Elijah and Elisha Message #15 “Elisha and Jehoshaphat” Ed Miller, April 5, 2023

Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below which is also available for download at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

As we come again to look in God’s word, there’s one principle that is absolutely indispensable, and that’s total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  We need to trust the Lord; it’s His book and He gave it. 

Before we look in the word, I’d like to share a verse from Isaiah 55: 9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Sometimes we think like we’re getting close to the truth, “I almost have it, and I’m getting closer.”  The reality is that you have it, or you are light years away.  God’s truth is that much higher than our natural thinking, and that’s why we need the renewing of the mind.  The renewing of the mind is when we see things God’s way, through His eyes.  With that in mind, let’s just commit our time to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You’ve gathered us again, and we just pray, Lord, that we might behold the Lord Jesus.  Thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who always turns our eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Deliver us, we pray, from a cold and bare recital of some disjointed facts.  Deliver us from barren orthodoxy, and give us life, and show us Christ.  We thank You, Lord, in advance that You are going to do this, not because we deserve anything, but our Lord Jesus deserves it and we come claiming it in His matchless name.  Amen.

We thank the Lord for this privilege that we have to enjoy at His pleasure.  At any moment He could take this privilege away, so we do thank the Lord for this privilege.

In our mediation we’ve been looking at the ministry of God’s servants Elijah and Elisha, and we’re looking now at Elisha.  In our last gathering we had just begun to look at the ministry that Elisha had after he had taken his eyes off man and set his focus on the Lord, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  Elisha now has been prepared eight, nine or ten years of preparation, but now he’s looking to the Lord, and he has the life of God which was illustrated by the mantel.  I’m not going to go into that again.

We were discussing last time his first taste of ministry, and as soon as he crossed the Jordan there are two events, one was at Jericho, and one was at Bethel.  I call that the first and second ministry, but really it’s a summary of all of his ministry.  His third ministry is really his first ministry.  I want for a moment to quote an Old Testament scripture and New Testament scripture that teaches the same thing, but in different word pictures.  The Old Testament scripture is Micah 5:7&8, “Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on vegetation which do not wait for man or delay for the sons of man.  The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations and among many peoples like a lion among the beasts of the forests, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which if he passes through tramples down and tears and there is none to rescue.” 

You see in that passage that there is a positive and a negative, and the remnant —that’s you, that’s me, and that’s anyone with a heart toward the Lord — will be sometimes positive like dew from the Lord, like showers on vegetation, but the remnant will also be sometimes like a lion, a young lion among a flock of sheep.  Sometimes our ministry is positive, and sometimes it’s negative.  In the New Testament the same thought is in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  We’re a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one, an aroma from death to death, and to the other an aroma from life to life.  Who is adequate for these things?”  Once again you have the positive, an aroma of Christ to life, and you’ve got the negative; to some that same smell means death.  The same sun that will melt wax will harden clay, and both can be true. 

Elisha’s ministry at Jericho was positive.  His ministry at Bethel was negative.  So, we start right off right at the beginning, and God is saying, “This is what you can expect in ministry.”  2 Kings 2:21, this is the positive at Jericho, “’Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.’  And they brought it to him, and he went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, “I’ve purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.”’”  You see how positive that was.  He healed the spring, and there was no more unfruitfulness, and the fruit did not miscarry and die early.

Then on the other hand, from there he went to Bethel, 2 Kings 2:23, “He went up from there to Bethel, and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city, and mocked him, and said to him, ‘Go up you bald head, go up you bald head,’ and when he looked behind him he saw them and cursed them in the name of the Lord.  Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number.”  That’s the same man but he’s not making the water pure now; it’s judgment.  It’s the story of the bears.

Since we looked at Jericho last time, it was my intention to look at the bear story this morning, and I was going to begin with that Bethel ministry, that negative ministry, and I will at some date, probably next week, if the Lord guides that way.  I prepared my observations on that particular ministry, but the next ministry takes the entire chapter 3.  So, if I had done the bear ministry, and then begun chapter 3, I would have had to cut short the chapter 3 ministry, the war against Moab.  It was so rich; I didn’t want to cut it short.  What I’m going to ask you to do is to take page 1 of the verses I handed out and flip it over, because those verses are for the bear ministry, and I’m not going to be referring to them.  If you go about a quarter of the page down to 1 Kings 12:26, that’s where we’ll begin this study.  Those other verses were what I had intended, and we’ll pick that up next time.

