“…the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea…’” Jehoshaphat was afraid; he set himself to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the towns of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
I love the stories of the bible in which God defends the underdog. Such is the case in 2 Chronicles 20. It is the account of a king on the verge of disaster. Warned that a great army was bearing down upon him, King Jehoshaphat became fearful. These three kingdoms coming against him all at once had formed an alliance against him. And Jehoshaphat knew he didn’t have enough fighting power to defeat them. “For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us” (2 Chronicles 20:12 nrsv). Jehoshaphat may have been terrified, but he didn’t panic. Instead, this king did five incredibly wise things:
1. King Jehoshaphat’s fear was the catalyst to seek the Lord first. He positioned himself before God. He committed his dire situation to God before moving forward with preparations. Then he told all of Judah to do the same. Knowing that the army was fast approaching, this king did the opposite of what one would expect. Rather than quickly ordering his army to assemble and gather weapons first, Jehoshaphat assembled “all [his people of] Judah before the Lord” (v. 13). This communicated to his people that their victory was not in their hands, but in God’s.
2. King Jehoshaphat recognized that God was in control. King Jehoshaphat knew he had little fighting power, and in fact, didn’t even have a plan! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Just imagine for a moment, this king didn’t know what to do, and instead of throwing together a hasty counter-attack, looked to God to be their unseen Defender. As the enemy bore down on Judah, God spoke through Jahaziel: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s’” (v. 15).
You and I may not fight an actual enemy army, but our loved ones serving in the armed forces do. Even today, when it seems like the enemy is gaining ground, recognized that God still remains in control. We are to keep our eyes focused on God, ask for His help, acknowledging every battle they fight is really His. And God will fight for us.
3. King Jehoshaphat praised God for the great God He is.
“…are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not…drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?” (vv. 6-7). The above verses are verses of praise to God. They are the expression of faith. Before the battle even started, Jehoshaphat praised God.
In the midst of our own battles that are greater than our strength or abilities, if we praise our Lord for His sovereignty (His control) over our situation, acknowledging the battle is not ours but His, then move forward with God’s Spirit in us, and trusting in His promises, God will prevail in our behalf. When we praise Him, He reveals His power.
4. King Jehoshaphat declared to the people of Judah his dependence on God, for their deliverance.
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Jehoshaphat relied on God’s power and might instead of his own. He knew what his own weaknesses were. A sign of a great leader is one with a humble heart towards God and who also acknowledges his strength comes from God.
5. King Jehoshaphat was content in God’s promises. God promised Jehoshaphat victory. “This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf…do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Jehoshaphat trusted in God’s plan and promise. We are to do no less. A key factor in having victory in God is having confidence in God’s promises. One of my favorite promises is Deuteronomy 31:6:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
You can’t get a better promise than that. Praise, Promises, and Prayer–all keys to moving the heart of God in your personal battles.
But wait! There’s more to King Jehoshaphat’s victory. As they went out to meet their enemies, Jehoshaphat had the people of his kingdom do this one thing while the Lord set an ambush against their enemies. Return for part 2.
Have you experienced a situation in which you praised God even while in dark circumstances? How did God reveal His power in your circumstances? I would love to hear your story. You can post it below in the “reply” section. For more on this subject, see chapter two of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families.
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