Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2 Chronicles 16 & 17: War and Peace

2 Chron 16:7-9 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, "Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars."

2 Chron 17:3-11 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah. In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah; and with these Levites, the priests Elishama and Jehoram. And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the Lord with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.

Asa started well in the early years of his reign, but in his later years, he fumbled. When Baasha, king of Israel, started to build Ramah to block access into Judah, he entered into an alliance with Ben-hadad, king of Syria, to harass Israel from the north. When Baasha realized what was happening, he stopped building Ramah and retreated back north. However, this act of relying on military alliances rather than on the Lord elicited a rebuke from the prophet Hanani who told him that because he did not rely on the Lord, he would have wars. For most people who are not in political leadership, this truth still applies: if we trust in political alliances rather than in the Lord, we shall have on-going conflicts with people rather than peace. Office politicking will get us into more conflicts and "wars" with colleagues.

In contrast, the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because "he sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments." For this reason alone, "the Lord established the kingdom in his hand." Jehoshaphat not only sought the Lord himself, but he got teachers to go to all the cities of Judah to teach the people from the Book of the Law. So, not only the king, but the people now relied on the Lord. Because of this, "the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat." So Jehoshaphat had peace, not war because he relied on the Lord and taught his people to do the same. At a personal level, this story teaches us that if we seek the Lord and walk in His commandments, we shall have peace with others - i.e.  harmonious relationships with our spouses, children, parents, in-laws, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and college mates.

Lord, teach us to trust in You and walk after Your commands, that we may have peace with You and with others. Amen.

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