“Guilt by Association” – 2 Chronicles 19

December 16th, 2012

2 Chronicles 19

“Guilt by Association”

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:   Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  —1 Corinthians15:33

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 2) Jehu first accused Jehoshaphat (19:2a).  His accusation was similar and dissimilar to his father’s words to Asa (see 16:7-9).  Both prophets condemned the alliance of Judah with another power, but their reasons were not the same.  Jehu challenged Jehoshaphat with two questions.  He asked if the king of Judah should help the wicked or love those who hate the LORD (19:2).  The term help often appears in Chronicles to describe God’s assistance to those whom he favored.  It also appears as a description of what sinful kings hope to get from sources other than God himself (see 2 Chr 28:16, 21, 23).  Here, however, we see the one time the Chronicler used the term to denote the assistance a king of Judah gave to someone else.  Jehu not only accused Jehoshaphat of offering help, but also love (19:2).  The term love frequently occurs in the ancient Near East to indicate a political loyalty.  Jehu rebuked the king for what he had given to Ahab.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 328)
  • (vss.  4ff) Jehoshaphat’s judicial reforms had many implications for the post-exilic readers of Chronicles.  As they sought to rebuild the kingdom of Israel, Jehoshaphat’s  actions demonstrated the importance of re-establishing a judiciary throughout the land.  Along these lines, Ezra was commissioned to return to Jerusalem precisely because he was an expert in the Law (Ezra 7:6, 10).  Jehoshaphat’s actions exemplified the importance of the Law’s enforcement in post-exilic Israel.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 332)
  • (v. 5) The name Jehoshaphat means “The LORD judges.”  Whether it is simply coincidence, or whether the Lord had given his parents some special knowledge ahead of time about their child, it certainly seems as if Jehoshaphat’s life matches his name.  The entire section is prefaced by what seems to be a summary verse, “He went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim and turned them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers” (v. 4).  This judicial reform was a continuation of that pastoral duty Jehoshaphat had begun to carry out in chapter 17.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 226)
  • The prophet Jehu’s plain speaking seems to have brought the king back to his better self, and its fruit was his going ‘among the people,’ from south to north, as a missionary, ‘to bring them back to Jehovah.’  The religious reformation was accompanied by his setting the judges throughout the land.  Our modern way of distinguishing between religious and civil concerns is foreign to eastern thought, and was especially out of the question in a theocracy.  Jehovah was the King of Judah; therefore the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s coalesced, and these two objects of Jehoshaphat’s journeyings were pursued simultaneously.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 166)
  • It is only fitting that Jehoshaphat appoints judges throughout Judah since his name means “Yahweh has judged.”  The directive to appoint judges in the land (19:5) and the admonitions against distorting justice by taking bribes or showing favoritism (19:7, 9-10) find their source in the Mosaic law (Dt 1:16-17; 10:17; 16:18-20).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 485)
  • (v. 6) The role of the judge is that of an agent for God, not the king (19:6).  As J. A. Thompson has summarized, “judicial authority depended upon the rule of the Lord and was to reflect his own attributes of righteousness, justice, and fairness.”   The injunction against showing favoritism or bribery (19:7) was a foundational judicial principle in the Mosaic legal tradition (Dt 1:17; 16:19).  The numerous prohibitions against bribery in the OT indicate the pervasiveness of the problem (cf. Prv 17:23; Isa 1:21-23; Mic 3:11).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 486)
  • (vss. 6-7) Judicial authority in Israel was not the prerogative of autonomous power; rather it depended upon and expressed the rule of Yahweh and was to reflect his own attributes of righteousness, justice, and fairness.  Judges acted in behalf of kings or other men only in a derivative sense–in reality they were the agents of Yahweh who was present at their decisions.  Yahweh loves and is known by his justice (Ps 9:16; 11:7).  The frequent biblical injunctions against bribery attest to the extent and persistence of the practice; the poor who could not afford the bribe were in this way the prey of the rich (Ex 23:6-8; Dt 1:17; 16:18-20; 1 Sm 8:3; Ps 15:5; Prv 17:23; Isa 1:21-23; 5:22-23; Mic 3:11; 7:3; Zech 7:9-10).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 149)
  • (v. 8) The king knew that only obedience to the Law would bring divine blessing.  For this reason, he insisted that the Law be taught.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 332)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What is the Chronicler’s agenda in including this exclusive story about Jehoshaphat’s rebuke by Jehu?

