2 Chronicles 19-23 The Message Bible

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The Prophet Jehu Rebukes Jehoshaphat

19 1  But Jehoshaphat king of Judah got home safe and sound. 2  Jehu, son of Hanani the seer, confronted King Jehoshaphat: "You have no business helping evil, cozying up to God-haters. Because you did this, God is good and angry with you. 3  But you're not all bad - you made a clean sweep of the polluting sex-and-religion shrines; and you were single-minded in seeking God."

Jehoshaphat Appoints Judges

4  Jehoshaphat kept his residence in Jerusalem but made a regular round of visits among the people, from Beersheba in the south to Mount Ephraim in the north, urging them to return to God, the God of their ancestors.

5  And he was diligent in appointing judges in the land - each of the fortress cities had its judge. 6  He charged the judges: "This is serious work; do it carefully. You are not merely judging between men and women; these are God's judgments that you are passing on. 7  Live in the fear of God - be most careful, for God hates dishonesty, partiality, and bribery." 8  In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat also appointed Levites, priests, and family heads to decide on matters that had to do with worship and mediating local differences. 9  He charged them: "Do your work in the fear of God; be dependable and honest in your duties. 10  When a case comes before you involving any of your fellow citizens, whether it seems large (like murder) or small (like matters of interpretation of the law), you are responsible for warning them that they are dealing with God. Make that explicit, otherwise both you and they are going to be dealing with God's wrath. Do your work well or you'll end up being as guilty as they are. 11  "Amariah the chief priest is in charge of all cases regarding the worship of God; Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, is in charge of all civil cases; the Levites will keep order in the courts. Be bold and diligent. And God be with you as you do your best."

The Victory over Moab and Ammon

20 1  Some time later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2  Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: "A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There's no time to waste - they're already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi." 3  Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. 4  The country of Judah united in seeking God's help - they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God. 5  Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard 6  and said, "O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist - no one stands a chance against you! 7  And didn't you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8  They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, 9  saying, 'When the worst happens - whether war or flood or disease or famine - and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.' 10  "And now it's happened: men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir have shown up. You didn't let Israel touch them when we got here at first - we detoured around them and didn't lay a hand on them. 11  And now they've come to kick us out of the country you gave us. 12  O dear God, won't you take care of them? We're helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don't know what to do; we're looking to you." 13  Everyone in Judah was there - little children, wives, sons - all present and attentive to God.

14  Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.) 15  He said, "Attention everyone - all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat - God's word: Don't be afraid; don't pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God's war, not yours. 16  Tomorrow you'll go after them; see, they're already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you'll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. 17  You won't have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God's saving work for you take shape. Don't be afraid, don't waver. March out boldly tomorrow - God is with you." 18  Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. 19  The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

20  They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, "Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you'll come out on top!" 21  After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give thanks to God, His love never quits. 22  As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. 23  The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed. 24  As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies - not a living soul among them. 25  When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off - equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! 26  On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that's how it got the name, Valley of Blessing). 27  Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem - an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! 28  They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing. 29  When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel's enemies, the fear of God descended on them. 30  Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned.

The Reign of Jehoshaphat

31  That about sums up Jehoshaphat's reign over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king and ruled as king in Jerusalem for twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 32  He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa - no detours, no dead-ends - pleasing God with his life. 33  But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines - people continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous god shops. 34  The rest of Jehoshaphat's life, from start to finish, is written in the memoirs of Jehu son of Hanani, which are included in the Royal Annals of Israel's Kings. 35  Late in life Jehoshaphat formed a trading syndicate with Ahaziah king of Israel - which was very wrong of him to do. 36  He went in as partner with him to build ocean-going ships at Ezion Geber to trade with Tarshish. 37  Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah preached against Jehoshaphat's venture: "Because you joined forces with Ahaziah, God has shipwrecked your work." The ships were smashed and nothing ever came of the trade partnership.

The Reign of Jehoram of Judah

21 1  Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the family cemetery in the City of David. Jehoram his son was the next king. 2  Jehoram's brothers were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah - the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. 3  Their father had lavished them with gifts - silver, gold, and other valuables, plus the fortress cities in Judah. But Jehoram was his firstborn son and he gave him the kingdom of Judah. 4  But when Jehoram had taken over his father's kingdom and had secured his position, he killed all his brothers along with some of the government officials. 5  Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king and ruled in Jerusalem for eight years. 6  He imitated Israel's kings and married into the Ahab dynasty. God considered him an evil man. 7  But despite that, because of his covenant with David, God was not yet ready to destroy the descendants of David; he had, after all, promised to keep a light burning for David and his sons. 8  During Jehoram's reign, Edom revolted from Judah's rule and set up their own king. 9  Jehoram responded by setting out with his officers and chariots. Edom surrounded him, but in the middle of the night he and his charioteers broke through the lines and hit Edom hard. 10  Edom continues in revolt against Judah right up to the present. Even little Libnah revolted at that time. The evidence accumulated: Since Jehoram had abandoned God, the God of his ancestors, God was abandoning him. 11  He even went so far as to build pagan sacred shrines in the mountains of Judah. He brazenly led Jerusalem away from God, seducing the whole country.

12  One day he got a letter from Elijah the prophet. It read, "From God, the God of your ancestor David - a message: Because you have not kept to the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and Asa your grandfather, kings of Judah, 13  but have taken up with the ways of the kings of Israel in the north, leading Judah and Jerusalem away from God, going step by step down the apostate path of Ahab and his crew - why, you even killed your own brothers, all of them better men than you! - 14  God is going to afflict your people, your wives, your sons, and everything you have with a terrible plague. 15  And you are going to come down with a terrible disease of the colon, painful and humiliating." 16  The trouble started with an invasion. God incited the Philistines and the Arabs who lived near the Ethiopians to attack Jehoram. 17  They came to the borders of Judah, forced their way in, and plundered the place - robbing the royal palace of everything in it including his wives and sons. One son, his youngest, Ahaziah, was left behind. 18  The terrible and fatal disease in his colon followed. After about two years he was totally incontinent and died writhing in pain. 19  His people didn't honor him by lighting a great bonfire, as was customary with his ancestors. 20  He was thirty-two years old when he became king and reigned for eight years in Jerusalem. There were no tears shed when he died - it was good riddance! - and they buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.

The Reign of Ahaziah of Judah

22 1  The people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram's youngest son, king. Raiders from the desert, who had come with the Arabs against the settlement, had killed all the older sons. That's how Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah became king. 2  Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, but reigned only one year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri. 3  He lived and ruled just like the Ahab family had done, his mother training him in evil ways. 4  God also considered him evil, related by both marriage and sin to the Ahab clan. After the death of his father, he attended the sin school of Ahab, and graduated with a degree in doom. 5  He did what they taught him, went with Joram son of Ahab king of Israel in the war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. Joram, wounded by the Arameans, 6  retreated to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he received in Ramah in his war with Hazael king of Aram. Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah paid a visit to Joram son of Ahab on his sickbed at Jezreel.

Jehu Kills Ahaziah

7  The fate of Ahaziah when he went to visit was God's judgment on him. When Ahaziah arrived at Jezreel, he and Joram met with Jehu son of Nimshi, whom God had already authorized to destroy the dynasty of Ahab. 8  Jehu, already at work, executing doom on the dynasty of Ahab, came upon the captains of Judah and Ahaziah's nephews, part of the Ahaziah delegation, and killed them outright. 9  Then he sent out a search party looking for Ahaziah himself. They found him hiding out in Samaria and hauled him back to Jehu. And Jehu killed him. They didn't, though, just leave his body there. Out of respect for his grandfather Jehoshaphat, famous as a sincere seeker after God, they gave him a decent burial. But there was no one left in Ahaziah's family capable of ruling the kingdom.

Athaliah Usurps the Throne

10  When Ahaziah's mother Athaliah saw that her son was dead, she took over. She began by massacring the entire royal family. 11  Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah's son Joash, and kidnapped him from among the king's sons slated for slaughter. She hid him and his nurse in a private room away from Athaliah. So Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and Ahaziah's sister - she was also the wife of Jehoiada the priest - saved Joash from the murderous Queen Athaliah. 12  He was there with her, hidden away for six years in The Temple of God. Athaliah, oblivious to his existence, ruled the country.

23 1  In the seventh year the priest Jehoiada decided to make his move and worked out a strategy with certain influential officers in the army. He picked Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri as his associates. 2  They dispersed throughout Judah and called in the Levites from all the towns in Judah along with the heads of families. They met in Jerusalem. 3  The gathering met in The Temple of God. They made a covenant there in The Temple. 4  Now this is what you must do: A third of you priests and Levites who come on duty on the Sabbath are to be posted as security guards at the gates 5  another third will guard the palace; and the other third will guard the foundation gate. All the people will gather in the courtyards of The Temple of God. 6  No one may enter The Temple of God except the priests and designated Levites - they are permitted in because they've been consecrated, but all the people must do the work assigned them. 7  The Levites are to form a ring around the young king, weapons at the ready. Kill anyone who tries to break through your ranks. Your job is to stay with the king at all times and places, coming and going." 8  All the Levites and officers obeyed the orders of Jehoiada the priest. Each took charge of his men, both those who came on duty on the Sabbath and those who went off duty on the Sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest hadn't exempted any of them from duty. 9  Then the priest armed the officers with spears and the large and small shields originally belonging to King David that were stored in The Temple of God. 10  Well-armed, the guards took up their assigned positions for protecting the king, from one end of The Temple to the other, surrounding both Altar and Temple. 11  Then the priest brought the prince into view, crowned him, handed him the scroll of God's covenant, and made him king. As Jehoiada and his sons anointed him they shouted, "Long live the king!"

12  Athaliah, hearing all the commotion, the people running around and praising the king, came to The Temple to see what was going on. 13  Astonished, she saw the young king standing at the entrance flanked by the captains and heralds, with everybody beside themselves with joy, trumpets blaring, the choir and orchestra leading the praise. Athaliah ripped her robes in dismay and shouted, "Treason! Treason!" 14  Jehoiada the priest ordered the military officers, "Drag her outside - and kill anyone who tries to follow her!" (The priest had said, "Don't kill her inside The Temple of God." 15  So they dragged her out to the palace's horse corral and there they killed her. 16  Jehoiada now made a covenant between himself and the king and the people: they were to be God's special people. 17  The people poured into the temple of Baal and tore it down, smashing altar and images to smithereens. They killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altar. 18  Jehoiada turned the care of God's Temple over to the priests and Levites, the way David had directed originally. They were to offer the Whole-Burnt-Offerings of God as set out in The Revelation of Moses, and with praise and song as directed by David. 19  He also assigned security guards at the gates of God's Temple so that no one who was unprepared could enter 20  Then he got everyone together - officers, nobles, governors, and the people themselves - and escorted the king down from The Temple of God, through the Upper Gate, and placed him on the royal throne. 21  Everybody celebrated the event. And the city was safe and undisturbed - Athaliah had been killed; no more Athaliah terror

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