The Danger of Ungodly Alliances
Today’s reading: II Chronicles 17-19; John 15
Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned in safety to his house in Jerusalem. 2 But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord. II Chronicles 19:1-2
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-19
There are limits to cooperation with unbelievers, those who hate God.
Jehoshaphat had a great reign going, until he went astray making a marriage alliance with Ahab, king of Israel. Ahab was described as wicked and one who hated the Lord. Why did the king who had taken such care to seek the Lord and walk in His commandments (II Chronicles 17:4) abruptly throw in his lot with the rebellious king Ahab? Maybe he hoped to reunify the nation. Maybe he hoped to move Israel back to faithfulness to God. Neither of those goals was bad in itself. But in allying with Ahab, Jehoshaphat became a participant in that king’s disobedience. He ignored the wise counsel of Micaiah, who stood up to the 400 lying prophets. He entered a battle that God had not sanctioned. He nearly lost his life and was rebuked for his foolishness.
Jesus warned His disciples to expect hatred from the world. They had been chosen out of the world and would receive the same treatment that their master had received, for “a servant is not greater than his master” (vs. 20). One who abides in Christ will be fruitful but will also be persecuted.
How does Jesus define the “world” here? It doesn’t always mean the same thing, so we need to pay attention to context. God loved the “world” (John 3:16), but the “world” hated Jesus. Clearly, “world” has different meanings here. We know the people of the world by their hatred of Jesus and of His disciples. We know them by their allegiance to their father the devil (John 8:44). They may be “religious” people, but they reject the Son of God. They are not necessarily the worst sinners in town or the outcasts as John relates incidents in which the outcasts and notorious sinners were the ones who loved Jesus and received His word (John 4, 8, 9).
When it comes to seeking to make common cause with those who hate God, we need to learn the lesson of Jehoshaphat and flee. Abide in Christ, but don’t be surprised if you get opposition, rejection, and, yes, hatred.