“And Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand surely if it were not that I regard the presence of Jehosphaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you.”‘  2 Kings 3:14

Three kings, King of Israel, King of Judah and King of Edom are contemplating war.  A country that had once been a peaceful neighbor, Moab, was now a rebellious threat.  The King of Israel calls upon his two neighboring kings and their troops to help.  However, there are a couple of problems.  First, they have to make their way to Moab but can not agree on the correct route.  In times past, the kings would call upon a holy man, a prophet of God to give them guidance.  Now comes the next problem.  You see the King of Israel and the King of Edom are kings who have done evil in the sight of the Lord.  They are worshiping and allowing their kingdoms to worship other gods and allowing a type of worship to God that God has warned them against.  It is only the King of Judah Jehosphaphat, who is living and worshiping as God has commanded and is leading Judah to follow God’s commandments.

It is Johosphaphat who recommends that they seek out a prophet of God Almighty to give them guidance, before they go into battle. Initially, Elisha the prophet wants nothing to do with them.  He scornfully suggests that the Kings of Israel and of Edom go seek out the prophets of their false gods that they have been worshipping.  But Elisha knows that Jehosphaphat is a wise king and he does not want to see him come to any harm.  So because Jehosphaphat is in the company of the other two, Elisha decides to give them guidance from God.  The grace given them by God Almighty was because the two evil kings had at least been wise enough to associate with a faithful, righteous king.  In the fight against Moab, all three kings are victorious and utterly destroy the Moabites.   One would hope that after the scolding of the prophet and seeing God’s Grace and Mercy in the defeat of the Moabites first hand, Jehoram, King of Israel would have a change in heart and start following the Lord God.  Such was not the case and he is killed in battle later as he was still leading Israel astray.

We hear the phrase; guilt by association, to describe that we must be very careful concerning the people we associate with.  That is to say if we hang out with people doing evil things, then we will be thought of to be equally as evil.  Yet in the story above we see a different almost opposite axiom at play.  The King of Judah was associating with to evil kings, yet he was able to withstand their evil and stay true to God.  It was through his, the King of Judah’s faith, that the three sought out God, through the prophet Elisha in the first place.  Secondly, the only reason that Elisha would even speak to them was because the King of Judah was in their presence.  So grace was allowed to come to the two evil kings because they were in association with the one righteous king.

Thus for us today, we must be careful how we decide to associate and how we judge others who associate with those we would deem evil.  For how is it that evil might see the Wisdom, Might and Power of God or know they are experiencing the Mercy, Forgiveness and/or Love of God, if one called by God is not willing to reveal it to them?  I was called by God to befriend a person who had committed an evil, heinous act.  An act of which I could never condone.  As time went on, all abandoned this person, including family, friends and even church.  Not through my strength, but through the urging of God was I able to stay friends with the person while despising the act.  It was through that association that God was able to provide His Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness and Love to this person as well as teaching me much about the true nature of a Merciful, Loving, Forgiving God.  However, you see, I wanted to run away on many occasions, plus there were many who felt me wrong for continuing an association with this person.  Had I listened to myself or others, I would have missed an overwhelming powerful lesson in my life.

So dear Sisters and Brothers, we must prayerfully consider what God is calling us to do and then heed His answer.  If it is to flee, then we must make haste to do so, no matter how much the world might be telling us to stay.  But if God Almighty is calling us to be His Hands and His Feet to show His Love and Mercy through our association with one the world and/or even our faith friends tell us to abandon, we must ask for the strength to persevere in God’s calling and faithfully continue in that association.  Do understand this though, God will never ask or expect us to participate in the evil of a person or group; we must resist that temptation.  But we might find as Joseph associated with the heathen Pharaoh and by the Grace of God, saved the people of Israel from a devastating famine, that God may pour out His Grace on our association and by His Mercy, help to redeem one who was once lost.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that You have a plan and in that plan You have put people into our lives for a reason.  May it be that we strive to shine Your Light to all that You have put into our lives.  May it be that You will use us to bring Your Grace into others lives that they and we may see the way You bless those who call upon Your Name.  We pray this in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen