Sometimes a decision looks so good it can’t be bad. Or what we stand to gain overshadows any thought of what we might lose. But at the southern end of Israel sits a seaport with an ancient example that applies to your choices this afternoon.
The biblical city of Ezion-geber, near modern Eilat, served as Israel’s occasional port on the Red Sea. On one occasion, the gulf offered a tremendous opportunity for a lucrative shipping industry for King Jehoshaphat.
As with Jehoshaphat, Eilat parallels many opportunities you have today when your ship has come in:
- The financial deal promises a sure return on your investment.
- The kind, attentive gentleman asks for your hand in marriage.
- The promotion comes with the salary you’ve waited for a long time.
- The new church you’re attending is just around the block.
But in making these decisions, have you forgotten to ask the most important question?
Has Your Ship Has Come In?
Back in the heyday of King Solomon’s reign, Israel expanded its international trade through the Red Sea port of Ezion-geber, near Elath (1 Kings 9:26-28).
The site’s second level of occupation occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat, who sought to do as Solomon did and enjoy a lucrative trade in Ezion-geber. But there was one problem:
Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing. So he allied himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish, and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has destroyed your works.” So the ships were broken and could not go to Tarshish. —2 Chronicles 20:35–37
In order to get his financial deal going, Jehoshaphat allied himself with the wicked king Ahaziah—in spite of an earlier warning (2 Chronicles 19:2). As a result of this compromising alliance, God allowed a storm to destroy the ships.
King Jehoshaphat rebuilt his ships and tried again. But his time, he learned his lesson.
Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat was not willing. —1 Kings 22:49
Jehoshaphat learned that an alliance outside of the will of God is never worth it, regardless of what benefits it offers.
What to Ask When Your Ship Has Come In
The New Testament carries over the warning not to engage in a compromising relationship with an unbeliever.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or . . . what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? —2 Corinthians 6:14–15
In writing this, Paul doesn’t mean Christians should have no relationships with unbelievers.
- That misinterpretation flies in the face of the Great Commission and even contradicts Paul’s earlier letter (1 Cor. 5:9-10).
- Christians should have a love for the others while, at the same time, refusing to compromise his or her commitment to God (Psalm 139:21-22; Matt. 5:44).
- The issue of concern comes with close alliances that compromise one’s spiritual relationship, one’s “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).
The One Question You Must Always Ask
When your ship seems to have come in—before you step onboard—always ask yourself (and a trusted Christian mentor) this question:
How will this relationship affect my spiritual life?
Whatever you stand to gain from a compromising alliance isn’t worth what you’ll lose in your spiritual life.
Tell me what you think: What question do you ask when making decisions? To leave a comment, just click here.
Explore Eilat’s modern port via Google Street View: