One of the last great periods of spiritual revival in Judah’s history before Babylonian Captivity occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat. This king is praised for seeking God, following His commandments, and not acting like Israel (2 Ch. 17:3-4). Jehoshaphat was greatly blessed by these decisions, he took pride in the Lord’s ways and sought to eradicate idolatry (5-6). In the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat sent his officials, the priests, and the Levites throughout Judah. What we read in 2 Chronicles 17:9 is exemplary for us today.
- They “taught.” Men of varying backgrounds, abilities, personalities, and occupations united in the valuable enterprise of teaching. In all, 16 men are named as those who were tasked with this important job. Whatever we don’t know about them, we do know they were teachers. Their work was so important that God saw fit to include them by name in His Book! Certainly He still holds knowledgeable, diligent teachers in high regard today. What a thrill it must be for Him to see His children willing and able to teach (cf. 1 Pe. 3:14-15).
- They taught “in Judah…among the people.” What was Judah? It was the place where God’s people resided. Strong churches have good teachers teaching them. There is a resounding benefit when people get together and are subjected to healthy, beneficial teaching. As it was then, so it is now.
- They taught in Judah “having the book of the law of the Lord with them.” Jehoshaphat wanted to ensure the spiritual literacy of his subjects, knowing God wanted that, too. God still longs for His people to know, show, and grow (2 Pe. 3:18). Too often, our teaching can lack a biblical focus. We do not need more “what I thinks” and “what happened to me’s.” We need more rich teaching from “the book of the law of the Lord.”
Despite some later foolish and even sinful choices, Jehoshaphat was on target to send teachers for Judah’s benefit. In the end, he instituted needed, helpful reforms, and relied on God in prayer. He fell short, but perhaps it was his anchor in the law of God that kept him from drifting away from Him. Our hope and future is tied to how faithfully we follow God, but we must know what God wants to do that. And we can only know what God wants by knowing His Word. God bless the teachers that help us to do just that!
Naboth must have been shocked and baffled as the charges of blasphemy and treason rang in his ears. He must have felt jostled and panicked as he was grabbed and thrown outside the city of Jezreel. Surely he was filled with the acutest sense of injustice replaced only by the undeserved pangs of pain as his own brethren stoned him with stones (1 Ki. 21:12-14). He had been set up by wicked King Ahab (though Jezebel was really the “brains” behind the operation). When Ahab took possession of “his” ill-gotten vineyard taken only by the brutal plot that claimed innocent Naboth, did Ahab ever think about the murdered man (cf. 1 Ki. 21:19) as he puttered around his vegetable garden? Could even Ahab have thought that it was worth it? Whatever Israel’s king felt, Elijah the Tishbite, God’s mighty prophet, is sent into “the vineyard of Naboth” (1 Ki. 21:18; interestingly, God still saw dead Naboth as the rightful owner) and foretells of the bloody, ignominious end of Ahab’s house. Though God showed remarkable mercy in not ending Ahab’s dynasty in the wake of the wicked king’s humble plea (1 Ki. 21:28), the decree was only delayed. Ahab died in his chariot, a casualty of a circumstance God used to execute His judgment (1 Ki. 22:34-38).
Some time later, though now Ahab’s second son to reign currently sat on Israel’s throne and Elijah had been replaced by Elisha, the judgment on Ahab’s house transpired. Jehu “conspired against Joram” (2 Ki. 9:14), encouraged by one of the sons of the prophets (2 Ki. 9:7-10). Jehu meets Joram at an interesting site: “the property of Naboth the Jezreelite” (2 Ki. 9:21). God says He repaid Ahab on Naboth’s plot (2 Ki. 9:26). What a powerful lesson and warning from God! It is a message that says not only that you reap what you sow, but that there is sometimes irony in this sort of reaping. Another example is Haman in the book of Esther.
Let us consider this lesson first taught on Naboth’s land. Does the gossiper, intent on spreading rumors and divulging details about another, ever become the victim of his own methods? Does the hypercritic and unjust judge ever fall into a sin problem, only to find himself treated as he has treated others? What about the greedy or the unethical, who climb the corporate ladder by stepping all over whoever is above him on it? Does he ever meet the same, ironic end? There will be some Naboths, men and women who are unfairly and unjustly treated despite their innocence. Yet, there will also be some Ahabs, too, men and women meted out the same kind of end they inflicted on someone else. If you have to identify with anyone in this biblical account, let it be Naboth and not Ahab.