Jehoshaphat got it. He followed the example of his father. He strengthened Judah; didn’t worship idols; sought God; didn’t follow Israel’s evil practices. And good things came his way. He became more powerful; had great riches and was held in high esteem; the fear of the Lord kept other territories from warring with him. When he had his son marry Ahab of Israel’s daughter, I wondered if he was courting trouble. After all, Israel had evil practices in a former paragraph.
Jehoshaphat meets up some time later to feast with Ahab. It seemed a bit chummy, and I wondered where this was leading.
Then Ahab enticed Jehoshaphat to join forces with him to recover Ramoth-gilead.
3 “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” King Ahab of Israel asked King Jehoshaphat of Judah.
Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one, and my troops are your troops. We will certainly join you in battle.” 4 Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.” 2 Chronicles 18:2b-4, NLT (emphasis mine).
Jehoshaphat is still a God’s guy, I reasoned–see, he wants to get the Lord’s opinion. Four hundred prophets encourage the fight and assure success.
6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.” 2 Chronicles 18:6, NLT.
Yeah, Jehoshaphat’s got this … until he doesn’t. A prophet of the Lord does speak and speaks against the attack. I’m surprised that shortly after Jehoshaphat and his men are in a battle, and Jehoshaphat is wearing a kingly target.
28 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 2 Chronicles 18:28-29, NLT.
At the start, it seemed like Jehoshaphat had so much going for him. Focus. Example. Promise. How did he go from that to this?
30 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel! Don’t bother with anyone else.” 31 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But Jehoshaphat called out, and the Lord saved him. God helped him by turning the attackers away from him. 2 Chronicles:30-31, NLT.
It was subtle. A political union. Camaraderie over a meal. Identification in unity. Pursuing the popular opinion.
Jesus tells us he is the true vine.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.” John 15:4-6, NLT.
There are times in my life the red flags wave warning over friendships. How long before I’m wearing the target on my back for the enemy’s focused attack?
Lord, it’s not like I’m oblivious to the influence of others. Sometimes there is clear warning that I write off–I’ve got this; I know Jesus. Haven’t I also cried out to you because of poor alliances? Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to follow you and bring glory to you, even when it’s hard.