2 Chronicles 21-22
Even though King Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He was sure stupid when it came to raising his kids. He had arranged a marriage between his son, Jehoram, and Athaliah, Israel’s evil king Ahab’s daughter. This was a stupid arrangement for two reasons. First, this would virtually guarantee Jehoram would be evil and lead Judah into evil. Second, the future of God’s plan of salvation depended on the continuation of David’s dynasty through Jehoram, and as we will see, that came into peril.
Anyway, 2 Chronicles 21 starts with Jehoshaphat’s death, and Jehoram’s ascension to the throne. Once he established himself as king, Jehoram killed all of his brothers and some of the princes of the land – basically, anyone who may challenge his authority. (Presumably, he wanted them out of the way so they couldn’t oppose his promoting the worship of Baal.) Then he proceeded to follow the evil ways of the evil King Ahab, because he had married Ahab’s daughter.
Jehoram received an astounding warning. He received a letter from Elijah pronouncing judgment on him because of his sins. This is astounding, because this is several years after Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (as recorded in 2 Kings 2:11). This passage in 2 Chronicles 21 corresponds to events recorded in 2 Kings 8. Elijah had obviously written this prophetic letter and had directed it to be delivered at a particular future date. Anyway, this letter declared a curse on Jehoram because of all of his sins and the sins he caused Judah to commit. According to the letter, he was going to be inflicted with a disease of his bowels until his bowels came out. And two years later, that’s exactly what happened, and how he died.
As the story continues, Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah, became king but only reigned one year. After his death, Athaliah (remember her from the first paragraph?) killed all her kids and grandkids so she could rule the nation. (Remember my comment in the first paragraph about David’s dynasty being in peril?). Athaliah was no descendant of David! As it turned out, her infant grandson, Joash, was whisked away while everybody else was being killed.
The main thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is the importance of not only following the Lord ourselves wholeheartedly, but also how imperative it is to pass along a love for the Lord to our children (both physical and spiritual children). I’m convinced Jehoram could have been a great king, who loved the Lord, and had a blessed reign, if only Jehoshaphat had stressed the importance of following the Lord, and if Jehoshaphat had chosen a godly wife for Jehoram.
The second thing that jumps out to me is the importance of choosing a godly spouse. This is literally the second most important decision any of us can ever make (after the decision to follow the Lord). And this will either make it easier to live for God, or will make it harder – and the implications are eternal.
The third thing that strikes me is how God alerted Elijah in advance, so he could write a letter to be delivered to Jehoram years later, declaring his downfall. And then Elijah had to have someone deliver this letter on a specific future date, at just the right time. God really does know everything. (Maybe He knows a thing or two about how we should live, and maybe I should read His word to find that out, and maybe I should live for Him.)
The final thing that I see is that God saved exactly one descendant of David – and that was a baby – so he could continue David’s line, and fulfill His promise to David. Despite everything seeming to go wrong, God was still in control. And much later, He would ultimately fulfill His promise to David through another baby, Jesus.
I want to be on God’s side – since God can still be in control, even when everything seems to be falling apart. How about you?