2 Chronicles 17: Lessons from Jehosaphat Regarding God’s Unconditional and Conditional Blessings

Introduction: Like his father Asa, Jehosaphat was a flawed leader. Like Asa, Jehosaphat initially followed God, and God blessed all of Judah. Yet, also like Asa, Jehosaphat later drifted from God, and both he and Judah suffered. This chapter records the initial blessings that God gave Jehosaphat both because of God’s faithfulness and grace and because he acted with faith-led obedience. From Jehosaphat’s initial blessings, God reveals seven types of unconditional and conditional blessings that He offers believers. These include His: (1) faithfulness, (2) fellowship, (3) provision, (4) wisdom, (5) peace, (6) honor, and (7) Spirit-led unity and courage.

First, although Asa had turned from God and refused to repent, God kept His promise to David that his line of successors would continue. This showed both God’s faithfulness in keeping His unconditional promises and His grace in blessing the Jews in ways that they did not deserve. Today, God will also bless believers with His faithfulness to keep His promises and with His grace. Second, when Jehosaphat was obedient in following God’s Word, God blessed Jehosaphat with His presence. Today, God also offers to bless believers with His fellowship. Third, because Jehosaphat was initially faithful and obedient, God blessed Jehosaphat with the money and respect that he needed to rule Judah. Today, God also offers to bless His faithful believers with His provision. Fourth, because Jehosaphat had the foresight to have his servants teach God’s Word throughout Judah, God blessed the Jews with His wisdom and guidance. Today, God also offers to bless His believers with wisdom and guidance through His Word and the Holy Spirit. Fifth, because Jehosaphat was initially faithful and obedient, God also blessed both him and all of Judah with peace. Today, God also offers to bless His faithful believers with His peace. Sixth, also because of Jehosaphat’s initial faith-led obedience, God blessed him with the honor and respect of his enemies. Today, God also blesses His faithful believers with honor and respect. Finally, also because Jehosaphat had the initial courage to follow God’s Word, God blessed him with both a united country and valiant warriors who were willing to serve him. Today, God also blesses the faithful nations with Spirit-led unity and the courage to face evil.

1. Faithfulness: God Blesses Believers with His Faithfulness and Grace. 2 Chr. 17:1-2.

  • God’s faithfulness and grace in continuing the line of David. Even though Asa died without repenting of his sins against God, God was faithful to keep His promises to David by allowing Asa’s son Jehosaphat to succeed him as King of Judah: “1Jehoshaphat his son then became king in his place, and made his position over Israel firm. He placed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim which Asa his father had captured.” (2 Chr. 17:1-2). Jehosaphat was 35 years old when he became king. He reigned over Judah for 25 years, from 873 to 848 B.C. (1 Kgs. 22:42.) At the time he became king, Northern Israel’s most evil ruler, Ahab, had been king for four years (1 Kgs. 22:41). Ahab brought Baal worship to Northern Israel, which provoked God to anger (1 Kgs. 22:53). During the initial portion of his reign, Jehosaphat understood Ahab’s evil influence and fortified his border with Northern Israel to keep Baal worship from spreading to Judah (2 Chr. 17:2). But this would not last. He later formed an alliance with Ahab by marrying his son with Ahab’s daughter (2 Chr. 18:1). This would result in Baal worship spreading to Judah.

  • God is faithful to keep His promises, even when His people betray Him. Asa did not deserve to have any descendants on the throne after he rebelled and then imprisoned God’s prophet. God, however, promised that David’s line of kings would have no end: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16; Jer. 33:17; Ps. 89:4). God also promised to never forsake His people (Dt. 31:6). Approximately 17 centuries earlier, God gave the Promised Land to Abraham’s descendants (Gen. 12:1-3). All of the kings sinned and did nothing to earn their elect status (Ps. 55:3; Ecc.7:20). But God showed that He was faithful to keep His promises, even when the Jews turned from Him. God’s faithfulness is an unconditional promise. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). You can show your gratitude by being faithful to Him.

