You know how you can get excited about something, so much that when you try to tell people all about it, it just comes out as over excitement?!?!?! Well, I’m excited about this chapter, it’s really cool. So I’ve tried my best to make this part a ’preach’ that’s will be understood, and that it will get you excited too!
Read 2 Chronicles 20 v 1-29
Jehoshaphat was the King of Judah for 25 years; he was the 4th king after Solomon, whose reign ended 61 years before. It says in 2 Kings 3, that he was respected by Elisha, which seems to be a big achievement for any King of Judah or Israel. He followed his father as king of Judah, and didn’t do a bad job, as far as Judah’s kings went. He tried hard to keep the people walking in God’s way, although he didn’t destroy the high places that had been set up a long time ago.
This passage is about worship, it’s about unity and it’s about relying on God.
- It starts by telling us that Judah are in a bit of trouble. They are about to be attacked by a vast army. Jehoshaphat is alarmed; it’s totally unjust. He says in verse 10 and 11, how its historical fact that the Israelites had shown kindness to those who were about to turn on them. And now they were coming to steal what the Israelites had been given by God.
- Unlike Ahab, Israel’s king at the time, who worshipped Baal and turned Israel away from God, Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord about this situation, and instructed the people of Judah to do the same. As a country, they unified and sought God about their troubles.
Verse 4 says that the people of Judah came together. Everyone – men, women and children – stopped all that they were doing and brought their situation to God.
Victory doesn’t come from fighting our enemies; it comes from giving into God.
This shows Jehoshaphat and his people’s dependence on God. He didn’t just call men and soldiers to be around him, he called everyone to unity, and seek God with one voice.
This unity brings strength, and the petition that they put to God was forceful – everyone being of one voice and one mind. (Matthew 18v20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
How often, when we are alarmed by troubles that suddenly come our way, do we go elsewhere before we reach God? (HOSEA – SILLY WITLESS DOVES, FIRST TO EGYPT THEN ASSYRIA) – Like Jehoshaphat, in difficult times we should seek to put Christians around us, who will seek God with us and show their faith to us,
People were getting serious with God. Problems can do that can’t they? We suddenly realise just what life can throw at us, and we don’t like it. We have two ways we can go – the first way – which seems the easy option when a situation creeps up on us – is to run away from it, and sometimes it’s our automatic response. And the second way is to bring our circumstances before God and let him deal with them.
Then Jehoshaphat stands up in front of the whole country and speaks faithfully about his God. This does three things:-
1. It gives his people a path to follow and shows his leadership of the country is based on God’s will for them.
2. Secondly, it strengthens his people, encouraging them by remembering all that God has done for them and that it is in their history that they go to God in times of trouble, so he’s using experiences to confirm that his faith is in God.
3. And thirdly, he is lifting up God, acknowledging his power and presence and authority over the situation that they find themselves in.
- Jehoshaphat goes on to say that this world just isn’t that fair. Which is true, so many circumstances occur which we feel that we don’t deserve.
When we get situations just almost ‘appear’ on us, it brings confusion; it causes us to question a lot of things that we thought were safe. It may be that we are comfortable thinking that what we have is there to stay, and we don’t have to work to keep it. Or perhaps we have become complacent with what we have been given. If it is tugged away from us slightly, we might sit up and take notice, and realise its value to us.
Our inheritance is safe, but sometimes we need a reminder of who gave it to us, and what He went through to make sure we got it. He went through heartache with the Israelites to give them what he promised them, and he did the same for us, when he let his son die on the cross.
- Jehoshaphat went to God in faith, which showed that he recognised the importance of keeping hold of what God had given them.
Verse 12 says:
12 O 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."
( - When we are facing difficult situations, they can affect our judgement. In this passage, Jehoshaphat leaves it up to God to judge Judah’s enemies. I think Jehoshaphat probably has his own thoughts on judgement, but he trusts God to make the call.
Besides, what’s the point in Jehoshaphat judging if he didn’t have the power to do anything about it? )
- How many times should we have been faithful enough to say “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”?
Do you find it an easy thing to say? Sometimes, it doesn’t dawn on us straight away that we don’t have enough strength to get through a situation by ourselves – until we’ve had a few attempts at sorting things out. And other times maybe, we do realise, but we don’t want to hand over the control that we think we’ve got.
In tough situations we can use tactics that we think will help us – judgements, fighting talk, stubbornness, standards, skills. Jehoshaphat could have done that, by depending on his army, even thought they were weaker that the enemy. But he sees that they would be fighting a lost cause, so he goes to God.
- When the odds are against us, that when we need to realise that this isn’t our battle. Like David did in 1 Samuel 17 when he faced up to Goliath:
47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands."
- We were talking about prayer in cell a couple of weeks ago, and we discussed how we were probably a bit better at the petitioning rather than the waiting on God. But here we see that everyone stopped what they were doing and ‘stood before the Lord’ – they waited for an answer. Do we commit enough time to get answers?
- Sometimes maybe we give God a prayer list like kids give a Christmas list – and send it off expecting an answer to come nicely gift wrapped to us as soon as possible.
- Are we prepared to give up time to wait on God – is that what we want to do?
