Viewpoints: God’s – Man’s
* This teaching is an Advanced study from The Word’s Way published by The American Christian Press in 1971.
In our earthly life all of us are aware that viewpoints on a given situation vary with each observer. The eye of each beholder sees and then interprets an event according to values, preconceived ideas and previous experiences. Thus each person's point of view differs at least somewhat from another person's point of view. The Bible shows us that this is not only true of humans. God's viewpoint, however, is omniscient – having total knowledge, knowing everything. And in the two chapters which follow, "Viewpoints: God's - Man's" and "Of Human Sacrifice," we will study how man interprets a situation and then how God sees the same situation. The lives of King Saul and King Jehoshaphat are researched in this teaching and the sacrifice of Isaac and Abraham will be covered in the second teaching. When we understand "Points of View," our minds are enlightened and comforted. These teachings are great for the renewed mind and I am sure that mostly all of this information will be new to you and rather exhilarating. Your renewed mind is your key to power. Let’s begin the teaching.
In studying the books of I and II Samuel, I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles, one occasionally finds what seems to be contradictory accounts of the same man or incident. Careful research of these comparable records soon discloses a shift of viewpoint from one account to its counterpart in another Old Testament book. The books of Samuel and Kings are written from a human viewpoint, man's point of view. The books of Chronicles, on the other hand, are written from God's point of view, from the vantage point of spiritual power. Man's point of view will simplify life to apparent, overt actions; but God, understanding the spiritual forces at work in the world, goes beneath the surface and points out the spiritual aspects which bring about man's destiny.
The accounts of two kings, Saul and Jehoshaphat, are clear examples of the changes of viewpoint from man's analysis to God's over-all view. Records of the death of Saul are found in I Samuel 31, from man's viewpoint, and in I Chronicles 10, from God's viewpoint.
At the end of his life, Saul is once more battling the Philistines.
Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons.
And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together. -- I Samuel 31: 1-6
The record in Samuel makes Saul's death seem like an act of stress brought on by the defeat of battle. Chronicles shows the spiritual forces which brought on Saul's wretched end.
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it;
And inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse. -- I Chronicles 10: 13, 14
From the record in Samuel we learned that the Philistines shot Saul with an arrow, and then Saul impaled himself on his own sword. According to Chronicles, the Lord slew him. How does one harmonize these apparent discrepancies?
Remember, the record in Samuel is from man's point of view; God looked beyond the arrow and the sword. From God's point of view, Saul died because of his transgressions which included his visit to the sensitive to gain information.
Saul disobeyed God's law, and because of his own disobedience killed himself or was killed. God didn't literally take Saul's life. I Chronicles 10: 14 doesn't mean that. There is a spiritual law founded by God. Picture the law as a cement wall. When a person runs into it, he hurts himself. Saul knew that God's number one law said man should not pay tribute to idols or other gods: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Later on Jesus Christ set forth the commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength and with all thy mind" (Luke 10: 27). God will bear many acts of unrighteousness from His people, but He will not tolerate the worshipping of other gods.
Saul knew God's commandment, but nevertheless he willfully broke it. Saul, disobeying the true God, began playing with spiritualistic power by having the woman of Endor trying to conjure up the dead Samuel. By this act, Saul rushed head-first against the immovable wall of the law, and thus brought destruction to himself. From the senses' vantage point, Saul died because of battle wounds and self-inflicted impaling. From the spiritual point of view Saul died because he disobeyed the most important law of God.
Another example of the two viewpoints, human and spiritual, is found in the account of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, in I Kings 22 and II Chronicles 20. Instead of studying just the varied viewpoints of one event in Jehoshaphat's life, let us look at the background leading up to this event. The biography of Jehoshaphat is a record of a frail, though sometimes great, human being, and an example of God's indulgence and faithfulness to His own.
And Jehoshaphat his [Asa's] son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel. -- II Chronicles 17: 1
Jehoshaphat strengthened himself against Israel, which nation at that time was very wicked and ungodly. Jeroboam of Israel had been a wicked king setting up many high places (temples on hills) to worship pagan gods. And Ahab, Jeroboam's son, continued his father's idolatrous practices when he succeeded his father to the throne of Israel. Jeroboam suffered the loss of his captured cities of refuge at the hand of the king of Judah, Abijah. Abijah's son, Asa, followed in the footsteps of his father and kept the people of Judah from worshipping pagan gods. And Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, "strengthened himself against Israel," meaning that Jehoshaphat continued the practice of Abijah, his grandfather and Asa, his father, and further ordered all idolatry, including all high places in the land, to be destroyed.
In contrast to Jehoshaphat, King Ahab of Israel, following the pattern of his father Jeroboam, continued constructing many high places for pagan worship with all kinds of idols therein.
