The scriptures tell us that Jehoshaphat was a good man. He strengthened himself against the ways and the doings of the world and he walked in the way his father had taught him. Because of his righteousness, great blessings came to Jehoshaphat, “and he had riches and honour in abundance. And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord. And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles…and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem.” (2 Chron 17:5-6 & 12-13) At one point Jehoshaphat, King of Judah joined with Ahab, King of Israel, to fight Syria. This was not a wise decision on Jehoshaphat’s part, for King Ahab was a wicked man, a man who hated the Lord. Jehoshaphat didn’t ask the Lord as had previously been his custom, instead he made the decision to join Ahab alone.
Recognizing his mistake, at the last minute when they were beyond the point of no return, Jehoshaphat asked King Ahab to enquire of his prophets whether they should go to battle. Ahab’s prophets gathered, but they did not listen to the Lord. They foretold victory.
“But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil.” (2 Chron 18:6-7 emphasis added)
Have you heard this sentiment before? Ahab didn’t like what the prophet of the Lord had to say. It bothered him so much that he had grown to hate the prophet.
However, I expect that out of respect for Jehoshaphat, and because he knew he needed Jehoshaphat and his army, King Ahab called for Micaiah, the prophet. Then, Jehoshaphat and Ahab sat together on their thrones and waited to hear what Micaiah would say.
When the messenger went to get Micaiah he said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one ascent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good.” (2 Chron 18:12 emphasis added)
I am sure this messenger was looking out for Micaiah as he begged him to simply say exactly what everyone else was saying. But Micaiah said, “As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.” (2 Chron 18:13)
When Micaiah arrived to the throne room he prophesied that Ahab would die.
Immediately Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?” (2 Chron 18:17) Ahab was mad, he asked that Micaiah be put in prison and fed the bread of affliction and the water of affliction until Ahab returned again in peace. Micaiah told him, “If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me.” (vs.27)
So the two kings prepared for battle. Ahab must have been a little nervous, because he decided to disguise himself, and told Jehoshaphat to wear the robes of a king. The Syrians wanted only to destroy Ahab, the King of Israel, so when their captains saw Jehoshaphat dressed in robes they surrounded him, thinking he was the King of Israel.
“but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.” (2 Chron 18:31) As the day went on Ahab was wounded, and about the time the sun went down he died.
When Jehoshaphat returned home he spoke to one of his own prophets who he could trust. The prophet told him, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou…hast prepared thine heart to seek God.” (2 Chron. 19 2-3)
Two important lessons are taught within this account.
The first is this: Jehoshaphat had entered into a great undertaking without the sanction of the Lord. Having already entered into an alliance with a wicked man, it became troublesome to enquire of the Lord, for regardless of what the prophet said it was now too late to withdraw.
“In truth, it was only what may always be expected when those who serve and love the Lord allow themselves to be entangled in alliances with ungodly men, where one step leads to another, and one inconsistency involves the next, till at last we recoil when it is too late to withdraw, and the only thing consistent is to be inconsistent in owning God where His will can no longer be obeyed. But even this is good, for it is the first step to repentance. And though we must suffer the punishment of our folly, yet God will hear a Jehoshaphat in the disastrous battle, when he crieth to Him, and give gracious deliverance.” (AE Bible History, V2, pg. 62, emphasis added.)
Sometimes our choices are going to be wrong. Like Jehoshaphat we might find ourselves in a situation we can’t get out of on our own. Our first thought might be that we don’t qualify for the grace He extends to us, or perhaps we feel strong enough to walk the road alone.
The Lord allows us to have choices.
He will not force us to turn to Him.
However, a day may come when we cry out for help. The Lord’s response is certain every time. He will hear a Jehoshaphat. He knows the good to be found therein because He knows each of our hearts.
In the disastrous battle, when we cry out to Him, He will be there.
The second lesson comes in the importance of listening to the words of the Prophet. Oftentimes the counsel from God’s Prophet here on Earth can prevent us from even entering a battle we do not wish to participate in.
“Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established;
believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”
(2 Chronicles 20:20)
This weekend we have been blessed to hear the words of the Prophets and Apostles. Today as I reread my notes, I took some time to consider promptings from the Holy Ghost that came to me personally regarding my family, my calling, and the direction of my life.
I made a list.
There are seven specific promptings.
They are hard. Some will cause me to step out of my comfort zone. Others will require dedication and diligence to see them through completely. One will require sacrifice.
The promptings came as I listened to the words of the apostles and prophets…these men through whom I may inquire of the Lord.
I love them.
I believe they have prophesied good unto me.
As President Monson closed the session this afternoon he reminded us, “We live in troubled times. I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face. …as we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you. May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began two days ago.”
What spoke to your heart from Conference this weekend?
Have you felt promptings?
Can you see the good in the prophetic counsel?
Decide today to apply the truths you heard. Remember, a prophet of the Lord has invoked the blessings of heaven upon you that as you ponder those truths it will help you to become even better.