2 Chronicles 20.1-30
How long have I loved this story? I'm not sure.
How many times have I taught it? Quite a few.
But the other morning as I was studying, I got a whole new take.
Come with me to 2 Chronicles, chapter 20. link: https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Chronicles%2020:1-30&version=NIV&interface=print.
This is an incredible story. Here's the scene--Jehoshaphat is made aware that he is about to be attacked by a 'vast' army--Ammonites, Moabites and Meunites--three foes. To say that his back is against the wall is an understatement, but what is his response? Jehoshaphat prays to God for help and declares a fast, (as a respected leader, the people heed his words). From the temple courtyard, he stands and addresses his Commander in Chief, God. Notice how he starts his prayer with adoration and then recalls how God has taken care of the people up until this point. He concludes his prayer with, "we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
Your attention? With this realization of our helplessness, we have a call to surrender. This is the time we decide we want God to truly take the lead in our lives... This is when we call out to him, surrender ourselves and transfer what is coming against us into his capable hands.
So, Jehoshaphat? The Lord hears his prayer and sends a message to the people:
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.”
For the battle is not yours, but God's. (verse 15)
What are you up against, my friend, trying to fight, control or solve on your own?
Could we stop right here and pray? From Southern California to New York, down to Florida to Portugal, the Netherlands, to Kenya and South Africa, the Philippines and India---let us join together in prayer: Dear God, SOME OF US ARE IN A BATTLE RIGHT NOW… nothing escapes your notice and nothing has caught you by surprise. You told us to pray continually, to bring our needs to you. Note: time to make this personal. As I prayed the other morning, like Jehoshaphat, I named my three foes: Ammon, Moab, etc. (that which I was wrestling with and trying to solve on my own), and surrendered, literally writing those things out in my prayer journal and putting them at the foot of the cross.
I invite you to do the same right now. Take the truths from Ezra's writing here in 2 Chronicles, apprehend them and apply them to yourself in prayer.
Dear Lord, Won't you take our 'three things'
--could be seemingly impossible work situations,
--the cancer diagnosis,
--mounting pressure in a relationship,
--fear of ___? etc.
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you, Lord. We give you what we are trying to manage or fix; we will not be afraid, we will not let ourselves be discouraged. We take you at your word--the battle is not ours, but yours. Our trust is in you, sweet Lord. Come, move. . . In your powerful name we pray, Amen.
Meanwhile back on the hillside with Jehoshaphat . . . what happens? Well, as his men are marching down to face the battle, Jehoshaphat appoints men to sing praises to God-- (can you just imagine what the opposition was thinking as they heard them coming? Crazy Jews)-- certain of the victory God had promised them (verse 17). The opposing armies then turn on each other, destroy one another, and Jehoshaphat's men never have to fight! Isn’t that crazy? Oh, how I love this story of God's faithfulness!
Once again, we see how different things are when we are operating in God's economy--God didn't just help Jehoshaphat's armies, he caused the other armies to destroy each other so that Jehoshaphat's men never had to fight the battle! Not much has changed in 3000 years. God is still willing . . . no, not just willing, but wanting to fight our (just) battles. Surrender yourself to God, and then surrender whatever concerns you today; go ahead, he's big enough. What’s more, he’s good enough.
Man, I love a good story, especially when it shows the power of our God wielded through the prayers of the faithful. God wants to fight our battles ... will you let him?
Fight song: Battle Belongs, Phil Wickham, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtvQNzPHn-w