The next step in Elisha’s ministry is this story about the joint expedition of Israel and Judah in their war against Moab.  As I said, it takes the entire third chapter, all twenty-seven verses.  I don’t want to abuse your patience with me.  I appreciate your patience, but sometimes you’ve got to do a little donkey work and give a  little bit of a background.  I need to introduce you, and many of you know the history, but I need to introduce you to three men whose lives are intertwined in this Elisha story.

The first man is Jeroboam, and he was the first king of the split, the ten tribes to the north.  The second man is Jehoram, a wicked son of King Ahab and Jezebel.  The third is Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah, the two tribes to the south.  The history, as I said, of those three men are what bring light to the Elisha story.  If you’ll bear with me, I need to do that.  I know we’re studying the life and ministry of Elisha and we’re not really studying Kings or Chronicles or the history of the kings, but it’s important that we begin with this little history.  As I said, I think in one sense this is really the beginning.  We had a summary with Jericho and Bethel, the positive and negative, and now we begin the ministry.

I don’t want to get all wrapped up in the history lesson (Lillian helped me with this), I’m going to try to give only the history necessary to carry the light, the truth and the principles.  I told you we need to look at Jeroboam, the first king of the ten tribes; right after the split Jeroboam became king of the north.  We’re studying Elisha and that split took place fifty-eight years before this chapter.  Why am I going all the way back fifty-eight years, more than half a century?  It’s because it’s vital to understand chapter 3.  What we need to know about Jeroboam is that he hated the Lord.  He was a wicked, wicked man, and over and over God said, “Jeroboam caused Israel to sin,” over and over and over again.  He had a great fear, and of course it was selfish, but here was his fear.  1 Kings 12:26, “Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.  If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, the heart of this people will return to their Lord, even Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they’ll kill me and return to Rehoboam, king of Judah.”  It was a personal concern, because he did not want the south two kingdoms and the north to get back together.  They were split and he wanted them to stay split.  If ever you see in the Old Testament someone whose heart was set on the disunity of God’s people, it was Jeroboam.  He did not want them to come together again.

Here was his plan.  1 Kings 12:28, “And so the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”  In other words, God’s original instruction was, “You go to Jerusalem, if you are going to worship Me in spirit and in truth.  Go to Jerusalem because that’s where the temple is.  Go to Jerusalem because that’s where the priesthood is.  Go to Jerusalem because that’s where the annual feasts are to be celebrated.  Go to Jerusalem because there is no other altar; it’s in Jerusalem.  Go to the city of peace because that’s where the incense is.”  The command was that you go to Jerusalem to have reality.

Jeroboam didn’t want unity, so he set up two golden calves.  Where did he put them?  1 Kings 12:29, “He set one in Bethel,” and that’s tied into the bear story, “and the other he put in Dan.”  One was way up in the north and the other was down in the south.  I could take time to quote all the verses, but trust me on this, Jeroboam was a wicked man and he was a hypocrite, and he decided to set up a religious system, that if he could talk people into religion instead of relationship with God, then they would follow the religion.  So, he said, “These golden calves are not idols.  This is a representation of the God that brought you out of Egypt.  We’re not leaving Jehovah; we’ve just representing Him under these golden calves.  I know they have a temple in Jerusalem.  So, I’m go to build a temple up north, so you don’t have to inconvenience yourself and go all the way to Jerusalem.  They have priests down there in the south, so I’m going to set a priesthood here, so you don’t have to go down south.  They have annual festivals, so what we’ll do is we’ll set up festivals, so you can celebrate the Lord right here.  They have an altar down there, so I’m setting up an altar here.  They have animal sacrifices down there, so I’m going to set it up here.”  You read the record and everything I just mentioned is in the Bible, each one that he decided to do.  “They have incense, we’ll get a lot of incense.”

So, rather than going south, which he feared that if they started going south they might stay there and the people would be one, and he didn’t want that, he set up this religious system and said, “All you have to do, I’m making it convenient, you can be religious; follow the rituals, go through the form, and it’s the same thing.  It’s the same God, and it’s the same thing.  You don’t have to obey God and His command and go south.” 

