If there is one thing I can say about this king – it would be that much of his reign was colored with spiritual strategy. Jehoshaphat seems to go about things with a spiritual strategy to invite the blessing of God. And it really did work! In II Chronicles 17, the first thing we find is Jehoshaphat strengthening his forces in all the cities of Judah and Ephraim. This king was all about military might and presence. It goes on to tell us that he walked in the ways of his father, Asa, he obeyed God’s commands and was constantly seeking God. In verse 5 it says what God did in response to this, “Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor.” As we study this king’s life we will notice that Jehoshaphat was particularly blessed. I think this occurs because of his obedience and courage in the ways of God – “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” (vs. 6) But also I believe this was generational blessing as well. Jehoshaphat followed in his father’s footsteps; he saw the faithfulness of his father. As he continued to follow God, he opened up generational blessings. He was able to go farther than Asa; he went higher. And thus, the Lord established his kingdom and gave him great riches and honor.
Now let’s talk about the spiritual strategy of Jehoshaphat. In verses 7-9, he does something you don’t expect.
In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah, and Tobadonijah; and with these Levites, the priests Elishama and Jehoram. And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the Lord with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. II Chronicles 17:7-9
Jehoshaphat started a teaching ministry – a national teaching ministry. Not only that, we can’t help but notice who he used. Five of the people mentioned are people from his court – the officials or princes. What we have is a three-class system of teachers. All these men were leaders and all were expected to be teachers in a nationwide itinerant ministry. Adam Clarke has this to say about what Jehoshaphat did:
In these verses we find a remarkable account of an itinerant ministry established by Jehoshaphat; and in this work he employed three classes of men: 1. The princes. 2. The Levites. 3. The priests. We may presume that the princes instructed the people in the nature of the civil law and constitution of the kingdom; the Levites instructed them in every thing that appertained to the temple service, and ritual law; and the priests instructed them in the nature and design of the religion they professed. Thus the nation became thoroughly instructed in their duty to God, to the king, and to each other. They became, therefore, as one man; and against a people thus united, on such principles, no enemy could be successful.
Jehoshaphat was very zealous for God and saw the teaching of his word as preeminent. He also did not delegate this task to only the clergy. He wanted everyone in the kingdom to know the Book of the Law. These teachers went to all the cities of Judah teaching God’s word. This strategy was simply brilliant. Not only did Jehoshaphat push God’s word out to the entire nation with his teachers traveling from town to town, he also let all his leaders understand that it was their responsibility to teach God’s word no matter their station in the kingdom.
In verse 10 we see the results of Jehoshaphat’s strategy. While some may argue my point here, it seems clear that God responded to Jehoshaphat’s national endeavor. “And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.” It is valid to ask why there is this fear in the surrounding lands. Well, it says the fear of the Lord, not the fear of man. Also, if you look at the chapter, there is no war or military action, except for Jehoshaphat building up his forces. Why did the fear of the Lord fall on the people? It is no secret; this verse comes right after the writer of Chronicles tells us about the teaching ministry established by Jehoshaphat. And the chronicler continues with, “Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents and silver for tribute, and the Arabians also brought him 7,700 rams and 7,700 goats.” (vs. 11) The foreign powers were bringing the king gifts to placate him because they were afraid.
If there ever was a time to change our nation, that would be now. We do not need talk. We need leaders like Jehoshaphat. If you want to change our nation, then I suggest you study carefully this king’s life. Jehoshaphat’s zeal for God and spiritual strategy is a model for leadership and change.