 

Answer: Because of Jehoshaphat’s spiritual insensitivity and going against God’s standards and aligning himself with Ahab of Israel, he was actually “getting in the way” of God’s discipline, punishment and judgment of the Northern Kingdom as well as allowing negative influence to enter into Jehoshaphat’s thinking and exposing Jehoshaphat to needless danger, threat and corruption.   Ezra and Nehemiah demonstrate that this was a problem for post-exilic Israel and is most certainly a problem in the 21st century American Church.  We must monitor what is influencing our thinking and hearts.  We must also be more careful that our desire to cultivate our mercy and compassion do not trump God’s justice and prophetic voice of truth.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Influence

 

What was it about Jehoshaphat’s association with Ahab that prompted God to send Jehu to rebuke Jehoshaphat?:

 

Jehoshaphat bore well the rebuke delivered by Jehu.  He did not know how the wrath that had “gone out against [him] from the Lord” (v. 2) would strike (see 20:35ff.), but he responded to the chastisement not with bitterness but with the repentance that proves itself to be true by issuing a changed or renewed life-style.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 189)

 

 

I.  Was Jehoshaphat declared guilty of associating with Ahab because of the evil influence of Ahab? (2 Chr 19:1-3)

 

As Jehoshaphat returns home, the prophet Jehu rebukes him for his actions.  Jehu is the son of Hanani who rebuked King Asa of Judah when he entered into an alliance with a foreign king (16:1-9).  In this case, Jehoshaphat was fellowshipping with Ahab, and it put him in a position to be led astray.  But Jehu mentions the good that Jehoshaphat has done and the fact that he seeks after God, which tends to be a theme in Chronicles (19:1-3).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 85)

 

It is verse 2, in fact, that clarifies for the reader the entire issue of making alliances with evil.  The prophet Jehu frames it for his king as an either/or proposition.  “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?”  What often happens in this matter is that the father of lies masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) and attempts to induce “spiritually-minded” people into diluting the severity of the law with the compassion of the gospel.  The result is the loss of both.  Let us examine the context of the prophet Jehu’s words to avoid making this same error ourselves.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 223)

 

God was not condemning every kind of working relationship with other groups of people, even with the outright heathen.  Rather he had in mind those kinds of associations in which God’s people make no effort to keep their spiritual distance.  Listen to Jehoshaphat’s words again from chapter 18: “I am as you are, and my people as your people” (18:3).  During the same time when Elijah, at the risk of his life, had been working to stem the rising tide of Baalism, Jehoshaphat undercut Elijah’s testimony by marrying his son off to Ahab’s daughter.  It was as if he were saying, “You know, we may have our differences, but they’re not all that important.  What’s a little Baal worship between brothers?  I know you have to please your wife.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 223-24)

 

Here the point specifically relates to the sphere of activity, or the social ambience, which one naturally chooses.  A Christian’s attachment to God is necessarily expressed in the kind of atmosphere in which he prefers to live and move and have his being.  Company, pursuits, ambitions will all bear upon them the mark of a love of God.  This is by no means to put an embargo upon normal social intercourse with those who are not basically like-minded.  It has to do with the sort of life-pattern which one chooses to construct.  The task of construction is no easy one, and the temptation is to model oneself upon the “architects” about us.  This was Jehoshaphat’s fault, and his error calls us to consistency in exhibiting the characteristics which are truly Christian.  (See further Rom 12:1f.; Gal 5:16-26.)  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 188-89)

