Summary: Jehoshaphat and Judah should not have won this battle... under ordinary circumstances. How did they prepare to be used by God in this momentous confrontation?
OPEN: (We played Don Francisco’s Song "Jehoshaphat" after reading the text... it’s worth buying his CD just for personal enjoyment)
One of the oldest books on warfare was written by Sun Tzu. It’s called the Art Of War and in its 13 chapters, Sun Tzu laid down some basic principles of how to wage war.
Amongst his advice were these statements:
· All warfare is based on deception.
· Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
· Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
· If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
· Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
· If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
APPLY: Now, those seem like common sense rules. And for centuries, generals and military leaders have studied Sun Tzu’s teachings and used them for the basis of their battles and military campaigns.
This is how battles are waged and how wars are won.
But you know, I’m pretty sure that Sun Tzu’s “Art Of War” never dealt with a battle quite like the one we’re reading about today.
I mean this is NOT how battles are fought and it’s not how wars are won. The Jews appear to be outnumbered 3 to one and according to Sun Tzu, when you’re outnumbered… you run away (evade).
But not Jehoshaphat and his army. Not only did they not run away, I’m not sure they brought much in the way of weapons. In fact, their only tactical weapons seemed to be a promise from God and… a glee club.
2 Chronicles 20:21 says that “After 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.’”
Judah should not have won this battle.
But they did because they had a promise from God.
Leviticus 26:3 & 8 promised them “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands… Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.”
And that’s pretty much what happened!
But even though it might appear that they went out to this battle without much preparation, they actually did some major things to prepare themselves for this challenge. They:
· Inquired of the Lord (II Chronicles 20:3)
· Declared a fast (II Chronicles 20:3)
· They spent time in prayer (II Chronicles 20:6-12)
· The entire nation engaged in this activity (II Chronicles 20:13) (Ben… keep these up)
I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between how Judah met their challenge and how we’ve met ours. Honest, I didn’t select this passage of Scripture with that in mind nor have we intentionally used Jehoshaphat for our model in what we’ve done. I actually started studying this Bible story a couple of days before I recognized the parallels:
· Last November – Gary Edwards came here to help us with our financial challenges
· The Elders spent the next 6 months inquiring of the Lord before making a commitment to this project.
· As we entered into this “Forward in Faith” we have done two very important things
o We’ve prayed for 21 days
o And we’ve called ourselves to a 3 day fast (from food/ TV/ or some other item we spent time doing)
· And most all of us have taken part in these activities
As I realized the parallels, I was amazed that we had done almost exactly what Jehoshaphat and his people had done in their day. Now, is that cool or what?
Judah was faced with an impossible situation… an army that was too large to defeat.
And yet – because God was in it – they came away victorious.
As Don Francisco (a famous Christian singer of decade or so ago) wrote in his song about this story:
“The Lord God set up an ambush and He got the enemy all turned around
They started into killing each other you know till they all laid dead on the ground
And the riches and the jewels that they left behind it took them three whole days to haul
The children of Judah all praised the Lord ‘cause He saved them one and all”
Now, we are faced with an impossible situation.
We’ve set ourselves a goal of $1 million for our “Forward In Faith” Campaign.
And we were not frivolous about this.
We set this goal the same way we always set our yearly goals for our church budget.