Ahab was a wicked guy! This king of Israel sat at the bottom of a barrel of rotten kings. Ahab ran from God the way shadows scoot when the light arrives. No surprise, the chronicler offers this condemning epitaph:
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. . . . Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
Jehoshaphat was a devout guy, the godly son of a godly king. The chronicler tells a different story when it comes to the king of Judah:
3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. 5 Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6 His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah. 2 Chronicles 17:3-6 ESV
Ahab and Jehoshaphat were oil and water, so what possessed the two to form an alliance against the king of Syria is beyond me. But when Ahab requests Jehoshaphat’s help, the answer is a happy “Yes!”
And [Ahab] said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 1 Kings 22:4 ESV
Strange bedfellows. Unusual allies. Curious confederates.
I’m reading this account and saying to myself: “Jehoshaphat, what are you thinking? Bad company corrupts, dude!” To Jehoshaphat’s credit, his happy, “Yes” is not an unequivocal “Yes.” Before going all in, he urges Ahab to make the essential decision-making move:
Stop for a moment and consider those words:
We check many things:
Social media feeds
Bills to pay
To Do lists
Our future plans
Nothing wrong with that! But Jehoshaphat’s counsel is critical:
Why should hearing what God says be preeminent in your planning?
“the word of the LORD”
Interestingly, at the same time I was reading the Kings and Chronicles account of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, I was reading Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ. As I did, I noticed a recurring them. Can you spot it?
He told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet. Matthew 2:5
This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet. Matthew 2:15
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. Matthew 2:17
So that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. Matthew 2:23
Other than Jeremiah, the word, “prophet” shows up in Matthew’s gospel more than any other book of the Bible. Matthew also includes more Old Testament quotations than any other gospel writer. This is important for many reasons, among them Matthew wants us to see God’s word always comes true!
God’s word is certain and trustworthy. That is why Jehoshaphat was so adamant that he and Ahab hear from a “prophet of the LORD” before they took on the king of Syria. Jehoshaphat knew he could take God’s word to the bank.
Because every Word of God proves true, Jehoshaphat’s admonishes Ahab (and us):
I see a principle and practice in these words:
The principle: In all your checking, check God’s word first. “What does God say?” is one of the preeminent questions of life.
What does God say about marriage?
What does God say about giving and saving?
What does God say about raising our kids?
What does God say about retaliation and revenge?
You get the point.
The practice: A steady diet of God’s word improves your decision-making discernment.
Whereas Ahab and Jehoshaphat turned to the prophet Micaiah for their word from God, we turn to the Scriptures, the written word of God.
The Bible is not a “Maps App,” a spiritual Siri providing step-by-step routing for the person you will marry, the amount of money you will give, the number of kids to have, or the specific words and actions you should say in the heat of the moment.
Clarity doesn’t always come from a chapter and verse, rather it is the discernment God gives us from the constant practice of reading and meditating on his word.
These words from Hebrews come to mind:
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14 ESV
Open God’s word on a daily basis. Don’t skim it. Soak it up. You must do this if you want to “hear from God.” Yes, do it consistently and you will experience “powers of discernment trained by constant practice.”
Do you have a decision to make? Check God’s word first. Ask yourself, “What does God say?” And you can be confident that as you dive daily into God’s word, that practice is going to sharpen your powers of discernment.
Want that decision-making insight?
“Matthew also includes more Old Testament quotations than any other gospel writer.” Thanks to Dr. Robert Jeffress for this insight. Please see, “Jesus is the Fulfillment of Prophecies.”