2. Fellowship: God Blesses Obedient Believers with His Fellowship. 2 Chr. 17:3-4.

  • God blesses Jehoshaphat with His presence. Because Jehosaphat initially followed God’s Word, God blessed him with His holy presence or fellowship: “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did.” (2 Chr. 17:3-4). Jehosaphat was David’s great-great-great -grandson. Even though David was far removed, Jehosaphat saw David’s “earlier days”, (meaning prior to his adultery and murder), as being a role model for him to rule. Like David during his early reign, Jehosaphat initially obeyed God’s Commandments.

Jehosaphat initially turned to God1

  • Obey God’s Word. Obedience was a command that Moses gave frequently (Dt. 6:3-4; 9:1; 17:11-13; 20:3). Moses knew the purpose behind a particular law might not always appear clear to a believer. God requires obedience even if you do not understand. You should consider God’s Word to be like a treasure: “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” (Ps. 119:14). Jesus also said, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). His “disciples” were the “disciplined ones” in keeping His commandments. As bondservants or freed slaves, they were obedient out of love, not obligation. Whether you follow the law out of love instead of obligation is a test for whether you really know God: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). “[W]hat matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19). Obedience is a foundation upon which God’s first covenant stood. Are you obedient to only the parts of God’s law that you agree with? Are you teaching God’s Law to your children? (Dt. 4:9-10; 11:19; Prov. 22:6).

  • Obedience requires action. Jehosaphat initially made unpopular reforms by removing idols that had existed on and off since Solomon’s reign. Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that vows of obedience must be followed by action. e.g., “And the LORD said to me, ‘Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Hear the words of this covenant and do them.”’’ (Jer. 11:6). In case anyone believes that these are relics of the Old Testament, they are repeated even more often in the New Testament: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24-25). “[F]or it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Ro. 2:13). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22; see also, Rev. 14:12; 22:14). Are you obeying His Word?

  • Jesus offers fellowship through obedience. In addition to salvation, Jesus offers His fellowship through communion: “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”’ (Lk. 22:19). He also offers to “dine” in fellowship with any person who opens the door of their heart to Him (Rev. 3:20). Although you cannot lose your salvation through sin, you can fall out of fellowship. The fellowship that He offers requires that you turn to Him and obey Him. Is there any sin that you need to turn from?

3. Provision: God Blesses His Faithful Believers with His Provision. 2 Chr. 17:5-6.

  • God blessed Jehoshaphat with the riches and respect needed to rule Judah. Also because of Jehosaphat’s initial faith-led obedience, God blessed him with the resources that he would need to succeed as King of Judah: “So the Lord established the kingdom in his control, and all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah.” (2 Chr. 17:5-6). God “established the kingdom” because Jehosaphat obeyed God’s Word by initially removing the pagan “high places and the Asherim from Judah.” Moreover, because he initially took “pride in the ways of the Lord,” God for a time gave him the desires of his heart (Ps. 37:4).

God blessed Jehosaphat with tributes and honor2

  • God commanded the Jews to smash the pagan altars. God did not see tolerance of pagan idolatry as virtue. Indeed, He ordered the Jews to “smash” the pagan altars in the Promised Land: “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim.” (Ex. 34:13). “But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.” (Dt. 7:5). Asa initially followed God. But he tolerated pagan altars: “But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa's heart was blameless all his days.” (2 Chr. 15:17). Like Asa, Jehosaphat at first removed pagan altars (2 Chr. 17:6). But, like his father, he either failed to remove them all or looked the other way after many were rebuilt: “He walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the LORD. However, the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places.” (1 Kgs. 22:43). Idolatry was popular with the people. Without vigilant and ongoing efforts to root it out, it will return in either your life or in a nation’s life.

  • If you seek God, He will also add everything else you need. God rewarded Jehosaphat for his obedience by providing for his needs. For the doers of God’s Word, God also promises His provision, which may or may not take a material form: “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Dt. 6:3). If your obedience includes diligently seeking Jesus, He also promises to provide for your needs: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (Jo. 15:7). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6). “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4). If you diligently seek Him, you will also find Him: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). If you are in need of provision, turn first to Jesus.