The king of Israel and the king of Judah were spiritual opposites, and it temporarily appeared that they were going to remain very distant from each other. Not only did Jehoshaphat strengthen himself against Israel, but he also "placed forces in the fenced cities of Judah," the cities of refuge which had been captured from the wicked father of Ahab. Jehoshaphat did not want Ahab to recapture the fenced cities of Judah which were designed to harbor people who accidentally killed or injured a person. God was pleased with the actions of Jehoshaphat, and thus God established an alliance with Jehoshaphat. An alliance with God is always an asset.
And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.
And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah. – II Chronicles 17: 3–6
And they [the priests] taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people. [Jehoshaphat had the Word of God taught to the people of Judah]
And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats.
And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store. -- II Chronicles 17: 9-12
Jehoshaphat not only waxed great, he waxed great exceedingly. Why? Because of God's alliance with him.
Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour In abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab. -- II Chronicles 18: 1
Jehoshaphat, after strengthening himself against Israel, had great success in wealth and prestige. However, as time went on, Jehoshaphat developed a pride in his success which gave him a false sense of security and a feeling of superiority. This change in Jehoshaphat's life rerouted his future. Jehoshaphat overestimated his own ability, and instead of keeping his alliance singularly with God, he aligned himself with the idolatrous king of Israel, Ahab, against whom he had formerly set up a defense. The alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab came in the form of an interfamily marriage. Jehoshaphat had his oldest son, Jehoram, marry Ahab's daughter.
When Jehoshaphat joined affinity with Ahab, did the Lord forsake Jehoshaphat? No. Jehoshaphat forsook the Lord. With the marriage of Jehoshaphat's son to Ahab's daughter, Jehoshaphat was forced by protocol to accept Ahab's hospitality.
Before the inter-family marriage took place, Ahab could never have gotten Jehoshaphat to go to the capital city of Israel. But once the marriage occurred, Jehoshaphat, the father-in-law, could hardly refuse the overtures of Ahab.
And after certain years he [Jehoshaphat] went down to Ahab to Samaria [capital of Israel]. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead. -- II Chronicles 18: 2
Ramoth-gilead was a city of refuge which originally belonged to Israel but which the Syrians had captured.
And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go [to fight] with me to Ramoth-gilead? And he [Jehoshaphat] answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.
And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to day. -- II Chronicles 18: 3, 4
Although Jehoshaphat had an alliance with Ahab, still within himself he sensed that there was something wrong in trying to recapture Ramoth-gilead. Even though Ahab had made up his mind to recapture Ramoth-gilead and Jehoshaphat had given his word that he would go with Ahab, Jehoshaphat knew that all was not right. So before marching off to battle, Jehoshaphat requested that Ahab ask the Lord what He thought of their plan. This sounds a little bit like all of us. We decide what we want to do, and then we ask God for His stamp of approval.
Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they [the four hundred prophets] said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand.
But Jehoshaphat said [to Ahab] Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides [these four hundred], that we might inquire of him? -- II Chronicles 18: 5, 6
Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, "Is there possibly another prophet of the Lord that we could ask about our plans? I'm still not satisfied that we're doing the right thing." Four hundred so-called prophets had already told Ahab and Jehoshaphat that their plan was approved, but Jehoshaphat wanted to hold out for the confirmation from one more. That is believing – walking by revelation.
II Chronicles 18: 7-26
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied [anything] good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah the son of Imla.
And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat either of them on his throne, clothed in their robes, and they sat in a void place at the entering in of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
And Zedekiah [one of the four hundred] the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith the Lord, With these thou shalt push Syria until they be consumed.
And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets [the four hundred who have already spoken] declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and [for once in your life] speak thou good.
And Micaiah said, As he Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.
And when he [Micaiah] was come to the king, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he [Micaiah] said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.
And the king [Jehoshaphat] said to him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the Lord?
Then he [Micaiah] said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?
Again he [Micaiah] said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.
And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?
And he [the spirit] said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets [all four hundred]. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee.
Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon his cheek,[To touch a man on the cheek is to disgrace him. When Jesus was smote on the cheek before being brought out for His crucifixion, Jesus was terribly disgraced.], and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou [Zedekiah] shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;
And say, Thus saith the king [Ahab] Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace. – II Chronicles 18: 7 - 26
What a dilemma for Jehoshaphat! After his alliance with Ahah, he was asked by Ahab to go up to Ramoth-gilead and fight the Syrians. Jehoshaphat sensed that something was amiss, even after the favorable prophecies of the four hundred prophets. Jehoshaphat recognized Micaiah as the true prophet of God. He knew that the other four hundred were false prophets, counterfeits, crystal ball gazers, sensitives and those in E.S.P. Having committed himself to Ahab, Jehoshaphat must have been deeply hurt when Ahab had the true prophet imprisoned and fed bread and water of affliction.
