by Stan Smith
One of my very favorite stories in the Old Testament is found in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat (whose name alone is funny to me) was the king of Judah. He was a good king, endeavoring to follow God. In this story, Jehoshaphat gets news of a "great multitude" assembling against him for war. It didn't look good. Jehoshaphat was no fool. The text says that "Jehoshaphat was afraid ..." Normal, understandable response. It goes on to say "... and set his face to seek the LORD." Not the normal response, but an excellent one. As the story goes, Jehoshaphat and all his people sought the LORD and God gave Jehoshaphat the fantastic instruction, "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's." Following God's instructions, Jehoshaphat (this is the part I really love) takes his troops out to battle, puts the choir in front to sing praises while they watch God fight, and enjoy a complete victory of God over their enemies. The text says that "none had escaped" and it took them three days to gather the spoil, it was so much.
I love that story. I love the fact that a king in fear sought the Lord. I love the fact that God reminded him as He reminds us "The battle is not yours, but God's." I love Jehoshaphat's words to his people: "Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will succeed."
There is, however, tucked away in that story, a prayer that I seem to so often mimic. Facing overwhelming forces without recourse, Jehoshaphat prayed for God's assistance. In that prayer he says this marvelous phrase: "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You." That is the right place to be. I'm reminded of the father who desperately sought Jesus's help for his demon-possessed son who, when Jesus told Him, "All things are possible for one who believes" answered "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23-24). I'm reminded also of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who, refusing to bow to the king's image, told him, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18).
For humans in general and for Christians in America today, we live in uncertain times. What's going to happen with the economy? What's going to happen to marriage? What's going to happen to our freedom of religion? Is real persecution coming to Christians in America? And each of us face much more urgent questions. What's going to become of my marriage, my health, my job, my family? We face a great multitude of enemies, without and within, that seek to overwhelm us. If you aren't a little bit afraid, I don't think you're paying attention. This is why I so dearly love Jehoshaphat's story. He sought the Lord. Like our biblical predecessors, we can pray, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You." "I believe; help my unbelief!" "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us ... but if not, be it known ... that we will not serve your gods", remembering always, "The battle is not yours, but God's."
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).
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I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.
For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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