Jehoshaphat was one of the “good” kings of Judah that followed God and not the false gods. It’s always easier to be God-honoring when life is great. It is in the times of overwhelming distress that a person’s true character is tested. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat passed the test and led the nation of Judah through a difficult situation so that God was honored and glorified.
This chapter begins by telling us that the people of Moab and Ammon were marching towards Judah with the intent of battle. By the time this information reached him the army was as close as En Gedi, about 50 miles from Jerusalem on the west shore of the Dead Sea. Following God doesn’t always mean that life is easy and we will not face difficulties. For King Jehoshaphat, this problem wasn’t just his problem, but it would also be a problem for all his people. When we face difficult times, it often has a ripple effect on those around us. We all face times in life where Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:6 could be our prayer. The problem is so big or we are so desperate that we fall on our knees and cry out “Oh God! Are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over the entire world? In your hands, is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you?” Can you think of a time in the past where you have been in this place? Or maybe you are there now. Jehoshaphat will teach us 7 steps when we find ourselves desperate for God intervene in our behalf.
Sometimes, we are so desperate that we fall on our knees and cry out “Oh God! Are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over the entire world? In your hands, is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you?” — click to tweet
The first thing Jehoshaphat did was seek the Lord. Often, when we find ourselves in an impossible or overwhelming situation, we begin looking for answers on our own power- but not by seeking the Lord. We problem solve rather than problem surrender. We fret and worry to point of raising our blood pressure, getting ulcers, and losing sleep and when all else fails then we begin seeking God. If you have been joining us in reading the Bible through in a year, then you have seen that time and time again when one of Isreal or Judah’s kings made treaties with other nations or tried to solve a problem on their own, God did not honor them and they would fail. But Jehoshaphat knew where his help would come from. As soon as he heard of the impending attack, we find in 2 Chronicles 20:3 that “Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord. How much different would our insurmountable problems be if we started of setting ourselves to seek the Lord.
Often, when we find ourselves in an impossible or overwhelming situation, we begin looking for answers on our own power- but not by seeking the Lord. We problem solve rather than problem surrender. — click to tweet
The next thing King Jehoshaphat did was to proclaim a fast throughout all Judah. Fasting is a means of humbling oneself before God. Often times in the Old Testament, fasting was done corporately (or as a nation) rather than individually. It is an act of total reliance on God as we desperately poor out our heart and situation to Him as we willingly surrender even our most basic daily needs before God.
Jehoshaphat gather all the people of Judah together to participate in the fast and to seek the face of God together. He didn’t just call the nation to fast and pray, he led the nation to fast and pray. In doing so, the nation turned their eyes away from the problem at hand and looked to God to provide the solution. Typically, a fast means fasting from food. However, there are many things we can fast from. Some people have medical issues that prevent them from going without food. They might choose instead to fast from only certain types of food or they might fast from social media or television or something else that might be distracting them from hearing what God has to say to them. The point of fasting is to do without something that would allow you to focus more intently on God. And if there is ever a time when a nation needs to intentionally focus on God, it’s when there’s an army 50 miles away from knocking on your front door!
Jehoshaphat then called on God. With all the people gathered, the King stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the court and called on God. In verses 5-9, we find his public prayer. The prayer may sound like he is doubting who God is and what He can do for them. He start the prayer off saying, “O Lord God of our father, are You not God in heaven and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” He is not doubting God, but recalling who God is and recognizing that God is their only hope. His prayer continues with a reminder of how God had delivered them in the past and he pleads with God for deliverance now. As a result, God’s heart is moved for His people and he causes one of the priests to prophesy with a message for the people.
As God sent the message through Jahaziel, the priest, Jehoshaphat and the people listened to the Word of God. God’s message to the people was “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of the great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.” They didn’t stand around debating if the message Jahaziel delivered was actually from God. They didn’t scoff at the message and keep trying to problem solve. They didn’t say, “But God! How can we not fight them? Have you seen the size of that army out there?” Jehoshaphat asked for a solution and God gave one. Jehoshaphat listed.
Once he had his answer, Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground and worshiped God. Not only did God assure them they had no reason to fear, but God was going to fight the battle for them. The only thing Jehoshaphat and his people had to do was to – be still. The priests also stood up to praise God with voices loud and high. With only one message from God, fear and distress turned to worship and praise.
The next day, they rose early in the morning. They were not dreading or fearful. They didn’t procrastinate. They got up early and went to the wilderness just as God instructed them to do. Jehoshaphat and the people obeyed the Word of the Lord. As they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and encouraged His people, reminding them of what God had said to them. Listen to his words to the people as they marched out. “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” He then appointed people to sing praises to God and those who would praise the beauty of God’s holiness.
What was the result? They saw the Lord fight the battle for them. Verse 22 tells us that as the people began singing and praising God, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon and Moab, bringing about their complete defeat. As that nation of Judah approached the site, they looked toward the multitude and all they saw were dead bodies. Not one person escaped. All the nation of Judah had to do was move in to take the spoil that included an abundance of valuables, precious jewelry, more than they could carry and it took three days to gather it.
Battles are much less intimidating when God is fighting for us. It’s human nature to try to solve our problems ourselves, but God stands ready to fight for us, just as He did the people of Judah. We need only surrender our problems to Him, by seeking Him and calling out to Him for Help. We also need to be sure to praise Him when he sends the answer and to be willing to be obedient, no matter how strange the answer may seem. In one way, a strange answer is better than something more inline with our expectations. When the answer is strange, such as “be still, the Lord will fight for you,” it means that God will receive all the honor and glory and none will come to us. So when the next overwhelming, impossible, insurmountable problem comes your way – start by seeking God first. Don’t even try to solve it on your own. Even if you were to accomplish it, you’d miss out on the spectacular way that God will show up.
When the next overwhelming, impossible, insurmountable problem comes your way – start by seeking God first. Don’t even try to solve it on your own. Even if you were to accomplish it, you’d miss out on the spectacular way that God will show up. –click to tweet
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
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