Jehoshaphat arranged a marriage between his oldest son and heir to the throne of Judah, Jehoram, and Ahab’s daughter.
Instead of emulating the godly example of his father and grandfather, Jehoram takes a lesson from his father-in-law and begins his reign by slaughtering all his brothers, except the youngest who escapes the sword.
Jehoram went on to lead Judah into such apostasy and idolatry that when he died, his epitaph was, “He passed away, to no one’s regret.” They didn’t even bother to have a funeral for him.
Arranged marriages for political alliance are no longer a thing. And all God’s daughters said AMEN!
But how often do we enter into binding agreements with people without considering their character? Whether it is choosing a partner in marriage or in a business venture or as an employer, we are admonished in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
The way my grandmother used to put it, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Our pastor has said, “Look at your five closest friends—that is who you will be in five years.”
We can easily take from this the notion that we should shun unbelievers. But if others had done so, we would never have come to Christ.
Jesus withstood sharp criticism for breaking bread with sinners. Of course, those who were critical failed to understand we are all imperfect, flawed people. This isn’t about surrounding yourself with perfect people, especially because we’ve seen that even those with a stellar reputation can have some pretty dirty laundry buried in the backyard. But it is a lesson in recognizing people whose values and purpose don’t align with yours, and not entering into agreements that would put those differing values in conflict.
We can promote peace and friendship, generosity and kindness, without joining in marriage or business.
One of the pastor’s at our church, Ricky Harris, unpacked 2 Corinthians 5:17 by saying that this “new creation” that we become through our salvation is essentially a new “kind,” referring to God’s original creation of various kinds of animals. It paints an effective picture when taken with 6:14—imagine a plow being pulled by a thoroughbred horse and an ox. The differences in their height, their speed, and their strength would make it impossible to make any progress.
As believers, we have one priority: God’s glory. That plays out in sharing about His love, in caring for the widow and orphan, in serving others and in encouraging one another to live lives that honor God’s investment in us. The values of someone with no Interest In God are bound to be completely different. Yoked together, we each are pulling in different directions!