Why is that an important history?  Hold Jeroboam for a moment aside, and I want to show you Jehoram, the wicked son of wicked King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel.  I don’t have to remind you how wicked Jezebel and Ahab were.  They were terrible.  At first sight when you read it, it sounds like Jehoram might be coming around, and not so wicked.  I’ll show you where we get that in 2 Kings 3:2, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother.  He put away the sacred pillar of Baal which his father had made.”  So, we might say, “Maybe he’s going to have reform; he put away the Baal that his mother made, and you know how she was so insistent on that.”  But my guess is that he had his eyes open, and he said, “I don’t think God likes Baal.  Look at the untimely death of my dad and the way Jezebel died, my mother.  And then my brother falls through a lattice, and he died.  We better get rid of Baal.”  That was his thinking, but taking down the pillar of Baal in no way got rid of Baal-worship.  That’s another history.  When Jehu comes along, there’s a bigger wiping out of Baal.

2 Kings 3:3, “Nevertheless, He clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin..”  That’s the guy we talked about, who set up the religious system.  Jehoram got rid of one tower of Baal, but he is clinging to this religious south, “Don’t go south, don’t obey God.  We have everything here, and it’s convenient for you.”   Jehoram was not a Baal worshipper, but he was cat worshipper; he was an idolator.  He settled for religion rather than relationship. 

Alright, hold that aside, and let’s look at this third person, Jehoshaphat.   He’s a godly king of Judah.  It’s so important because this man is the reason for 2 Kings 3; it’s Jehoshaphat and Jehoshaphat alone that God is using Elisha.  God is saying to Elisha, “I have a ministry for you, and it’s for one man, Jehoshaphat.”  We need to know why he’s important in this tangle of other guys.  Jehoshaphat is the opposite of Jeroboam and Jehoram, the son of Ahab, because he was a Godly king.  He was a Godly king with problems.  There’s no question about that, but his heart was toward the Lord.  I want to underscore that as we begin.

2 Chronicles 17:3, speaking about Jehoshaphat, “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father, David’s, earlier days, and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed his commandments, and did not act as Israel did.”  You see his heart; he’s a Godly man.  2 Chronicles 17:6, “He took great pride in the ways of the Lord.”  You see his heart.  It’s important to see his heart and direction.  1 Kings 22:43, “He walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing right in the sight of the Lord.”  I could take time, I’m not going to, and just show you one by one all the reforms that Jehoshaphat did in Jerusalem.  You can check that out.  I want you to know first and foremost, that his heart was toward the Lord.  He wanted to please the Lord, and the Bible says that in the eyes of God he did right.  He’s got a good heart, and he’s got a good direction. 

That doesn’t mean he was perfect.  For example, 1 Kings 22:43 the second part, “However, the high places were not taken away.  People still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.”  And even though he had many reforms, he didn’t reform everything, and that’s an illustration.

As I sit before you, I can testify with the light I have, that my heart is toward the Lord.  I want to please the Lord.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t more ground to be possessed, and that doesn’t mean that I’ve arrived in any sense.  We’re going to look at Jehoshaphat; his heart was right, but he’s got some problems.  It appears that one of the things that Jehoshaphat hated most, and one of the biggest reforms he tried to make, Jeroboam was an instrument of disunity, “God’s people should never be one.”  Jehoshaphat was an instrument of unity, “They must be one.”  We’re going to see this as we go through.  Jehoshaphat had this great passion, “Why are there ten tribes and two tribes?  Even though I’m king, I don’t like it.  God’s people are one.  I know God’s heart, and there should be unity.  There should be oneness; there should not be this split.  Why should God’s people be divided?”  When we look at Jeroboam, one of the many things we’re going to see, he bends over backwards to be one with God’s people.  I think a summary of that is 1 Kings 22:44, “Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.”  That’s just a summary; you are going to see that he bent over backwards to do that.

In order to get this before you with power, impact, I want to show from the record, four attempts Jehoshaphat made to unite the people of God.  I told you that wicked Ahab and Jezebel had a son whose name was Jehoram.  One thing that makes this complicated is Jehoshaphat, the good king, had a son named Jehoram.  So, when you’re reading the record, and you just see the name Jehoram, sometimes you scratch your head and say, “Is this the good one?  Is this from the south, or this from the north?”  Actually, when you go through the history of the kings, you are going to come to that over and over again, “Is this Ahaziah a king from the north, or a king from the south?  Is this Joash, a king from the north, or a king from the south.”  When you read the history, ask the Lord to help you get the context, so you know what God is saying.  Both Ahab and Jezebel had wicked sons, but what I didn’t tell you is they also had a wicked daughter, and her name was Athaliah.  So, Ahab and Jezebel had Ahaziah, one wicked son, they had Jehoram, another wicked son, and now they have a daughter, a wicked, wicked daughter.

