Imagine for a moment, you’re a king, a leader of a nation. You’re a great ruler, you have a strong army, and the current state of your country is a good. As you go about your day, you are in your normal “kingly” routine, then out of no where, you receive word that not one, not two, but three nations have all gathered together to come fight against you! Not only that, they are not to far off in a nearby valley. What do you do? You have to act fast because the invading armies are just a short journey away! Do you gather your men, arming every abled body male with sword and shield? Do you flee? Of course not that’s not an option! Or do you hit your knees, and pray as the entire nation watches and awaits your decision?
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, this is the opening scene for Jehoshaphat. Upon receiving this word of the invading armies, Jehoshaphat “proclaimed a fast for all of Judah” (v3). In front of all his people who were gathered there at the temple, Jehoshaphat stopped and fell to his knees and prayed out to God. I encourage you to read his prayer in verses 6-12, but I will summarize for you.
Jehoshaphat began his prayer by remembering who God is, that He is the Faithful and Sovereign God of his ancestors. He declares the works of God in the past as a praise, but not because God forgot about the past, but maybe because he needed to remind himself of God’s promises and what He has done for his people up until this point.
Then he began to present the situation, and laid it all out surrendering it all to God. “For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do know what to do, but we look to you.” (v12) Haven’t we all been there, facing a situation not knowing what to do? Jehoshaphat’s willingness to seek God first, to humble himself before the Lord, and before a nation seeking leadership is something to note.
The story continues as God answered his prayer, speaking to them saying, “do not be afraid…for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v15). Whoa! That’s huge, it's easy to see this and think of this as merely a story, but this really happened! The potential for an entire nation of people to wiped out is staring Jehoshaphat in the face, and God is saying, I got this don’t worry. How many times have we faced trial in our lives, and we know that the battle is not ours but the Lord’s, yet we still try to take it on ourselves? After hearing Gods word declared to him, Jehoshaphat responded again on his knees, worshiping the Lord, and all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did the same. Then the Levites stood and shouted loudly in worship (v19). The next day the people went to where God had told them to go. Upon arriving Jehoshaphat appointed some people to sing and praise the Lord (probably not your first “go to” battle plan). The moment they began their shouts and praises, the Lord set an ambush against the invading armies and they were defeated just as God promised! (v22) Again Jehoshaphat and all of Judah worshiped the Lord with song, playing harps, lyres and trumpets. (v28)
There are four key moments we can learn from Jehoshaphat in his response to this situation. First, when the news of the battle approached what did he do? He WORSHIPPED! Second, when God spoke to them and said “do not fear”, he WORSHIPPED! Third, when they stood in the face of the enemy, they WORSHIPPED. Lastly, when the enemy was defeated by an act of God, they WORSHIPPED!! So the question we must ask ourselves is this, how am I preparing for battle? When work is overwhelming, when the kids just wont behave, when a car crashes into you but they are without insurance, when the bills seem to be too much and the world to big to take on, what is my battle plan? Jehoshaphat’s was worship, laying it all down to God by declaring his faithfulness and saying “God I don’t know what to do, I don’t have control, but you do!!” But here is the most important key, this was NOT the only time Jehoshaphat worshipped. He did not worship only in times of calamity, but it times of peace. Jehoshaphat was not made king by his own merit, but by his constant humility before the Lord. Then and only then did God elevate Jehoshaphat to leadership at the appropriate time. It was Jehoshaphat’s willingness to always put God first whether good or bad. Jehoshaphat was already ready for this big battle because his was always prepared and practiced (worshipped) even in the little battles.
Take any self defense class, military training, law enforcement training and you will learn that the training is only successful when it’s a natural reaction. There is no time to think about walking through steps 1, 2, & 3. So the point of the training, is to practice walking through the steps, so when the time comes, you can react quickly, instinctively and appropriately. So what’s your battle plan? How can you prepare for battle starting today? Believe me, the battle will come whether we are prepared for it or not? It can start with a simple prayer each day, thanking God for another breath, and asking him to lead you each day. Take it a step further by getting in His word! Sing songs to him, even if you don’t have a voice, he still wants your heart in worship. So let’s prepare for battle together. Let’s make a commitment to give everything to God, because the yoke of Christ is much easier and lighter than our own. The battle will come, struggles will ensue, but we can persevere through the strength and power of Christ.