There is much to learn from the examples of the Kings in Israelite history. Though 2 Chronicles is not often the book of choice when it comes to our personal devotions, it does offer much to ponder for the life of God’s people today. Here is something God has been teaching me recently, through the life and example of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. We see his reign as King in 2 Chronicles 17-20. Overall, his tenure as King was a positive one. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, though not all the false worship was taken out of the region (2 Chronicles 20:32-33). Though generally a good King, he did have flaws. One flaw that God chose to reveal about him was his alliance with Ahab, King of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ahab was a wicked King, married to the equally ruthless Jezebel.
The text tells us that Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:1). What was this alliance? It involved the marriage of Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, with Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah (see 2 Chronicles 21). This choice to make this alliance was not wise. While that alliance did not seem to have much of an effect upon Jehoshaphat’s reign as king, the ongoing ramifications were staggering, and nearly cataclysmic.
After Jehoshaphat dies, his son Jehoram takes the throne. Jehoram is not a good King and follows the ways of Ahab, his father-in-law, rather than the ways of his own father. No doubt influenced by his wife, Athaliah, and her religious influence, Jehoram leads Judah into religious whoredom (2 Chronicles 21:13). Jehoram died and his son Ahaziah took the throne. He continued in the wickedness of his father, for his mother, Athaliah, was his counselor in doing wickedly (2 Chronicles 22:3). Ahaziah died after only one year in office. None of his children were old enough to take the throne, and Athaliah took the opportunity and became queen herself. She destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah (2 Chronicles 22:10), at least she believed so. She wanted to wipe out all rightful heirs to the throne of Judah and establish herself in authority, perhaps with the intention of uniting the two kingdoms once again. However, God allowed the young son Joash to be hidden until he was old enough to take the throne. God would not allow His covenant with David to be broken, but kept the remnant alive. God’s sovereignty and grace are clearly seen, but that is for another discussion. When Joash became king, his wicked grandmother was put to death (2 Chronicles 23:15), thus ending her reign of terror in Judah.
What I want to point out here is how one seemingly innocuous decision by parents had ramifications in the family that lasted for years. This was a seemingly harmless marriage alliance involving Jehoram and Athaliah. Yet, the influence of Athaliah upon Jehoram, and upon their son Ahaziah was devastating to the people of God in their worship of God. Beyond that, her intentions for the entire family line of Judah were diabolical. She nearly wiped out the Davidic line to the throne. All this took place because of a choice to do something that seemed advantageous at the time to Jehosphaphat. The alliance was not right in the sight of God. Jehoshaphat’s decision to make this alliance was not wise, and it had long-lasting and nearly catastrophic effects on his own descendents.
All of us make decisions every day. Whether you are a parent, a church leader, or in some other place of authority, those decisions always have some kind of consequence to them. The consequences may not become apparent for many years, but they will come. The decisions you make today have potential ramifications for future generations.
As parents, though, it is imperative that we make choices today for ourselves and our families that are not merely expedient for the moment. We must look ahead at what the ramifications of those choices could be for the future of our children and grandchildren even after we are dead. The direction of our home is viewed by the decisions that we make. Are your choices today those which are pleasing to God, or those which are simply expedient for your children?
Jehoshaphat was not a wicked King. Though he had his flaws, there are many positive things we can learn from his life as well. However, take the New Testament seriously when it says that all scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Let the lesson from Jehoshaphat teach you what is right. Believe what God’s Word teaches, and let it correct any faulty thinking in your mind and heart. Allow it to lead you in righteous paths. Make decisions that will please the Lord today and not jeopardize the moral and spiritual welfare of your children in years to come.