“Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab” (2Chron.18:1).
Ahab was the son of Omri who reigned over the northern ten tribes of Israel that separated from Judah when Rehoboam was king in Judah. Rehoboam was the son of Solomon who turned away from the Lord in the latter years of his 40-year reign and God gave the ten northern tribes of Israel to Jeroboam.
Jeroboam had been a gifted young man whom Solomon appointed ruler over the House of Joseph which comprised the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim and when Solomon turned away from the Lord, building altars to pagan gods for his many heathen wives, God sent the prophet Ahijah to tell Jeroboam that God would divide the nation and make him the ruler over 10 tribes. The House of David would continue to rule over Judah in the south.
When Solomon learned what Ahijah had done he decided to kill Jeroboam and Jeroboam fled to Egypt.
After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam returned to Israel and was appointed ruler over the ten tribes by the people. Sadly he brought back with him the chief god of the Egyptians, the golden calf. He placed one in the north of his kingdom and one in the southern border of Judah. He chose evil men to be priests and caused Israel to sin against the Lord.
After the death of Jeroboam his son Nabab ruled for 2 years before Baasha slew him and ruled.
Baasha followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam and promoted the worship of the golden calves and when he died his son Elah reigned for 2 years until he was assassinated by the captain of his chariots. For 6 years the northern ten tribes were divided with two men ruling until one of them died and Omri ruled over all the ten tribes.
Omri moved the capital from Tirzah to the hill of Samaria and built a city there. He was an evil man and “did worse than all that were before him” (1Kgs16:25). He prepared the way for an even more wicked king to rule after him – his son Ahab.
Not only did Ahab encourage the worship of the two golden calves but he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal King of the Zidonians who brought with her 450 prophets of the god Baal and 400 prophets of the groves which involved the worship of Ashtaroth, a godess of sex whose image was carved out of wood in the shape of a nude woman. The worship of Ashtaroth involved sexual rites and whoredom.
Ahab was extremely immoral and in his 22-year reign he produced 70 sons and no doubt a similar number of daughters.
When Ahab wanted to buy the vineyard of Naboth located close his palace in Jezreel, Naboth refused to sell so he was falsely charged and stoned to death.
In Samaria Ahab built a great Temple to the god Baal and an altar to offer sacrifices to Baal.
Such an evil man should have been avoided but King Jehoshaphat who reigned over the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem made a fatal mistake when he went down to Samaria and “made affinity with Ahab”.
There was no need for Jehoshaphat to join an association with Ahab. Jehoshaphat had followed the footsteps of his father King Asa who followed the Lord and had been greatly blessed of God during his 41-year-reign over Judah. Under Jehoshaphat’s reign the kingdom of Judah had become very powerful and boasted an army of 1.16 million fighting men. He appointed prophets to go through the cities of Judah to teach the people the Law of the Lord.
Jehoshaphat became exceedingly rich and all the nations about him brought gifts to him.
The cities of Judah were defended by garrisons of soldiers and walls were built to protect the them.
Like many others who have been successful, Jehoshaphat’s heart was “lifted up” and he was carried away with the honour bestowed upon him. No longer did the northern ten tribes pose a threat to Judah as they had when Baasha reigned. Peace had come to the region and Jehoshaphat went down from Jerusalem to Samaria to enjoy a social visit and make friends with Ahab who was an enemy of the Lord.
Tragically when Jehoshaphat went down to Ahab he took his sons with him and they met the daughters of Ahab and it wasn’t long before wedding bells were ringing! No longer were they meeting
as two kings but as one family. They gave their children the same names; eg. Ahaziah and Jehoram. Ahab was a Baal worshipper but he even obliged by giving his children names that included the name of the God of Israel.
Athaliah means, Time for Jehovah Ahaziah means, The possession of Jehovah
Jehoram means, Exalted by Jehovah.
Jehoshaphat might have reasoned that Ahab was showing signs of turning to the Lord and that his friendship was having a good influence on the evil king.
But Ahab had a different agenda. He wanted to invade Syria and asked Jehoshaphat to join him with some of his million-man army – they could share the spoils of warfare. Jehoshaphat could hardy say no to his new-found friend but he had a tinge of conscience and suggested they enquire of the Lord.
Of course Ahab’s prophets all agreed that God would give him a great victory. But how could Jehoshaphat trust Ahab’s prophets? So he asked,
“Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?”
Yes there was a prophet of the Lord, Micaiah, who was languishing in prison. At first Micaiah assured Ahab that he would be successful but there was something in the tone of his answer that made Ahab realise he was not genuine.
Micaiah then stated that God had put a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab’s
prophets and that if they went to war against Syria they would be defeated and their army scattered. Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said,
“Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me?”
Micaiah was sent back to prison.
At this point Jehoshaphat should have quit. He should have sided with the prophet of the Lord and walked away from this ungodly alliance with Ahab but how could he offend? He was now related and so for fear of destroying the friendship, Jehoshaphat sided with wicked Ahab and he paid an awful price.
The war with Syria was a disaster and Israel was defeated just as Micaiah had prophesied. Ahab died from an arrow wound and Jehoshaphat barely escaped with his life. It put an end to the relationship Jehoshaphat had with Ahab but it was only the beginning of greater problems between the two families.
Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram was now married to Ahab’s daughter Athaliah who was just as evil as her mother Jezebel and when Athaliah moved in with Jehoram at Jerusalem her presence poisoned the palace. Her husband slew all his brethren, the sons of Jehoshaphat, to remove any challenge to his wicked reign.
Then God sent the Philistines and the Arabians who took away Jehoram’s wives and the children he had to his other wives. Only Athaliah remained and her youngest son Ahaziah.
Jehoram soon found other wives and had other children but he only reigned eight years before God struck him down with a loathsome disease and Athaliah’ son, Ahaziah, reigned for just one year.
After one year Ahaziah went to Samaria to visit his in-laws at the time God raised up Jehu to judge the house of Ahab. Ahaziah and his brother-in-law Joram, were both slain.
With her only surviving son dead, Athaliah took control in Jerusalem and reigned 6 years but not before she slew the young children born to Jehoram and his other
wives. Only the 12-month-old Joash survived when his sister rescued him and hid him in the Temple. His sister was the wife of the High Priest.
While Jehu was purging the Northern kingdom of Israel from every trace of Baal worship, the worship of Baal was flourishing in Jerusalem under the direction of Athaliah and continued for 6 years until Joash was crowned King by the High Priest at the age of 7 years.
Athaliah was slain and Joash reigned under the direction of the priests of the Lord for 40 years. The images and altars of Baal were removed from the Temple and the people turned again to the Lord. Approximately 25 years of apostasy had come to an end and it all could have been avoided if godly King Jehoshaphat had not made affinity with wicked apostate Ahab.
The Biblical principle is clear:
“Be ye not unequally yoked
together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness
with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living
God …. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2Cor.6:14-18).
Christendom today is no less apostate than Israel when it worshipped Baal and the Golden Calves. Today ecumenical Christians fellowship in Ministers Fraternals with Catholic
priests, Seventh-Day-Adventist Pastors and modernist Ministers who condone Gay Marriage and/or deny the Deity of Christ.
We will never know the power of the Gospel through compromise. The story of Jehoshaphat surely demonstrates how compromise only leads to ship
wreck. The cost of compromise is high and the experience of Jehoshaphat comes as a solemn warning to every servant of God.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb.13:12-14).
– John Ecob