Tuesday, March 03, 2009

SHOULD GOD'S PEOPLE PARTICIPATE WITH THE WICKED?

Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah who befriended and aided the evil king Ahab. He was a good man who thought he could be friends with someone who was evil. When asked to participate, He said to Ahab, "I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle" (2 Chron. 18:3). This was strange because Ahab hated God, but Jehoshaphat had the notion that their kindred ties to Jacob made it acceptable. In his favor he did inquire of the Lord before going into battle. But after Micaiah warned that it would not go well, he went anyway (2 Chron. 18:16,17,28). Ahab did not survive, and only with God's intervention did Jehoshaphat safely return home (2 Chron. 18:31). God did not help and the Jewish kings should not have gone to battle. For Ahab to go against the advice of God was normal, but it's troubling that Jehoshaphat would. Despite his foolishness, in the end he was not rejected by God.

When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, returned home to safety, another prophet of God came to him and asked him something significant for us to consider in our own lives. ""Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD and so bring wrath on yourself from the LORD?" (2 Chron. 19:2) Jehoshaphat partnered up with a man who hated God. What Jehoshaphat did was indefensible. Ahab was not advancing the cause of righteousness. Ahab led all of Israel into sin. Jehoshaphat should have stayed home and had nothing to do with Ahab.

Should God's people join in works with people who reject Jesus Christ? Some might argue, "But they don't hate Jesus." Maybe not in words, but they distort His Gospel. Should good people work with false teachers? Should Christians participate in joint endeavors with those that don't teach the truth about sin, baptism, and worship? A person who teaches that children are born in sin and need to be baptized is completely misled. It cannot be reconciled with the truth (Acts 8:12). The church cannot work with people who teach falsely about baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16). The church cannot help people who water down the Gospel by not calling for repentance (Mk. 6:18). The so-called "Sinner's Prayer" can't be found in Scriptures and it does not call for repentance. The church cannot help those who turn the worship of God into man-centered entertainment. God said we must worship in spirit and truth.

God is a patient and forgiving God. Even though Jehoshaphat acted unwisely, the prophet said, "But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set your heart to seek God" (2 Chron. 19:3). There was some good in him and God saw that Jehoshaphat was more like David than like Ahab. God does not excuse foolish choices, but he forgives them. In the final analysis, God says that Jehoshaphat was a good king who did right even if he at times he acted foolishly. He had some marks against him, but his heart led him to do mostly what was right. Jehoshaphat is a lesson about choosing friends according to the will of God. If there is any doubt, it's best to keep the distance.

This is something we have to practice in our lives. Marriages are better when people are of like mind. Children should be taught that it's OK to not be friends with everyone. We may be around many kinds of people in workplace, but we don't have to socialize with them all. If they hate God, they won't be good company.
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