One of the thoughts that came to our dear friend Jehoshaphat whose heart was right (I’m going to keep saying that), whose direction was right, he had this idea that maybe if we have a marriage alliance with my son and Ahab’s daughter….  Bad idea!  But his point was that maybe that would bring unity to the south and to the north.  2 Kings 8:18, “He walked in the ways (Now we’re talking about Jehoshaphat’s son) of the king of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab became his wife, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.”  He married Athaliah, and Athaliah did not turn toward the Lord, but Jehoshaphat’s son turned away from the Lord.

This might be shocking to you, but Athaliah, according to the record, was more wicked than Jezebel.  That’s hard to believe.  She got so upset with David’s line that she tried to destroy the Messianic line.  If she had succeeded, on the level of earth, no Bethlehem.  The way she did it, she talked her husband, Jehoram, into killing all of their grandsons.  So, Athaliah went out and killed all of the grandsons.  If you know the record, it’s intriguing — except one; they hid one until he was seven years old.  That’s why the line continued, the Messianic line, because God rules and overrules, and we have to praise Him for that.  That’s even today in our own system.  So, she was a very wicked person.  That attempt at unity, “Let’s be one with God’s people; they need to be one,” an unholy alliance in marriage is not going to bring unity.

In addition to that, Jehoshaphat tries again.  Now I’m going to back up a little because Ahab is now the king.  I won’t give the whole history.  You can read that in 2 Chronicles 18 and1 Kings 22, but in a nutshell Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, decided to go to war against Syria, and the purpose was to regain property they once had, and Syria had taken that property.  It was actually Ramoth-Gilead.  That’s not important at this point.  Knowing Jehoshaphat had this passion that God’s people should be one, Ahab had an idea, “Let’s get him involved.”  1 Kings 22:4, “And he 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.’”  He was so anxious to have God’s people one that he said, “Yes, I will go.” 

In that battle, if it were not for the sovereignty of the Lord, Jehoshaphat would have been killed.  We see that in verse 1 Kings 22:32, “When the captains of the chariots,” that’s the enemy, “saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘Surely, it’s the king of Israel.  They turned aside to fight against him, and Jehoshaphat cried out.’”  If he didn’t cry out, he would have been a dead man.  The Lord saved him, but his heart was, “I want God’s people to be one.”  He thought by uniting with Ahab in this unholy war, that it would help, “My horses, your horses — my people, your people,” and so on.

Well, trying to marry his son to a wicked woman to bring unity among God’s people failed dismally, and having an alliance with this wicked king Ahab also failed.  In fact, it was in this battle that Ahab was killed; Ahab himself was killed with a random arrow.  That’s another wonderful story.  You say, “Well, Jehoshaphat, we know your heart is right, but are you ever going to learn?”  Now Ahab’s son, Ahaziah, is on the throne, and it’s still the passion of Jehoshaphat that God’s people should be one.  This time it wasn’t war; it was wealth. 

The cry came up, “There’s been gold discovered at Ophir.”  That’s like the gold rush in California, and everybody starts to go toward the gold.  2 Chronicles 20:25, “After this Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, allied himself with Ahaziah, king of Israel,” that’s the son of Ahab, “and he acted wickedly in so doing.”  That didn’t please the Lord at all. “So, he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.  Then Eliezer… prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.’  So, the ships were broken…” We get another picture of that in 2 Kings 22:48, “Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were broken up..”  In other words, he had a whole fleet of ships, “Let’s go get gold, and we’ll join with Ahaziah, and we’ll go get gold, and we’ll be one,” and God sent a storm and destroyed the whole fleet of ships, and sent a prophet and rebuked him, and said, “That’s not how you get to be one.  God’s people are to be one, but not by an unholy alliance in marriage, not by going with a wicked king, and not by trying to get rich together.  You are going to lose again.”

All of that to bring you up to where we’re supposed to be, today’s story in 2 Kings 3.  Jehoshaphat does it again.  He didn’t learn.  He didn’t learn when his son married that wicked witch, he didn’t learn with that wicked alliance with Ahab and he almost lost his life, he didn’t learn when he lost a whole fleet of ships with his alliance with the other son, and now Jehoram, the wicked king of Ahab is on the throne.  Like his wicked brothers, and like his wicked sister, and like his wicked parents, he’s also wicked, and here is the occasion.  2 Kings 3:4, “Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheep breeder, and used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.  But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”  In other words, it’s a tribute — if you want to stay alive, every year you good me the wealth of a 100,000 rams and a 100,000 sheep and all the wool.

