2 Chronicles 19:4
And Jehoshaphat dwelled at Jerusalem: and he went out again through the people from Beersheba to mount Ephraim…
Of the many things said in favour of Jehoshaphat, perhaps nothing is more highly commendatory than this, that "he went out again through the people... and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers." He could not have done anything worthier of himself, or more likely to result in permanent good to the people over whom he reigned.
I. THE ROYAL MISSION. Possibly, as Matthew Henry suggests, the tie which bound the people to Jehovah had been somewhat relaxed by their observance of the familiarity between their sovereign and the idolatrous court at Jezreel; if this were so, Jehoshaphat, after Jehu's rebuke (ver. 2), would feel constrained to do everything in his power to strengthen the attachment of his subjects to the living God. But whatever may have prompted him, he did well to
(1) interest himself personally in this vital subject;
(2) to take vigorous practical measures to effect his purpose; and
(3) to go through his self-appointed task with the energy and the thoroughness which command success. He "brought back," etc. It was a royal mission that reflected great honour on the later years of his reign.
II. THE HEAVENLY MISSION of which it may be said to be a hint. Jesus Christ "came to seek and to save that which was lost" He saw mankind separated by a sad spiritual distance from the heavenly Father, from the living God; he laid upon himself the holy and heavenly task of "bringing him back unto the Lord." For this noblest, Divinest purpose he
(1) stooped to creaturedom, to our poor humanity, to poverty, to utmost humiliation;
(2) "endured amazing loss," pain, sorrow, spiritual agony;
(3) died upon the cross. By so doing he
(a) made the way open for man's return;
(b) provided the spiritual force which is lifting a degraded nature to heights of holiness and wisdom.
In this heavenly mission is he now engaged, bringing back to God the race that has left his side and lost his likeness and forfeited his favour.
III. A MISSION WORTHY OF ALL IMITATION. This deliberate action of leading men back to God was royal; it is heavenly, Divine; it may be common to every Christian man.
1. Around us are those who have left the God of their fathers. It may be that they are of those who have been long estranged and have determinately refused to hear his fatherly invitation to return; or it may be that they have sought and found reconciliation with him and have wandered into half-hearted service, or into indifference, or into some positive transgression.
2. These are within our knowledge and our reach. They may be beneath the roof under which we dwell, or worshippers in the sanctuary where we bend the knee in prayer, or nominal workers in the field where we are labouring; or they may be where we shall find them if we seek them, as Jehoshaphat found the objects of his royal care as he "went out through the people from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim." But they are where we can find them, and can lay the kind, arresting hand of holy love upon them.
3. To such we can render an inestimable service. We can bring to bear upon them a gracious, winning influence. We can make an earnest, brotherly appeal to them. We can urge them to return to the Lord God of their fathers on every ground; on the ground
(1) that he, their Father and their Friend, is grieved with their obduracy or their defection, and is longing for their return;
(2) that they are remaining where their life is a long disobedience, a continued sin and wrong;
(3) that their return will issue in a peace and a joy, in a spiritual blessedness, the depth and duration of which they cannot measure or imagine;
(4) that if they do thus return they will give boundless satisfaction to the fathers whose God they have forsaken or neglected, to all those human friends and kindred whose love is true and deep, who will welcome them with fullest joy to the fold of Christ, to the kingdom of heaven. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.