 

By allying himself with King Ahab of Israel, Jehoshaphat is a partner to “the wicked” and an accomplice of “those who hate the LORD”–offenses deserving of the “wrath of the LORD” (19:2).  Jehoshaphat’s “mixed review” from Jehu (“there is…some good in you”) is based on the king’s religious reforms–purging the land of false worship (19:3).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 484-85)

 

II.  Was Jehoshaphat declared guilty of associating with Ahab because He was interrupting God’s discipline of Ahab? (2 Chr 19:1-3; Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:1; Lam 3:8, 44)

 

Here we can observe the mind behind the reform, and what he hoped to accomplish with it.  Clearly we see a man who has learned his lesson and who has listened to the rebuke of the Lord’s prophet.  The supreme goal of this reform is a spiritual one: “You are to warn [your fellow Israelites] not to sin against the LORD, otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers” (v. 10).  This is the voice of experience talking (compare v. 10 with v. 2).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 227)

 

The king’s spiritual fervor seems to be motivated by the curse of “God’s wrath” placed on him by Jehu the seer (19:1-3).  The expression “and turned them back to the LORD” (19:4b) is in keeping with God’s response to Solomon’s dedication of the temple to forgive the sin of those who “turn from their wicked ways” (7:14).  The prominent feature of Jehoshaphat’s revival is the reform of the judicial system.  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 485)

 

Jehoshaphat provided a judicial system for Israel; Paul does so for the fledgling church (1 Cor 6:1-11; 1 Tm 5:17-21; cf. Mt 19:28).

The speeches of Jehoshaphat as recorded in Chronicles reflect a large body of biblical teaching regarding the concern of God with justice.  Justice will always be subject to perversion, until he who is the Just is also the Judge (Rv 20:11-15; 1 Pt 2:23).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 150)

 

Ahab led northern Israel into severe apostasy (see 1 Kgs 20-21).  The northern kingdom was in flagrant rebellion against God.  Jehu therefore reproved Jehoshaphat for aiding them in their rebellion.  The implication for the Chronicler’s readers was plain.  While they were to work toward the ideal of a unified Israel, this goal was not to be pursued at the cost of aiding those who were in flagrant violation of Israel’s covenant with God.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 329)

 

III.  Was Jehoshaphat declared guilty of associating with Ahab because Jehoshaphat was demonstrating a lack of faith or trust in God?  (2 Chr 19:1-3)

 

Hanani the seer had confronted King Asa half a century earlier (cf. On 16:7); and his son Jehu the seer had already condemned the dynasty of Baasha in Israel, some 35 years before this occasion in 853 B.C. (1 Kgs 16:1, 7).  Jehu’s message was once again a negative one, opposing Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Israel (cf. On 18:1).  But he went beyond the specific matter of this alliance (emphasized by the NIV mg.) And raised a more general ethical question, “Should you…love those who hate the LORD?”  Certainly the Christian is to have a compassionate love for the hateful and the lost (Mt 5:44); but he must never compromise his stand for God (Ps 139:21-22) or “help the wicked” (cf. Rom 16:17; 2 Jn 10-11).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 500)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with me and my walk with Christ?:

 

 

A-  21st Century American believers need to be mindful of the devastating effects of worldly influence. (Lk 14:18-26; 1 Cor 5:9-11; 6:9; 15:33; 10:6–13; 2 Cor 6:14-18; Eph 5:18; 1 Thes 5:15; 2 Jn 1:10-11)

 

Either the Corinthians had misunderstood what Paul meant, or they had avoided his command by pointing out the impossibility of not associating with sinners in a sinful world.  So Paul made it clear here that he wasn’t talking about unbelievers, for they, by nature, are involved in sexual sin, greed, swindling, and idol worship.  Believers cannot disassociate themselves completely from unbelievers–they would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.  In addition, with no contact with unbelievers, believers would not be able to carry out Christ’s command to tell them about salvation (Mt 28:18-20).

