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Written by Jim Jordal   
Saturday, 01 December 2007

JEHOSHAPHAT RESPONDS TO EVIL TIDINGS

By Jim Jordal

 And it came to pass after this, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle….And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek unto Jehovah; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah….And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of Jehovah…and he said, O Jehovah, the God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and art not thou ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in thy hand is power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee. Didst not thou, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and give it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If evil come upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before thee, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, and thou wilt hear and save. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt…behold, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but out eyes are upon thee. 

Second Chronicles 20:1-12 (ASV)

As you may remember, Jehoshaphat was king of Judah in Jerusalem about 250 years before the deportation of the Jewish nation to Babylon. History records him as a "good" king, meaning that he feared the Lord and attempted to keep His commandments.

In this account, the king faced attack by the numerically superior armies of Judah's traditional enemies Moab and Ammon. Had Jehoshaphat reacted to this threat in the manner of many previous kings, he would have numbered his warriors, sought the aid of heathen gods, or hired mercenaries. But Jehoshaphat--choosing not to rely on human advice or strength-- sought the mind and counsel of God.

The king knew what God had done on previous occasions when the nation and its leaders had humbled themselves before Him. So he began by proclaiming a fast throughout the land and ordering a great assembly in to gather in Jerusalem. Then he prayed publicly to the God of his fathers.

His prayer was a classic of simplicity. He first deified God as ruler of heaven and earth. Then he humbled himself and his people by openly admitting and accepting the sovereignty of God, and recognizing that no one is able to withstand His power. He then reiterated the great prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple over 100 years before, when the wise and wealthy king quoted the words of Moses in Deuteronomy challenging the people to choose between good and evil, and pointing out the consequences of their choice.

The heart of Jehoshaphat's prayer (and the part we as latter-day Christians need to consider) is found in his open recognition of the connection between the sovereignty of God and national disaster in the form of war, judgment, disease or famine. In this case it was the threat of war, but Jehoshaphat realized that no matter how great the threat, God was able to intervene provided God's people turned from their wicked ways, sought God, and asked for His help.

His final plea was that he and the people of Judah had no power to halt the enemy hordes coming to cast them out of their God-given possession, nor did they know what to do. But their eyes were upon God.

And that was enough, as the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel with the word from God: "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's….You will not need to fight in this battle…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Jehoshaphat then publicly cried out to the people, "Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established: believe His prophets, and you shall prosper" They then began to praise the Lord for His promised deliverance.

"Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, and they were defeated." What God did was to send fear into their midst to the extent that they all began fighting each other as if they were being ambushed. And the final outcome was not only defeat for the enemy, but a large amount of captured goods for Judah.

What’s the lesson for us? We need to recognize the connection between our national behavior and what God allows to happen to us. We need also to admit our powerlessness, and to trust God for His intervention. When we wake up enough to begin to do this, watch for great deliverance to occur.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 01 December 2007 )