TODAY’S READING: 2 Chronicles 17
In the up and (mostly) down histories of Judah and Israel, Jehoshaphat’s early reign stands out as a high—a missionary high. This pericope in Chronicles lets us peek at what God intended to be normal. It is a short chapter that conjures up both sadness and joy, for what we see is what could have, should have been. Here is my amplified paraphrase through a missionary lens:
Jehoshaphat was blessed to have a father, Asa, who understood God’s mission. When Jehoshaphat came to the throne, he built on what he learned from his father by first making sure no evil thing had access to his heart, home, or homeland. Jehoshaphat didn’t just play defense; he also aggressively pursued what pleased Jehovah by doing what David did: being zealous for the glory of God among all the nations. Jehoshaphat would have nothing to do with the Baals; all he wanted was to please the one true God of Israel, all he wanted was the true God to be worshiped by all the peoples of earth. Jehoshaphat studied Jehovah’s covenant with Abraham (blessed to be a blessing). Jehoshaphat researched Jehovah’s covenant with Moses and Aaron (be holy so that God could live among them as a witness to the nations). Jehoshaphat marveled at Jehovah’s promise to David (that David’s seed would reign over all nations). Jehoshaphat soberly reminded himself that he was a link in David’s chain: One day from his sanctified line the eternal king would come! Jehoshaphat determined to do nothing to break the chain and to do everything to preserve it. This dedication to God’s mission in all the earth so delighted Jehovah that the kingdom was established locally and Jehoshaphat was honored and respected broadly. The delight was mutual, for Jehoshaphat took joy in honoring the Lord, making Him famous at home and abroad by sending teachers to every city and cranny of the land so that all the people understood the missionary heart of God and how to be God’s missionary people from the missionary book of the law.
Because Jehoshaphat honored Jehovah, Jehovah honored the covenant promises made to Eve, Abraham, Moses, and David. The metanarrative of the whole Bible was lived out in Jehoshaphat’s early reign: Jehovah was their God, Judah was His holy people, Jehovah lived among them and blessed them, the nations took notice, and Jehovah was glorified. The fear of Jehovah fell on all the kingdoms, peace spread, Philistines brought tribute, and Arabs brought presents. The nation and the people grew strong. There were valiant leaders who made disciples who made disciples. Israel was blessed, vibrant, and strong, and the nations around them were blessed with peace because Jehovah was glorified and worshiped.
Jehoshaphat’s early reign is a great blueprint for a young pastor, minister, missionary, leader, or marketplace witness. Learn from the men of God who went before you. When you are given responsibility, first secure your defenses, repent and be reformed from all sin, live in holiness, and allow no evil in your home, heart, or ministry. Read the Bible and buy into the missionary heart of God for all nations. Realize you are a link in this glorious chain—from Abraham to David to the apostles to you—that your responsibility is to live in this age in such a way that God can visit you with power, bless you, and strengthen you, so that you might impact the unreached peoples of earth. Pass this vision to your mighty men—your children, staff, disciples, all you influence. Let the missionary Word of God, the great global gospel story be what you preach and teach. Send your best to the Philistines and Arabs, including the Bedouin of the United Arab Emirates, and receive from them the greatest treasures God wants: their worship of Jehovah. Let the treasuries of your house, let the legacy of your life be disciples from a multitude of unreached peoples around the world.