  • An obedient nation may also be blessed with prosperity. Just as He did for Judah, God can bless an obedient nation today with prosperity: “8 The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Dt. 28:8). This blessing, however, requires obedience. God also will not provide the blessing of prosperity if you are motivated by the wrong motives. The love of money is evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Greed is also evil (Ro. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:10-11; 6:10; Eph. 5:5). Thus, God will not bless you or a nation with money if you or a nation seek to become rich. God also will not bless a nation when it lives in rebellion against Him. Are you praying for the nation to repent?

4. Wisdom: God Blesses His Believers With Wisdom Through His Word. 2 Chr. 17:7-9.

  • God blessed Jehoshaphat and all of Judah with wisdom and guidance through His Word. Jehosaphat also had the foresight to send his officials and the priests to teach God’s law to all the people of Judah. This in turn blessed them with God’s wisdom and guidance: “Then 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, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests. They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.” (2 Chr. 17:7-9). For a long period of time, the Jews suffered because the priests failed to teach God’s law: “For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.” (2 Chr. 15:3). Jehosaphat’s initial reforms sought to correct this failure.

  • God wants you to constantly seek His guidance by studying His Word. Moses commanded that any future leaders regularly study God’s law to keep it close to their hearts: “18 Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.” (Dt. 17:18-20). Moses also taught that God’s requirement applied to all of His people: “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul . . .” (Dt. 11:18). As an example that Jehosaphat sought to follow, David memorized God’s law to keep himself on the right path: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). “ . . . Your Law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8; 1:2; 119:16; Jer. 15:16). Solomon also memorized the law: “Bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.” (Prov. 6:21-22; 7:3). Joshua likewise meditated on God’s law: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Josh. 1:8). Jesus also memorized the law and quoted it from memory throughout His entire life. Although not a path to salvation, the law is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16). The law will keep your ways pure (Ps. 37:31; 119:9). It will teach and admonish you (Col. 3:16). When you follow it out of love, you will also bear fruit like a tree planted by water (Ps. 1:1-3). Are you trying to memorize the law out of love and devotion to Jesus?

  • Read God’s Word and pray to let the Holy Spirit guide your actions. God wants you to seek His guidance through prayer and the Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). When you read God’s Word and pray, the Holy Spirit can speak to you: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:16). “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). Are you reading the Word and praying on a daily basis to allow the Holy Spirit to guide your steps?

5. Peace: God Blesses His Faithful Believers With His Peace. 2 Chr. 17:10.

  • God blesses Jehoshaphat and all of Judah with peace and protection from their enemies. Because Jehosaphat acted with faith-led obedience, God also blessed both him and Judah with peace: “10 Now the dread of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands which were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chr. 17:10). Because Jehosaphat followed God’s Word, even his enemies were at peace with him: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13). Through Jesus, these promises also apply to any believer.

  • God promises peace when a country and its leaders obey Him. Like Jehosaphat, the Jews experienced peace under Asa when he initially followed God’s Word: “15 All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” (2 Chr. 15:15). But Jehosaphat failed to learn from his father’s failure in this area. When Asa stole money from God’s treasuries to bribe the Assyrians into attacking Northern Israel, God’s prophet warned that the Jews would have ongoing war (2 Chr. 16:9).

  • An obedient nation will be blessed with protection. Just as God did for Asa and for Jehosaphat, God will also bless an obedient nation with protection against its enemies: “The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). When the Jews followed God’s Word, He also promised victory (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu. 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). For those who are obedient and take refuge in God in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). With God’s help, Jonathon killed 20 enemy soldiers (1 Sam. 14:14). Likewise, it was God’s blessing that allowed David to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50-58). God also used Gideon’s small army of only 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 enemy Midianites (Jdgs. 7:16-22; 8:10). Are you praying for your nation’s leaders to turn to Him so that He can protect the nation?

6. Honor: God Blesses His Faithful Believers With Honor and Respect. 2 Chr. 17:11-12.

  • God blessed Jehoshaphat with both honor and respect. In addition to the blessing of peace, God blessed Jehosaphat with both honor and respect amongst his enemies: “11 Some of the Philistines brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat; the Arabians also brought him flocks, 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats. 12 So Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater, and he built fortresses and store cities in Judah.” (2 Chr. 17:11-12). When Asa walked with God, he was also blessed with the spoils of war and tributes from a defeated Ethiopian army that had just attacked Judah (2 Chron. 14:14).

