Gone Today, Back Tomorrow

When you pull weeds, what is in the back of your mind? I know what you are thinking: “These stupid weeds are going to grow back on their own and I’ll have to do this over and over again.” The same is true with washing your car/truck; you know it’s going to get dirty all over again starting tomorrow. It is equally true with cleaning your house, washing your dishes, paying your bills, etc. What you do today will have to be done again before long.

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, learned that same lesson about idolatry, back in his day.

Jehoshaphat was 35 yrs. old when he became king and reigned for 25 years. 2 Chron 17:1-8 describes the beginning of his rule in the southern Kingdom. “Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king and strengthened himself against Israel. 2He stationed troops in all the fortified cities of Judah and put garrisons in Judah and in the towns of Ephraim that his father Asa had captured. 3The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals 4but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. 5The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. 6His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.”

Take special notice of “HE REMOVED THE HIGH PLACES”. The high places were “places of worship on elevated pieces of ground. High places were originally dedicated to idol worship (Nu 33:52; Le 26:30). These shrines often included an altar and a sacred object such as a stone pillar or wooden pole in various shapes identified with the object of worship (animals, constellations, goddesses, and fertility deities).” Jehoshaphat cleared out these idolatrous worship sites, sending a loud message: NO IDOLS!

Near the end of his 25 yrs., the Chronicler records: 2 Chron. 20:31-33 “So Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. … 32He followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. 33The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors.”

So if Jehoshaphat “removed the high places” early in his rule, what happened in those 25 yrs.? Jehoshaphat didn’t change; all of his life he “followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” So they didn’t reappear because Jehoshaphat turned to idolatry. What happened? 2 Chron. 20:33 “the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors” and 1 Kgs 22:43 “the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.”

Two things happened. 1- “the people” never “set their hearts on God.” 2- Jehoshaphat either didn’t take notice of the people or he did notice it and chose to do nothing about it. This is a sad reminder that just because a leader sides with the LORD, doesn’t mean that the people will follow his lead. It is also a reminder that a leader needs to pay careful attention to the behavior of the people.

Conclusion: Don’t ever assume that because everything is well established and on track today, that it will always remain that way. Life requires DAILY attention. That’s why is says, “take up your cross DAILY and follow me.” Lk 9:23

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