What if we resolved to meet about a certain situation, and decided that we would wait on God for an answer – how ever long it took – wouldn’t God honour that?
- In this chapter, they were able to do that. Their faith and unity resulted in commitment and expectancy. And we see that God honours that as he speaks to them.
The battle is the Lords. We can also see this in 2 Kings 6 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked.
16 "Don’t be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha
- God’s victory is sealed because he is God, and he is powerful. Ephesians 6 says how we don’t fight against flesh, but things that we cannot see, and because of God’s equipping and power, our victory is also assured.
- God tells his people to stand strong and watch him work. They weren’t to draw there swords, they weren’t to charge – just take their positions and have faith.
- He tells them to face the situation head on and watch what faith can do.
This reminded me of Jonah, because, basically, he didn’t follow God’s instructions, he ran off instead. He chose to go in the opposite direction rather than do God’s will. But I wonder whether a major factor in this was that Jonah faced this daunting task alone. Here, we have a people, unityd and strong together. Unity and relationships are vital for Christians. The different circumstances that each of us have aren’t meant to be dealt with alone. 1 Corinthians 12 says 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
- God’s promise to the people of Judah resulted in them worshipping him. Do we praise God for his promises while we go through trials? It’s much easier to give thanks and worship when we know the result, but this is where trust comes in.
Cardiff City can promise us promotion this season, but do you trust them enough to believe it before the season is over? Not based on yesterdays performance.
Pop stars the rivals promised two great groups by the end of the series. Did you believe them then? Do you believe them now?
God has promised that he is always with you. Do you know that when times are good? Do you know it when times are difficult?
Some things we can be sure of, and other things we can’t; but by trusting in God we believe all his promises are true, whether or not we see them or feel them.
- Verse 19 says how some Levites stood up and screamed out praises to God. Until then, everyone had followed Jehoshaphat’s lead. But worship brings freedom and the Holy Spirit allows us to express our praise and worship in different ways. This means that we can worship anywhere, anytime and in any way. Worship should be personal, imaginative and expressive, whether you are alone, at work, at church, wherever.
The next day they set out in the direction that God had told them. Jehoshaphat reiterates what had been prophesied the day before – have faith in God and you will have courage; believe what has been promised and you will have success.
- This faith encouraged Jehoshaphat to appoint people to lead the way in praise and worship. Not everyone had the specific job of speaking out praise to God. We all need to worship, but we can do it in different ways, by walking with him, and including him in our thoughts and decisions etc. besides, if they were singing a catchy tune in front of me, I’m sure I’d be humming along.
- Worship doesn’t have to be complex ‘give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever’. – That kind of covers it all doesn’t it?
- These people are God focussed; they speak about the greatness of God in the face of the enemy. In the same way, when we pray against the enemy, we do so in the Name of Jesus.
- In Acts 3 16 Peter says: By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
- And God honours this. Verse 22 says: 22 As 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.
- God works miracles while we are worshipping. When we interact with God, we allow him to work miracles in our lives. This is what has happened in this verse.
- By communing with God, the people of Judah have received blessings far beyond what they could have imagined!
- Their answer to their prayer resulted in more than just victory. They reaped the rewards of their faith – it took them more than 3 days! He also gave them peace.
- When we trust God to deliver us from trials and when we speak the name of Jesus against the enemy, God answers and blesses – healing, miracles, people becoming Christians, closeness with God.
This chapter has loads of stuff in it, so let’s just recap:
- The people sought God together and faced the enemy together. Jehoshaphat called people to seek God with him. We need to let people in on what is going on in our lives so that we are not alone, but have people interceding to God for us in prayer. We need to pray together, we need to wait on God together and we need to worship together. We need to keep on encouraging each other to have faith and courage in God. Matthew 18 says: 19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
- Worship encourages unity – as we meet with the common goal of lifting God high and as we focus on him.
When trouble came, Jehoshaphat ensured that Judah was constantly in a state of worship and seeking God.
When they got the news of the enemy’s advance the fasted and waited on God.
When God had spoken to them they worshiped and praised him.
When they walked out in God’s name, to face the enemy, they worshipped.
All this led to victory, and when they had collected the spoils that God had provided for them, they worshipped him. They worshipped him all the way to Jerusalem. They played there instruments and worshipped as they marched into Jerusalem, and they proceeded straight to the Temple to have another worship session!
We NEED to be in that constant state of worship.
Relying on God
- Jehoshaphat’s first call was for people to seek God. In a time where there were plenty of gods being banded about, Jehoshaphat stuck with the one true God. He recalled what God had done for Israel in the past and used this as evidence of God’s reliability, and his faithfulness towards his people. He knew that the God he was praying to was the same God that had delivered Judah’s ancestors from their enemies. And he could do it again, because they were his people and he was there God. They trusted that God’s plan was right and true. Jehoshaphat called his people to be faithful "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."
He relied on God by sending worshippers out in front to lead the way, instead of soldiers.
We need to rely on God to fight the battles we give over to Him. We need to draw on past experiences and testimonies to gives us faith when we are struggling.
We are God’s people and he loves us and won’t let us go.
“Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
‘Jesus lover of my Soul, Jesus I will never let you go.’