I want to share with you today one of the most powerful chapters in the Bible.
This chapter came up in my daily reading when I was facing the one year mark of Dan’s death, and I was in deep despair and grief.
When you’re in a battle that seems overwhelming, remember that the battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord’s. And we need only read 2 Chronicles 20 to be convinced.
What battle was raging in Chapter 20?
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King Jehoshaphat ruled Judah and, to his credit, had worked hard to turn Judah back to God. Despite his good and godly work, his tiny kingdom suddenly faced an unprovoked war against three hostile neighbors who’d joined together and now surrounded Judah.
“Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom. . . it is already in Hazazon Tamar (that is En Gedi).’” (2 Chron 20:2)
How did Jehoshaphat respond? You would think he might rally his troops, plan a counterattack, reinforce the border. Or even panic.
But he did none of these. Instead, the chapter shows 6 truths when you’re facing a battle.
1) Before responding, seek God’s guidance.
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
Before any plan was made, before he ran to any counselor, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord.
2) Acknowledge that God is in control.
“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.”
The enemies weren’t driving the circumstance. They had no authority over God’s people. No matter how dire our circumstances, God is sovereign.
3) Remember God’s faithfulness and promises.
“O 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? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword or 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.’”
Each new trial can cause a new crisis of belief for us. Remembering how God has already worked on our behalf bolsters our faith during trials.
In the heat of the battle, whisper to your soul that God did not take you this far to drop you now.
4) He acknowledged utter dependence on the Lord.
“’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.’”
Such a vulnerable place. Was God unaware of their need? Was He busy with other matters and needed a tug to get his attention? When circumstances overwhelm us we can think that. But God knew their plight. And God — who only acts in perfect love — allowed His people to get to a place of utter dependence on Him.
A place of absolute dependence on God is a good place to be. It is where we learn to trust God the most, seek God the most and see God the most. And boy were they about to see God.
“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.’”
That is THE central truth of this narrative. And while God was specifically assuring Judah, He spoke a universal truth for us. For the people of God, the battle is the Lord’s. He may call us to step up (David) or lead (Gideon) or endure (Joseph) or go forth (Ruth), but the battle is the Lord’s.
Praise His name. We could stop right here and have meat enough to feed on for days. But let’s keep going because what God does is jaw-dropping.
“Tomorrow 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. You 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.”
The battle was the Lord’s but they didn’t get to stay home in bed.
In faith, they had to march out, take up positions and stand firm. But God would deliver beyond their wildest imagination.
5) Worship the Lord.
“Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD.”
What had changed? The dark clouds of a gathering enemy still loomed, but Israel had traded fear for faith, ushering in praise.
6) Thank God for His goodness before the rescue.
“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. . . 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.’”
God is Love and no circumstance that will ever exist on this good earth will change that. Can you even imagine how fragrant the thanks and praise offered in that hour was to God? Oh, to be men and women that know and declare that God is good before we ever catch the first glimpse of deliverance.
Now let this next portion play like a movie reel as the scene unfolds.
“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. The 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.
When 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.”
Picture the men of Judah marching in formation, the echo of praise coming from the front, the rush of adrenaline coursing through their bodies, cresting the hill that would bring them face to face with their enemy and then seeing instead a vast and still valley littered with the fallen bodies of every single enemy soldier.
They must have been stunned. Astounded. Overcome as they took in the scene and fullness of what God had done.
The battle was the Lord’s. Their role had been to obey and praise.
But that’s not the end of the story:
“So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder . . . more than they could carry away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.”
Trials and suffering, as hard as they are, can be plundered for great value. Right in the middle of suffering, if we will trust God and have eyes to see God’s goodness in the storm, He has lessons and blessings that will be ours to keep forever.
Are you in a battle right now? Have you seen God go before? I’d for you to comment and share.
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