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Send Judah First

My husband came in and said he was reading what 2 Chronicles 20.  He said he wonders what Jehoshaphat was thinking….So I started reading I just took some mental notes here they are in blue:

It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the Sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

I’ve never been in war, but the thought of it is definitely scary, Jehoshaphat was scared, Jehoshaphat was normal.  It says he “set” himself to seek the Lord. Another translation I read said he “resolved” to inquire of the Lord.  This tells me that it was not something he automatically did, but something that he made up in his mind to do. Despite his feelings of fear he sought the Lord and led his people to do the same.  

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

Jehoshaphat starts his prayer out reminding God of who he is.  There’s a lot to be said about being God’s hype man.  Asking God rhetorical questions that He and we clearly know the answers to does two things, maybe more, but here are two:  It let’s God know that we were paying attention to who His Word says He is and it reminds us that He really is who He says He is.  It’s not like you say, “Are you not the One who created the heavens and the Earth”  and He’s like Nah, that wasn’t me…it was my cousin.

And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.

Tells God how his people have honored Him and how much they trust Him, are willing to stand and rely on Him.

10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them?

Tells God the problem:  the people that you told Israel (your people) not to kill, they obeyed you. Yet those same people who were spared, are here to smash us. Does that make any sense God?  Is it fair?  

For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

This is the truth.  Jehosphat said this is all I have, I’ve made up in my mind to seek you when I was scared, I’ve glorified you, I’ve been obedient, I’ve presented the facts.  There is nothing else I can to.  The only thing I can do it keep my eyes on you and look to you for the answer.

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

This seems like one of those moments of awkward silence.

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

I’m so sorry, sometimes I hesitate to share my thoughts….but my first thought in this situation is who is this guy?  I mean I know who’s son he is and I’m glad he’s a Levite but, how do I know for sure that God is speaking through him right at this moment?  Especially, if I’m King, I have this entire nation (including women and little children) depending on my every move.  This can not be just some random encouragement, people are coming to kill us…hold on LOTS of people are coming to kill us or at the very least make us their slaves.  Not only do I have to cast aside my fear and trust God, but now I have to trust God through the mouth of someone else.  This is getting complicated.

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Jehoshaphat believed.

20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord,For His mercy endures forever.”

Almost the best part: Jehoshaphat proclaimed his faith in God, he also displayed great leadership and spoke to the people in the crowd who were probably a little skeptical like me.  He said Believe in the Lord AND believe His prophets.  He spent sometime encouraging his people then went into action.  Jehoshaphat never had a plan B, he didn’t tell the singers or the praisers to offer up praises and if it started to get too rough, run and hide behind the army.  As far as I know they were to stay  in front  and praise God even if it meant death.

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

Obviously the best part of the story:  God came through on behalf of His people.  Notice God never revealed His plan to his people, He pretty much just said, don’t be afraid, position yourselves, but you won’t fight, I’m with you.  Jehoshaphat had to interpret what God wanted him to do by faith.  The people were ready for battle, no one was at home sitting on the couch waiting for God to deliver them.  Even though they didn’t know what to do, they recognized that they were in war and took their active positions.  Even if “active” meant just standing still.

Praise was offered up first because they understood that  even though they were facing the unknown, God was worthy of their praise and able to deliver them from whatever lied ahead.

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