  • An obedient nation will be exalted over other nations. If a country is obedient to God, He promises to exalt that country above other nations. “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God:” (Dt. 28:1-2). With obedience to His Commandments, “He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.” (Dt. 26:19). When David was obedient to God, God also blessed his entire kingdom by exalting it above the nations: “And David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that his kingdom was highly exalted, for the sake of His people Israel.” (1 Chr. 14:2). As a result of the obedience that came from his faith, God also turned Abraham’s descendants into a great nation: “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:2). If the nation and its leaders turn to God, God will also bless the nation with great honor.

  • An obedient nation will be blessed with respect. As part of being honored, God will also bless an obedient nation with fear or respect from its enemies: “10 So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you.” (Dt. 28:10). For example, Pharaoh feared God’s wrath when he almost took Abraham’s wife Sarah as his wife (Gen. 12:17-20). As another example, as the Jews prepared to invade the Promised Land, Rahab told Joshua’s two spies that the Canaanites feared the Jews and their God because God defeated Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea and the armies of two different Amorite kings in Jordan (Josh. 2:10-11). After defeating the Amorites, the Jews traveled back to the plains of Moab where they stayed until God gave the word for Joshua to take them into the Promised Land (Nu. 22:1). There, the Moabites feared the Jews (Nu. 22:3-4). Their fear caused the Moabite King Balak to hire the sorcerer Balaam in an unsuccessful attempt to cast a spell on Israel (Nu. 22:7). The kings of Canaan again feared the Jews and their God when they invaded (Josh. 5:1; Ex. 15:15-16). All who oppose Israel are subject to the curse that God promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3). Today, the nations that surround Israel again fear it because God has blessed it. These same blessings are available to any obedient nation.

  • An obedient nation will also be blessed with success. God will further bless an obedient nation with success: “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” (Dt. 28:6). For example, as a result of the obedience that came from Abraham’s faith, he was blessed with success in everything he did, this was true even in his old age (Gen. 24:1). Likewise, as a result of his faith and obedience during his testing, God rewarded Job by allowing him to live to be 140 (Job 42:16). Pray for your nation to turn to God so that He will bless that nation with success in all that it does.

7. Unity: God Blesses Faithful Nations with Spirit-Led Unity and Courage. 2 Chr. 17:13-19.

  • God blessed Jehoshaphat and Judah with Spirit-led unity and courage. Finally, because Jehosaphat had the courage to follow God’s Word and rip down idols, God blessed both him and all of Judah with the unity and courage to face any external or internal threats: “13 He had large supplies in the cities of Judah, and warriors, valiant men, in Jerusalem. 14 This was their muster according to their fathers’ households: of Judah, commanders of thousands, Adnah was the commander, and with him 300,000 valiant warriors; 15 and next to him was Johanan the commander, and with him 280,000; 16 and next to him Amasiah the son of Zichri, who volunteered for the Lord, and with him 200,000 valiant warriors; 17 and of Benjamin, Eliada a valiant warrior, and with him 200,000 armed with bow and shield; 18 and next to him Jehozabad, and with him 180,000 equipped for war. 19 These are they who served the king, apart from those whom the king put in the fortified cities through all Judah.” (2 Chr. 17:13-19). Four times, God stressed that the warriors of Judah were “valiant.” Likewise, some like Amasiah had the courage to “volunteer” to serve (2 Chr. 17:16). The Jews’ obedience brought both God’s unity and His courage.

  • Work together as one body for Jesus. Today, believers are called upon to act with one accord as the Spirit leads the body to help build the Church. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor. 3:9). “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12; 12:20-21; Eph. 4:4). “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14). Like Amasiah, are you volunteering to serve?

  • Seek God’s strength to serve Him. When you are obedient to serve, God will also give you a Spirit of courage when you serve Him: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). If you feel fear, ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to be “valiant” in face of any conflict, challenge, or enemy.