Go for the Gold

Ship in dock

This big ship was in dry dock on the Gulf of Mexico

The Biblical account of the ancient King Jehoshaphat is fascinating. He came to the throne of Judah when he was 35 years old. “And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the site of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:22, NKJ). Asa had been a good and God-fearing man. Jehoshaphat was one of the best kings in Judah’s history. He initiated a system of religious instruction for the people. He also commanded the judges in the land to be just and honest.

Desiring to return the people to the prosperity and splendor they had experienced under Solomon, Jehoshaphat launched an incredible plan. He dreamed of going to Ophir for gold. Ophir was a famous gold-producing region in what is now Yemen. It was also rich in silver and ivory. Jehoshaphat was more than an idle dreamer. He went to work to fulfill his dream. He set out to build a great fleet of  ‘Tarshish’ class ships. These remarkable ships were built with such strength that no wave or storm could break the broad beams and sturdy timbers. They were constructed to carry heavy loads of gold and silver. These watertight and storm-proof vessels were meant to sail to the ends of the earth to bring home the gold. The ships were built in Ezion-Geber, a shipbuilding port constructed by Phoenician engineers in Solomon’s day.

But, as recorded in 1 Kings, tragedy struck. “Jehoshaphat made merchant ships (or ships of Tarshish) to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-Geber” (1 Kings 22:48, NKJ). At first glance, one might assume that a great storm or hurricane dashed the ships against rocks and sent them to a watery grave. A deeper look reveals something far different.

It was not a hurricane or storm, but the hand of the Lord that sent the ships to the bottom. Through the words of a prophet we learn that, “The Lord has destroyed your (Jehoshaphat’s) works”. The scripture further explains, “Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish” (2 Chronicles 20:37, NKJ). 

A careful examination of the Biblical account reveals two major reasons – two things that will sink plans and dreams:

Divided loyalties: As mentioned earlier, Jehoshaphat did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:32). But, verse 33 focuses on a major problem: “Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not directed their hearts to the God of their fathers.” The Message adds interesting insight in its paraphrase of this verse: “But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines; people continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous god shops.” Jehoshaphat allowed abundant evidence of the Canaanite way of life to co-exist with true worship. Jesus declares in Matthew 6:24: “You cannot serve two masters (Gods).”  James 4:8 implores us to, “Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded.”  James 1:8 points out, “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Peaceful co-existence with sin is not possible.

Inappropriate friendships: Ill-conceived friendships shatter dreams. The words of 2 Chronicles 20:3 (NKJ ) declares this principle: “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah (who acted very wickedly), the Lord has destroyed your works. Then the ships were wrecked, so they were not able to go to Tarshish.” Paul warns believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV), “Do not be misled; Bad company corrupts good character.” James emphasizes another dimension to Biblical teaching about friendship: “Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” ( James 4:4). 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5&6)

~ Brother Roy

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