After Ahab died, Meesha the king of Moab said, “Let’s stop; we’re not paying any more.”  Ahaziah did nothing about it, but now Jehoram says, “That’s not right.  We should be getting all that money.  We need that wool, and we need those sheep and we need those rams.  But Moab, they’re too tough.  I want to go to war, so they’ll start paying tribute.  I need help.  Aha!  Jehoshaphat!  He likes us and he thinks we should be one, so, 2 Kings 3:7, “He went and sent word to Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, saying, ‘The king of Moab has rebelled against me.  Will you go with me to fight against Moab.?’  And he said, ‘I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’”  Here we go again.  This alliance, like all the others, is going to be disastrous, like the marriage was disastrous, like the alliance with Ahab was disastrous, like the alliance with Ahaziah was disastrous.  It ends up in a desert place.  2 Kings 3:9, “The king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they made a circuit of seven days journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them.” 

I bring you here because this is where Elisha comes in, and that’s why we’re gathered, to study that story.  His comment to Jehoram, the king, sets our focus.  2 King 3:14, “Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.”  Elisha comes and says, “I’m here because God sent me, and I’m here for one purpose, for Jehoshaphat.”  What we’re about to study is Elisha’s ministry to Jehoshaphat.  That’s what this is all about, and that’s what the background was, that donkey work that needed to be done, I think.  Elisha is going to demonstrate God’s heart (now listen, this is what we’re going to look at) a man whose heart is right toward God, and he wants to please the Lord.  He’s trying to do a right thing — God’s people should be one.  He’s trying to do a right thing in a wrong way.  How does God deal with somebody whose heart is right and wants to do the right thing in the wrong way?  Elisha has an answer for that.  That’s what we’re going to look at.

I want to look at this in a couple of different ways.  As we now get into the Elisha story there are two big names that we need to focus on.  Forget those other guys: Jehoshaphat and Elisha.  Who is Jehoshaphat?  He’s the guy that needs to be ministered unto.  Who is Elisha?  He’s God’s minister, to minister unto the man who needs to be ministered unto.  I mention both of those because it’s so easy to identify with the one that needs the ministry.  When you read this you say, “Wow, Jehoshaphat, I think that’s me.  I can identify with Jehoshaphat.”  But then God wants me to identify with Elisha because he’s going to bring other Jehoshaphat’s into my life.  So, we’re going to show you how the record shows we can identify first with Jehoshaphat and then with Elisha.  May God help us here!

Of course, the big parallel is Jehoshaphat is a man whose heart was right with the Lord.  He really did want to do the right thing.  He had a passion, and he knew God’s people should be one, and he did everything to create that unity, but, as I said, he was trying to do the right thing in the wrong way.  Listen to Ephesians 4:3 on unity, “With all humility, gentleness and patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”  KJV says, “Keep the unity of the spirit.”  God’s people ARE one; God made them one; they are already one.  We are not to make unity; we’re to keep it.  We’re to keep the unity that God has already made.  Jehoshaphat was not trying to keep unity; he was trying to make unity, and that became a very, very important error in his life.  We are all one in Christ Jesus.  There’s no other unity that matters to the Lord except in Christ Jesus.  We’re not one at any cost; we’re one in Christ Jesus.  The unity that Jehoshaphat tried to make is what the New Testament calls, “The unequal yoke.”  That’s what he was trying to do. 

Israel at that time was not in Christ.  They were a wicked, ungodly, idolatrous, rebellious people against the Lord, and he was trying to be one with that.  Maybe the name “Israel” means “prince of God” but that nation with that name was far from being a prince with God, with their wicked leaders and their idolatry and calf worship.  We need to keep the unity of the spirit; the one God has made.  I don’t know if you are familiar with the word “ecumenical”, the ecumenical movement; that whole idea is that we’re all one, and every religion let’s all be one.  We are one in Christ.  I’m not going to be one with someone who denies the Bible and denies the virgin birth and denies the deity of our Lord, and the second coming and denies the truths of the Bible.  We can’t be one with them.  We don’t create unity with fellowship suppers; they don’t create unity.  Social events, let’s go bowling, let’s have all these social things, that’s not going to make unity.  God has made us one in Christ Jesus, and it’s the blood of the Lord Jesus that makes us one, and there’s no unity apart from that, and no compromise. 

