10 All the kingdoms and lands surrounding Judah feared the Eternal, so they would not attack Jehoshaphat. 11 Some of the Philistines even brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat, and Arabians brought him flocks: 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats.
Jehoshaphat is the first king to command such foreign respect since Solomon, four generations earlier.
12-13 Jehoshaphat grew stronger at home and abroad, he built fortresses and store cities with great supplies in Judah, and he stationed his heroic men in Jerusalem 14 according to their families: From Judah, the commanders of their divisions were Adnah, the commander of 300,000 heroic men; 15 then Johanan, the commander of 280,000; 16 then Amasiah (son of Zichri who volunteered to serve the Eternal), and with him 200,000 heroic men. 17 From Benjamin, Eliada, a valiant warrior, and with him 200,000 archers and those carrying shields; 18 then Jehozabad, and with him 180,000 equipped for war. 19 These men served the king in Jerusalem, and others served him in other fortified cities throughout Judah.
18 In spite of his great wealth and honor, Jehoshaphat still wanted an alliance with the Northern Kingdom. So he arranged for his son, Jehoram, to marry Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, the king of Israel. 2 Several years later, Jehoshaphat traveled north to Samaria (Israel’s capital city) to visit Ahab, and Ahab prepared a feast. He used this feast of sheep and goats to entice Jehoshaphat and his entourage into attacking Ramoth-gilead.
Ahab (to Jehoshaphat): 3 I want to recover Ramoth-gilead from the Arameans and return it to my own country. Will you help me attack it?
Jehoshaphat: You and I and all of our people are brothers, descended from the same ancestor, Jacob. We will certainly help you in the battle. 4 But first I want to know if the Eternal agrees with your aggression. Let’s consult some of His prophets.
5 Then Ahab assembled 400 court prophets, who wanted to appease their king.
Ahab (to the prophets): Should we fight Ramoth-gilead or not?
Prophets: Go up to Ramoth-Gilead. You will win because the True God will give the city to you.
Jehoshaphat: 6 Is there a prophet of the Eternal, not just one of your own court prophets, whom we can ask?
Ahab: 7 There is only one prophet of the Eternal here, Micaiah, son of Imla, but I hate him and distrust his prophecies. He always prophesies evil about me and my country, never anything good.
Jehoshaphat: You should not say such a thing about a prophet of the Lord.
Ahab (to an officer): 8 Bring Micaiah, Imla’s son, to us quickly.
9 While they waited for Micaiah to arrive, Ahab and Jehoshaphat each sat on his own throne in his unique robes on the threshing floor inside Samaria’s gate. All the prophets were revealing their divine insights to the kings, 10 and Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, cast iron horns to illustrate his prophecy.
Zedekiah (with the horns): The Eternal says, “With these horns you will stab the Arameans until they are destroyed.”
Prophets: 11 Go up to Ramoth-gilead. You will win because the Eternal will give the city to the king.
12 When the messenger who went to summon Micaiah found him, he told Micaiah of the other prophets’ unanimous blessing for the battle. The messenger asked that Micaiah agree with the other prophets and support the battle. 13 Micaiah swore by the Eternal that he would only speak what the True God told him. He would not go along with the crowd just to please Ahab.
Ahab: 14 Micaiah, should we fight Ramoth-gilead or not?
Micaiah: Go up to Ramoth-gilead. You will win because the city will be given to you.
Ahab: 15 How many times must I persuade you to tell me nothing but the truth when you claim to use the authority of the Eternal?
Micaiah: 16 I saw all Israel wandering aimlessly on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. Then I heard the Eternal say, “These have no master. Let each of them go his own way and return to his own house in peace.”
Ahab (aside to Jehoshaphat): 17 Didn’t I tell you that he prophesies only evil about me?
The prophets often use the “bad shepherd” metaphor to demonstrate how Israelite and Judean kings do not rule their people well.
Micaiah: 18 Hear what the Eternal One says. I saw Him sitting on His throne, with the armies of heaven flanking Him, 19 asking, “Who will entice Ahab, king of Israel, to go up to Ramoth-gilead and die there?”
The heavenly soldiers were murmuring to each other 20 when a spirit stepped before the Eternal and answered, “I will entice him.”
The Eternal One questioned, “How?”
21 “I will mislead all of his prophets so that he will go to his death willingly and unaware.”
Then He said, “You will indeed entice him. Go, and do as you have said.”
22 In this way, the Eternal has deceived your prophets and proclaimed your death.
23 Then Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, slapped Micaiah.
Zedekiah: Which way did that enticing spirit from the Eternal pass when he left me and entered you, prompting your ridiculous oracle?
Micaiah: 24 Seer, you won’t see anything until the day when you enter an inner room to hide yourself.
Ahab: 25 Take Micaiah to Amon (the governor of the city) and to my son Joash. 26 Tell them I said to imprison this man and feed him only a little bread and water until I return from this battle safely.
Micaiah: 27 If you do return safely, then the Eternal has not spoken through me. Everyone, listen to me and remember my words.
28 So Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom, and Jehoshaphat, king of the Southern Kingdom, attacked Ramoth-gilead together.
Ahab (to Jehoshaphat): 29 I will wear a disguise when we go into battle, but you should wear your royal robes.
Both men did as Ahab suggested, Jehoshaphat in his robes and Ahab in his disguise, and they attacked Ramoth-gilead.
