It is a Spiritual Battle
God had prospered Jehoshaphat very well. His kingdom was thriving and he had rest from the neighboring nations. In fact they would bring him goods as tribute money so Jehoshaphat wouldn't attack them. God brought all of this about because His people had returned to His Word. Jehoshaphat had sent preachers and Levites to go out among the people and read the books of Moses to them. As they adhered to the principles and commandments in God's Word they prospered and had rest.
Unfortunately all didn't remain peaceful. Jehoshaphat developed a false sense of security and allowed himself to become yoked together with an unbeliever. That unbeliever was also God's chosen but they had chosen to walk away from God and worship idols. That unbeliever was Ahab king of Israel.
II Chronicles 18
:1 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance,
and joined affinity with Ahab.
Jehoshaphat agreed to a political alliance with Ahab and allowed his daughter to marry Ahab's son. So he could not refuse Ahab's overtures to come to Samaria.
:2 And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria,
And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance,
and for the people that he had with him,
and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramothgilead.
:3 And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah,
Wilt thou go with me to Ramothgilead?
And he answered him,
I am as thou art,
and my people as thy people;
and we will be with thee in the war.
Ramothgilead is a city of refuge that Israel had lost to the Syrians. Now Jehoshaphat had maintained control of three of the six cities of refuge from Israel which pleased God. So this cause-to recapture this city of refuge--is noble. But Ahab and Israel are unbelievers . After a while Jehoshaphat begins to have second thoughts.
:4 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel,
Enquire, I pray thee,
at the word of the LORD to day,
:5 There fore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men,
and said unto them, [prophets of Baal however]
Shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle,
or shall I forbear?
And they said, [not God]
for God will deliver it into the king's hand.
Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides,
that we might enquire of him?
Is this not something we do? We decide that we are going to do something and then we go to God to ask his permission or blessing. This is backwards. We should rely on God to direct us and do what He would inspire us to do. Keep an ear attuned to the Lord.
Jehoshaphat is still looking for guidance from God. The 400 prophets, he realizes, are not prophets of the one true God. So, he asks Ahab for a prophet of God.
:7 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat,
There is yet one man,
by whom we may enquire of the LORD:
but I hate him;
for he never prophesied good unto me,
but always evil: [it is not the prophet's fault]
the same is Micaiah the son of Imla.
And Jehoshaphat said,
Let not the king say so.
:8 And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said,
Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla.
:12 And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying,
Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent;
let thy word therefore,
I pray thee,
be like one of theirs,
and speak thou good.
:13 And Micaiah said,
As the LORD liveth,
even what my God saith,
that will I speak.
:14 And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him,
Micaiah, shall we go to Ramothgilead to battle,
or shall I forbear?
And he said,
Go ye up,
and they shall be delivered into your hand. [Micaiah is mocking the king]
:15 And the king said to him,
How many times shall I adjure thee
that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the LORD?
:16 Then he [Micaiah] said,
I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains,
as sheep that have no shepherd:
and the LORD said,
These have no master;
let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.
:17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat,
Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me,
This not good for Ahab. The prophet of God is telling Ahab that he will be killed. To drive the point home Micaiah continues and explains what is going on spiritually:
:18 Again he said,
Therefore hear the word of the LORD;
I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne,
and all the host of heaven [devil spirits] standing on his right hand and on his left.
:19 And the LORD said,
Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel,
that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead?
And one spake saying after this manner,
and another saying after that manner.
See the Idiom of Permission; Ahab is out to lunch and he will receive the consequences of his error.
:20 Then there came out a spirit,
and stood before the LORD, and said,
I will entice him.
And the LORD said unto him,
:21 And he said,
I will go out,
and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.
And the LORD said,
Thou shalt entice him,
and thou shalt also prevail:
go out, and do even so.
:22 Now therefore, behold,
the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets,
and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
:23 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near,
and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said,
Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?
:24 And Micaiah said,
Behold, thou shalt see on that day
when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
:25 Then the king of Israel said,
Take ye Micaiah,
and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city,
and to Joash the king's son;
:26 And say,
Thus saith the king,
Put this fellow in the prison,
and feed him with bread of affliction
and with water of affliction,
until I return in peace.
:27 And Micaiah said,
If thou certainly return in peace,
then hath not the LORD spoken by me.
And he said,
Hearken, all ye people.
Micaiah was speaking the words from God. He probably figured the consequences were not going to be pleasant but he obeyed anyway. It must have also distressed Jehoshaphat to see Micaiah treated this way.
Ahab is an idolater. He is a God rejecter. He is a victim of his own disobedience. God is not going to send spirits to lie to him. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Because Ahab has rejected God He cannot stop them from deceiving Ahab. Micaiah speaks the truth and it is up to Ahab to head his counsel.
So Ahab tries to apply a five senses solution to a spiritual matter. Since God told them that Ahab was going to be killed He had Jehoshaphat wear his kingly robes and he went in disguise to the battle. Since Jehoshaphat had agreed to go to Ramothgilead with Ahab he complies.
:31 And it came to pass,
when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said,
It is the king of Israel. [but it is the king of Judah]
Therefore they compassed about him to fight:
But Jehoshaphat cried out,
and the LORD, [Jehovah] helped him;
and God [Elohim] moved them to depart from him.
:32 For it came to pass, that,
when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel,
they turned back again from pursuing him.
In verse 31 when Jehoshaphat cried unto God for help Jehovah the covenant God was with him to protect him. But Elohim, the creator, moved the Syrians to leave Jehoshaphat alone. God doesn't tell us how He accomplished this but Jehoshaphat walked away that day with his life. This alliance with unbelievers almost cost Jehoshaphat his life.
The Syrians did find Ahab that day and wound him so that he died just as Micaiah had prophesied. So who was right; the 400 idolatrous 'prophets' or Micaiah the prophet of the one true God? I am sure the appearance of those 400 was impressive with their pendulants and spiritualism but they were dead wrong. It is important to know God and his Word so that we may know the genuine. Otherwise we would never spot the counterfeit until it was too late.
Jehoshaphat made a mistake by agreeing to go with Ahab king of Israel but God protected him anyway because he had removed the idols from Judah.
We all make mistakes. The only person who walked perfectly was Jesus Christ. We can walk with God and avoid many pitfalls that others experience but we are not perfect. My husband reminded me of a saying the other day: "But for the Grace of God go I." He was working on some wood and the cord of the saw had gotten draped over part of the spindle that turns when the saw is on and it had worn away the insulation. By the grace of God John was not electrocuted.
We are also compassed about by unbelievers as Jehoshaphat was. We need to pray that we are lead astray from God's Word. Pray for each other. You can pray for my household also, I don't mind.
II Thessalonians 3
:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us,
that the word of the Lord may have free course,
and be glorified,
even as it is with you:
:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:
for all men have not faith.
:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you,
and keep you from evil.
:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you,
that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,
and into the patient waiting for Christ.