Jehoshaphat desired the unity of God’s people, and I think it was a noble desire, but he tried to do what only God can do.  I said it before and I’ll say it again, brothers and sisters in Christ, stay out of the Godhead; let God do what only God can do.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with Bob Jones University.  Bob Jones, Jr., the first president, made a very pithy comment.  He said, “It’s never right to do wrong for a chance to do right.”  You have to think about that, it’s never right to do wrong to do right.  It just isn’t.

Let me take you through the story and show you some of Jehoshaphat’s blunders and see how easy it is to identify with that.  First of all was compromise.  James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times as a Christian in order to keep peace I have compromised.  I can identify with Jehoshaphat.  Another characteristic, he took the advice, the guidance of the ungodly.  He ran with the wrong crowd, and that’s clear, and he let the wrong crowds lead him in the wrong way to a dry place.  2 Kings 3:8, “He said, ‘Which way should we go up?’”  Jehoshaphat is asking the ungodly which way to go.  That worldly wisdom led him in the wrong direction about a hundred miles out of the way, and they ended up in desert.  2 Kings 3:9, “The king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they made a circuit seven days journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them.”  

We read that la, la, la.  They are in a serious predicament.  There’s no water for the soldiers, no way back, no way forward, and the animals that were carrying their supplies and the horses that were carrying the soldiers and pulling their chariots are all going to die of thirst, and there is this man of God, now, running with the wrong crowd, listening to their advice, led to a dead end, ready to die, and all because of that.  I say that it’s easy to identify with that.  Have you ever joined with the wrong crowd?  Have you ever listened to their advice?  Have they ever led you down the wrong path?  Have you ever come to dry place?  I think every one of us, if we’re honest, can say that we can identify with Jehoshaphat.  That was an arid country, and they’re standing now on the brink of disaster.

The third thing I’ll call attention to is in verse 11, “But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?”  Well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?  He sought the Lord.  He knows there’s no help for them in human help.  There’s nothing that they can do, and there’s no way out.  The only help is in the Lord.  God had guided Elisha to this place to be in this company, but he was surreptitious; he was just there, and nobody knew he was there.  One guy did, but we’ll talk about that next week.  The point is that God always has His instruments in the place where He knows someone is going to call out for the Lord.  We see that here.

Jehoshaphat sought the Lord, but let me put it this way, not until he decided his own course.  He sought the Lord as a last resort, and not as a front line of defense, and that is so basic.  Can I identify with Jehoshaphat?  Oh, indeed I can, calling on the Lord when you’re stuck and there’s no other way to turn, we turn to the Lord!  You see what I mean when I say that Jehoshaphat is someone that we can identify with.  His heart is toward the Lord, but he makes alliances with unholy, ungodly people, and he allows them to decide which way to go, and he follows them, and he ends up in a bad place.  He seeks the Lord, not at first; he should have sought the Lord before they ever started out, but he waits until the end.  I can identify with Jehoshaphat.

In another blunder, it’s not like he hadn’t been given Godly advice; he had already been warned by the prophet, he had already been warned by God’s people and he made the same stupid mistake over and over and over again.  Welcome, Ed Miller.  I’m serious; how many times have people tried to help me and given me advice, and I heard it, and I went and did the same thing again, and again, and again.  May God help us!  We can identify with Jehoshaphat.  We need to identify with Elisha, as well.  2 Chronicles 20:37, listen to this warning, “Then Eliezer….prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.’”  So, the ships were broken and could not go to Tarshish.  He had been warned.

Let me mention one other characteristic of Jehoshaphat that sadly I can identify with.  This characteristic, this man tried to do the right thing in the wrong way, ended up once again as a failure.  Don’t answer, have you ever been there?  I’m a failure, and nothing has worked and it’s not working.  The purpose of this war, which I told you about from verse 24, was so that the Moabites would begin to pay again the annual tribute.  They went to war.  Listen to 2 Kings 3:24, “But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites.”  How much bloodshed took place in this war!  2 Kings 3:25, “Thus they destroyed the cities; and each one threw a stone on every piece of good land and filled it.  So, they stopped all the springs of water and felled all the good trees…”  Do you see what happened?  They slaughtered the people, and they took stones and they covered all the tillable land, and they took all the wells and threw stones and blocked the water in the wells.  All the good trees and lumber they cut down them all.  Let me ask this.  Did Moab say, “Alright, we’ll start paying the tribute.”  No, they never paid, even after this.  They’re failures.  The whole purpose for the war after all of the mess and all the devastation and all of the hurt that came, they ended up failing.  They never got their gold.  So, I say that it’s easy to identify with this guy.  Everything he tried failed — that bad marriage with his son and Athaliah, that failed; his alliance with Ahab, that failed; his alliance with Ahaziah, that failed; his alliance with Jehoram, and that’s failing right now.

