2 Chronicles 18-20, Psalm 76
There are two basic ways to read Scripture. The correct way is called exegesis where we realize that God is the author of the Bible and what we draw out from it should be reflected based on what God means and based on God's truth. We need the entirety of Scripture to better understand what the Bible is actually saying. The other method which is much more popular but leads to faulty conclusions is eisegesis when the reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. Most don't read the Bible, but those who do read often prefer to cherry-pick verses or portions in order to justify their own thinking. Last year, when Jason Lisle, PhD, recently came to CCOB to give a talk, he said that, when what God says and what we inherently believe are in conflict, what your faith lies in is evident by the position we come away with. When God's Creation and evolution which are contradictory come in conflict, if our faith is in science then we try to make creation fit into evolution. When our faith is in God, we have no problem believing that God could create the world in 6 days. If we are to hear from God in Scripture and in prayer, this proper lens must be used. James said in James 1:5-8, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Jehoshaphat was a good king of Judah. But as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits.", Jehoshaphat makes the mistake of forming an alliance through marriage with wicked king Ahab, from the northern ten tribes of Israel. Jehoshaphat does the right thing in 2 Chronicles 18:6, "Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?" Micaiah, the prophet, goes on to prophesy that going into battle would be a deadly mistake and they would be thoroughly defeated. Despite this advice Jehoshaphat goes against the Godly counsel and goes into the battle with Ahab with terrible consequences, barely escaping with his life. We can't hear from God, when we allow ourselves to be influenced by the voices of the ungodly. God confronts Jehoshaphat through the prophet Jehu when he returns from defeat in 19:2 and says, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?...". Jehoshaphat brings about wonderful godly reforms throughout Judah and we see a very different approach to God when conflict again arises. In 2 Chronicles 20:3,12, "And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah...O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but your eyes are upon You." So much did Jehoshaphat now trust God's words of deliverance that he put the musicians and choir before the army as they approached the battlefield.
Every day we make a decision of who we are going to allow ourselves to be influenced by and whether or not we will truly seek the counsel of God. Many make friendships with those who hate the things of God and explain it away with comments like, "But she has a good heart", or "But he is funny". Hear the wise counsel of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" This does not mean we must sever our business partnerships when we become Christians, but we must not allow the voices of those with no heart for God to destroy our ability to hear from Him and be guided by Him. When we seek God are we truly coming before Him and seeking His advice or are we asking Him to rubber stamp our own plans which we have already decided on. God and His Word is not an additive but the source of our wisdom and counsel. When our opinion and God's counsel are in conflict we would do well to change our position. When we seek outside opinion may we discern before asking whether or not that person submits to God or not before allowing those outside influences into our minds.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: