Look to the Lord.
“O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12 NLT
The first line of The Battle Hymn of the Republic is “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” As I read these three chapters this morning I couldn’t help but think of that song. Here in the story of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, we have a powerful reminder of God’s power to deliver in the face of overwhelming odds. We have chronicled for us the amazing faithfulness of God in the midst of the incredible unfaithfulness of men. The stories of the kings of Judah and Israel are filled with plenty of negative portraits of rebellion, pride, idolatry, and unfaithfulness. But right in the middle of the story of Ahab’s ill-fated reign, we get to read about a king who ruled righteously. He sought to follow after God. He encouraged the people of Judah to do the same thing. But while he is busy calling the people back to God, his kingdom comes under attack from his enemies. He finds himself surrounded and out-manned. He becomes fearful. So what does he do? He seeks the Lord. He turns his attention to God. “Jehoshaphat was alarmed by this news and sought the LORD for guidance” (2 Chronicles 20:3 NLT). He called a nationwide fast. He and the entire nation call out to God for help. In his prayer on behalf of the people we read words that should come from the lips of everyone of us when we face trials and troubles in our lives. “We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you” (2 Chronicles 20:12 MSG). We don’t know what to do! An admission of weakness and inability. We’re looking to you! An expression of dependence and faith. Many of us have reached a point in our lives where we have had to say, “I don’t know what to do!” But instead of turning to the Lord and saying, “I am looking to you!,” we turn elsewhere for our help and hope. We look to men and any means possible for deliverance from our problems. But Jehoshaphat turned to God. He put himself and his nation in the hands of the only one who could truly deliver.
What happens next is amazing. God responds to Jehoshaphat’s prayer. “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT). This was going to be God’s battle. He was going to take care of this problem Himself. He was going to prove Himself greater than their biggest problem. And it gets even better. “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out there tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” (2 Chronicles 20:17 (NLT). Not only was God going to give them victory, they weren’t even going to have to fight. All they had to do was stand still and watch God work. He was inviting them to witness His power and deliverance.
Now here’s the part we need to hear. When the people of Judah heard the words of God, they immediately fell down before God and worshiped. They praised God with a loud voice. Nothing had happened yet! They had not seen victory. There had been no deliverance. But they were rejoicing over the promise of God. His word was enough to cause them to respond in worship even before His word had become reality. Before the battle even began Jehoshaphat reminded them, “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20 NLT). That word “believe” carries the idea of trust and expectancy. They were to stand on what God had said, even before they had seen anything happen. God’s word was as good as His actions. So the people gave thanks and sang to the Lord. Before anything had happened. And as they sang, the victory came. “At the moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves” (2 Chronicles 20:22 NLT). At the very moment they expressed their trust in God by singing the praises of God, He acted. He delivered. They trusted. God acted. And they were able to witness an amazing victory without ever lifting a finger or a sword. Not only that, when the dust settled there were able to plunder the armies of their enemies and it took them three days to do so because their was so much to gather. God did the work. They got the blessing. God fought the battle. They got the benefit. The only part they played was to trust. They worshiped expectantly. They sang expectantly. They watched expectantly. And God delivered. In the same way He longs to deliver today. But are we willing to come to Him in our own weakness and look to Him for help? Are we ready to rely solely on Him and nothing else? Are we prepared to wait expectantly for His deliverance? Will we trust Him to do what only He can do? Will we sing His praises and thank Him for the victory even before it has come? Trust His word. He can back it up. He always has. He always will.
Father, what a timely reminder. As we face the trials of life, You are there, ready to answer. You are ready to deliver. You are ready to do battle on our behalf. You stand ready to give us the victory we long for, but You are waiting for us to admit on our deficiencies and turn to You in dependency. Help me to learn to trust Your word as much as I trust Your actions. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men