Paul meant that believers were not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian and yet has a sinful lifestyle.  Paul listed a few sins such as sexual sin, greed, idol worship, abuse, drunkenness, or swindling (stealing by violence, extortion).  Believers must separate themselves from those who claim to be Christians yet indulge in sins explicitly forbidden in Scripture and then rationalize their actions.  By rationalizing their sin, these “believers” harm others for whom Christ died and they tarnish the image of God in their lives.  A church that includes such people is hardly fit to be the light of the world because it distorts the picture of Christ that it presents to the world.  The church has a responsibility to rebuke, correct, and restore those in the fellowship who claim to be believers but live like unbelievers.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Cor, 73-74)

 

Paul doesn’t present these two attitudes and life-styles with imperative verbs, urging “do this and don’t do that.”  Rather, he uses present participles, adjectives that characterize our existence in continuous action.  These describe God’s people as those who are “abhorring the evil; glued to the good.”  Constant vigilance against evil is necessary; daily we renew our commitment to what is good.  Our lives are constant processes of weeding out negative influences and clinging as tightly as we can to what is upbuilding.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 153)

 

You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read. — Charles “Tremendous” Jones

 

Until you can confidently state your values, every philosophy, every behavior and every desire known to humankind is a potential substitute.  Your values become the filter through which you determine right from wrong, value from worthlessness and importance from insignificance.  If you do not specifically identify your values, they will be defined for you by the whims and influences of the world.  (George Barna; Turning Vision, 91)

 

B-  21st Century American believers are manifestly guilty of yielding to “niceness” rather than the influence of truth.  We fail to comprehend the purpose and necessity of discipline. (Prv 3:11-12; Mt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 4:14; ch 5; Gal 6:1-2; 2 Thes 3:6-15;  Heb 12:2)

 

“Is it really love–love born of the gospel–that allows people to continue in error without any attempt to make the issues clear for them?  Is it really love to muddy the waters for upcoming generations so that they will have less ability to discern light from darkness and truth from error?”  This writer grew up as a member of a generation that was taught to sing, “All you need is love.”  Deceived, we thought it was true.  That is, we believed in this ill-defined, mushy tolerance that could go along with all kinds of immorality under the banner of love.  After all, it was the age of different strokes for different folks, right?

In the end, however, that kind of love leaves you with nothing, with less than nothing.  “Only the false gods survived to ensure our ruin,” as one writer so aptly put it.  One look at the lives of so many flower children crushed by evil, still living, and we will not call it love to tolerate evil.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 224-25)

 

If one member sins, all the members suffer with it.  And lastly, the cruelest thing that we can do is to be dumb when we see sin being committed.  It is not public men, judges and the like, alone, who are called on thus to warn evil-doers, but all of us in our degree.  If we do not, we are guilty along with a guilty nation; and it is only when, to the utmost of our power, we have warned our brethren as to national sins, that we can wash our hands in innocency.  ‘This do, and ye shall not be guilty.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 169-70)

 

There is such a beast in the heart of every sinful human being that no orderly society can exist on earth without this sense of dread.  When a society starts losing the sense of dread, there is no bridle on earth left that will keep people from running any direction they please.  Dread keeps the lid on evil.  Yes, it is true that only a genuine fear of God can join people together into an eternal community of faith.  But a dread of God’s punishment will at least keep things on earth quiet enough for us to preach the gospel.  It may not be the final good we would want for all people, but it is a provisional good for our societies that is certainly worth praying about and working towards (1 Tm 2:1-4).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 229)

 

