Have you ever read about King Jehoshaphat? He was one of the kings of Judah in the Old Testament. There are a few chapters detailing the events in Jehoshaphat’s reign, but my absolute favorite story is the time when several nations came to battle against him (2 Chronicles 20).
When King Jehoshaphat heard that a “great multitude was coming against [him] from beyond the sea” (verse 2), he was afraid and “set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah” (verse 3). Judah gathered together from all the cities to seek out the Lord.
Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly and proclaimed God’s sovereignty, great deeds, and faithfulness to the Israelites. He then prayed for God’s deliverance from their enemies.
The Lord heard and answered through his prophet, Jahaziel. He told them,
“Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” (verse s15b, 17)
At these words, King Jehoshaphat and all Judah bowed before the Lord and worshiped.
The next morning, King Jehoshaphat and the people went out into the wilderness to meet the armies against them. Jehoshaphat encouraged his people to believe in the Lord their God and he appointed those who should sing praises to the Lord as they went out before the army.
As the people begin to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the enemy armies. Those armies turned against each other and when it was over they were completely destroyed.
“So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” (verse 24)
If you read through 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, it is easy to get a bit discouraged by the ratio of the “bad” kings to the “good” kings. So many of the kings decided to do evil in the sight of the Lord and worship other gods. Even the kings that followed after the Lord had seasons in which they turned away.
Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings who sought after God. God’s faithfulness in Judah’s time of trouble is a testimony of how awesome and mighty our God really is!
This story really speaks to me for today! As we are currently facing our own “enemy armies” and seemingly impossible battles, it is easy to be discouraged and get stuck in the cycle of desperately trying to plan a way to fix it. But that is not what the Lord would have us do!
The response of King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah gives us an outline of how we should respond when faced with opposition. Let’s take a closer look at this story…
1. FAST and PRAY
When King Jehoshaphat heard that his enemies were coming for him and his people, he “set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah.” He fasted and prayed. This should always be our first response in any situation! Throughout the Bible when people sought the Lord, they prayed and fasted.
2. INVITE YOUR BROTHERS and SISTERS IN CHRIST TO PRAY
Judah gathered together from all the cities to seek out the Lord. Ask your brothers and sisters in Christ to pray, too!
3. PRAISE and WORSHIP BEFORE YOU PRAY
King Jehoshaphat first proclaimed God’s sovereignty, great deeds, and faithfulness and then asked for deliverance from his enemies. Praise God first!!!
4. LISTEN TO WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY
Listen to what the Lord has to say! In this instance, the Lord used Jahaziel to speak to King Jehoshaphat. But the Lord can speak to us in many ways! He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit*, through His Word, through other people*…we need to be listening. This becomes far more difficult when we are not able to recognize His voice. If we don’t regularly spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, we will struggle to know when He is speaking to us.
**on a side note, I always feel the need to say that everything that you hear in prayer or through other people MUST line up with God’s Word or it is not from Him. God does NOT go against His Word.
5. PRAISE and WORSHIP AFTER YOU HEAR FROM GOD
When they heard what the Lord had to say, they worshiped! Here it is again. Praise and worship God. Thank Him for His Word!
6. OBEY COMPLETELY
They OBEYED COMPLETELY! They went where they were supposed to and then watched the Lord save them in a mighty way. Now what would have happened in they doubted God and decided to “help Him out” by fighting in the battle? Would they have been safe? Personally, I don’t think so. While in this story God told the people to stand and watch, there will be times when God calls us to act. The important thing is that we do what God has asked us to do. No more, no less.
Obeying God means completely obeying Him, not mostly obeying with a little bit of help from us. Once we decide that it okay to obey in “our own way”, we are no longer obeying. Period.
7. PRAISE and WORSHIP WHILE GOD IS DELIVERING YOU!
They sang praises while watching God deliver them! And yet again, they were worshiping! There’s a theme here…worship before, during, and after any situation!
We live in turbulent times, my friends. There are tough battles we are facing today and still many more yet to come.
Not all of the Lord’s deliverances look like this one. They may not happen the way we think they should happen. They may not be as “pain-free” as King Jehoshaphat’s situation was. We may be called to action while facing uncomfortable or dangerous situations.
Know that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s!
Jesus tells us of this in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world .”
We can have that peace that surpasses all understanding if we are in Him. If we know Him, seek Him, trust Him, and obey Him. He has already overcome the enemy. The battle is already won!
Walk faithfully, my friends!