Good Ideas

2 Chronicles 20: 35 – 36

And after this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing. So he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.

This is what comes of our good ideas, disaster. This verse speaks about “after this.” What just happened? Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah have just returned from three days of carrying the spoils of war home from the conflict with the Ammonites, Meunites and Moabites. God showed Himself strong on their behalf and they profited greatly. Now Jehoshaphat has a good idea. “Let’s ally ourselves with Israel.”

At this point in time, God’s kingdom was divided. Israel was not following the ways of the Lord. Up ‘til now, Jehoshaphat has sought the Lord and Judah has enjoyed the blessings thereof. Now he has his own idea and rather than seek the Lord, he just executes his plan. You see, Israel had something he wanted. They had good shipwrights and Jehoshaphat wanted ships that could sail to Tarshish, or at least ships able to make long voyages. I think lust had a grip on Jehoshaphat and he wanted ships capable of traveling to lands of gold, silver and exotic animals. Did he not just learn that his blessing was in the Lord? All the gold, silver and wealth of any kind was in walking with the Lord. They had just taken three days to carry of the spoils from a war they didn’t even have to fight in and yet somehow Jehoshaphat has shifted to thinking he needed to build big ships in order to chase the world’s wealth, literally.

Well, as with all our “great ideas” this one backfired horribly. Verse 37 reads, “Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah 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.’” Don’t get bogged down here thinking that God cursed the ships or Jehoshaphat. The truth is that Jehoshaphat walked out of the blessing and into the curse. The breakup of the ships was the natural consequence of walking in the world rather than walking by the spirit. This is one of those “selling your soul to the devil’ moments.

Israel was immersed in idol worship. They had left their first love and were serving other gods. Jehoshaphat was not only willing but desirous of an alliance with Israel because she had something he wanted. This is exactly why you hear so much about adultery in the Bible. Israel had already abandoned her first love and now Judah was willing to get into bed with Israel despite their heathen practices because of the desire for material goods. Mind you, it is not the desire for ships or gold that was the selling out of Judah. The prostitution was in selling out to the world to get it. God had shown Jehoshaphat that He would more than supply their needs. He even gave them the worlds goods. How is it that Jehoshaphat didn’t understand that? The sad conclusion is that his alliance with Israel, which was mired in the deep weeds, led the entire nation of Judah astray too.

Jehoram succeeded his father Jehoshaphat as king and the seeds of Jehoshaphat’s wickedness bore fruit in Jehoram’s generation. Chapter 21, verse 11 makes this clear, “Jehoram made illegal places of worship in the hills of Judah. This caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to chase after foreign gods as if they were prostitutes. So he led Judah astray.”

Not only did Jehoshaphat not get what he wanted because the ships foundered and broke apart, but his greed and resulting alliance with the lost tribes of Israel caused the nation of Judah to founder as well. They went from being the source of one of the greatest stories of victory to a lost and broken people. It’s sad.

So, how are your bright ideas looking to you right about now? I know I regret my own when I don’t take them to the Lord. They fail miserably and bring me grief. What, then, is the answer? I’ll bet you know. Take it all to the Lord in prayer. Although, that is a little misleading. Really what we are called to do is to listen to the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sure, take it to God in prayer but then hush up and listen. Let Him guide you through His Spirit. That is the way. That is what Jehoshaphat did when he was so successful. He sought the Lord. Later, he led the entire nation of Judah astray with his good ideas. Hey, I’ve got an idea – let’s follow where the Lord leads. I bet that will work. And that is my good idea for today.