By refusing to associate with these people, the Christians were rebuking them, hoping to get them to change their conduct.  Basically, Paul was saying, “Cut off their support!”  These lazy people, as noted in [2 Thes] 3:11, were “refusing to work and…meddling in other people’s business” (NLT).  In the spirit of love, the best way to deal with these meddlers is to not talk to them–not give them anything to meddle in!  When they find themselves with nothing to do and no hearing for their meddling, they will hopefully find a more constructive use for their time.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 143)

 

“With such a person do not even eat!”  In an Eastern society, established norms of hospitality might not be broken.  To not offer food to a relative, an acquaintance, a friend, or a guest could be interpreted as a declaration of war.  The parable of the friend at midnight indicates that a host would be willing to incur his neighbor’s displeasure in an effort to obtain food for his guest (Lk 11:5-8).  In a reversal of the established norms, Jesus often ate with tax collectors and sinners and was called their friend (Mt 11:19; Lk 15:2)–and scandalized the religious leaders.  Then, what is the point of Paul’s injunction?

The matter concerns church discipline.  Jesus instructed his followers that his prescribed procedure for excommunication might result in a complete separation of the Christian community and the offending sinner (Mt 18:17).  The sinner is a blot on the integrity of the church (compare 2 Pt 2:13; Jude 12).  Such a sinner must be excluded from Christian fellowship.  Then he may learn to see the error of his way, repent, and return to the faith (compare 2 Thes 3:14-15).  By contrast, Christians could follow accepted social customs and eat with non-Christians.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: 1 Corinthians, 170-71)

 

Here in v. 14 the command is, “Let there be no intimate association with him” (i.e., with such a recalcitrant member) or “Do not get mixed up with him.”  The disobedient members must not associate with such an individual on intimate terms.  They should not welcome him into the company of close friends, agreeing with him, approving of his conduct, etc.

The purpose of this limited segregation or ostracism is “in order that he may become ashamed” (cf. 1 Cor 4:14; see on Ti 2:8).  Clearly this purpose is reformatory.  It springs from love, from the desire to heal, not from the desire to get rid of an individual whom one does not happen to favor.

The shame will probably result when the individual in question begins to reflect on the patient and loving manner in which, in spite of his own grievous error which is pointed out to him (see v. 15), this “discipline” is being exercised.  This man is not being excommunicated, at least not yet and probably never.  That will depend on his own subsequent behavior.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kestemaker, NT Commentary: Thessalonians, 205-06)

 

The discipline has a redemptive goal.  Its essential goal is “that he may be ashamed.”  It is to bring a person to a proper sense of guilt.  I’ve heard it said that we should never try to get people to change by creating guilt.  The fallacy with that statement is twofold.  First, guilt is not always negative.  It can be a source of positive and creative change.  Second, guilt is not created by the one who confronts the guilty person.  The admission of guilt is the response that can lead to forgiveness and wholeness.  The denial of guilt is the unhealthy response.  There is such a thing as real sin and real guilt.  To help one in the fellowship own up to the reality of sin and guilt is an act of love.  The primary reason for church discipline must always be to redeem–to bring the person to a genuine sense of guilt so that forgiveness may be sought and given.  (Gary W. Demarest, The Communicator’s Commentary: Thessalonians, 139)

 

How we discipline in the church must vary in different times and places.  But the issues must be addressed if the church is to be the church.  Church growth and renewal cannot ignore the fact that we are called to be different from the world system around us.  The church that lives by the same standards of covetous greed and consumerism may well be successful in gaining adherents to its undemanding membership standards, but it may fail miserably in developing serious disciples of Christ.  (Gary W. Demarest, The Communicator’s Commentary: Thessalonians, 139)

 

“Through the years I have learned to dislike church conflicts and personality clashes with intensity, but I have slowly learned that the kingdom of Christ can only grow through conflicts.  In one of his writings Oswald Chambers has said that in discipling, the most difficult pain to bear is that which we must give to others.    Causing pain to those we love is, in his view, the greatest cost in discipling.  He also makes it clear that such pain is an absolutely necessary ingredient in discipling.  If as a pastor-discipler we do not encourage, correct, and exhort, we simply will not see God build His church through us.” ( C. John Miller; Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, 114)