Let me share a very precious verse, and I have it on the wall in my study, and you’ll see why.  It’s a precious verse.  Psalm 107:17,19&20, “Fools were afflicted, and then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.  He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions.”  I just took and made a little plaque from part of it and from the KJV, “Fools cried and were delivered.”  Isn’t that wonderful!  How many times I’ve been a fool, and I’ve cried, and I was delivered, over and over and over again.  I can identify with Jehoshaphat, having a heart toward the Lord, trying to do the right thing in the wrong way, and running with the wrong crowd, and letting them lead me by the nose down a wrong path where I end up in tremendous trouble, ignoring many warnings, even though I’ve had the warnings, repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again, and finally calling on the Lord, and fools cried and were delivered.  So, we can praise the Lord for a passage like that.

Let me quickly describe Elisha because I want us to end identifying with Elisha.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, the way you identified with Jehoshaphat, there are others that identify with Jehoshaphat, and some day they’ll be knocking at your door.  They are going to come to you, and I’m going to suggest from Elisha how you can help them. 

For one thing, Elisha was like Elijah in this, 2 Kings 3:14, “Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand…” Remember that Elijah said that, and Elisha is now living in the presence of the Lord, and because he’s living in the presence of the Lord he’s sensitive to guidance.  So, my question is, “What in the world is Elisha doing way down in the desert of Edom?”  The last time we saw him, 2 Kings 2:25, ”He went from there to Mt. Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.”  He returned to Samaria because 2 Kings 6:32 says that he had a house there.  He’s in Samaria, and now we open the Bible, and now he’s there in Edom, in the wilderness of Edom.  What’s he doing there and how did he get there?  I’ll tell you how he got there. He was living in the presence of the living God, and he was available, and he had his ear tuned to the Lord, and the Lord said, “I want to send somebody down there to help Jehoshaphat,” and that’s how he got there. I pray that first way you can identify with the Lord, that you live in such a relationship with Him, that you will know when He’s guiding you somewhere, and then you obey and you go.

The second characteristic, unlike Jehoshaphat, Elisha was not compromising.  You can see that.  He didn’t have an unequal yoke and try to create unity.  2 Kings 3:13, “Now Elisha said to the king of Israel,” don’t forget that’s the king, that’s the president, that’s the oval office and that’s a big deal, he’s a bigwig, “’What do I have to do with you?  Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.’”   Don’t come to me; what are you coming to me for?  And then in verse 14, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.”  Do you see the boldness; do you see the honesty?  He stands up before the world and he faces them right in the eye, and there is no compromise here.  So, I hope you can identify with Elisha in that you’re willing to stand up and speak truth to those who are enemies of the Lord.

Another illustration: He is so clear sighted about his mission, 2 Kings 3:14, “If it were not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat…”  He was there for one reason; God sent him there for Jehoshaphat.  When Jehoshaphat comes, I don’t know if I did right or wrong, but I want to show how you can identify with him, but at this point I’m so glad for what I don’t read.  I don’t read Elisha bringing up all the blunders of Jehoshaphat.  This guy comes for help, and there’s not a word about, “You know, you should not have allowed yourself to marry that terrible woman.”  He doesn’t say that.  He doesn’t say that you had an alliance where you almost died, and why didn’t you learn?  He didn’t lecture him and he didn’t go and bring up all of his bad alliances, “Look how much money you lost.  You lost a whole fleet of ships.”  He didn’t bring any of that.  Instead, he’s going to give him an answer from the Lord.

When a child of God has a heart toward the Lord, you don’t have to beat him over the head with all of his blunders.  Elisha didn’t do that, and I think it’s instructive.  If the Lord should ever lead you to minister to someone who has been bloodied by their own stupid decisions and suffering under the consequences of their own decisions, give them good news and give them gospel, and give them some hope, because they are hopeless, and they need that.  This is Elisha, one who lived in the presence of the Lord, sensitive to the word of God and obedient to every command, uncompromising in his stand against the world, tender hearted toward those whose hearts are toward the Lord.

