2 Chronicles 16

But in the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, Baasha king of Israel attacked. He started it by building a fort at Ramah and closing the border between Israel and Judah to keep Asa king of Judah from leaving or entering.

Asa took silver and gold from the treasuries of The Temple of God and the royal palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram who lived in Damascus, with this message: “Let’s make a treaty like the one between our fathers. I’m showing my good faith with this gift of silver and gold. Break your deal with Baasha king of Israel so he’ll quit fighting against me.”

Ben-Hadad went along with King Asa and sent his troops against the towns of Israel. They sacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali. When Baasha got the report, he quit fortifying Ramah.

Then King Asa issued orders to his people in Judah to haul away the logs and stones Baasha had used in the fortification of Ramah and used them himself to fortify Geba and Mizpah.

Just after that, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, “Because you went for help to the king of Aram and didn’t ask God for help, you’ve lost a victory over the army of the king of Aram. Didn’t the Ethiopians and Libyans come against you with superior forces, completely outclassing you with their chariots and cavalry? But you asked God for help and he gave you the victory. God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God’s help. Now you’re in trouble—one round of war after another.”

At that, Asa lost his temper. Angry, he put Hanani in the stocks. At the same time Asa started abusing some of the people.

A full account of Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask God for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in a mausoleum that he had built for himself in the City of David. They laid him in a crypt full of aromatic oils and spices. Then they had a huge bonfire in his memory.

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2 Chronicles 17

Jehoshaphat of Judah

Asa’s son Jehoshaphat was the next king; he started out by working on his defense system against Israel. He put troops in all the fortress cities of Judah and deployed garrisons throughout Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. God was on Jehoshaphat’s side because he stuck to the ways of his father Asa’s early years. He didn’t fool around with the popular Baal religion—he was a seeker and follower of the God of his father and was obedient to him; he wasn’t like Israel. And God secured the kingdom under his rule, gave him a firm grip on it. And everyone in Judah showed their appreciation by bringing gifts. Jehoshaphat ended up very rich and much honored. He was single-minded in following God; and he got rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines.

In the third year of his reign he sent his officials—excellent men, every one of them—Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah. They were accompanied by Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tob-Adonijah; the priests Elishama and Jehoram were also in the company. They made a circuit of the towns of Judah, teaching the people and using the Book of The Revelation of God as their text.

There was a strong sense of the fear of God in all the kingdoms around Judah—they didn’t dare go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines even brought gifts and a load of silver to Jehoshaphat, and the desert bedouin brought flocks—7,700 rams and 7,700 goats. So Jehoshaphat became stronger by the day, and constructed more and more forts and store-cities—an age of prosperity for Judah!

He also had excellent fighting men stationed in Jerusalem. The captains of the military units of Judah, classified according to families, were: Captain Adnah with 300,000 soldiers; his associate Captain Jehohanan with 280,000; his associate Amasiah son of Zicri, a volunteer for God, with 200,000. Officer Eliada represented Benjamin with 200,000 fully equipped with bow and shield; and his associate was Jehozabad with 180,000 armed and ready for battle. These were under the direct command of the king; in addition there were the troops assigned to the fortress cities spread all over Judah.

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2 Chronicles 18:1-27

But even though Jehoshaphat was very rich and much honored, he made a marriage alliance with Ahab of Israel. Some time later he paid a visit to Ahab at Samaria. Ahab celebrated his visit with a feast—a huge barbecue with all the lamb and beef you could eat. But Ahab had a hidden agenda; he wanted Jehoshaphat’s support in attacking Ramoth Gilead. Then Ahab brought it into the open: “Will you join me in attacking Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat said, “You bet. I’m with you all the way; you can count on me and my troops.”

Then Jehoshaphat said, “But before you do anything, ask God for guidance.”

The king of Israel got the prophets together—all four hundred of them—and put the question to them: “Should I attack Ramoth Gilead or should I hold back?”

“Go for it,” they said. “God will hand it over to the king.”

But Jehoshaphat dragged his feet, “Is there another prophet of God around here we can consult? Let’s get a second opinion.”

The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, “As a matter of fact, there is another. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom—Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king shouldn’t talk about a prophet like that!” said Jehoshaphat.

So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, “Quickly, get Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them, called out, “God’s word! With these horns you’ll gore Aram until there’s nothing left of them!” All the prophets chimed in, “Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God’s gift to the king!”

The messenger who went to get Micaiah told him, “The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous—vote Yes!”

But Micaiah said, “As sure as God lives, what God says, I’ll say.”

With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, “So, Micaiah—do we attack Ramoth Gilead? Or do we hold back?”

“Go ahead,” he said, “an easy victory! God’s gift to the king.”

“Not so fast,” said the king. “How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?”

“All right,” said Micaiah, “since you insist . . .

I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills,
    sheep with no shepherd.
Then God spoke, ‘These poor people
    have no one to tell them what to do.
Let them go home and do
    the best they can for themselves.’”

The king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, “See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom.”

Micaiah kept on, “I’m not done yet; listen to God’s word:

I saw God enthroned,
    and all the Angel Armies of heaven
standing at attention,
    ranged on his right and his left.
And God said, “How can we seduce Ahab
    into attacking Ramoth Gilead?”
Some said this,
    and some said that.
Then a bold angel stepped out,
    stood before God, and said,
“I’ll seduce him.”
    “And how will you do it?” said God.
“Easy,” said the angel,
    “I’ll get all the prophets to lie.”
“That should do it,” said God;
    “On your way—seduce him!”

“And that’s what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom.”

Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and slapped Micaiah in the face, saying, “Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?”

Micaiah said, “You’ll know soon enough; you’ll know it when you’re frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide.”

The king of Israel had heard enough: “Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king’s son with this message: ‘King’s orders! Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I’m back in one piece.’”

Micaiah said,

If you ever get back in one piece,
    I’m no prophet of God.

He added,

When it happens, O people,
    remember where you heard it!

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