Archive for the ‘2 Chronicles 20’ Category

Last week we looked at a low point in King Jehoshaphat’s life, his wrongful partnership with the evil king Ahab and how God rebuked him for this. Today we look the high point of Jehoshaphat’s rule – the battle of Beracah in 2 Chronicles 20.

An Impossible Situation

2 Chronicles 20:2 says,  “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar’ (that is, Engedi).” The neighboring peoples of Moab, Ammon and a group of people called the Meunites who lived on the outskirts of Edom gathered at Engedi, inside the territory of Judah. They were a “great horde.” That is, they were a bigger army than what Jehoshaphat had,  by a good margin. And here they were, only 25 miles from Jerusalem! Jehoshaphat had been caught by surprise.

20:3 says, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid.” This is an understandable and natural response. He knew their intention was to wipe them out from the Land God gave them, as he says in verse 11. So this was a serious threat and he was afraid.

But, what makes this story great is that he wasn’t overwhelmed by his fear. He wasn’t controlled by his fear. He took a different path. Which is why we are looking at this story.

Because, we also face impossible situations in our life circumstances. God calls us to do something and there is an insurmountable obstacle in our way. Or we are walking through life and we are overwhelmed by a problem that we can’t solve. So we want to look at this story of Jehoshaphat and take note of seven things we learn from this story, that can help us.

1. Seek God in prayer

Jehoshaphat “set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” – (vs. 3-4). Jehoshaphat led in offering up prayer. By the way, this prayer (vs. 6-12) is one of the best prayers in all the Bible! Read it through sometime. We will look at parts of it below.

But the point is that he brought this problem to the Lord. He didn’t try to carry it himself.

And we need to bring our burdens to the Lord in prayer as well. When we feel overwhelmed and when it is too much for us to take – we need to go to the Lord.

2. Acknowledge your need

Jehoshaphat does this in his prayer – “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us . . . We do not know what to do . . .” – (v. 12).  This is not a time to be puffed up! Jehoshaphat doesn’t come out and say – “Don’t worry, I can handle this.” He recognized that it was a time to be humble before the Lord. “Hey, we’re  weak and clueless, Lord. We’re in bad shape here.”

And we need to be humble too in our difficult situations. We need to acknowledge that we too are weak and that we too don’t know what to do – before the Lord and others.

3. Rely on God’s resources

Jehoshaphat, in his weakness, looked to God for strength and wisdom. In his prayer he said:

  • “In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you” – (20:6). We are weak by you are strong.
  • “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” – (20:12). We look to you because you do know what to do.

God has all the resources that we need, and we need to tap into these: When we are too weak to act – God can give us strength. When we don’t know what to do – God can give us wisdom. We need to rely on God’s resources.

4. Trust in God’s promises

Jehoshaphat recalls two specific promises from God in his prayer:

  1. God’s promise to give the land to Abraham’s descendents – Genesis 12:7. He says,  “Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?” – (v. 7). He refers to the promise in Genesis here.
  2. God’s promise to hear temple prayers – 2 Chronicles 6:28-30. Jehoshaphat practically quotes from Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple – “If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you— for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.” – (v. 9). Solomon asked that God would hear his people’s prayers, offered at the temple, and God affirmed that he would, when he sent fire down and filled the temple with his glory – (2 Chronicles 7:1).

And we need to trust in God’s promises too. We find these promises in his word. For instance:

  • Jesus promises – “I am with you always, to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:20.
  • We are promised that God will hear our prayers – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7.
  • We are promised that he will give us strength when we are weak – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

5. Receive God’s direction

Verse 14 says, “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel . . . ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” The Lord spoke through him to give them some specific instructions – vs. 16-17:

  • Tomorrow go out
  • They will be by the ascent of Ziz . . . east of Jeruel
  • Wait for God who will fight for you

In the same way, we need to listen for God’s wisdom and direction. We do this by listening in prayer, by reading God’s word, and by receiving godly counsel from sisters and brothers in the Lord. In all of this we seek to be led by the Spirit.

6. Act in faith

When they got up to go out to battle the next day, Jehoshaphat said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” – (v. 20).

Can you imagine this! Going against a vastly bigger foe. Going out, not even expecting to fight – and their lives were on the line. Jehoshaphat is saying – believe in God and what he has said, and act on this belief – even at great risk. If you do this God will bring about victory.

Sure enough. When they acted in faith, God gave them the victory. God turned the enemy on each other and they were wiped out. Judah did not even have to fight or lift a finger.

Well, we too need to act on our faith. We need to believe what God tells us and move forward based on his word, not what we see according to the flesh. As Paul says, “we walk by faith, not by sight” – 2 Corinthians 5:7. When we do this, God will give us victory in our impossible situations.

7. Give praise to God

They really give praise to God throughout this story – when God gave them direction through the prophet, and after they had won. And it is important to praise God when he answers our prayers. They even named the place of the battle “Beracah” – for their they blessed the Lord, as it says in v. 26.

But what is even more amazing is the role that praise played in bringing about the answer during the battle. Jehoshaphat “appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, [and] they went before the army, and [said], ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.’” – (v. 21). He sets the worship team in front of the army!

Then verse 22 says, “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.” This is what brought the victory. It was when they began to praise God that the Lord acted on their behalf.

And we need to give praise to God even in the midst of our struggle. We need to praise God for his faithfulness to us and his promises to us; for his power and wisdom. And as we express in a bold way our faith in God and his steadfast love for us through praise – God is pleased to act on our behalf and give us the victory.

So these are seven things to do in an impossible situation. May we learn from this story and receive God’s victory in our lives. William Higgins

Read Full Post »