There’s another characteristic, 2 Kings 3:15, “’Now bring me a minstrel.’ It came about that when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him.”  Let me state the principle of the minstrel, and then make a couple of comments on it.  The servant of the Lord is one who waits until he gets a word from the Lord for the one he’s ministering to.  He’s not a counselor.  He didn’t have a note on his tent door, “I’m a Christian counselor, and anybody has problems, I have experience and you can come to me, because I’m a Christian counselor.”  Elisha didn’t have any more answers than Jehoshaphat had.  Elijah had to hear from God, a special word to give to Jehoshaphat, and I think the minstrel illustrates that.  Jehoshaphat had been brought to a dry place, an impossible place, a dangerous place, and I’ll tell you, when someone is in a place like that, nothing but a revelation from God and a miracle is going to do them any good.  We need to be like Elisha and be willing to say, “Lord, they have a problem.  I don’t know.  They come to me and I have no answers.  Lord, and seek the Lord, and the Lord will give you the answer.

My guess is that’s the principle of the minstrel… I’m guessing that Elisha was pretty agitated in the presence of these wicked kings, the way he talks to them in boldness, and so on, and I think he’s saying, “I need to calm down.  I can’t hear from God, that still, small voice.  When I’m this agitated and I’m this upset and moved by these wicked men, somebody bring me a minstrel.”  He just sat there and let the music play, and it calmed his heart.  I think that was just a picture of being calm and being quiet and being prepared to hear the word from the Lord.

This is my own opinion, and you may not agree with this, and you may not agree with a lot of stuff I’m saying, but we’re so naturally earth-bound and we just gravitate toward this silly world, and the Lord has given us things to help us, even if it’s for a moment, to look to Him.  Of course, He’s given us prayer, and of course He’s given us the Bible, and of course He’s given us the body, one another, but also He’s given three secular things that help me for a moment to stop thinking about the world.  Let me mention them.  I think the gift of poetry is a gift from the Lord that lifts me higher than anything on that level, I’m not saying spiritual, and I’m saying this is secular, but I can vent my heart in poetry.  I think some of you know that I love poetry.  I’d rather have somebody give a poem from the heart than give me a million dollars.  I don’t want money, but if you have poetry to the Lord, boy, share with me, please.  I think poetry is just that multi in parvo, much in little, where you are able to express your spirit; I can vent my spirit.

That’s one gift.  For me the most devotional time I have is when I can vent myself in rhyme.  The second gift, I think, is an artist.  I’m not an artist but art does for the imagination what poetry does for the spirit, and it takes you beyond this world and it allows you to express yourself in ways that are outside the box.  It’s a wonderful gift.  The third gift, I think, is music because it calms the emotions.  It can excite the emotions, too, I guess.  It gives you peace, and time to listen to the Lord.  Many church services, many assemblies begin with what they call “worship”.  Basically, it’s music, and it sets your heart and prepares you to listen to the word of the Lord.

Let’s get back to Elisha.  Living in the presence of the Lord, so that you’re sensitive, and being uncompromising before the world, being non-judgmental and gentle toward those who are hurting, waiting for a revelation from the Lord, and then finally the answer — always give good news.  Here’s the revelation he got.  2 Kings 3:16, “He said, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Make this valley full of trenches.”  For thus says the Lord, “You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.””  The first part of the message that the needy Christian needs, what was the message God gave Elisha?  What is a trench?  It’s a ditch, a big bunch of nothing; it’s emptiness.  There’s nothing there.  I think what He was saying is, “Even after all your blunders, give the Lord emptiness.  Make trenches everywhere and just give Him emptiness, and then take it by faith because you aren’t going to see it or hear, but I will give you fullness, if you will give me emptiness.  I think that was the first part of the message.

Someone who has made blunders like Jehoshaphat can say, “I can understand that fullness that God will take me back, even if it’s too late, He’ll always take me back.  I understand that He’ll forgive me and I can have a relationship with God, but there it ends.  No, there it doesn’t end.  Listen to 2 Kings 3:18, “This is but a slight thing…”  What is but a slight thing?  Fullness, restoration, I’m back with God — that’s a slight thing.  Look what else.  He said, “I’ll also give the Moabites into your hands.”  After all your blunders He’ll not only restore you to Himself, but He puts you back on the road to victory, and you can now begin again and have a victorious Christian life.

May God help us to identify with Jehoshaphat, and with Elisha.  We aren’t quite finished with this story, so before we pick up the bear story I think I want to finish this.  I have several more observations that I want to make. 

Father, thank You for Your word.  It’s so wonderful and so simple and so practical.  We pray, Lord, that You would work in our hearts everything you’ve inspired that story to mean.  We commit each of us unto You and pray, Lord, that you continue Your patient work in our life.  We thank You in Jesus’ name.  Amen.