Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Seventeen)

Did Jehoshaphat Remove the High Places?
            Jehoshaphat’s “heart,” 2 Chronicles 17:6 (NWT) says: “became bold in the ways of Jehovah and he even removed the high places and the sacred poles from Judah.”  However, 1 Kings 22:43 (NWT) informs us that “the high places were not removed, and the people were still sacrificing and making sacrificial smoke on the high places.” Similarly, 2 Chronicles 20:33 (NWT) states: “[T]he high places were not removed, and the people had not yet prepared their heart for the God of their forefathers.” How can this be explained?
Jehoshaphat’s situation is explainable with the Biblical evidence we have. Concerning that evidence, we see that the accounts of Jehoshaphat measure about three thousand words in 2 Chronicles and about three hundred in 1 Kings. Therefore, we see that 1 Kings would be prone to give us a summary of his reign, the net result being noted, but the happenings and conditions in the between time would be ignored. Further, what it states agrees with what 2 Chronicles 20:33 states, so 1 Kings offers nothing new to our discussion. The question is: what does 2 Chronicles 20:33 mean?
            We see that Jehoshaphat did remove high places. But we need not assume that all were removed forever. Certainly, if the people he ruled over bore any resemblance to the historic pattern of Israel and Judah (they did), they were only all to ready to adopt pagan worship. In 2 Chronicles, we note the contrast offered between the beginning of Jehoshaphat’s account, his bold heart, and the end of his account, the lack of motivation on the people’s part. No ruler under those circumstances could effect a permanent uprooting of the high places. They were bound to come back after earlier being removed. There is no need to cite this as a contradiction.
All we are told is that he removed the high places; but we are nowhere told that this campaign lasted his entire reign. It was after this campaign that they came back. Since these later high places did not exist during the removal, can we suppose that 2 Chronicles 17:6 discusses their removal? No. Therefore, the two scriptures that say ‘they did not depart from the land’ make more sense. They describe the net result of his religious reforms, the people did not prepare themselves to seek Jehovah, so the high places were still around. In like manner, we can say that Hitler was bold and captured Poland and yet he did not control Poland by the end of the war, and not be contradicting ourselves.
Did Jehoshaphat Accept Ahaziah’s Assistance?
            1 Kings 22:49 (NWT) states: “Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat: “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat did not consent.” However, 2 Chronicles 20:35,36 (NWT) seemingly contradicts that, saying: “King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who acted wickedly. So he made him his partner in making ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Eziongeber.”
            However, we do not rush into such bold claims. The context will reveal that these accounts mesh perfectly. 1 Kings 22:48,49 reports that Jehoshaphat made ships that ended up being wrecked. Then, Ahaziah offers to have his servants accompany Jehoshaphat’s servants. Jehoshaphat refuses that particular offer of assistance. Parallel to that, 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 reports that Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahaziah. Then, they become partners in making ships. Eliezer, then, prophecies against them and they are thus wrecked.
            Therefore, we see that Ahaziah made two offers of assistance. The first was to make ships, which was accepted. Both accounts then agree that the ships made by the two were wrecked, but were not a total loss, for the king of Israel offers to have his servants go in the (new and/or repaired) ships with Jehoshaphat’s. However, taking heed of the prophecy of Eliezer, Jehoshaphat refuses that second offer. He knows that they were sunk, not because his servants were not skilled enough to steer them, but due to the wickedness of Ahaziah. The offer accepted differed from the one refused, both in content and time, a fact noted when both harmonious accounts are read in full.

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