Lessons from a Great Man’s Failures (II)

What was Jehoshaphat’s first error?

He failed to understand that his enemy was a deeply religious person.

This is the predominant mistake we make today. We have failed to grasp that all of life is religious. We have also failed to grasp that education and law are profoundly religious issues, and that the Bible speaks a lot about them.

Let me give you an example. Everyone generally accepts that education is important in society.  We also generally accept that education is generally based on values. But whose values are we considering: God’s or man’s? That is what polarises people.

Western Christians for six generations have ignored this: then they have witnessed the fact that their government confiscates their money through taxation, giving them compulsory but “free” education in return. So Christians say to themselves:

a)      “My taxes go towards State schools.” True.

b)      “I’m paying for it, whether I like it or not.” True.

c)      “My children need educating.” True.

d)     “I may as well get my monies’ worth for my children.” False.

e)      “I guess I’ll put the children in the State system.” False.

Why should points d) and e) be rejected?

They are decisions based on economic expediency, not Biblical conviction. It was expediency that led to Caiaphas directing the chief priests and Pharisees to get rid of Jesus (Jn.11:47-53), and it was Judas’ economic expediency to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. But it is moral convictions based on His Word that God requires, not expediency.

Now there will be some who say, “we should try and reform the system.” Now doesn’t that sound like a good idea? It sounds very laudable, but that’s not the answer. It’s like trying to reform Baal worship. You will spend a lot of time and money trying to reform an institution that doesn’t want to be reformed. The best you will get in any reform attempt, is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.

Most of the church today doesn’t want to know about Jehoshaphat’s error, when in fact the vast majority of the Church is making the same mistake that he did. We sign up and send our children off to the West’s predominant pagan institution-the State school.

The State educational system is self-serving. It is kept afloat by our taxes. It has no time for a sovereign God, the Bible and Jesus Christ. It has no time for a six-day Creation, for absolute moral statements like the Ten Commandments, or for the authority of parents. The children get twelve years of humanistic indoctrination. Is that what Christian parents are supposed to give their children?

The State’s principal concern in overseeing the education of children has never been the educational development of children but merely its own control of the educational process.[1]

All education is religious, and the State schools do a wonderful job of teaching humanism to their students. Is it any wonder that 80% of the children of Christian families sent to Public Schools in the U.S. deny the faith in their twenties?

But that’s not all.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Fabian Society of England came out strongly in favour of state aid to independent Christian schools. When a board member resigned in protest, George Bernard Shaw rebuked him strongly. Nothing, Shaw held, would more quickly destroy these schools than state aid; their freedom and independence would soon be compromised, and, before long, their faith. Events soon proved Shaw to be right.[2]

The enemies of God know how to compromise Christians. They go for the points where we (like Jehoshaphat) have weak or undeveloped convictions. This has been easy for them of late, because the modern Church overall, has struggled to decide what it really believes about many fundamental issues.

We have to look elsewhere in scripture to find out what Jehoshaphat’s marriage alliance actually was. Jehoshaphat’s firstborn son Jehoram, married the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah. It seems that while Jehoshaphat lived Athaliah kept a low profile, but as soon as he died her true colours were really seen. When Jehoram became king, Athaliah conspired with him to kill all six of his brothers, Jehoshaphat’s sons (II Chron.21:4). What did they think about their father’s choice, then?

Thus Jehoram “walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab’s daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord” (II Chron.21:6). This was just the start of Athaliah’s evil. Her son Ahaziah “also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly” (II Chron.22:3), and when he was subsequently executed by Jehu through the judgment of God, she killed all but one of her grandchildren (v.10).

What led Jehoshaphat to his original error? Perhaps he was influenced by the example of his father Asa who earlier, when Judah was besieged by Israel, had said to Ben-hadad king of Aram, “let there be a treaty between you and me…” (II Chron.16:3).

Or, perhaps he simply deceived himself into thinking, “I know what I’m doing. This is a good idea. Now, Ahab and Israel will be no threat to us.”

Conclusion: Undoubtedly, Jehoshaphat was a godly man. But godliness today does not mean that tomorrow I am somehow exempted from error; we’re all human and are prone to sin.

Jehoshaphat’s frightening error in trying to play power politics while setting up his son with a pagan wife, is a warning of the long-term implications of our choices today. As one man I respect once said, “if you marry someone who is not a Christian, you get the devil as your father-in-law.”

Be careful who you marry, who your children choose to marry, who you sign contracts with, and consider carefully the values of those you permit to educate your children.

God commands parents to be responsible for the education of their children: (see Deut.6 and 11). There is no other legitimate option that honours God.

The Bible commands us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for we have been bought with a price.  We do not get a chance to re-wind the tape of life, and God will ultimately face each of us in judgment.

We must learn from Jehoshaphat, because as Solzhenitsyn said,

If we don’t know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices, and absurdities all over again.[3]

(To be continued)


[1]Adams, B., & Stein, J., “Who Owns the Children: Compulsory Education and the Dilemma of Ultimate Authority,” p.9. (Quoted in “God and Government,” De Mar, G., Vol.3, 2001, p.252.)

[2] Rushdoony, R. J.,“Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.446.

[3] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quoted in Grant, G., “The Third Time,” 1991, p.177.

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