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Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, got the same message from the Lord, recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 18, after his alliance with Ahab, king of Israel. The king of Judah narrowly escaped with his life after that experience—Ahab wasn’t so fortunate. After his return to Jerusalem, this message was waiting for Judah's leader, delivered by a seer, “Should you help the wicked and love [make alliances with] those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of God is upon you” (2 Chronicles 19:2).
The alliance with Ahab to go into battle against the king of Aram could have been avoided more easily if Jehoshaphat had not already been connected to Ahab through another badly thought out decision. 2 Chronicles 18:1 tells us: “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honour, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.”
We’d like to say that when we marry we don’t marry the family our spouse comes from. This was not the case here. A political alliance cemented by marriage meant that both parties had to come to each others' aid in time of war. When the king of Judah joined himself in marriage to Ahab’s family he entered an unholy partnership.
Though most of us don’t make alliances for political reasons, the warning from the story of Jehoshaphat and from the writings of Paul still applies to the partnerships we DO make. Despite the warnings of Scripture (and there are others), these “unequal yokes,” as the King James Version calls them, are all too common today, particularly when it comes to relationships and marriages between believers and those who don’t believe.
Believers who enter into these alliances think that they can be of positive spiritual influence on their unbelieving partner. And, by the grace of God, that sometimes happens. But more often than not heartache, and even disaster, is the norm. However, there is an even more serious aspect to this: Such a relationship does not delight in the blessing of God. In the case of the king of Judah the phrase “wrath of God” was used to describe the Lord's reaction.
Historically, God’s people made alliances with those who were not following God because of fear. They were afraid God couldn’t supply their need—whatever that need was at the moment—so they went looking for help in other places. This tendency would eventually bring God’s judgment down on both Judah and Israel.
Paul’s message is “Don’t do it!” To make an unholy alliance of any kind is as good as telling God He can’t be trusted to meet our needs. It’s a slap in the face. It’s a betrayal. It’s as offensive to God now as it was in Jehoshaphat’s day. God promises to live with us, walk among us, receive us, and be the perfect Father to us (vs. 18); One who provides all that we need. Paul’s final words on the subject here are these: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
When we honour God, He honours us.