 

Why do we all accept the outmoded disciplines of an authoritarian past when we travel by air?   Because the safety of our own skins is at stake.  This is not a case of possible damage to mind or soul.   This is an area where physical well-being is at risk.  So we put up with all the regulations the authorities choose to impose, knowing they ensure that we can travel in safety.  It is nonsense to pretend that the in the modern world regulation, discipline, and obedience to authority are outmoded.   People who work in air-traffic control, or space-travel control, or a hospital operating theatre know well that regulation, discipline and obedience are as essential as ever. (Harry Blamires; Recovering the Christian Mind, 113)

 

Godly discipline takes place in a home only when it takes place in the heart of a man.  Discipline is the overflow of a vital, growing relationship between a man and his God.  We cannot discipline our children if we have not disciplined our own walk with God.

Spiritual discipline is not a set of rules; it grows out of a relationship.  It is not behavior modification; it is inspiring in our children an inner desire to please God.  It is not being the lord of the manor; it is leading your family out of the relationship you enjoy with the Lord of glory.  (Floyd McClung Jr.; God’s Man in the Family, 69-71)

 

Love without discipline is indulgence, and discipline without love is tyranny.   (Floyd McClung Jr.; God’s Man in the Family, 77)

 

Abuse is unfair, extreme, and degrading.  It’s unduly harsh, unnecessarily long, and totally inappropriate.  When you drag children’s feelings through the mud and kick them when they’re down, you’re being abusive.  The result?  A soiled self-esteem and scars that often last a lifetime.  Actions like that are not discipline; they’re abuse.  And abuse doesn’t grow out of love; it stems from hate.

Discipline is fair, fitting, and upholds the child’s dignity.  Discipline is built on a foundation of justice.  It isn’t capricious or arbitrary, so the child should have a good idea of the punishment that will be meted out if parental boundaries are willfully and defiantly violated.  This form of correction strengthens rather than shatter the child’s self-worth.  Discipline is rooted in proper motivation–love and genuine concern–not in anger or expedience.  (Chuck Swindoll, The Strong Family, 56)

 

If a parent always disciplines from a position of power “I guess I told him.  Next time he’ll come in at 11:30; he won’t dare be late”), only a small part of the intended purpose of the discipline will be achieved.  He may maintain order, but he won’t accomplish much else.  He may instill a gut-wrenching fear in his son, but he won’t build a loving respect for authority nor instill a sense of responsibility.  And inevitably that fear will turn into rebellion in some form.  (Jay Kesler, Ten Mistakes Parents Make With Teenagers, 38)

 

God save us also from self-righteous judgmentalism…There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline.  Legalism says, “I will do this thing to gain merit with God,” while discipline says, “I will do this because I love God and want to please him.”  Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.  (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 114)

 

“Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipline, it is a consequence.” (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 92)

 

Discipline without freedom is tyranny; freedom without discipline is chaos. — Cullen Hightower  

 

Discipline goes hand in hand with love; one is not complete without the other.  How we discipline each individual child varies according to their and our temperaments.  But not to discipline your child is a dreadfully unloving thing to do.  (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 94)

 

C-  21st Century American Christians need to discern when they are trusting in God or when they are trusting in the world’s ideas, standards, solutions or remedies. (Mt 6:24; Rom 16:17; 1 Tm 1:19-20; Ti 3:10-11; 1 Jn 4:1)

                               

He intended that the Corinthian Christians not associate with a fellow church member who practices sexually immoral acts.  He told them to expel such a person from their midst.  He objects to the presence of the incestuous man in the Corinthian church and for that reason writes the phrase sexual immorality four times (vv. 1, 9, 10, 11).  We deduce that in the previous letter he had expressed himself with a general term, “immoral people,” but now he is direct in his use of the singular: “an immoral person” (v. 11).