30 Meanwhile, the Aramean king (who occupied Ramoth-gilead) had commanded the captains of his chariots to target only Ahab. 31 When they saw Jehoshaphat in the royal robes, they assumed that he was the king of Israel, not knowing that Judah had joined Ahab in the battle. The Aramean chariots pursued Jehoshaphat, but he called out to the Eternal for help. The True God diverted them. 32 When the captains of the chariots realized he was not Ahab, they retreated.
33 Meanwhile, an archer randomly shot an arrow that landed in a joint of Ahab’s armor.
Since Ahab has not worn his royal robes on the battlefield, the archer never knows whom he has hit.
Ahab (to his chariot driver): Turn around, and take me away from the battlefield. I am severely injured.
34 The battle continued all day, but Ahab could only prop himself up in his chariot. So he watched from his chariot in front of the Arameans. At sunset, he died.
25 The prophet Hosea says:
I will give a new name to those who are not My people; I’ll call them “My people,”
and to the one who has not been loved, I’ll rename her “beloved.”[a]
26 And it shall turn out that in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,”
they will be called “children of the living God.”[b]
27 And this is what Isaiah cries out when he speaks of Israel, “Even though the number of the children of Israel had once been like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of My people will be rescued and remain. 28 For the Lord will waste no time in carrying out every detail of His sentence upon the earth.”[c] 29 It is as Isaiah predicts:
Except for the fraction of us who hang on by the grace of the Lord, Commander of heavenly armies,
we’d be destroyed and deserted like Sodom
and Gomorrah, utterly done in.[d]
For Paul, the astonishing truth of the gospel has to do with what God is now doing with the non-Jews. Apparently God’s plan all along is to make those who are not His people into His people. All those who never experienced God’s love are now experiencing it as they enter into the life of the Spirit through faith. But what does this mean for Israel? Israel, too, is included in the people of God; but again, this does not mean all of Israel. Pedigree is not what counts; faith is. As it was in the days of the prophets, so it is again. Divine judgment is falling on disobedience, but a remnant of faithful Jews—a fraction of the whole—is being saved.
30 So what does all of this mean? Did the non-Jews stumble into a right standing with God without chasing after it? Yes, they found it through faith. 31 And has Israel, who pursued the law to secure a right standing with God, failed to keep the law? Yes again. 32 And why is that? Because Israel did not follow the path of faith. They thought that whatever they needed to be right with God could be accomplished by doing the works of the law; they tripped over the stumbling stone. 33 As the Scriptures say,
Look what I am going to do in Zion.
I’ll put in place a stone that makes them stumble, a rock that trips them up,
and those who trust in it will not be disgraced.[e]
10 My brothers and sisters, I pray constantly to God for the salvation of my people; it is the deep desire of my heart. 2 What I can say about them is that they are enthusiastic about God, but that won’t lead them to Him because their zeal is not based on true knowledge. 3 In their ignorance about how God is working to make things right, they have been trying to establish their own right standing with God through the law. But they are not operating under God’s saving, restorative justice. 4 You see, God’s purpose for the law reaches its climax when the Anointed One arrives; now all who trust in Him can have their lives made right with God.
God’s plan to restore the world disfigured by sin and death reaches its climax with the resurrection of Jesus. When the King enters, all the prophecies, all the hopes, all the longings find in Him their true fulfillment. There may have been earlier fulfillments; but these are only partial fulfillments, signposts along the way to God’s true goal. The goal has been the restoration of people to a holy God. With Jesus, we find the only perfect man with right standing before God. He comes to blaze a path defined by God’s justice, not by our own sense of right and wrong. All men, women, and children who commit their lives to Him will be made right with God and will begin new lives defined by faith and God’s new covenant.
5 Moses made this clear long ago when he wrote about what it takes to have a right relationship with God based on the law: “The person devoted to the law’s commands will live by them.”[f] 6 But a right relationship based on faith sounds like this: “Do not say to yourselves, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’”[g] (that is, to bring down the Anointed One), 7 “or, ‘Who will go down into the abyss?’”[h] (that is, to bring the Anointed One up from the dead). 8 But what does it actually say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[i] (that is, the good news we have been called to preach to you). 9 So if you believe deep in your heart that God raised Jesus from the pit of death and if you voice your allegiance by confessing the truth that “Jesus is Lord,” then you will be saved! 10 Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that’s right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. 11 Because what Isaiah said was true: “The one who trusts in Him will not be disgraced.”[j] 12 Remember that the Lord draws no distinction between Jew and non-Jew—He is Lord over all things, and He pours out His treasures on all who invoke His name 13 because as Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[k]
1 May the Eternal’s answer find you, come to rescue you,
when you desperately cling to the end of your rope.
May the name of the True God of Jacob be your shelter.
2 May He extend hope and help to you from His holy sanctuary
and support you from His sacred city of Zion.
3 May He remember all that you have offered Him;
may your burnt sacrifices serve as a prelude to His mercy.
4 May He grant the dreams of your heart
and see your plans through to the end.
5 When you win, we will not be silent! We will shout
and raise high our banners in the great name of our God!
May the Eternal say yes to all your requests.
6 I don’t fear; I’m confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal:
heaven will respond to his plea;
His mighty right hand will win the battle.
7 Many put their hope in chariots, others in horses,
but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God.
8 Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home;
all the while, we will rise and stand firm.
9 Eternal One, grant victory to our king!
Answer our plea for help.
2 A king’s wrath strikes fear like a lion’s roar;
those who provoke him to anger sentence themselves to death.
3 Honor is due those who refuse to fight at the drop of a hat,
but every fool jumps at an opportunity to quarrel.