Devotional Reading: James 2: 1-5
Lesson Scripture: II Chronicles 19: 4-11
Lesson Aims: To understand that God holds each of us responsible; to examine the results of justice; and to become better ambassadors for Christ.
Solomon asked for and was granted wisdom. Because of his desire, God also gave him wealth and fame. When he became Israel’s (united kingdom) king, it was the jewel of the area and the envy of all around. His many wives (I Kings 11;1-13) turned his heart from God. To finance his many projects, heavy taxes were levied on the people. Many struggled to pay them. When his son Rehoboam became king, the people sought relief. Instead of heeding the elders, he made a severe mistake that led to the kingdom’s split (see I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10-11).
Asa inherited the throne from his father after his father ruled for 41 years, the last three with his son Jehoshaphat. He attempted to strengthen the nation. God allowed peace to return to Judah. Then he married King Ahab’s (Israel, the northern kingdom) daughter, forming an alliance with the north against Ramoth Gilead (Arameans). Micaiah, the prophet warned him against this, but the warning was ignored! King Ahab used Judah’s king as the decoy. In the heat of the battle, Jehoshaphat recognized the trick and cried out to God. He saved the king (see I Kings 22: 1-28 and II Chronicles 18:1-2).
King Jehosaphat returns home from the battle where Jehu acknowledges he has some good qualities. Destroying the groves for Asherah pleases God. He knows exactly what has to be done. He goes throughout the kingdom to personally lead the people back to God. Then he creates a layered judicial system to prevent abuses. Moses’ system was horizontal, but Jehoshaphat’s system is vertical. Priests are to serve as the day to day officials. Judges and magistrates make the decisions in the lower and upper courts.
Their criteria is very important. Each judge is to be faithful to God (revere Him), be sincere, and take every case seriously. All religious, ceremonial and moral issues will fall under Amariah, the chief priest. Zebadiah, Judah’s tribal leader, is responsibility for all civil matters. Not only will they judge, but they are to warn the people to do right before God. Failure to do so brings grave consequences to all involved.
As ambassadors for Christ, do we stand for justice? Our actions, thoughts, and words are to testify about Him. There shouldn’t be any separation between our “Sunday selves and our Monday thru Saturday selves.” Like Jehosaphat, we are warned by God, but we ignore it. When we are in the midst of trouble, we too cry out to God for deliverance! Then what? God will question each one of us. Will your answers please Him? With God first, justice has to be based on mercy, fair play and courage. Deliverance should lead us to examine and improve our systems.