The catalogue of vices (greed, swindling, idolatry) actually is an extension of Paul’s prohibition not to associate with people who perpetrate sexual immorality.  The vices in this extended list pertain to the service of any idol instead of the living God.  Greedy persons and swindlers serve not God but Money (Mt 6:24; Lk 16:13), and Jesus reveals the impossibility of serving both at the same time.  Paul pointedly calls a greedy person an idolater (Eph 5:5; see Gal 5:20; Col 3:5) who will not inherit God’s kingdom.  Such persons are not part of the kingdom but of the world.  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: 1 Corinthians, 169)

 

The question is asked, “But what happens when the person whose conduct is here criticized persists in his refusal to give heed to loving counsel and admonition?”  No doubt, such a one would finally have to be excommunicated, for he would be revealed in his true character as a factious person (cf. Ti 3:10).  Christian tolerance has its limits (cf. Mt 18:17; Rv 2:14-16; 2:20-23), yet, until it is absolutely necessary it is well for the congregation not even to think of this possibility.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kestemaker, NT Commentary: Thessalonians, 207)

 

Israel’s faithful judge was not simply to decide cases and render verdicts but was also to “warn” his “brothers” against sin in the sight of God.  For he too was responsible to the Lord, and his ultimate motivation was that he might so live that divine “wrath” would not “come on” either him or his Hebrew brothers.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 501)

 

D-  God knew we needed guidance, an example and a consistent, God-honoring influence in our lives.  But above all we needed a Savior.  So He sent us Jesus who in turn sent us the Holy Spirit. (Dt. 31:6-8; Josh 1:5; Mt 1:23; 28:19-20; Jn 13:15; 1 Cor 11:1; Phil 2:1-11; 1 Pt 2:21-25)

 

Since Immanuel has come:

Everything sad is going to come untrue

 

If you want to be culture leaders and have a huge influence in the world in which you live. . . bear more pain than you inflict.  — Richard Mouw

 

If I am the problem, what is the solution?  If you educate me, you will get a smart sinner.  If you discipline me, you will get a disciplined sinner.  If you refine me, I become a refined sinner.  If you give me more religion, I will be a religious sinner.  Whatever you do with me, you cannot change what I am, and what I am is the problem. (Don Matzat; Christ Esteem, 71)

 

 

Worship point:  Realize that God has come to be with us (Emmanuel) in order to encourage and empower us to be the men and women God created us to be.  Just as bad company corrupts good morals, so too can holy and righteous company inspire holiness and righteousness.  Worship God as we contemplate Emmanuel.

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Allow your hearts to be washed by the influence of the water of the Word of God (Eph 5:26).  Allow the influence of the mercies of God to renew your mind so you are no longer conformed to the patterns of this world (Rom 12:1-2).   Allow the influence of the fellowship of believers to encourage you to love and good works (Heb 10:25).  Allow the influences of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bear fruit towards godliness in your life (Gal 5:22-23).  Look to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of your faith (Heb 12:2).

 

 

Quotes to Note:

After the misadventure with Ahab, Jehoshaphat returned to his internal obligations.  He traveled throughout his land from border to border to exhort the people to belief and obedience.  He installed a judicial system with judges who had specific jurisdictions, compelling them to be scrupulous in their duties.  In Jerusalem the king appointed a Levitical court, presided over by the high priest; this organization may have been ancestor to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council at the time of Jesus.  (Broadman & Holman Pub, Shepherd’s Notes, 1, 2 Chr, 72-73)

 

We notice that there are several essential qualities Jehoshaphat wants to see in his judges.  The first is “the fear of the LORD,” which we would understand in the deeper sense of a believer’s reverence (v. 7, 9).  The second is faithfulness (v. 9), and the third if decisiveness (v. 11).  Jehoshaphat wants his judges to operate with the bold faith that they serve as the Lord’s representatives with the Lord as their constant ally (v. 6).  The whole of any believer’s life is lived in the presence of God, but a judge is one who has the calling to sit in the Lord’s seat, judging “for the LORD.”  Since they are believers, the image of their Father will be seen in them when they carry out their calling.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 229-30)

