As teachers, there's a lot we can learn from King Jehoshaphat's teachers. Let's value the assignment we've been given by our king and be the book of God's law that the children need.
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Jehoshaphat was not one of the better known Kings of Israel. But he's worth paying attention to. When reading the books of Chronicles in the Bible, and a new king rises to power, one usually gets a quick idea of whether this is going to be a successful or catastrophic reign. Either he follows in the "evil way of x, y, and z", or he follows God, for instance by "walking in the earlier ways of his father David". Jehoshaphat was in the latter category - a good king. In 2 Chronicles 17:3-10 we read:
"The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honour. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. In the third year of his reign he sent his officials ... to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites ... and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people. The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat."
There's a king who decides to put his faith in God rather than man-made things.
There are teachers/priests who follow their leader's command to teach God's law to people.
And as a result, good things happen.
Fast-forward to the future - there are lots of things we can learn from this, but let's focus on the teachers and draw some comparisons.
We have a king who put all his faith in God rather than man-made things for us:
from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:5)
A lot of you are teachers (in terms of your profession) and all of us are priests:
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! (Revelations 1:5b-6)
So, we're all priests, sent out by the king to teach. But how can that work? Clearly, most teachers can't just start teaching the book of the law of God classes in their schools!
"I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds" (Hebrews 10:16)
We have the tremendous privilege of carrying the presence of God within us. We are his temple. His laws are inscribed in our hearts and written on our minds.
For a lot of your pupils, you are the only Bible they'll read in a long time. You're a walking book of the law. Walk in the calling God has given us as his priests and his teachers.
Robin Staple is The Stapleford Centre's coordinator. He is passionate about God, theology and coffee - and especially about how the Christian vision for holistic and wholesome education can offer a real contribution to the common good of society.
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