If you only stop in occasionally, I am finishing up from some comments yesterday from 2 Chronicles as I read through the Bible this year.
Today, we are soaking in one of the most marked up, read and turned to passages in all the several Bibles I have worn out in the past thirty plus years…three decades since I realized that if I am going to say I believe and stand on the Bible as God’s inspired word, I probably should read and study it. A lot.
In my current “working Bible” I have written at the top of chapter 20 of 2 Chronicles: “My Go to Passage” and of course there is a heart inked next to the words.
From there on the verses are marked with different colors of ink and penmanship (my handwriting reflects my multi-layered personality) and there are notes and dates where I have gone to this “go to” over the past 3 years that I have been using this blue leather bound (in)Courage Devotional Bible.
The narrative of chapter 20 is of Jehoshaphat as many armies gather on the borders of his nation. Outnumbered and surrounded, Jehoshaphat uses every tool in his arsenal of spiritual warfare before he ever lifts up a physical weapon against the onslaught.
For the sake of time, I am going to just outline the strategies by section and as always, I encourage you to head over to your own Bible and start taking some notes of what God might say to you as you read and re-read this passage.
In the introduction verses 1-4, we are apprised of the enemies that have set themselves up again Jehoshaphat. A “vast number” we are told. His first response is to be afraid (who wouldn’t be) and then to resolve to seek the LORD by proclaiming a fast for all the nation of Judah.
I pause and wonder what would happen if, when threatened by war or pandemic or whatever, we would as nations proclaim a fast and seek the LORD together. But we live in a world of diverse opinions and beliefs. The beautiful thing is, nothing prevents followers of Christ to do this.
Next we see in verses 5-9, Jehoshaphat speaks to God on behalf of the nation and people and basically reminds God of every single promise He has made about them.
He follows this with stating the problem and stating the condition of the people of Judah in the face of the problem. (Verses 10-12)
God knows these things, obviously. Yet Jehoshaphat declares this all out loud in a kind of prayer in front of all the people who have gathered. Let this be an example to us.
We once had a child who got a bad grade on an essay test for history because that child left out a lot of information that filled in the details of what was being asked.
When I asked why, knowing he knew all the answers, he had taken such a short path; he replied…I figured the teacher already knows all that so I just didn’t think I needed to add it. Give him grace, he was young and also smart enough to know that there is no point in wasting words telling people things they already know.
I had to explain that while the teacher does know all of this, she needs to make sure she effectively taught him to know.
I think this is why the example for us in Scripture of declaring back to God His promises and letting Him know what we are struggling with is set for us each generation. He knows what we are going through. He knows what He has promised, but as we openly share it (out loud is good) back to Him, He hears that we know.
In verses 13-19, God answers through Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants). This is important because it is recorded that a real person with a known lineage had the Spirit of the LORD descend on him to proclaim what God had to say in answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer.
God assures the people that they have nothing to be afraid of. This vast army is going to be defeated by God Himself. They won’t even have to lift a weapon, but they will have to take all the steps to prepare for and head into battle.
In other words, dress for battle, march into battle, but believe that you will not actually engage in a battle. That’s called exercising faith.
A couple of other things I always am touched by in verse 13-19 includes the description of who was gathered and standing before the LORD to hear His word.
“All Judah was standing before the LORD with their dependents, their wives and their children.” Some translations say “and their little ones.” Verse 13
Also when Jehoshaphat hears the message from the LORD, his immediate response is to bow low with his face to the ground. All of Judah followed suit. Then the Levites, the sons of the the Kohathites and Korahites begin to stand up in praise with loud shouts.
Verses 20-30 tell of the preparation the next morning as the army obeys God and dresses for battle. They march off with an appointed praise team leading the front lines of the army.
As they march along behind the loud praises of these musicians, God is already at work way ahead of them. The enemy is suddenly thrown into confusion and begins to fight against each other. By the time the army of Judah arrives, the battlefield is full of the entirety of the vast army. Not a soldier remains.
We are told it took three days to collect all the spoils of a war Judah never even fought. On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Beracah and rejoiced before the LORD.
When a vast army of whatever is coming against you here are the steps we can follow:
<3 It’s okay to be afraid, but let your fear drive you to seek the LORD and fasting isn’t a bad idea at those times.
<3 Pray and remind God of His promises and go ahead and tell Him all the details of your overwhelming situation
<3 Listen for His voice and His direction
<3 When you hear, fall down in worship and arise in shouts of praise
<3 Dress for battle, do what needs to be done on your human practical end but lead forth in praise and faith
<3 Remember while you are praising, the enemy may end up infighting themselves to defeat….
<3 Look for what He has given you as “spoils” you didn’t even have to fight for. Gather it all and then rejoice and give thanks to the God who fights for you <3