 

Faithfulness means taking each case seriously, whether it involves “bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or ordinances” (v. 10).  This is the law of the Lord; to break it is to sin against him and incur his wrath.  No matter of the law, therefore, is a small matter.   Finally, decisiveness is necessary in a person who is asked to apply the law to people’s lives.  Judges cannot dither; they must act.  And when they act in the fear of God, let them humbly trust in the promise that the Lord is their ally and will be with those who do well (v. 11).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 230)

 

This idea of God’s absolute impartiality is rooted in the conviction that God is completely just.  It contains a striking picture.  The word partiality is a rendering of Hebrew words that might be represented more literally with the English “receiving of faces.”  God does not look at a person’s social status, sex, or age before he decides what to do.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 230)

 

The gospel of Jesus teaches us to believe that the love of God recognizes no borders, is blinded by no prejudice, and is impressed by no pedigree.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).  Since this is how our Father looks at us, he has every right to expect his people to have the same regard for one another.  “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism” (Jas 2:1).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 231)

 

Essential to proper “judging” was the desire to do it scrupulously “for the Lord”.  Any judicial system has inherent in it the possibility of encouraging corruption. And the ancient sin of “man-pleasing” (Eph 6:6) had crude materialistic overtones in the OT, as its numerous condemnations of the practice show (Ex 23:6; Prv 17:23).  Jehoshaphat’s charge to his judges to be fair (v. 7) has more than a hint that all their actions are under the scrutiny of God and subject to his final judgment.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 190)

 

In light of Jehoshaphat’s appointment of judges in this chapter, it seems likely that the chronicler also intended Jehu’s words to apply to his present task.  Jehu’s prophecy is a fitting statement of the theme of chapter 19: Jehoshaphat’s appointment of judges.  The judges were to seek to administer the will of God among the people.  Theirs was the awesome task of deciding between the guilty and the innocent.  The judge was the representative of God and in his decisions he gave the will of God.  It was of utmost importance, then, that the judge not align himself with the wicked by taking a bribe, but that he always carry out his work in “the fear of the LORD,” that is, in obedience to the will of God alone (19:7).  (John Sailhamer, Everyman’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 94)

 

As opposed to being merely representatives of the king, the judges appointed in this section represent God and His justice in the social order of Israel (19:5-7).  It is crucial to have judges in office who are guided by God to deal with civil matters.  Jehoshaphat seeks to restore godliness to the system in Israel since it is a nation guided by God.  Note that he appoints two “attorney generals” of sorts, Amariah for religious matters and Zebadiah for civil matters (19:8-11).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 85)

 

There had been local judges before Jehoshaphat–elders in the villages, the ‘heads of the father’s houses’ in the tribes.  We do not know whether the great secession had flung the simple old machinery somewhat out of gear, or whether Jehoshaphat’s action was simply to systematise and make universal the existing arrangements.  But what concerns us most is to note that all the charge which he gives to these peasant magistrates bears on the religious aspect of their duties.  They are to think themselves as acting for Jehovah and with Jehovah.  If they recognize the former, they may be confident of the latter.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 166-67)

 

What a different world it would be if our judges and representatives carried some tincture of Jehoshaphat’s simple and devout wisdom into their duties!  Civic and political life ought to be as holy as that of cloister and cell.  To judge righteously, to vote honestly, is as much worship as to pray.  A politician may be ‘a priest of the Most High God.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 167)

 

The best way to deal with men is to get at their hearts and consciences.  The deeper aspect of civil crimes or wrongs to men should be pressed on the doer; namely, that they are sins against God.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 169)

 

 

Christ:

God With Us

 

 

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