Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned in safety to his house in Jerusalem. 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 and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord?” (II Chron.19:2)
One of the mistakes we in the Church have made in the modern era, is that we have tended to view the Bible’s teaching in an intensely personal context, without considering the broader implications beyond ourselves and the Church, to the nation.
How do we know there are “broader implications?” The Bible is an “all of life” document, because the God Who created us, is an “all of life” Person. No one can say with any legitimacy, “this area of my life is not important to God.”
Jehoshaphat in God’s eyes as Judah’s lawful king, represented Judah. Jehoshaphat had covenanted himself and Judah to an evil king and people who were in rebellion against God, saying “I am as you are, and my people as your people, and we will be with you in the battle” (II Chron.18:3b).
But this is something God had expressly forbidden:
Watch that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim –for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God- otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice… (Ex.34:12-15).
Let me make an application of this to our present day, beginning with some historical background:
Immediately after the Second World War, it was obvious to Australia’s political leaders that Great Britain could no longer be relied on to protect Australia in the event of invasion. The British Empire was essentially closing down, and Britain after two world wars, was broke. So our leaders decided to look around for a suitable ally, and they came up with the United States, who had already come to our aid in 1942-1945.
As a result, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. signed the ANZUS treaty in San Francisco in September 1951. The parties agreed to “consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific.”
Because of ANZUS, Australia has been willing to follow the U.S. into Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an extensive military relationship. We wanted to be perceived as a faithful ally, willing to do our bit for the sake of the alliance in case our turn came and we needed someone to do some heavy lifting on our behalf. As a result, the lives of many hundreds of Australian soldiers overseas have been lost since 1951, and we’re still losing them.
And what’s been achieved?
In 1966, the U.S. President was Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt emphatically declared that as far as he was concerned, it was “all the way with LBJ.” But this was not a foreign policy of independence. It is one of dependence, but worst of all, subservience. Since then successive Australian governments have not used Holt’s language, but the attitude has generally remained the same.
And now there’s another problem. Increasingly since WW II, the U.S. has used threatening behaviour towards other nations. Furthermore, it has interfered in the internal affairs of other nations which have not attacked the U.S. It has utilised bombings, murders and many other acts of violence, through such groups as the CIA, and others.
Can’t think of any examples?
a) The Me Lai massacre in 1968 of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. The officer responsible (William Calley), was court-martialled and found guilty of the murder of 109 Vietnamese civilians-mainly women, children and old people. What happened to Calley? When found guilty in a court martial, he was pardoned and released by the US President, Richard Nixon.
b) Between 1969-1973, the United States was not even at war with Cambodia, but on Nixon’s directions 600-800,000 Cambodian civilians were killed by indiscriminate U.S. bombing.
c) The deliberate destruction of water and sewerage infrastructure by the U.S. in Iraq, leading to the deaths of around half a million Iraqi children from untreated affluent and water carried diseases.
d) The 2007 helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad, shooting 18 peaceable, unarmed, innocent civilians in broad daylight using a .50 calibre machine-gun. (This can be witnessed on U-tube.) What was this? Not “collateral damage,” or “unintended consequences of war.” It was State sanctioned murder.
e) Drone attacks for years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing hundreds of innocent people on “suspicion.”
These instances raise a problem for Australians. Do we ignore the murderous behaviour of our ally, the U.S., saying “well, that’s the way they do things sometimes,” or do we say, “that’s awful and evil. We cannot be associated with that kind of behaviour. We won’t continue in this alliance.”
The Bible specifically commands that God’s people are not to make covenants with ungodly people. Why? Because God’s people are bound in covenant to God, through Jesus Christ, and He is a jealous God. He is jealous for the love, affections and the obedience of His people; He wants their hearts. There are many texts dealing with this, such as Deut.7:1-6; 12:1-4; 20:16-18, Num.33:50-56; Judges 2:1-4. Every time God’s people disobeyed him in this context in the Bible, God said the results would be disastrous. (Joshua 23:11-13 is a good example.)
Now this has suddenly gotten very serious, hasn’t it? That’s because God considers covenant to be a very serious issue for His people to contemplate, whether it’s for Jehoshaphat in 900 B.C., or for us today. The Australian Constitution’s Preamble mentions that we are “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God…”
Now some would say, “Now Andrew, this is getting a bit too radical for me.” But then, what would you prefer: taking inconvenient and radical steps of obedience to God Almighty, or have Him send an angry prophet to rebuke you for your disobedience, as happened to Jehoshaphat? Or worse, see your nation overrun by an evil nation, sent by God as a means of His judgment?
You may say, “I can’t see that happening,” but consider these statistics: the Australian Army has 30,000 soldiers, with 16,900 reservists, while the Chinese Army has 2.25 million soldiers. That’s a ratio of one Australian to forty-seven Chinese soldiers. I don’t find that to be a particularly reassuring statistic.
The Bible commands us, “do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial…” (II Cor.6:14-15a). George Washington in his farewell address to the Americans, was right in warning his nation of the potential danger of “entangling alliances.”
Why? Because alliances are like a rope around your neck; they can take you places you never wanted to go.
Does America take any notice of Washington anymore? Of course not. His wise and godly advice to his fellow Americans has been ignored now for a century.
The Christian capital of the West is rapidly disappearing. Unless it is replenished, the West has no future and has nothing to give the nations other than death.
Let’s learn from Jehoshaphat’s errors, with all the legitimate applications. If Australia is going to follow Jesus Christ in the future, we will have to think carefully about who we are allied to in future.
Our faithfulness to Jesus Christ means a lot of things, including how we think about the defence of our nation, and the influence we will bring to see change come about, in all the affairs of our nation.
Isn’t that what Christians are here for?