Unfortunately, the covenant of salt described in chapter 13 is ignored by Asa in the latter years of his life. For fear of Baasha, king of Israel (and in spite of the various victories won by Asa against the Ethiopians and the people who did not agree with the oath to love the LORD with all their heart), he sacrificed the silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the LORD and the king’s house (v.2) to re-affirm the heretical covenant (v.3) with Ben-hadad king of Syria. Instead of remembering the covenant of salt, the oath and covenant that he re-affirmed with the LORD with Azariah’s help, he would rather break Baasha’s sinful covenant with Ben-hadad with another Christless covenant. As Hanani said to Asa – “Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen?” – and Asa’s victories still came from the LORD. Yet, Asa forgot the steadfast love of the LORD; he lost his first love (v.11-14), just as we do when we face current troubles and forget how He has not ceased to faithfully rescue us in our walks with Him.
However, the son of Asa, Jehoshaphat, walked with the LORD as in the earlier ways of David (v.3). Unlike the spontaneous reforms and oaths of Asa, Jehoshaphat laid the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of the Israelites as led by the Levites (v.8), teaching throughout Judah the book of the Law of the LORD and to Whom the law points towards (v.9-10). In their understanding of the gospel witnessed in the Mosaic law, they chose not to rebel against their lord Jehoshaphat, fully understanding the true significance of the covenant between the LORD and the house of David. Unsurprisingly, the evangelistic and missional effect of clinging closely to Jesus is truly felt once the law has been intentionally preached throughout Israel, that gospel peace is once again attained when the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah (v.10).
Even in Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab, one of the first pictures of unity between Israel and Judah since the days of Solomon, Jehoshaphat does not cease to remind Ahab the importance of inquiring first for the word of the LORD (v.4). Unlike the four hundred “prophets” which Ahab surrounded himself with (v.9-11), Jehoshaphat knew that the true word of the LORD could only come from a true prophet (v.6) – that being Micaiah the son of Imlah who does not fear the king of Israel and therefore does not speak words of empty flattery (v.7, 13, 17). The clear irony which the narrator is trying to portray is the juxtaposition of the image of Ahab and Jehoshaphat sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes (v.9) surrounded by ridiculous prophets; and that of the glorious LORD sitting on his throne (v.18) and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left, clarifying that one of the LORD’s spirit has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all of Ahab’s prophets (v.21-22) to entice Ahab and lead him to disaster. Yet, is this picture not all too familiar of that of the Sanhedrin’s inquisition of our LORD Jesus Christ? The false teachers, Pharisees and Sadducees weighing the substance of Christ and instead of taking His word seriously would rather question His authenticity and His Spirit? Thus Ahab’s false religion and prophets go to the grave with him (v.28-34) just as the modern religion of Judaism is but a remnant and not even more than a shadow of the Messianic Judaism of the Old Testament as preached by Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat’s naked and childlike cry (v.13) is enough to warrant the LORD’s protection; Ahab’s thick clothing of a false priesthood and disguise are but useless before the the LORD’s throne.