Yesterday’s blog looked at the situation Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, found himself – a “vast army” had come from across the sea and were almost upon his country to wage war. He stood little chance of defeating the army on his own, and when he heard the news he was “alarmed” and “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” Yesterday’s lesson was that Jehoshaphat quickly moved from being alarmed to seeking the Lord. We’re going to pick up the story there and look at three things today:

  • How Jehoshaphat went about seeking the Lord
  • What he did when he transitioned from seeking the Lord to taking action
  • What the outcome was

Let’s start by reading the passage that describes Jehoshaphat seeking the Lord.

Jehoshaphat Seeks the Lord

3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

5Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6and said:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

10“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12O our God, will you not judge them? For 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.”

13All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

14Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

15He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”

18Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
2 Chronicles 20:3-19

In seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did seven things. We can learn from this process an approach to seeking the Lord when we are alarmed. Let’s look at what Jehoshaphat did:

  1. He brought others into the process – he didn’t seek the Lord alone (verses 3-5)
  2. He humbled himself with fasting (verse 3)
  3. He acknowledged God as sovereign over all (verses 6-7)
  4. He admitted his weakness to God (verse 12)
  5. He demonstrated faith (verses 9, 12 and 18)
  6. He waited (verse 13)
  7. He worshipped (verses 18-19)

While there’s no “magic formula” to seeking God, Jehoshaphat’s approach is a good one because it brings us into a right relationship with God through humbling ourselves and admitting our weaknesses, demonstrating faith, properly exalting God and waiting upon Him. We would do well to emulate Jehoshaphat when we face seemingly insurmountable battles in our lives.

In response to Jehoshaphat, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel” and he prophecied a wonderful promise from God – that the people would not have to fight the battle. I find the prophecy fascinating in that God tells the people “you won’t have to fight, but take up your battle positions and stand firm.” At first it caused me to wonder why they had to take up their battle positions and stand firm if God was going to fight their battle for them. Why did they have to go out to face the enemy if they didn’t have to fight that enemy? I’m sure the Israelites were wondering this, and God doesn’t answer the question, He simply reassures them that He will be with them. Let’s tuck this question in the back of our mind and read on to learn what happens.

Jehoshaphat Leads the Israelites into the Battle

20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:20-21

After seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did three key things as he prepared to step into the battle.

  1. He encouraged the soldiers. He builds up their faith. We can do that to ourselves. Psalm 42 provides just one example of King David encouraging himself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…” (verse 5a).
  2. He got advice of others – “after consulting the people” he made decisions. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” King Jehoshaphat wasn’t afraid or too superior to ask for advice.
  3. He led with worship. There are many reasons to lead with worship. Here are just a few:
  • It continually builds our faith.
  • It glorifies God.
  • It demonstrates the source of our victory.
  • It stirs God to action.

Well, Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are headed into the battle the Lord has promised them they will not have to fight. How will God keep His promise? Let’s finish the story and find out.

Victory, God’s Way

22As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.

27Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

29The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
2 Chronicles 20:22-30

Doesn’t it just make you want to shout? Hallelujah! “As [the Israelites] began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against [their enemies].” That’s my kind of God! Let’s look at the results of those ambushes:

  • The “vast army” was a desert of dead bodies.
  • The plunder – so much of it that it “took three days to collect”– went to God’s people
  • Praise and worship – the people returned joyfully and went into the temple and had a praise party! One of the greatest lessons in all of this is that what starts in worship ends in worship! The people entered the battle in worship. They ended it in worship.
  • The fear of God came upon all Judah’s other potential enemies
  • There was peace

That’s a God-sized result!

Remember that question you tucked away until the story was further developed? The question about why the people had to go out to the battle if God was going to win it for them? Scripture doesn’t answer the question outright, but I believe that it was largely to increase their faith. God’s instruction to the Israelites in verse 17 was “see the deliverance the LORD will give you.” God wanted them to see with their own eyes and be a part of the action to build their faith. Could God have accomplished the same thing while the Israelites slept? Absolutely. Do you think the impact would have been the same? I don’t. I think the Isarelites needed to encourage themselves in the Lord, and they needed to put their faith into action by suiting up and marching out toward the battle. They needed the practice of holding on to the promise of God. And perhaps, just perhaps, God wanted to “wow” them – to see the looks on their faces and the rejoicing in their hearts when they looked upon the battle God had won for them.

I know I need those things. I need God to increase my faith sometimes, and the way that happens is by allowing me to be put in situations that cause me alarm and force me to push past the alarm and run into God’s arms – situations where I am required to demonstrate my faith by taking steps toward an enemy (or a challenge) that only God can defeat (or accomplish).

I love that about God! He wants to help me grow and He wants to delight me in the process. That’s the purpose for the battles in our lives. I encourage you, as I did in yesterday’s blog, to choose the supernatural response when facing your battles – “resolve to inquire of the Lord.” If you follow a pattern similar to Jehoshaphat, I’m confident that you’ll “see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”

Friends, I pray God’s richest blessings for you – and that includes situations that might initially cause you alarm, but allow you to see Him in greater glory!

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