And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not the Lord spoken by me. And he [Micaiah] said, Hearken, all ye people.
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. II Chronicles 18: 27, 28
Ahab bullheadedly proceeded with his plans - after all, the odds were four hundred to one.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou [Jehoshaphat] on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle. – II Chronicles 18: 29
This action is described from God's point of view. Note what is happening in the camp of the Syrians from this omniscient vantage point.
Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, save only with the king of Israel.
And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him. * -- II Chronicles 18: 30, 31
Observe the usage of Lord and God in verse 31, " ... the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him." The Hebrew word for "Lord" is Jehovah, while "God" is the word Elohim. Jehovah helped Jehoshaphat, while Elohim moved the Syrians to depart.
Jehovah was the covenant God. Jehovah had a covenant with Jehoshaphat so that when Jehoshaphat cried to him, Jehovah helped. But it was God as the creator, Elohim, who moved the Syrians to depart from Jehoshaphat. Exactly what Elohim did to the Syrians is unknown.
· The Syrians knew only that they were fighting King Ahab and his forces. So naturally, when they saw Jehoshaphat in his royal garb, they thought they had spotted their prey.
For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him.
And a certain man [a Syrian sharp-shooter] drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he [Ahab] said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
And the battle increased that day: howbeit the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died. -- II Chronicles 18: 32 - 34
One prophet had said that Ahab would die while four hundred said that he would be victorious. Micaiah proved to be the true prophet because his prophecy came to pass. *
· Deuteronomy 18: 22: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
After the loss in battle at Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat tried to collect himself. He had never known the taste of defeat until he aligned himself with Ahab and ignored the prophecy of Micaiah.
And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer [the prophet] went out to meet him [Jehoshaphat], and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. -- II Chronicles 19: 1, 2
Many Christians are constantly helping the ungodly who hate the true God. What a message of reproof not only to Jehoshaphat but to all who meddle in the affairs of the ungodly. God overlooks many things in the life of man, but idolatry, paganism, spiritualism, pendant usage and E.S.P. are not overlooked nor forgotten. Jehoshaphat was spared because he had destroyed the groves of Judah where idolatry had been practiced.
After his defeat at Ramoth-gilead, Jehoshaphat set about once more to put his house in order.
And Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers. – II Chronicles 19: 4
So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. -- II Chronicles 20: 30
But unfortunately for Jehoshaphat, all did not remain restful because Jehoshaphat had not yet learned his lesson in making bad alliances. Later II Chronicles 20 records that Jehoshaphat made another alliance - this time a commercial pact.
And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly. [Israel's new king after the death of Ahab was Ahaziah]
And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion-geber.
Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish. -- II Chronicles 20: 35 - 37
Jehoshaphat anticipated the wealth and comfort to be derived from trade with Tarshish, a very rich city. But from God's point of view, the plan was not fit because of Jehoshaphat's alliance with the ungodly Ahaziah, and therefore Jehoshaphat did not succeed. A record of man's point of view of this commercial fiasco is found in I Kings.
Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. -- I Kings 22: 48
II Chronicles states that "because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works," whereas I Kings attributes the event to natural causes, "for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. "
Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshapat would not. -- I Kings 22: 49
After the first ships were destroyed, the men built more ships to go again. Wicked Ahaziah still tried to cajole Jehoshaphat with his commercial plans. Verse 49 ends saying, " ... But Jehoshaphat would not."
Jehoshaphat finally had learned his lesson. At a price he learned that an alliance with the ungodly in marriage didn't work; He then learned that an alliance with the ungodly in military exploit didn't work; and lastly, he learned that an alliance with the ungodly in commercial enterprise didn't work.
From man's point of view, it appeared that Jehoshaphat's prosperity and his later defeats came by natural causes. But from God's point of view, success or the lack of it varied directly with Jehoshaphat's obedience to God. When Jehoshaphat accommodated the ungodly, defeat ensued. When he aligned himself with God, prosperity abounded.
Jehoshaphat never worshipped any other god, so his end was not a bloody one. King Saul, however, did break the first commandment in seeking aid from other gods, and in doing so he ran head-first against the law of God and thereby suffered an inglorious death. From man's viewpoint appearances would say that Saul died of a sword sticking through his body; but from God's viewpoint, the spiritual view, Saul died because of disobedience to God.
Man's point of view is always limited to appearances and a finite overview. God's point of view is comprehensive. The two accounts of Saul in I Samuel and I Chronicles and of Jehoshaphat in II Kings and II Chronicles are not contradictory; they simply contrast the two points of view - God's and man's.