We read biographies and are moved by
the heroic actions of those who have come
before us--folks like George Washington,
Winston Churchill, General Patton, Dwight Moody,
Rosa Parks, Charles Wesley of whom it was said 'he was brave as a lion'. Indeed we can learn a lot from the lives of other people, including the mini biographies of folks in the Bible we can endeavor to emulate or not repeat their big mistakes.
Today we glimpse such a man born more than 900 years before Jesus, Jehoshaphat. Je-hosh-a-phat.
We have been standing in the courtyard as it were, as Jesus taught powerful truths from the temple. O, the beautiful temple! Our man Jehoshaphat was another who loved God well and spoke powerfully and passionately from the temple grounds.
Your attention please: do not zone out thinking I am going to impart an irrelevant tale of yore... no, through the faith of this man, and what God spoke, we can be encouraged - [given courage from another] when:
--we are sad by the turn our life has taken...divorce, life-changing injury
--we are scared - maybe especially of the future
--we are overwhelmed by the many battles that surround us
--we have painted ourselves into a corner, and need help getting out
--we are weary from the stress we are managing
--we realize we have little control over so much of life
At least once a year, I write about what this story captured in 2 Chronicles, but honestly, I think of its words many times--especially when it feels like my back is against the wall! Not just me, though, this is for Sue in New Hampshire, Diana and Sam in California, Lisa in Michigan, John in Utah, and perhaps YOU.
2 Chronicles 20.1-28: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Chronicles%2020.1-28&version=ESV
How I love a good 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 his response is invaluable. 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." (vs. 12)
Your attention? With this realization of our helplessness, we have a call to action, 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 North Carolina to Southern California, Bend, Oregon to Portugal, the Netherlands, to Kenya and South Africa, the Philippines and India---let us join together in prayer: Dear Father, some of us are in a battle right now. While nothing escapes your notice and nothing has caught you by surprise, You told us to pray continually, to bring our needs to you. Friend, bring your need(s) to God right now. Stop laboring under the heaviness, and by a dint of your will, entrust it to your loving Heavenly Father. Ask him to move, to work, to change and heal things. Jehoshaphat had three enemies threatening to take him down... how about you? Entrust yourself and your situation to God, the One who can effect change in your life.
So dear Lord,
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 his army coming toward them?)-- 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? What a radical example of God's faithfulness and supernatural power!
Things are always different, always better, when we operate 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.
Not to be trite, but God is the ultimate Superhero. No one else can even take the stage against him. Hence the reason prayer is such a powerful strategy for pretty much everything in our lives. Again we bump up against the power of prayer and fasting in seeing God move in our lives! Hmmmm...yes.
Fight song: Battle Belongs, Phil Wickham, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtvQNzPHn-w
Let's pray and watch God fight for us~