2 CHRONICLES 21
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1 Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.
...All we have to do, therefore, is simply to surrender to the belief of what we read. This will produce faith and all the other excellent fruits of the spirit-love, joy and peace in the mind, and righteousness in the life in preparation for the kingdom.
One thing which the apostles declare is that the things written were "written for our learning." It was of the Old Testament this was said; and of course, if true of the Old, it is true of the New. This being the case, let us spend a little time in getting out of the portions that have been read the "learning" they were intended to afford.
It might not seem at first sight that we could get much out of the first reading concerning the reign of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat. It is a story of murder and wickedness: what good can it do us? He, Jehoram, came to the throne when Jehoshaphat died. Jehoshaphat had many sons, and had made a good settlement for them all. He left a handsome fortune to each, and had distributed them among various cities of the realm, so that each was a prince in his own district. To Jehoram he had given the headship over all as king.
This wise arrangement ought to have worked well for all, but the very first thing that Jehoram did was to kill all his brothers, and to put also to death their friends and sympathisers-filling the land with mourning and woe. Not only so, but he established idolatry throughout the land, and led the nation away from the right ways of God.
What is the explanation of this extraordinary sequel to a reign so excellent as Jehoshaphat's? Why did the son of a good king turn out such a monster? Is it not true that if you "train up a child in the way in which he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it?" Yes, it is true. Wherein was Jehoshaphat lacking then? Here is the point, and here is where we shall find our "learning."
Jehoshaphat did not take a firm attitude with those who were in a wrong position. He was friendly with the ten tribes who, though Israelites, had departed from the right way. He granted co-operation with Ahab, which he ought to have declined. He allowed his son, Jehoram, to marry a daughter of Ahab, which he ought to have forbidden. A prophet of God reproved him on the subject: "Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?" (2 Chron. xix. 2).
Jehoshaphat was a good man, but lacking in the firmness towards evil-doers. He could not refuse their friendly advances. He consented to matrimonial alliance with the family of Ahab. His son "had the daughter of Ahab to wife." The consequence was "Jehoram walked in the way of the (wicked) kings of Israel, to whom his wife belonged, and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord."
Here is a bit of "learning" through which we get from this as from many other parts of scripture: it is our duty to decline religious co-operation with those who are not in full submission to the way of the Lord. Above all, we ought not in marriage to be "unequally yoked with the unbeliever." Any other line of conduct is not only displeasing to the Lord, but most hurtful to those who pursue it.
From the days of the flood down to the corruptions of the captivity in the times of Ezra, the scriptural narrative affords many illustrations of the evil that comes from "the sons of God" marrying "the daughters of men." It is our duty to marry "only in the Lord," that in the fusion of two lives, equally dedicated to wisdom, there may be mutual help in the way of holiness, and family life based on the fear of the Lord and submission to his word.
Sunday Morning No. 260
The Christadelphian Dec 1894.