Asa and Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 16:1-10; 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

1919 193 One hardly knows anything more sad than this account of Asa. No doubt he was the Lord's, but he was out of communion, and relied on his own resources. And he begins by robbing God. Then he asked a worldly man to do a distinctly dishonourable thing: "Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of Jehovah and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me" (vers. 2, 3). If we get out of communion there is no saying what we may do. It is sad to think that the flesh has more scope in a believer than in the unconverted.

Asa gets his way with Ben-hadad, but Jehovah sends a messenger who tells him he is only a sufferer by getting his own way. Then he adds: "For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect towards him" (ver. 9). Those whose hearts are perfect are not those perfect in flesh, but those who know there is nothing good in them. "Cease ye from man," and begin with yourself.

We need mercy, we need wisdom. Let us ask of God, Who giveth liberally and upbraideth not. We have had here a word of warning. Now let us turn to chap. 20:1-3.

Oh, how blessed! There is nothing finer than this. David, and rightly, "enquired of Jehovah," but Jehoshaphat "set himself to seek Jehovah," and then proclaimed a fast — setting aside the flesh. Oh, how delightful to see the people of God realizing their weakness, and gathering together to seek the Lord as in ver. 5! Mark Jehoshaphat's reasoning: he makes it a question of God, to Whom all power belongs. Clearing the ground altogether, he makes it a question of God, and God's ability.

What a delicious verse is ver. 6! But he is taking the very highest ground in ver. 7. "Abraham, thy friend"! Twice do we get the father of the faithful spoken of as the "Friend" of God! Here for the first time, then in Isaiah 41, and lastly in James 2. Doubtless, the people had behaved very badly, and Jehoshaphat is ready to own it; but if grace gives us high ground it is the merest pride to reject it. Some think it wrong to know the forgiveness of sins; but no, God says it, and the believer ought to occupy the high ground His grace gives.

Mark how he piles it up in vers. 8, 9. It is very beautiful. There is no boasting, but telling God how they have rested in Him, and now they are doing exactly what God would have them do, answering to Solomon's prayer, and relying on His promise, and He cannot deny Himself.

"And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldst not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee." How blessed! He pleads with God all that His grace has given, and asks if God is going to allow the enemy to triumph. He would have us trust in all He has given us. But he makes no preparation — no war loan — no fresh taxes! No; "our eyes are upon Thee."

Then "All Judah stood before Jehovah," and the little ones are given first. You know what parade is. Here the little ones come first. The Lord Jesus was much displeased with those who would keep the little ones from Him. Here the little ones stand first before Jehovah, then the wives — not the warriors.

The sons of Asaph were singers, and of them, says ver. 15 "Hearken ye, all Judah and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith Jehovah unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's," etc. And God owns to it. They had owned God, and He answers to it. God knew exactly the place where the enemy was; they might go to their beds, for He that keepeth Israel was watching over them, and "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord with you" a remarkable expression. Not salvation for you as at the Red Sea, but with you — with the little ones, the wives and the children. "Go out … for Jehovah is with you."

Ver. 18: What a lovely scene! Here are these people, with the foe to be dealt with tomorrow, worshipping the LORD. There was no nonsense about it (ver. 19). Why should they not stand up to praise the LORD with a loud voice on high?

"So shall ye be established" (ver. 20) that was the point. "I commend you to God," said the apostle. "We want implicit trust in our God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Believe His prophets" — yes, always the word of God for all. Our sorrows arise because we have acted without the sanction of the word.

Ver. 21" "Beauty of holiness," rather "In holy splendour." They were not going to do it in tinpot style but "in holy splendour." They were rather previous, but they were all right, It is a very good receipt to praise beforehand" If God has promised, may we not give thanks? They began the song of triumph, and Jehovah set ambushments.

"And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten." How lovely! Israel never shot an arrow; this war never cost them a farthing; no one got a scratch. God said He would fight for them and this is how He did it. To me, this is most delightful. The enemies all slay one another. Judah had said," Our eyes are upon Thee," now they get another sight — all dead bodies.

"They were three days gathering the spoil" (vers. 25). Can we think of these three days without thinking of that Blessed One Who won the victory for us? And on the fourth day they blessed the LORD (ver. 26). On their side it was a perfectly bloodless battle! not one soldier missing!

I am looking at it in a practical way for ourselves, but when He comes as the rightful Conqueror, we shall come with Him. They started from the house of Jehovah, and they returned there (ver. 28).

It is a true thing to look to Him. In the early days of our short little history they had not much trouble with those who wanted to come into communion the fear of the Lord was over them. If we fail, always at once confess it; keep short accounts, and rely on Him, and be obedient to the word of His grace. W.N.T.