King Jehoshaphat’s Reforms
Open Your Bible
2 Chronicles 19:1-11, 2 Chronicles 20:1-37, 2 Chronicles 21:1; Ezra 8:21-23
BY Ginny Owens
I think Jehoshaphat has a kind of eye-opening experience in 2 Chronicles 19. Prior to this chapter, he initiated a few reforms—tearing down the high places and Asherah poles (v.3)—but since then, he had witnessed the death of Israel’s king, who mocked and disobeyed God (2Chronicles 18) and heard God’s voice through Jehu, the seer’s son (2 Chronicles 19:2–3). Jehoshaphat had seen God’s mighty hand at work among those who were against Him, and he had received a personal wake-up call from this same God. For Jehoshaphat, God and His greatness were no longer nice ideas he could toy around with but realities he had experienced and must surrender to. It was not enough to make concessions to God; Jehoshaphat and Judah had to put Him at the center. His path had to be their only way forward. Jehoshaphat’s word to all of Judah was essentially, “Stop! Open your eyes and hearts to the reality of our God!”
Jehoshaphat appointed judges and leaders who discerned the Lord’s will and settled disputes according to it. He reinstated the high priest’s role as the ultimate spiritual leader. He warned all the leaders that God had a right path and that guilt and wrath were incurred for not following it (vv.5–11).
Second Chronicles 20 shows us that seeking the Lord in life’s ordinary matters prepares us for seeking Him amidst our greatest fears. When Jehoshaphat learned of a multi-enemy army coming for Judah, his firsthand experience of God’s greatness and power led him to fight his fear on his knees and to lead his people to do the same (2Chronicles 20:1–5). In his public prayer, Jehoshaphat brought to mind God’s greatness and power over all the world and His history of faithfulness to Israel—God provided this land and brought them to it, after all (vv.6–7). Jehoshaphat also remembered God’s promise to be faithful, and pleaded for this to continue, ending with a confession we all can appreciate: “We do not know what to do but we look to you” (v.12). Through Jahaziel, the Lord told Judah that it was indeed His battle and their task was to “stand still” and watch Him rescue them (v.17).
Seeking the Lord always and ultimately ends in praise! In this section of reading, nothing else is said about fear, only worship. Judah sang and praised its way to battle the next day, where singers on the front lines sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his faithful love endures forever” (v.21). And the Lord rescued His people as He promised.
We know the best part of God’s rescue: The One Judah could only imagine, the One who would bring ultimate salvation and rest. He won the final battle for our lives! Our change comes as we recognize how deeply loved and forgiven we are in Him. Only by His power can we stop living half-heartedly and turn wholly to Him, praising and watching as He changes our hearts and wins our battles.