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The Sunken Ships of Jehoshaphat (Part 1 of 2)

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“Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber.” (1 Kings 22:48)

Have you ever had your heart set on something big, something promising, something that potentially could bless you in a great way – only to see it fail, and end up not happening at all?

Or, have you ever made careful plans and detailed arrangements so that, if everything had happened as it ought, you would be set for life – only to see something unexpected occur that sent everything else in a totally different direction; leaving you scratching your head and holding the bag; looking and feeling like a fool?

sunken shipsIf not, then don’t bother reading the rest of this, ‘cause it won’t make any sense to you. But if so, then welcome to the Club! The “Sunken Ships of Jehoshaphat” Club. Oh, I realize you didn’t join on purpose, but the Lord thought you might like to be a member, so He signed you up Himself.

See, there are many things we dream and scheme in our seemingly never ending quest for security and significance. Good and noble dreams, and honorable things that will surely bring glory to God – but, sometimes the Lord is benevolently disposed to thwart even our best efforts. Why? Because He has some better thing in mind. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,“ the LORD says, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer.29:11).

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, experienced just such a “blessing” – the sinking of his gold seeking ships.

Jehoshaphat had made a fleet of ships to sail to the land of Ophir for gold. He got the idea from one of his royal predecessors; none other than King Solomon himself. Years earlier Solomon had built ships at the port of Ezion-Geber, and manned the vessels with a crew of seaworthy sailors. They embarked to the land of Ophir, and brought back sixteen tons of gold! (see 1 Kings 9:26-28). The trip was so successful, they did it several times. And each time the ships returned not only with gold, but also loads of silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. And the Bible tells us that “King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (1 Kg.10:22-23).

We can certainly understand why Jehoshaphat would want to build himself some ships once he became king. And build them he did; an entire fleet! But, the Lord sank his ships. What’s up with that? I’m sure Jehoshaphat wondered something similar, and the Lord gave him a direct and unambiguous answer.

Tomorrow I will tell you what the Lord said to Jehoshaphat…and perhaps there may be a lesson for us to learn from his story.

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