Ahab and Ahaziah were both dead. Since Ahaziah had no sons, his brother Jehoram became king. Verses 1-3 read,
“In the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twelve years. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless, he clung to the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.”
Even though Jehoram did not worship idols, he still chose to worship wrongly. Rather than worship the Lord as He had commanded at The Temple in Jerusalem and with the priests God had appointed, he followed the way of Jeroboam and worshipped with false priests in a false temple. He led Israel to sin in worshipping in a way he chose to, instead of in truth of the Word. He scorned God by scorning His commands.
Jeroham had a problem, the king of Moab had made a deal with his father Ahab but was now reneging. Verses 4-8 describe it.
“Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7 And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?” And he said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 8 Then he said, “By which way shall we march?” Jehoram answered, “By the way of the wilderness of Edom.”
Israel and Judah united to take down the Moabites led by King Mesha. The king of Edom joined them and they made the arduous journey into the wilderness of Edom. Verses 9-14 read,
“So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” Then one of the king of Israel's servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
13 And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the Lord who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you.”
There was no water and the men would die. Jehoram didn’t turn to God for other reasons but the situation was dire and so he suggested asking The Lord for help. In those days, The Holy Spirit was not on all the faithful. He was only on a chosen few and so the kings needed a prophet in order to ask God anything. A servant spoke up and suggested Elisha and so the three kings traveled down to meet him.
Elisha knew Jehoram didn’t obey God and prophesying for him was futile. Jehoram, like the evil kings before him didn’t want to know what God wanted from them, they didn’t want to hear what He had to say, they wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. They treated God like a Crazy 8 ball or a vending machine. Prophesying to scoffers is wasted. God’s word is precious, it is a treasure. In Matthew 7:6 Jesus talked about giving His word to people.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
But because Jehosophat was a faithful and obedient king, The Lord chose to answer him. Verses 15-20 record God’s answer.
“But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’ 18 This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord. He will also give the Moabites into your hand, 19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.” 20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.”
The Lord gave them their answer not through the mouth of Elisha but through the mouth of a musician. Perhaps it was to protect Elisha from throwing pearls before swine or perhaps to show His almighty word was His to give to whom He chooses to give it. But His word was, ‘This is an easy thing. I will give you all the water you need, not just for today, but this place will be full of water and you will fight your battle and every good thing of Moab will be cut off and cut down.’ God fulfilled His promise to them the next morning as they (likely led by Jehoshaphat’s priest) were worshipping God in truth at the time of the sacrifice.
God always keeps His promises. Often they are connected to commands. If we obey the command, God blesses us with the manifestation of His promise. Sometimes the promise stands alone, like the one God made to the three kings. But He does not give it right away. That doesn’t mean we wail and cry and lose faith. We, like Jehoshaphat remain faithful, continue obeying The Lord and in His time the promise is fulfilled.
God has reasons for His timing. His reason for the timing of this promise is revealed in verses 21-27.
“When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the border. 22 And when they rose early in the morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. 23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!”24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and struck the Moabites, till they fled before them. And they went forward, striking the Moabites as they went. 25 And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone until it was covered. They stopped every spring of water and felled all the good trees, till only its stones were left in Kir-hareseth, and the slingers surrounded and attacked it. 26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not.27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.”
God provided the armies with the water they needed and His perfect scheduling made the Moabites think that they had fought and died. The Moabites let down their defenses, maybe even took off their armor and went to plunder the spoils of the fallen armies. God’s provision was also what led to Judah, Israel, and Edom winning the fight.
When Mesha saw he was losing the fight, He did not turn to the Lord. He turned to his false god, himself and sacrificed his own son to save his own skin. With his son dead, the remaining troops would have to protect their king during the retreat, since no one was around to take his place if he died. Mesha had no god to turn to other than himself.
Jehoram turned to God only when he was desperate and angry. And the problem he turned to The Lord for was a problem born of selfishness and pride. Jehoram was a scoffer, not a believer. He mocked God’s word by refusing to obey Him and doing things his own way. God will not give His word to scoffers. Proverbs 9:7-8 says,
“Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”
God didn’t help Jehoram for Jehoram’s sake, but for Jehoshaphat’s who had united with Israel for their defense. The Lord will always bless the faithful and obedient. Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is a list of the many ways God will bless obedience. I highly recommend you read this scripture. Verse 2 of that passage reads,
“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.”
Obedience requires faith and if we obey we will not be able to escape the flood of blessings God will pour out onto us. Verses 12-14 of the passage say,
“The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, 14 and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”
Jehoram was only blessed because of Jehoshaphat’s obedience. The Lord would not have allowed Elisha to give His precious words to the swine without Jehoshaphat’s faith standing in the gap for Jehoram. Believer, I encourage you to seek the Lord, to ask Him and remember your help comes from God. But remember also that God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7), and if you deride His word and refuse to obey it, He will not waste His treasure on you.